SEO Trends for 2017: Voice Search, Google RankBrain, Mobile-First

Google is forever changing the SEO landscape with features like Voice Search, Accelerated Mobile Pages, and Machine Learning/Google Rank Brain. How will this impact SEO in 2017 and beyond? What are the key emerging trends? And what’s the impact on mobile and the digital marketing funnel?

As part of our continued commitment to provide our clients the best possible results from our SEO Services, we joined the Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association (AiMA) and SEMPO Atlanta for their fantastic October SEO event, where some of Atlanta’s top SEO players shared their SEO insights.

Joining the discussion was moderator Stephanie Wallace, Senior Director of SEO at Nebo Agency. Panel speakers included Scott Nickels, Director of Audience & Engagement at Hearst Autos, Jordan Silton, Director of SEO & Marketing at CoStar Group and Nate Shivar, Owner at Shivar Web Consulting.

Kicking off our panel was the topic of voice search, popularized through many different digital assistants such as Siri, Cortana, “Ok Google” and Amazon Alexa.

How will voice search change SEO?

Voice search is the fastest growing type of search. Already 55% of teens and 41% of adults are using voice search daily (source Search Engine Land). This trend is only increasing, so what are the implications for SEO?

Excellent SEO strategy starts with keyword discovery. Websites thrive through search when they identify which keywords are most relevant to meet business goals, and then use SEO tactics to position highly on the search engines for these terms.

Voice search is changing traditional keyword discovery, to favor more contextual, natural phrases over prior short-tail search language. Common voice searches can often exceed seven word phrases, extremely long-tail keywords compared to traditional desktop and mobile searches.

Additionally, another major implication of voice search is the importance of being in the top position, “becoming the default”. The website that most closely matches the user’s query will beat out their competitors by being the top resource.

How can I optimize for voice search?

In a nutshell, great content is still king for SEO. However, discovering popular long-tail keywords that come through voice search may be an SEO tactic that positions you above your competitors.

Nate Shivar from the AIMA panel recommends your website should “answer the question behind the keyword”. Get your website found before the user necessarily knows what they need. To do this, your site requires voice search-optimized content that benefits the user experience.

Next, your great content will need the support of external backlinks to assert your website’s authority on the topic. These third-party sites will confirm to the search engines that your content is extremely relevant and meaningful to the user.

What is Google RankBrain and how does it impact SEO?

If you’ve ever used voice search, you might find you’re asking more questions and expect precise, contextual answers. This requires machine-learning, wrapped into Google’s algorithm as RankBrain.

RankBrain is the way Google can pick apart a long-tail keyword and understand (as an artificial intelligence) what the user is searching for. Consider the following example:

SEO trends 2017

Ask Google, “When is a good time to visit Rome, Italy?” This is quite a complex question for a computer, don’t you think? From this search, Google needs to understand you’re looking for the best time frame to visit Rome, maybe when the weather is nicest or when Rome is least crowded.

In this example, www.frommers.com beats their competitors by optimizing their webpage around this voice search. From this, their site is the “default” or top answer for many popular digital assistants that search using Google.

What is the future of SEO in 2017 and beyond? SEO for Mobile-First

Google and the search engines will continue to serve the best possible content to their users. We’ve already seen the volume of mobile searches exceed desktop searches, and how Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm impacted SEO. This trend is only going to expand to benefit the end-user experience, in favor of mobile users.

The AIMA panelists agreed that mobile page speed is more than a trending fad for SEO. They recommend trimming your mobile-friendly site to the essentials so the page loads quickly and results in a positive user experience. Sites that load quickly for mobile users are rewarded with higher domain authority and therefore higher keyword ranks.

In order to succeed in the competitive Google landscape, you need a team that is mindful of the most impactful trends in SEO. If you’re looking for an Atlanta SEO company that has your future business success in mind, we invite you to call 404-751-1043 for a complementary SEO analysis and consultation.