Leicester, Brexit, Trump, Penguin; 2016 has been a bit mad, hasn’t it?

While the world continues to evolve in both weird and wonderful ways, the SEO and digital marketing industries are following suit, with massive changes being made and new technologies being introduced which order us to rethink and redevelop our current strategies.

Here, we’ll have a quick look at the world of SEO and what we can expect in 2017. How do you think SEO will change over the next 12 months? Let us know in the comments.

Accelerated Mobile Pages + Mobile Page Speed

One of the bigger changes to take place over the past year or so has been the implementation of AMP – Accelerated Mobile Pages. They’re a much lighter, quicker form of web pages that were initially introduced via news articles, making pages much more accessible and quicker to load – a massive factor within mobile search

AMP is quickly moving on from that, though – and is now being used across different site types and different industries. The first site to announce this was Ebay, claiming that they’d been experimenting with implementing AMP across listing pages.

In terms of results, the AMP Project site has a set of case studies which show the effects AMP has had on the sites and their content, with results from the likes of:

Slate: 73% increase in visits per monthly unique visitor
Washington Post: 23% increase in returning mobile search users
Gizmodo: 3x improvement in page speed

It’s curious to see the results that AMP has been bringing for these large sites. Proper conclusions have yet been drawn seeing as it’s so early in the game, but it’s certainly something worth experimenting with.

Mobile page is massively important. Users are acceptably impatient as it is – even more so on mobile devices. Considering the amount of transactions that are made through mobile devices, potential money is being left on the table if your site isn’t quick enough for users. While AMP is a potential solution, your site should be quick and responsive regardless.

So, will AMP be the new Google+? Or will it be the new standard of mobile content?

Voice Search

Voice search has been rising in prominence for years, as people have been using their phones to run searches. Now, people are also using special assistant devices, such as Amazon’s Echo. 

This is important for SEO, as there’s an ever-growing additional element to search.

With voice search, strict keyword optimisation becomes more difficult. Instead of somebody typing in: “restaurants in birmingham”, they’ll be asking their device to find them the nearest restaurant. Instead of “men’s jumpers” being typed in, somebody could ask their assistant device: “where can I find a burgundy lambswool jumper”.  

Users behave differently based on the input, and phrase things in very different ways. 

This will have to be taken into account when pages are being optimised. Instead of the classic method of finding one keyword and fixating on it, slapping it into the body text of a page a thousand times, it’s the overall subject that should be looked at.

Schema and the Knowledge Graph also plays a factor, seeing as this is more information for Google to process, which can then be relayed back to the user, a key part of voice search. Only a small fraction of sites use schema – a prior experiment showed that 0.3% of sites used it – so it’s important to implement it and stay ahead of the pack. 

Machine Learning

Now, this is a subject that will continue to grow in prominence not only in the world of SEO, but the entire world as a whole. AI is continuously growing, with developments being made constantly. This is the same with Google – we’ve all been made aware of Rankbrain, and how they’re moving towards constant algorithmic updates, as opposed to dropping a bombshell of an update once every year or two.

So, what effect will machine learning have on SEO?

Content will have to be properly targeted for users, answering their queries and providing them with the relevant information. Machine learning will likely improve content across the web, seeing as search engines will have a better understanding of content, and its ever-developing algorithms will interpret whether the content can satisfy the needs of the user.

Of all the trends in this list, this is probably the one you should really keep an eye on. It won’t be an overnight changes, there isn’t a set day where we’ll have to start adhering to a different set of rules – we’ll have to play the long game and ensure that content serves it’s purpose, satisfying the needs of the user and search engines.

On top of how search engines use machine learning, SEOs may eventually use it in order to properly automate and delegate the acquisition of information for websites, and generation of solutions/analysis.

Here’s an interesting post on this exact subject, looking at how the implementation of machine learning, from the SEO side, can provide opportunities for finding solutions. Do you imagine yourself implementing self-learning AI into your SEO strategy?

TL;DR:

  • Look into implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages
  • Improve the UX and page speed of your mobile site(s)
  • Keep an eye on machine learning and AI in SEO, for both search engines and consultancy/research
  • Focus on subjects for pages, not just linear keyword research
  • Implement schema markup code on your site(s)

If you’ve got any questions about your website’s SEO, or would like to find out about the tips and tricks of the trade then do not hesitate to get in touch.