As 2016 comes to an end, SEO is still alive, kicking and as relevant as ever. Many changes have come and gone in the world-wide-web over the last few years, such as search engines that had left a mark and then vanished. Some changes were so abrupt or long ago that the younger generation of internet users doesn’t know what AltaVista is, that Yahoo! hadn’t always been a portal or even that YouTube wasn’t around when the internet kicked off.
Google was founded almost 20 years ago, and it seems it is here to stay, at least for a good while. Not convinced just yet? Just think of how many times you “Google something” a day.
Working in SEO, one must be on top of the most recent Google trends, updates and general changes. Yes, quality link building and Meta Tags are still strong and relevant SEO factors, but do not underestimate the power of new trends.
For that reason, I have compiled this basic list of 2017’s 4 biggest SEO tips to apply. As most of our work is based on Google search results, I will not refer to other search engines in this post (such as Yandex, in Russian-speaking countries, or the Chinese Baidu).
1. Mobile First
Google has long been adapting itself to the emergence of mobile domination, and October 2016 was the first time that mobile & tablet internet usage has been greater than that of desktop.
For this reason, Search Engine Land notes that Google prefers websites that are mobile-friendly, meaning mostly that their design is responsive, page speed on mobile devices is fast, and that their UX is good, among other factors. However, the key term here is AMP – Accelerated Mobile Pages, the next step in mobile content. Google currently still seems to prefer desktop-friendly and optimized websites, for ranking purposes, but this is about to change in the not-so-far future. Keep an eye out for this crucial trend in the coming months.
2. Local SEO is Going Global
Google is becoming more local, displaying different results based on a searcher’s location. An internet user doesn’t even have to type in a location-specific query, such as “cafés near me”, to find geo-targeted and optimized results. One can search for “location-neutral” queries and get different results, based on location. Neil Patel conducted a very interesting and encompassing analysis based on over 100,000 different URLS, just to observe local SEO, as he put it, understand how it works and why some sites rank better than others for Local Search Results.
Another important observation of this trend is that small businesses might perform better than big chains or brands in local searches, as they appear more relevant in certain cases.
Below are the top 5 results we got when searching for “news” – a location-neutral query – once from Israel, and the second from the Los Angeles, California area.
Highlighted in the Israeli results are websites originating in the UK, while the highlighted results in LA are based in the USA:
As can be seen – the Israeli results show more results from the UK, especially in the top 2 positions.
In California, the first several results are all American, except for one.
Keep in mind – the query does not mention a location, only the “news” keyword.
3. Content Is King… But Images & Videos Are Happening, Too
Content might be king, but it seems that images just might be dethroning it, or becoming a very close runner-up. Google is constantly placing more importance on images, and well-managed websites are adjusting accordingly. Large amounts of content that has been used (and misused!) in the past for SEO purposes are now becoming shorter and more to the point. Google’s own algorithm seems to understand synonyms and the overall goal or purpose of a website.
In past years, keywords were one of the easiest ways to target a website for high positions in search results. This practice very often led to content with a very high “spam-value”, content which was overly optimized. Think of old-school SEO – a very aggressive, “in your face” SEO:
“This website about Apple Pies has everything you need to know about the best apple pies online! Read our apple pie recipes, apple pie articles and everything you need to know about apple pies, right here!”
Due to this, the change from overly optimized text to more images and videos might have only been natural (especially considering our shorter attention span). Sure enough, this includes more videos in search results as well. It’s interesting, taking into consideration that YouTube (probably the largest video-sharing website), is owned by Google, which in return has an obvious interest in showing videos in its search results.
It’s even more interesting to note that YouTube is currently the 2nd largest Search Engine online. People are actively looking for videos online – often with the same queries they might be looking for in a non-video based search.
4. Get Rich Snippy
As everything “Googley” is becoming more visual, rich snippets are more important than ever. This data is helpful for users and might increase a website’s CTR (Click Through Rate) dramatically.
Moreover, these days, rich snippets make a website eligible to be included in knowledge graphs and rich cards. These are shown at the top of search results, very often before organic textual results, resulting in even higher CTRs and visibility for sites featured there.
As an example, right before New Year’s, we can see that a generic “new year’s” query features rich cards of news on top (news with images, to be precise) and a knowledge graph on the right side.
The Future is Here
These trends are just the tip of the SEO iceberg, as Google is continuously updating. Drastic changes and fierce competitors are lurking just around the corner (I tried hard not to mention Facebook up until this point). However, they are certainly the most important trends that come to mind when thinking of SEO tips to apply in 2017.
Whether it comes to optimizing a new website that has just come to life, or a ten-year-old website looking for a fresh start, one cannot overlook the hottest Google trends that just might dominate the internet very soon, even if only for 12 seconds.back to blog