SEO or search engine optimization and marketing is becoming more complex and important each year. There are many new developments in this field that the website promoter and marketer should be aware of.

Here is a list of some of the most important of these new developments in terms of what you should be looking at for 2017 . We will embroider on each of these in future posts.

1. The BIG one – Mobile. Search engines are focussing on everything mobile as this is a central way that people, especially in countries like South Africa. interact with the Internet. ( see The Reality of Mobile Usage and Social Media Growth in South Africa )  As one pundit states: ” Mobile…is the future …. mobile searches will surpass desktop … Smartphones are expected to achieve 90 percent U.S. market penetration by 2016. And Mobile searches are converting to sales: nearly 80% of local searches on mobile devices turn into a purchase.” ( SEO Trends in 2016 & 2017)
So it is becoming essential to ensure that your site is mobile ready. We will be devoting a long article to this topic next week.

2. Following from the above is the increasing importance of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs).

In brief, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) are “…an open-source protocol that allows webmasters to create pages capable of loading almost instantly on mobile devices. The idea is that a handful of simple structural changes can make your site load up to four times faster and use eight times less data.”( SEO Trends in 2016 & 2017)
As mobile devices become more prevalent as the main source of intersecting and searching the internet, so search engines are rapidly adopting methods of coping with this development. This includes favouring sites that have adopted AMP protocols. This will increase in importance in 2017.

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3. Original and “richer” Content.
While content is the central means of attracting visitors and developing brand awareness, there has been a decisive shift away from repetitive, hackneyed content to original, interesting and longer content. In other words, people are now looking for more in-depth articles on a subject and for posts that provide real value in terms of time spent reading them – and the search engines are fully aware of this trend. Content should also become more focussed on the readership and market that one is trying to attract.
What is meant by rich content is a topic that is being discussed and researched by many experts. The consensus seems to be that while an article or post must not be too long it should contain real substance and not merely repeat what is already out there; and provide the user with value and insight that is useful and seen to be important. We will have a lot more to say on the topic of what content will work for you in 2017.

4. User – experience will became more important. This has been said before in many SEO posts and predictions. This refers as well to what has been stated above about mobile user experience. ” AMPs, which I’ve already mentioned, could be the first sign of this, but look for other ways that Google will favor pages that offer better user experiences overall.”

5. The future is also about https and dynamic websites. There are numerous reports that Google is privilege HTTPS sites in search results. “Google is increasingly earnest in prioritizing secure web pages over regular HTTP ones in its search engine.” ( TheNextWeb)

6. SEO and social media.
The debate about whether social media influences search engine ranking is over – it does!

The question that remains is how exactly social affects your Search engine ranking  and to what extent social media plays a role in SEO. First of all, social media has a definite influence on puchasing decisions “Consumers are looking to social for information and inspiration about which companies to choose and products to purchase. The increasing importance of social signals or Social Search Engine Optimization will continue to be hot “. There are indications that Google will increase its indexation of Twitter, which means that Tweets will become more prevalent  in search results – this  will also be true for other social networks. ( SEO Trends in 2016 & 2017)

7. Optimization for user intent, not keywords.This is a mantra that has often been reiterated in the past two years – that the focus should move away from optimizing  your page for a specific  keyword to optimizing in terms of the perceived user intention. This is aligned with the concept of semantic search, which has already become much more prevalent in SEO.

8. Understanding online developments depends to a great extent on understanding how people view and asssimilate knowledge. Attention span is being radcially reduced with the plethora of data. This has remifications for the marketer and search engine optimization expert.  What this means is that “…While content has been deemed king over the years, the way it’s displayed will steal the show. Online quizzes, video and animated gifs will rise as users attention spans continue to decrease.”

9. Semantic search?
As Andy Crestodina states, “Keywords are out. Topics are in.” “Google will continue to evolve into a semantic search engine, which means that smart marketers will focus on topics, not just keywords. It’s called semantic SEO. They key is to find and use all the words and phrases related to your primary phrase, thereby spreading out your content across the broader topic. ” (https://alamedaim.com/seo-trends/)
11. Schema. 

Using a schema markup is becoming increasingly important with changing Google and user trends. In essence Schema markeup “…is code (semantic vocabulary) that you put on your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users.” (How to Boost Your SEO by Using Schema Markup). This  means that  introducing this simple code  to your pages makes it easier  for the search engines  to interpret and understand  what your site is about and, importantly, to display it on the search pages correctly. This is something  that should already be added to your web pages.