Over the years, Google algorithm updates have seen the search industry twist and turn and our focus shift from pillar to post.
We saw Penguin fight spam, Panda embrace content quality and Mobilegeddon designed to see mobile-friendly pages boosted in Google search results - to name few.
As we make our way through 2017, SEO practitioners continue to monitor Google's forthcoming algorithm updates in a bid to stay ahead of the game and pioneer search engine visibility.
The question is: where should we focus in 2017?
“Content is king”: 3 words every SEO practitioner has found themselves saying at least once in their career. And guess why we say it? Because its true, content really is king.
With the power to improve rankings, generate traffic, and persuade a user to buy or not to buy a product, it's not exactly news; content is a huge part of search.
As 2017 continues to unfold, a sound content strategy should remain at the forefront of SEO efforts.
Moving away from keyword-focused content, it seems strategies implementing more ‘natural’ writing, with content focused on offering value and relevance to the user, is appearing more prominently in search results.
Google’s number one ranking factor, alongside great content, is the backlink metric - and it’s here for the long haul.
Needless to say, quality over quantity will always be the key factor when it comes to sourcing and accumulating backlinks. In its fight against spam and dedication to delivering authoritative, relevant search results, Google will continue to use backlinks to determine the authenticity of a website and there's no getting away from it.
Accumulating high quality backlinks will remain an integral aspect of search throughout 2017 and probably for years to come.
3. Mobile-First Indexing
Most people are searching using mobile devices, hence the Mobilegeddon algorithm update in April 2015.
The algorithm update was introduced as a tactic to offer relevant content to mobile users although, Google has stated how its ranking systems “still typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content to evaluate its relevance to a user” on the Webmaster Central Blog.
The importance of implementing mobile-friendly versions of primary content will become even more important in 2017 as Google continues to experiment complete mobile-first indexing.
The Mobile-Friendly Test API by Google allows webmasters to test URLs for mobile-friendliness. Stay ahead of the game in 2017 by testing your website here.
As Google continues to stride in the direction of creating the ultimate user-experience, mobile-first will remain close to the top of the list as mobile searches continue to rise.
4. Rank Brain
The third most influential ranking signal and the one to watch in 2017, Rank Brain is the newest addition to the Google Hummingbird algorithm update.
This algorithm addition uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to deliver search results which don’t necessarily contain keywords matching the initial query.
Instead, this system delivers results based on its understanding of ambiguous language and the use of synonyms to further understand search queries.
As the Rank Brain algorithm continues to advance, the focus will shift from “keyword” focused content in 2017 to informative content that’s written naturally.
With over 200 ranking factors to consider in SEO, it's safe to say some out-weigh others - significantly!
As the search industry continues to develop, the best strategy an SEO practitioner can incorporate is one which focuses on offering the most value to the user. After all, Google’s sole aim is to create an unparalleled user experience, and naturally, we must follow suit.
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