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The State of SEO in 2017

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At the beginning of 2016 we published an article about the state of SEO, highlighting some of the most interesting trends and novelties. As this has become something of an annual tradition, we’ve gathered more tips for 2017. Read on to discover the latest SEO techniques to help your website conquer search results!

Mobile-First Indexing

I shouldn’t need to remind you that more people than ever before are searching on Google using a mobile device. Google’s ranking system, however, still prioritizes the desktop version of a page. This can be problematic from an SEO standpoint, especially if the mobile version of a given page differs from desktop in terms of content and UX.

That’s why, starting from November 2016, Google started experimenting with mobile-first indexing. Their algorithm will increasingly use the mobile version of a website to rank its pages, instead of focusing solely on desktop content.

So what does this mean for web design?

  • Using watered-down content on mobile pages might hurt your rankings.
  • It’s more important than ever to concentrate on the loading speed of your site.

You might also consider implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP uses an alternative markup to create a secondary lightweight version of existing pages. AMP’s goal is to dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web. Google shows a lightning symbol next to AMP pages in mobile search results, which can positively influence the click-through rate.

You don’t need to hurry and create AMP pages as soon as possible, but it might be worth a test to judge its ROI.

Introduction of Rich Cards

I’m sure you’re aware of rich snippets; these enhanced search results are based on structured data, such as schema.org.

Last year, Google introduced rich cards. Rich cards are essentially an improved version of rich snippets in an even more engaging visual format. They can drastically improve the click-through rate to your pages.

At the moment rich cards are available for recipes, movies, local restaurants and online courses. Find out here which fields are necessary to mark up in order for a rich card to appear.

Machine Learning

Google’s goal is to show you the most relevant results for any given query. To improve their service, they’re constantly tweaking their ranking algorithm. Rankbrain is one of those tweaks.

Rankbrain is a form of artificial intelligence that uses machine learning to analyse search queries and search results. It can automatically recognize patterns. To give you an example; in this research the software learned the capitals of the world by analysing news articles.

What could Rankbrain mean for SEO in 2017?

Simply put: stop carrying out single keyword optimization. Instead of creating a separate page for “keyword A”, “synonym B” and “synonym C”, you’ll be better advised to combine them in one page. Think about topics, rather than keywords.

Indexable Progressive Web Apps

Website or app? Combine the best of both world with “progressive web apps”. These apps don’t require an install, can send push notifications, load quickly, have an icon on the home screen and much more.

The get the most out of these progressive web apps, it’s important to make them indexable. That’s why Google recently released a set of guidelines to do just that.

Voice Search

OK Google, Siri, Cortana, Amazon Echo, Google Home; voice search is on the rise. And this has some SEO implications.

Generally speaking, there’s a difference between voice searchers and people who type a query. The first is far likelier to want quick, short answers. The second type of searcher might be looking for greater detail. You need to cater to both, which is why I suggest you:

  • implement structured data to help search engines understand your content
  • focus on long-tail keywords that answer who, what, why, when, where and why-queries

Conclusion

The basics of SEO remain the same, even in 2017: provide great content that is easily crawlable and make sure it gets plenty of links. There are some new things to look out for, however, so here are my suggestions for the coming year:

  • Make sure your structured data is implemented correctly and up to date to take advantage of rich cards.
  • Adopt a mobile-first approach to your web design.
  • Exploit for long-tail keywords that answer who, what, why, when, where and why-questions.
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