At the beginning of each year, SEO experts make bold predictions about the upcoming changes and shifts to the current SEO landscape. These predictions are not all-encompassing, but they do give us an insight into how we should plan our strategies for the next 12 months. We’ve gathered some of the top SEO predictions for 2017 below:
Mobile –First SERPs
Soumya Nair wrote an article on B2C predicting that mobile will be the heavy theme for SEOs this year. Google has been transparent in their focus towards mobile search since 2015. In fact, Google already announced mobile-first indexing on November 4th, 2016.
Another indication of this shift is the fact that Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is now widely accepted. Throughout 2016, there were several AMP-related actions from Google. For example, Google started sending searches to AMP pages in the “top stories” section of SERPs on mobile phones. An AMP validator has also been built into Google Search Console to make it easier for webmasters to QA AMP-optimized pages. Hence, if you are still not factoring AMP into your websites, it is advisable that you catch up ASAP.
The growth in voice search is another factor that indicates a big shift to mobile search is underway. Most smartphones now feature a voice-operated search assistant, and although none of them have reached a level where they are very useful to users, don’t underestimate Google’s ability to leverage voice search into their SERPs. Besides, Search Engine Land already predicted that voice search is here to change local search.
Technical SEO Will Give Way to Design, UX & Content
Dario Zadro wrote on Search Engine Journal about user experience being the key to the future of SEO. While technical SEO will remain important this year, search engine optimization will shift focus towards design and user experience. Google is already gearing up and introducing tools to make this a reality. There’s Google’s Optimize 360 which allows users to test and modify layouts for better site performance. We all know that site performance is a factor for better search results.
The key points of having websites that are focused on both SEO and UX will apply to how user experience will impact the SEO landscape this year. Google will continue to design a search engine that will better understand, and behave like users. When this happens, UX best practices will be more important to SEO. Also, technical SEO tactics like hiding CSS fields and addition of special HTML will disappear as Google becomes stricter in penalizing old SEO activities that interfere with user experience. Lastly, UX designers are now putting emphasis on websites that works for all platforms.Site speed and being mobile-friendly will be more rewarded by search engines.
Timely, relevant and quality content will still be in the game this year. Don’t make it last on your checklist if you want to win in the SEO field. As such, many SEO experts are predicting that Google will continue to reward websites with solid content strategy.
Rand Fishkin, from SEO Moz, is predicting that Amazon will be neck-and-neck with Google when it comes to product search. Moz’s clickstream data shows Amazon’s received at least 2% of Google’s overall search volume for product searches. Although Google is still winning in this regard, it is possible that Amazon will grow their search penetration and volume throughout this year – partly because of Alexa/Echo.
If you are an e-commerce website or merchant selling on Amazon, you need to take advantage of this. Optimizing for Amazon search should be among your goals.
Google’s Paid Search Ads
Rand is also predicting that this year, Google will offer paid search ads in featured snippets, carousels and knowledge graph. This is based on the fact that in 2016, Google already started placing shopping ads in image search and introduced ads in local packs.