So SearchEngineWatch recently published a post about some ‘crazy predictions’ in the world of SEO. We went through them with genuine interest. Some of these could indeed become true, and we will keep you updated as to the industry news throughout the year. The 9 predictions are from Larry Kim of Wordstream. He’s a well respected major player in the digital marketing industry, so it’s always worth seeing what he has to say. Here’s a brief summary of his predictions:
1. We’ll Experience the Biggest Rankings Shift in the History of Google…
“Major algorithmic changes are always a big deal – from old school classics like Florida and Caffeine to more modern algorithmic updates like Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, and RankBrain. RankBrain helps Google select and prioritize the signals it uses for ranking. Engagement is one of the very important signals Google looks at for ranking.”
“Machine learning and AI was an undeniable force in 2016. And I expect machine learning signals to become a bigger and bigger piece of the pie. It’s been my theory that RankBrain (and/or other machine-learning elements within Google’s core algorithm) are increasingly rewarding pages that have high user engagement. In other words: Google has built its own ultimate unicorn detector to ensure that the pages people are clicking on and engaging with the most are rewarded with better search positions.”
2. …But Nobody Will Notice Anything!
Despite this big shifts, Larry believes that, “nobody will notice anything…
RankBrain is more subtle than updates like Panda and Penguin, where up to 90 percent of your organic traffic disappeared instantly overnight. It was easy to see such a ridiculously huge traffic drop, that occurred on a specific date, in your analytics.
But with RankBrain, the rankings shift is happening every day, bit by bit, rather than all at once in one big update. Google is shifting traffic away from your donkeys (pages with average or below average engagement) and toward your unicorns (pages that have 5-10x higher engagement metrics than normal).
Whatever SEO rank-checking tools or weather reports you’re looking at aren’t set up to notice these small and gradual types of changes. They just get lost in the noise.”
3. Google Will Unite Featured Snippets & Organic Listings
Larry says, “Google’s featured snippets and organic listing will converge.
Here’s my theory. Snippets were just a sandbox/testing environment where they could try out user engagement signals in search and the rest of the rankings didn’t use them. Now that they’ve bought into this idea, they can consolidate the two concepts.”
4. Google Will Kill Organic Positions 6-10
“As a result of machine learning, I believe Google will decide that it no longer needs to show positions 6-10. The decluttered SERP will be populated with more ads (which will generate higher CTRs than the organic listings they replaced). The actual impact for most websites should be minimal because most people aren’t clicking on those organic listings now anyway.”
5. We’ll Say Goodbye to Local SEO
“Google Shopping (a.k.a. Product Search) used to be great. Then Google changed the game and Google Shopping became a 100 percent pay-to-play system.
The local SEO train has gone on for way too long. These are 100 percent commercial queries and Google’s next big land grab.
There’s no easy way to cushion the blow for my fifth SEO prediction for 2017, so I’ll just say it: local SEO as we’ve known it will die.”
6. Black Hat SEOs Will Create Fake Engagement
We all know “the importance of engagement metrics and how this can impact your SEO success. This includes metrics from click-through rates, to dwell time, to task completion rates (a.k.a. conversion rates).”
“Google already has a pretty lengthy list of tactics that are against its Webmaster Guidelines. Well, expect that list to expand in (or after) 2017.”
7. Google Will Declare War on Tool Providers
“Why should Google care more about this now? Probably because rank checkers screw up CTR and bounce calculations. A few Google people have tweeted about this actually.”
8. An SEO Company Will Die
“one or more major SEO vendors or service companies will be sold off. Google sometimes makes an example of a small company they believe is behaving badly by publicly punishing them so badly that they close.”
9. SEO Will Be More Valuable Than Ever
Larry concludes by saying, “Though much of this post may seem like doom and gloom, one thing’s for sure: SEO won’t die. (Though it’s an extremely safe bet the entire practice of SEO will be declared dead and/or dying at least a few times this year!)
Despite all of its challenges (and the many more on the horizon), SEO will be an even more valuable marketing channel to the lucky winners in 2017 and beyond.
My final SEO prediction: Fewer and fewer winners will win bigger and bigger SEO jackpots. “
Okay, so all that seems a bit wild, but who would’ve predicted two years ago that Google would get rid of right hand ads? That seemed crazy at the time, but it’s worked. All the changes usually send everyone’s heads in a spin, but if you’re a sensible company that works towards best practice anyway, the shift shouldn’t be that seismic!
Top Tips for Surviving SEO in 2017:
Add value – create content that is relevant, good quality but actually really useful in extra ways.
Make browsing easier – guide users to yet more relevant content on your site – blog posts, product pages etc.
Focus on the content – search engines are looking at the content rather than the optimisation, so make sure that yours is more appealing than your competitors’. Monitor the interaction with your site – what works, what doesn’t.
Make sure you’re one of the few that wins big with SEO in 2017. Do it the right way, with a company that prides itself on only using Google best practices and being goody two shoes while achieving great results for our partners. Read more>>