The most dangerous mindset anyone working in Search Engine Optimization can adopt is the believing you can use the same SEO strategies year after year and expect consistent results. Google’s algorithm was originally programmed nearly two decades ago, long before the rise of smartphones or the Internet we know it today. There’s obviously been major changes since then, and if you’re not keeping up with them, you’re going to get left behind. Here’s 4 major trends affecting SEO in June 2017:
1. The Rise Of Machine Learning
Machine Learning is something you’re going to be hearing a lot about in the coming years (if you haven’t already) no matter what industry you’re in. It’s a growing field of computer science that’s focused on teaching computers or computer programs how to learn on their own. You’ve probably seen some more infamous examples like the chatbot that Twitter taught to be racist, but machine learning is actually an extremely powerful tool that’s being embraced by search engines and SEO agencies alike.
Google – ever the trendsetter – is using elements of machine learning in both their Penguin and their Panda algorithms so that they can learn to tell the difference between high-quality and low-quality content (that is, content that is actually helpful to readers and content that just spams keywords optimally.) We’re not sure exactly how Google’s machine learning algorithms work or to what extent they’re being put in place, but it’s something to watch. Here’s an article that does a good job summarizing what we know so far. Plus, machine learning is also an important part of Natural Language Processing, which we’ve written about here.
On the flipside, machine learning algorithms are an incredibly powerful tool for those working in SEO, because they can respond to changes in trends faster than humans. You can learn more about how Kiai uses machine learning Here
2. The Death Of The Keyword
Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic. Keywords are still a very useful way to help search engines understand what your article is about. But they’re no longer the be-all end-all of SEO. Partially, this is yet another effect of machine learning – Google has learned what users want, and it’s not product pages. Also: Google’s algorithm can see if you’re spamming a keyword unnaturally and will penalize you for trying to game the system. Besides, what happens if you’ve focused exclusively on one keyword (like “SEO trends”) and somebody who’s looking for your content words their search slightly differently (like “changes in SEO”)?
But the biggest problem with an obsessive keyword focus is that not only does it no longer bring as many views to your page, it also fails to create long-term customer engagement. Creating high-quality content that people want to come back to (and that looks “good” to Google’s algorithm) is a lot more important than just generating traffic. And while we’re on the subject, let’s talk about…
3. The Need For Social Signals
Try something for me: Google the phrase “glass jewelry.” I’ll wait. If you did, you probably saw that the first two results were for Etsy, a site that has no incoming link building and shies away from aggressive SEO in general.
How, then, is Etsy dominating the SERPs? And not just for glass jewelry, either, but for everything from “homemade gift tags” to “kitten socks.” The answer is simple: Etsy provides products that people want, and those people tell their friends about it. Google refuses to say whether or not social signals actually boost a website’s place in their rankings, but evidence shows that people posting about your website on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest can raise domain authority and page authority, even if they don’t post links or the links they post are nofollow. That said, floods of negative reviews can actually hurt your place in the rankings, so make sure those posts are actually positive.
Social media is already a huge part of your brand’s presence, but now it’s also part of your brand’s SEO. The same can be said of…
4. The Importance Of A Mobile Focus
It’s a simple truth: in the United States, most online activity is taking place on phones and tablets. As a result, Google favors sites that are optimized for mobile devices and may even start to prioritize apps over actual websites. Focusing on optimizing your content for mobile-first indexing and making sure that your mobile site is up to snuff is going to improve your standing with search engines and with your customers, making this one a no-brainer.