To be quite honest, the changes within the internet marketing industry during 2017 weren’t so extreme.
For example, in comparison to 2016 when RankBrain hit the stage or previous years when the complete face of the industry altered, 2017 has been rather peaceful so far.
Of course this might be the result of Google keeping secret of their works; it is really hard to tell what is going on nowadays. Even a year after RankBrain we still have limited information about it for example.
Google continued on its same track doing everything in its power to transfer decision making to the user.
We’ve also seen an enormous shift in technology applied.
Mobile devices have overtaken desktops in terms of browsing. It is another factor that constantly changes the field and the company is recognising it.
However, the thing that is interesting to an average SEO expert is how content will look in the forthcoming period. In the end, content is what generates leads, brings higher rankings and overall traffic properly to your blog.
Here are some noteworthy changes that occurred during this year so far.
1. Google is shifting towards mobile search
Although mobile devices have been dominant for a while (both in terms of number of searches and online purchases) Google hasn’t done so much about it until recently.
One of the latest things we’ve seen is that Google will now give advantage to pages that are optimised for mobile devices.
In other words, even if you open a page on desktop, the mobile version will get priority. In case you don’t have mobile version of a page, the desktop will be presented.
This is a way Google responds to the overwhelming number of mobile users and the trend will probably continue.
Needless to say, not having a mobile optimized website can kill your business.
This can also be seen in rankings as not optimized pages are severely hit. Amongst others, this might be a result of Google giving control to its users.
In other words, when a person sees a page on their mobile phone that isn’t properly presented, they will immediately bounce and Google will register this behavior.
This is only a presumption given that Google constantly tells us that user engagement factors are not so important.
However, there are some case studies which are a clear proof that UX metrics help SEO rankings.
2. Videos are ranking higher and higher
For some time, people would disregard YouTube videos as something that is hard to rank for. Although there are certain keywords where videos have clear advantage, it is still not a method that should be used exclusively.
However, we’ve seen a noticeable shift in how Google perceives video content.
Nowadays, it is common to see videos ranking among top 10 even for queries that are highly technical and theoretical. This is due to an increased number of explainer videos being created.
Explainer videos or simply ‘explainers’ are a type of video that is used to explain a concept, method or to define something.
It is a form of highly dense content where a person answers a brief question lasting up to several minutes.
In a way, this is a digital form of classic textual content.
So, why are explainers and videos in general getting such a big boost?
You might argue that they are being seen more often as the younger generation tend to prefer YouTube to everything else.
Google simply cannot neglect humongous numbers of views some of these clips are getting and rightfully, they are placing them among top positions in search.
Explainers are another example of the constantly decreasing audience attention span.
In fact, this is something that even videos are suffering from as they are forced to become shorter and shorter in order to meet the needs of viewers.
Until recently ultimate guides were seen as the ultimate form of content. They were SEOs bread and butter guaranteeing they have the type of content that cannot be beaten by competition.
What is the basic premise of an ultimate guide?
Simply put they are pages filled with information packed in a way so it answers all users’ questions.
As such, you don’t need to go to another page or switch website, which results in overwhelmingly higher ranking in comparison to regular articles.
With such amazing content you would think that nothing can go wrong. This isn’t precisely true.
Like everything else in SEO this method became overused and numerous experts started preaching it as a go-to method for link building.
Due to this high number of people being trained to create ultimate guides, they became overdone.
Ultimate guides were competing against definitive guides in a battle where nobody won and you had to create something really enormous or amazing to catch attention of increasingly picky bloggers from which you expected a link.
User engagement factors are something that is often talked about in terms of their importance for SEO. So far we’ve received a lot of back and forth information confirming and disproving their importance.
Brian Dean has done a case study proving that there is correlation between better user engagement stats and ranking.
Nevertheless, correlation isn’t conclusive enough to give us proof.
On the other hand, we have people from Google who are claiming that these factors are not important.
At the end of the day, it is hard to neglect them as they show you how engaged your visitors are.
Still, in terms of SEO it is really hard to tell what is actually happening behind algorithms. Anyway, we will need to continue observing and measuring.
The SEO industry wasn’t particularly turbulent this year.
Except for the recent Fred update, there aren’t many things that are noteworthy. Still, the year isn’t over and there are several months to go.
As you can see, shifts that are happening are mostly going towards mobile search and user engagement.
Other trends worth mentioning are the increased focus on website speed and the accelerated migration from HTTP to HTTPS.
We also see a shift towards videos. It seems that in future years we will have to focus on other forms of content besides textual one in order to stay in business.