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Mar 16
Search engine updates and announcements

Top Dominating SEO Trends & Tools for 2017

Search Engine Optimisation(SEO) is the act of increasing a website’s ranking on search engines through the optimisation of its content and references. Its primary purpose is to make your site more visible to your potential customers and visitors.

SEO is a highly versatile process that does not involve set techniques. Its nature continually changes based on some factors such as:

  • New technological advancements
  • Search engine updates and announcements
  • What tactics are being used by your competitors

Anyone who performs SEO should stay up-to-date with such trends to achieve optimum results. There is an abundance of tools available for that. Usage of such tools and following the latest trends can also be significantly advantageous in maintaining achieved rankings.

Some consultants in the industry are reluctant to change their ways. They believe that old tactics are capable of producing similar results to the latest ones. Changes can be costly but at the same time are incredibly powerful over old techniques.

Latest Trends

New SEO trends are emerging every six months to a year, while gradually making old methods less efficient.

Search Engine Updates & Announcements

Most SEO techniques tend to evolve upon major announcements made by the premier search engines. Following is a graph that indicates such announcements made by Google in the year 2016:

Search engine updates and announcements

Legend

Blue colour: Google Updates
Red colour: Businesses obtained by Google
Green colour: Announcements made by Google on official Webmaster blog
Purple colour: Google patent publications
Brown colour: Google products

The majority of disclosures mentioned above have also influenced SEO techniques to be altered. For example,

  1. Googlebot update for Smartphones
  2. Mobile Friendly 2
  3. New Mobile-Friendly Test Tool
  4. Penguin 4.0 update
  5. New AMP Tester
  6. Mobile First Indexing

have all demanded website owners to make their websites mobile-friendly to gain higher rankings.

Bing has also transformed the SEO world through their algorithm updates. They have recently updated them to support app indexing more efficiently to cater the increasing search volume for smartphone apps (Wehren, 2015). Redefining the accepted sitemap file sizes from 10mb to 50mb is another important change that they have made last year (Canel, 2016)

New Technological Advancements

RankBrain

There have been some significant advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the past few years. By the end of 2015, Google had integrated an AI system called RankBrain to their main search algorithm. Its primary objective is to learn search patterns and make searching on the web much easier and more effective. RankBrain has also made some positive impacts on Search Engine Optimisation by making ambiguous search queries more concise and understandable. For example, it would convert a search query like “Brown coloured sweet confectionery” to Chocolate. Following is a search conducted on Google with it, and as it can be seen, chocolate or chocolate products are highlighted on 4 out of 7 top results despite the ambiguity.

RankBrain Google search result page

Web 3.0

Web 3.0 is another technological leap that primarily aims to provide the best possible user experience. It has lowered the expectations of the users when conducting searches on the web.  From an SEO perspective, it means more quality and highly relevant content. It has also defined new standards for website usability. Most of the search engines have already begun to enforce them by penalising sites with low usability by lowering their rankings. Google is strict on penalties. If your site has been hit with a penalty, then you should consult someone experienced in Google penalty recovery.

AMP

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project is another significant trend that website owners should dig more. An AMP is essentially a lightweight web page designed to load faster than usual. It uses a combination of HTML, CSS and JavaScript standards defined by Google and a large number of caches to speed up the website on mobile devices. AMPs are not a direct ranking factor, but it can vastly improve your site’s user experience and attract more visitors to it. Following is an illustration of how you would see AMPs on your search results page.

AMP project in search results

What Are The Latest SEO Tools?

There is a large number of tools available for free to help you optimise your websites. There are also more surfacing along with new trends. Most of them are designed and provided to you by leading search engines. Following is a list composed of the latest and the most important of such tools.

Structured Data Markup Helper & Structured Data Testing Tool by Google

Schema.org, also known as ‘Schema’ is a standard defined by leading search engines including Google, Bing and Yahoo. It enables you to transfer additional information about your site directly to their search result pages. From an SEO viewpoint, it is extremely beneficial because it highlights your web page among all the other results.  Following is an example where you can see review Schemas in the search results.

Review schemas in the search results

The kinds of data that you can provide to search engines using Schemas include event details, company reviews, product information, tv ratings and much more. Usage of Schemas includes amending additional HTML tags to your web pages. Structured Data Markup Helper & Structured Data Testing Tool are two tools developed by Google to help you add them accurately to your site.

Structured Data Markup Helper helps you quickly generate Schema tags based on the information you enter, which you can then copy over to your site. Schema Data Testing Tool, on the other hand, helps you test your site for any existing Schemas and detect any errors.

Google Trends

Keywords are the foundation of SEO. It is unrealistic to expect to see your web page at the top of each and every search result page. It is highly recommended that you choose the most trending and the most relevant keywords for each of your web pages. It can also be highly beneficial to compare your competitors’ keyword trends as well in the process. Google Trends is a tool that allows you achieve just that.

You can enter as many keywords as you want to it and discover their popularity in particular regions. You can also compare the trends of other keywords with yours, which can help you to stand out among your competitors. Mastering the use of Google Trends has become an essential for any SEO consultant.

GTMetrics

User Experience of web pages has become indispensable. It is one of the main ranking factors of search engines. UX factors that can affect web page ranking include:

  • Loading Speed
  • Security
  • Easy Navigation
  • Internal Linking
  • Mobile Usability
  • Bounce Rate

Among them, page loading speed is considered to be the most important. There are certain metrics defined by search engines to measure page loading speeds such as Google PageSpeed and Yahoo YSlow. GMetrics is a tool that allows you to analyse your web pages using such metrics and generate a detailed report. Following is a report produced for google.com.au using GTMetrics:

GTMetrics result for google.com.au

In addition to a detailed report, it also provides some suggestions as to how you could improve the performance of web pages.

Conclusion

Search Engine Optimisation is a process that is in a constant state of flux. There are new trends, techniques, rules and regulations frequently surfacing, making their predecessors less effective or entirely ineffective. Being informed of such changes is essential for any SEO consultant and to provide great SEO services. Failure to do so will result in a waste of resources or a loss of previously achieved results. There is an abundance of tools available in the open web to assist you to adhere to such changes. Discovering them and mastering the use of them can be crucial for anyone to survive in the industry and maintain their reputation.

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