Last year we saw a lot of changes towards the end of 2016 with the Penguin algorithm update going live in real time, semantic search and Rank Brain becoming a top priority, and mobile updates galore. We asked our SEO experts to weigh in on what they think is going to be at the forefront of SEO strategy in 2017.
Bill Wilkinson, Director Of SEO
While Google has already mentioned its move to prefer AMP pages, AMP will see a huge change in 2017. Currently, many publishers are claiming that AMP is causing monetization frustration, which I believe will lead to a significant increase in AMP functionality so that publishers and website owners can utilize the benefits of AMP without negatively impacting conversion and monetization. Therefore, this will likely change how AMP pages are built and optimized in 2017.
Nick Slettengren, Chief Marketing Officer
Content is beyond king. According to a one-on-one conversation I had with Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, Google is aggressively pursuing machine learning and trying to map “the human experience.” Much of this is already well known and publicized. But at what point does machine learning hit the horizon of artificial intelligence? I predict that what you say, how you say it, and how factual you are in your content will be the main drivers of organic rankings in 2017.
Nicole Grodesky, Senior SEO Strategist
Page quality will be the primary 2017 SEO strategy. What does that mean? We’ve talked a lot about content and semantic search optimization growing in 2016. In 2017, this will be an SEO standard for content optimizations. Title tags, meta descriptions, as well as external and internal linking will all still be a critical part of SEO. However, it’s all about relevancy and quality of the content on the page. I don’t care what Moz says about internal linking, we are seeing results.
Beyond on-page optimization, the overall quality of site performance of web pages will be the number one 2017 SEO best practice. Having quality content won’t be enough in 2017 – ranking factors will increasingly give priority to pages with a faster load time, more specifically, fast loading mobile pages.
Sean Dilger, SEO Account Manager
2017 is going to be another big year for mobile. User experience via mobile will be absolutely essential. Mobile websites will be measured from a usability experience perspective, technical SEO perspective,and speed. Just because a website is mobile responsive does not mean the site is good and user-friendly. If websites are designed well on mobile with great user experience, I see a big increase in mobile conversions in 2017 compared to 2016 through better mobile experiences.
Related: Keyword Research Best Practices
Additionally, keyword research will continue to be important through a more creative keyword research approach with the topic on the page being the more important aspect. With Google taking away the search volume data from AdWords accounts that are not spending, I expect to see more keyword research tools released to help SEOs that do not have paid AdWords accounts.
Finally, web security will be important. Google will start to heavily penalize websites that get hacked. Be sure to be on high-quality, secure hosting platforms to help prevent this. Additionally, do not have domain.com/wp-admin as your login URL for the admin section of your website and use a captcha under username and password. For example, have “2+2=” as your captcha as this will indicate a real human is logging into the website and not a script or a bot.
Austin Mahaffey, SEO Account Manager
The sky’s the limit! Now that Penguin has rolled out — I expect that a lot of websites will have to find new ways to acquire backlinks since 4.0 has the ability to get really granular. People will feel the wrath of devalued links and search for the answer. My guess is people will have to pay more for quality placements as it will be important to incorporate strong content and DA with a link.
Also I think some people will start giving up on trying to build links and just focus on pumping out fire (good) content.