5 Ways SEO Has Changed in 2017
Google’s algorithm is erratic and unpredictable, often changing multiple times per day without any warnings or announcements. Typically, when something goes right—or wrong—across the board, the most logical conclusion is that Google has rolled out an update that has either positively or negatively affected search engine optimization.
Of course, staying abreast of changes in the Internet marketing world is crucial if you want your website to withstand the test of time. Even if these changes always tend to work in your favor, it makes logical sense to understand why.
Although 2017 hasn’t been plagued by penguins, pigeons, or hummingbirds, there were still some major updates that could affect your planning, budgeting, and overall strategy in the future.
Google Became More Mobile-Oriented
In 2016, we hit a major Internet milestone. For the first time in history, more people were accessing the web via mobile technology (smartphones and tablets) than by computers. In response, Google launched an initiative to build a more mobile-friendly Internet standard, known as Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). In laymen’s terms, it’s a simplified form of HTML that’s quicker to load. Incorporating AMP into your SEO strategy is no longer optional, but necessary.
Fred Punished the Moneymakers
In early March, Google silently rolled out Fred. This update caused a major upset in the SEO world, particularly among affiliate marketers, many of which took a traffic hit of 90%. Google later admitted that it was a major update aimed at tackling websites rife with advertisements and poor-quality content.
Website Quality Became More Important
Traffic and website performance metrics hold more precedence than ever before. Google wants to send traffic to popular websites and pages; therefore, site visits, time spent browsing, bounce rate, and pages per session are now fundamental to SEO. Shallow websites that don’t contain much content and have a poor design tend to perform far worse than well-designed deep sites with more content.
Engaging Content Has Gained More Weight
Gone are the days of the 500-word SEO article. For years search marketers have tried to define the content-length sweet spot, and have been forced to reassess their strategy when the rules changed. While word counts don’t really matter if the job is done right, most engaging, in-depth articles tend to be a few pages long. Recent reports from HubSpot state that blog posts between 2,250 and 2,500 words, and which contain images and interactive elements, tend to rank much higher in the SERPs.
Traditional SEO Is No Longer “SEO”
A decade ago it was all about keywords and keyword density. Nowadays, Google’s algorithm is so advanced it doesn’t need any exact-match keywords at all to rank a relevant page. In fact, according to MDG Advertising, 18% of all pages that have the number-one spot for a high-volume keyword don’t contain it within the body text. Even backlinks (unless they are highly trusted) are losing precedence in Google’s ranking criteria. While the “classic” SEO techniques are a good starting point, going forward it’s better to think outside the box and pioneer new techniques rather than follow trends.
Google has one primary goal: to rank websites based on their relevancy and quality. Contrary to popular belief, they are not constantly at odds with search marketers; they simply want the SEO process to be conducted ethically and in a manner that enhances the Internet. Fundamentally, long-term, good-quality search engine optimization is about making an active contribution to the online world. So, if you aren’t doing your part, now is the time to start making changes.
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