2017 is fast approaching, which means it time to take a look at all the changes coming to 2017 SEO strategy! What will stays? What will go? Let's take a look at our top predictions.
1. User Intent Turns Into a Real Thing
We talk a lot about user intent, but from a practical viewpoint its impact has been minimal on technical SEO, which has still remained very much a keyword game. We expect a subtle but important shift to happen in 2017 – a focus more on user intent, over keywords. What does this mean? Basically, it means trusting search engine AI (Rankbrain) to interpret keywords and search through a variety of cross-meanings. When keywords no longer need to be quite as precise, the game becomes more about predicting user intent via topic phrases...and superb content.
2. Performance Becomes Even More Important
Decreasing bounce rates and improving traffic is always good, right? Well, it's only going to get more important in the coming months. Mobile SEO is going to be increasingly affected by site performance, and those precious few seconds of loading time are going to be a knife's edge for many companies who haven't properly prepared for mobile. Before long, it won't matter how you increase performance and speed, just that it happens before you get left behind.
3. AMP Adoption Skyrockets
Google's AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages are designed to construct faster mobile pages via HTML schematics (and help you answer the above issue of performance). The thing is, adoption in 2016 has been very slow. Web designers are busy tackling other projects, companies are investing in other areas. So, 2017 will be the year where we find out if anyone is going to use AMP. Since Google is essentially saying, "Here's a way to solve all your mobile problems, please take it," we expect that AMP will come into its own and move from a project to a serious 2017 SEO strategy.
4. Backlinks Will Reach a Crossroads
Backlinks! They remain important for successful SEO, but for how much longer? We don't know. Predictions range from backlinks becoming even more important to backlinks finally dying out as a necessary part of 2017 SEO strategy. What we can say is that backlinks will reach an important crossroads when we found out just how much they'll be worth in the years to come.
5. Get Ready—The SERP Will Get More Monetized
Google has been slightly monetizing the SERP for years with those little ads up at the top. It's been very lucrative for the tech giant, and we expect Google to roll out that monetization for many different industries, including local searches. If a person searches for anything that could be seen as a potential purchase, Google is going to throw a few SERP ads at them. The key is being one of those who wins or buys one of those top spots, so keep watching this trend.
6. Gray Hat Automated Contented Breathes Again
Past attempts at automated content have been so ridiculous that considering them potential SEO tactics was laughable. But automators are getting ready to try again in 2017 with more advanced creation kits. This is going to be the big new "cheat" that Google will be fighting against. Fortunately, most automation is likely to be voice search related, so hopefully it won't poison too many wells.
7. Stay Calm: Voice Search Goes Through Puberty
Speaking of voice search, it's time to see what this years-long trend is made of. Many experts are getting excited about this and expect big leaps for voice search in 2017. We're less enthusiastic: It looks like voice search has a very firm and very low ceiling for what it can really be used for in the real world of kids, cars, and fast fingers. However, the spread of voice search will force this search method to grow up quickly and see just what it can do, so expect a lot of changes here over time, from programmable commands and codes to passive listening options. SEO techniques to cover voice search will see a corresponding rise in importance.