5 Ways Your SEO Strategy MUST Evolve in 2017
All three of these things are heavily influencing SEO strategy as we near the midway point of 2017. Many of the nuts and bolts of SEO haven't changed; links, keyword optimization and the other usual suspects still matter. Look at the big picture, though, and you'll see how smartphone usage, artificial intelligence and societal trends are touching every aspect of search engine marketing.
In this post, we'll review the top 5 SEO game changers that we've already seen in 2017. This isn't a list of tips to improve your website's SEO — rather, these are ongoing, seismic shifts that can guide your marketing strategy going forward.
Google's Mobile-First Index
More people search the Internet from mobile devices than on desktop PCs, but that isn't new. Mobile searches eclipsed desktop searches two years ago, and the gap continues to widen.
What's different though is that Google is going to prioritize mobile SEO over desktop SEO. Earlier this year, Google announced its mobile-first index, which crawls the mobile versions of websites rather than their desktop counterparts. Google only crawls desktop websites when mobile-friendly versions can't be found — and given the direction of today's SEO, those websites aren't likely to fare well on search engine results pages.
What does this mean for business owners and online marketers?
The good news is that if your website is built with a responsive design, then the roll-out of the mobile-first index shouldn't affect you. And if your site was built recently using WordPress, Joomla or another CMS, chances are good that it's already responsive. If your website isn't responsive, then you need to focus your optimization efforts on your mobile site. That might mean simplifying your menus, lengthening content or revising what shows "above the fold" on smartphone browsers. Basically, you must make your site as appealing and intuitive as possible for visitors using mobile devices. Your desktop site takes a back seat.
That said, don't neglect your desktop site! Although mobile SEO will earn you better search rankings, desktop visits are still significantly more likely to result in conversions, according to 2016 data from the Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly.
Rise of the Machines
At face value, machine learning has caused minimal movement in Google's search engine rankings. That said, the overall impact of machine learning couldn't be more profound.
Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence that allows computer programs to evolve based on the automated analysis of data. Google's algorithm is still very much driven by humans, and Google officials have said this will remain the case indefinitely. However, the search engine giant uses machine learning to craft and test adjustments to its search algorithms. Google is literally taking its cues from more than 3.5 billion searches each day.
Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.
Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.