Guest Post by Rob Bonham
Here is a guest blog post by Rob Bonham. I asked him what his 3 Big SEO Predictions were for 2017. I thought this was worth sharing.
If you are familiar with SEO, you have probably heard speculation over the past several years that SEO is dead or that it is no longer relevant to the marketing mix. I can tell you first hand that SEO has never been more important. I would even emphatically say that the future of SEO has never looked brighter! In fact, Google has gone all in to provide searchers with the best results for any given search query. They have done this by eliminating low quality results with their algorithm updates (namely Panda & Penguin updates), implementing changes to how their engine works (i.e. RankBrain) and providing clearly defined (or at least mostly clear) SEO guidelines. With that being said, SEO is definitely undergoing major changes that will impact the future of SEO in 2017 and beyond. Based on social chatter and information published by Google, here are my top 3 predictions of how SEO’s future will be impacted.
1) Content: Topic Modeling Use Will Increase
The biggest way to ensure your content wins in 2017 and beyond is by incorporating terms/keywords that are related to the overarching topic modeling of your web page. So how is this done? Get used to thinking about your content at a broad level. The days of creating a landing page for every keyword you wish to rank for are over. Think about your landing page content from a user perspective and make sure your content explores their search query in full. What topics and subtopics would the user find particularly useful to the overall topical theme of the landing page? Are there synonymous terms that can be used throughout the natural language of the page? Are your products/services referred to differently depending on regional dialect? For example, I worked for a retailer that sold drinking fountains in the U.S. market. Depending on the region, drinking fountains can also be referred to as “water coolers” or “bubblers”. Incorporating these terms in the page copy naturally will provide semantic relevance that all 3 terms are all meaning the same thing. This will help your content to rank for many more search queries more efficiently. To recap, start thinking about your content from a user perspective, explore the topic in full and incorporate natural language that is native to the searcher intent.
2) Technical: Schema Will Become Standard SEO Practice
Schema is a web markup initiative that is backed by Google, Yahoo & Bing that allows the search engines to understand the meaning of data on a web page. Using Schema markup also allows search engines to present more information on their search engine results pages. Currently over 36% of Google searches are presenting results using Schema. Furthermore, a 2014 Searchmetrics study has shown that web pages that use Schema tend to rank 4 positions higher in search results! That in of itself should be enough to get you implementing Schema right away. No need to go crazy in marking up everything though, only the most important information on the page. For example, Schema.org has markup types for Events (i.e. concerts, conferences), Recipes, Product, Reviews and many many more. Google displays this data in their search engine results as a means to improve the searcher’s experience. When Google wins, your website wins increased visibility and traffic! Google is pushing more use of Schema across the web and providing developer resources. In turn, we will be seeing a large increase in websites implementing Schema in the foreseeable future.
3) Linking: External Link Emphasis Will Decrease
Considering the increased focus by major search engines on content and technical SEO as mentioned above, it is a reasonable prediction that SEO will become less focused on external link signals. As search engines continue to improve their algorithms to mimic human web behavior, they are able to extract better meaning of content and data on a given web page. Google knows that backlinking is an SEO tactic that has been exploited and spammed in the past to manipulate search rankings. Google has taken measures that include updates to their algorithm (Penguin update) and in some cases penalized sites to the point they are no longer included in search results altogether. The technical and on page SEO tactics that create a great user experience can not be spammed. Don’t get me wrong, external links will still prove useful on multiple levels and will continue to be used as a ranking factor. I would caution SEOs to be very strategic in how they acquire links back to their websites and to avoid building scalable link schemes as to avoid link penalties.
Keep in mind that these are my personal predictions and that SEO is an ever evolving online marketing practice. What might work today may not work tomorrow so please keep yourself up-to-date and vigilant of changes to the SEO landscape. 2017 should be an interesting year! I am always interested in SEO discussions and other points of view, so please reach out to me. Find me on Twitter @rob_bonham
About Author: Rob Bonham is the owner of Rank Naturally, an SEO and online marketing company that specializes in helping small to medium business succeed online. He has 10 years of experience successfully leading national and local SEO campaigns by leveraging technical SEO, implementing content strategies and acquiring high quality links.