When it comes to staying on top of the latest SEO trends, it can often feel like you are trying to catch the wind. Just when you think you are finally caught up, everything changes. You could spend countless hours and dollars trying to figure out one platform or strategy, only to find out that it no longer produces the results you were expecting.
On the other hand, simply sitting idle won’t do, either, since your competition will be making its own efforts to stay ahead of the curve.
That said, here are three major SEO trends in 2017 that are likely to shape the way smaller companies in particular do business. Whether or not you like them, you will have much to gain by paying attention and doing what you can to ride the wave.
3 Big SEO Trends in 2017
Mobile First. Let me put it bluntly: mobile devices are overtaking those “clunky” desktop ones not just in terms of numbers, but more importantly, in terms of activity. Unfortunately for many of us, putting our phones and tablets down already is a real challenge. But, it’s also an opportunity for business owners online. So, if your business is not on mobile, then you better get there fast.
For the past couple of years, mobile searches have been dominating desktop searches, and the gap is only getting wider. Thus, it almost goes without saying that you need to be creating a good online experience across all types of devices. Google recently thickened the plot with its announced mobile first index. What this means is that now Google will crawl the mobile version of your site or responsive mobile version first before the desktop version and use that content in the search results.
Sophisticated Online Search. Long gone are the days when online users would type a few keywords into a search box and (hopefully) get a list of relevant sites. Over the past five years or so, online search has become much more personalized and much more sophisticated. There are two main areas that businesses need to be paying attention to:
The first is in optimization for user intent. This area, like the one that follows below, has been significantly improving over the past three years. Search engines are now getting much better at identifying user intent whenever someone does an online search. Instead of typing a few keywords, users are now entering full queries or phrases in search engines which then try to figure out the motivation behind each particular search. There are generally three types of motivation that require very different search results: 1) navigational, where the user is trying to get to a particular destination; 2) informational, where the user is looking for information on a particular product, service, or topic; and finally, 3) transactional, where the user is ready to buy or take some other type of action.
The second is voice search. As mobile online usage continues to increase and technology advances, voice search has been gaining momentum. According to a recent study conducted by Google, 55 percent of those under 18 years old use voice search daily. That number increases to 75 percent for young users who are on their phones 11 or more hours per day. Even older users are increasingly turning to voice search to ask for directions or to help them multi-task.
Consistent Structure. Structured data is basically information that is formatted in a standard, universal way that helps search engines better understand a website. The result is often a better search engine ranking. The source of this structured data can be found at Schema.org. It is a code that was developed by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Yandex that you can add to your website to help search engines crawl your site faster and more accurately. As the number and content of sites explodes, the use of structured data by search engines will only increase.
In short, while SEO may be in constant flux, these three trends promise to underlie all of the change. If you choose to ignore them, you may end up missing the boat in your marketing- both online and off.