SEO 'Crystal Ball Gazing - 2017' - It is all about the Technology
Sifting through the avalanche of information available regarding SEO trends and what is important in 2017 is challenging in determining relevancy, or otherwise. There are clear markers and signaling from Google and Microsoft Bing, with the prominent emphasis on quality content that enhances the 'user experience.' This is what reigns supreme in the competitive world of SEO page ranking. Without reiterating what is good practice, (see our SEO Experts page) commonsense and non-contrived 'white hat' SEO techniques will always prevail.
To gain an insight as to SEO developments in 2017, looking at where technology innovation is heading and being encouraged or promoted by Google and Microsoft Bing is instructive. With such innovation early adopters tend to suffer the initial pain and cost, as the 'best new thing' moves from 'bleeding edge' to acceptance and adoption. Google and Microsoft have the substantial clout and resources to get new ideas executed and into the mainstream. The result of this is better security and functionality and a process of continuous improvement that drives user confidence and expectations.
We have identified four of these trends which we believe are important in 2017 and will become in wider use.
1 - Accelerated Mobile Pages
Dependent on who you listen to some 60% of Google searches come from mobile devices. Whether the number is 50% or 65%, a tipping point has now been reached, where a fully optimised and performing website for desktop has to meet the same standard on mobile. There are inherent challenges in replicating an aesthetically pleasing and performing desktop site to the smaller screen viewport size, with the myriad options of iPhone, Android, Windows smartphones and tablet devices.
Google has been quietly spruiking the advantages of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for sometime, whilst not overtly signalling this as an SEO ranking factor, it does trip a number of Google's ranking metrics, such as responsive speed and design. AMP is a stripped down version of HTML, (the language of website design) enabling quick loading performance. Platforms like Squarespace have been early adopters with AMP as a user activated available option with all blog content. Content that is AMP enabled is recognisable, as in the following screen shot.
2 - HTTPS Secure Website Encryption
Confidence in feeling secure online and trusting the website being visited is crucial, given the prevalence of potential scams, privacy compromises and security breaches. The acronym of HTTPS 'Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure' is the protocol by which data is sent between the website being viewed and the web browser. Secure sites running the latest HTTP/2 iteration of HTTPS will be denoted by a green padlock in the browser URL address. The practical implication is, this level of security prevents the data traffic being intercepted maliciously, so with properly secured websites there is a high degree of confidence that sensitive information; credit cards, personal details and forms are properly encrypted and will not be compromised.
There are also technical performance benefits with the improved efficiency of the browsing connection. Google has been signalling that HTTPS is important and without explicitly stating it is a ranking factor, within the 'Google ecosystem' anything that provides a safer, more user-friendly experience is implicitly rewarded. As of April 2017 it is estimated that less than 15% of websites are using HTTP/2 and since January 2017 Google Chrome, the most popular web browser has begun labeling non HTTPS sites that transmit passwords and credit card details as 'Not Secure.'
There are various enhancements of HTTPS, such as HSTS 'HTTP Strict Transport Security) a mechanism that prevents websites using the HTTPS protocol from being downgraded within the web browser, ensuring the site viewed is the true version.
We believe at Move37 Consulting that the adoption of HTTPS is essential as best practice technology and also for favourable SEO.
3 - Artificial Intelligence and Awesome Content
Google 'Rank Brain' is a euphemism for machine artificial intelligence (AI) an algorithm (one of Google's many) that assists in processing search results. Combined with the 'Hummingbird algorithm' that recognises long tail search queries, that is basically English natural phrases, the function is for the Google Search engine to constantly learn and provide visitors with the most useful, relevant, trustworthy and authoritative results.
The practicality of this is awesome fresh quality content is rewarded; the days of gaming search ranking with keyword stuffing are history. The benefit of encouraging useful relevant content is having satisfied informed users and a lift in SEO performance. Please refer to our earlier blog Content is still King.
4 - The Rise of Conversational Search
As hardware capability increases voice assistants such as Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant have enabled conversational search engine queries to replace typed commands. Teens have enthusiastically embraced Voice search. This lends itself to Google's Mobile First adoption policy with Mobile being the natural platform capable for voice search. This technology is closely correlated to Point 3 of this blog, where long query search phrases need to be deciphered to produce meaningful search response pages. This intuitive learning is also referred to 'Latent Semantic Indexing' (LSI.)
This natural language inspired conversational search is another compelling reason to encourage quality website content.
As part of a website redesign or improvement program in 2017 these four elements are certainly worthy of consideration. Despite the acronyms and complex technology the overarching mantra is providing fresh, deep and meaningful content for users.
Please talk to us further to assist in ensuring every opportunity is explored in having your website seen.