*This is a post I originally wrote for Shane at The Digital Squad*
SEO is a fast moving river that is always adapting and changing as we do. As we see the bookend of 2016 approaching like a freight train 2017 will come in just as fast. So what do the tea leaves say to those steeped in the black art of SEO. When we look into our Crystal ball at the digital squad we find these some of the trends that will be crashing against the shore.
Be Unique and Vary the length and the density
For 2017 this means that if you have content online that is just copied and pasted from somewhere else it will probably cause your Google ranking to dive into the abyss. So what will make your rankings see the surface of the vast digital ocean is unique content. While in the days of yore you may have posted the same article in many places now Google today will more likely prioritize unique content over that which is the same or similar enough to what other content is out there. If it appears elsewhere the invisible bots that crawl you page may send it to down Dante’s search inferno.
Along the same lines varying the length of content will matter, short posts on single topics, long posts that go into great depth and relatively short posts that are rich in information all have their place. While the first 2 are common creating short posts that are information dense is probably one of the hardest ways to write because you must get in the most amount of meaning in the fewest amount of words, a skill I for one have yet to even begin to master.
Do you remember when a few years ago when there was a difference between the Internet you saw on your computer screen and the version of it found on your smartphone? While it still exists for many websites, the lines are blurring so that the difference is nearly non-existent.
The Speed Demon Seeks a Faster Mobile Search
Although that day is coming as more search starts from mobile Google has prioritised lightening page loading through AMP. AMP stands for accelerated mobile pages which is an open source initiative that is a way to build pages for static content that can render fast. The first part of this is AMP HTML which uses some restrictions to ensure speed and performance. Then there is the AMP JS which manages resource loading so that your page is there almost instantly.
The final element is the Google AMP Cache which is used to deliver all valid AMP documents. This delivery network ensures that the page is guaranteed to work and not be dependent on external sources which can slow your page to a crawl. As Google search priorities mobile over searches on a computer if your site isn’t AMP ready then it may never be found. So it is something that everyone will have to consider adopting if they haven’t already.
(This is where you see things really changing as the shift to mobile begins to dominate as a result of many people today start getting their Internet access on their mobiles first.)
What are they doing here? You better know or you could be screwed
It isn’t easy to optimize your site for all the various keywords of your topic but combine that with user intent that’s when things start getting interesting. User intent is about what someone is looking for when they do a search? So you have to look beyond the words and the person may be looking to get to a specific website, or maybe they are looking for a piece of information which they could get without leaving the search results at all or they are prepared to buy or exchange something for something else.
So the biggest thing website owners can do is identify why people are going to their website and have funnels that will get them to where they want to be. This can be going to your latest article, signing up for your newsletter after you promised to send them a free ebook or they may want to talk to you about what hiring for something either by knowing their most probable intents you can create the funnels to get them there.
Honourable Mention goes to the first warning signs of Skynet
Skynet is coming to search as the web spiders begin to learn on their own. What I’m talking about here is machine learning and deep learning which has become a major source of research in artificial intelligence. For us this doesn’t mean all that much and even in 2017 most of the algorithms will be written by some of the smartest people on Earth but still people. What machine and deep learning means is that the computer will one day be able to take all these inputs and find patterns that we never could alone.
It also means the factors they consider will be much more varied and dynamic which means that if the machine can change the algorithm without our intervention then they can make leaps and see patterns emerge well before we could. It could be the future but as long as we don’t give the machines bodies then I think we will be OK at least for awhile.
So as the river continues to flow it changes us as much as we change it and that is part of what makes the ride so much fun. Every year brings its own challenges for those of us that seek to capture the attention of audiences and for the audiences themselves who are getting smarter each year.