Search Engine Optimization Priorities for 2017

So, the end of the year is approaching. We’ll soon be feasting fork over knife, then opening presents, then saying, “I can’t believe it’s Spring already – you know the drill.

For now though, we can take a minute to reflect on the year behind us and the year ahead. And, if you like, let’s consider it through the lens of an SEO. What’s happened and what is likely still to happen that impacts our worlds?
A pretty serious shift this year toward AI has happened. While that may have influence via personal assistants, it’s still a very green field. As far as 2017 is concerned, these the areas SEOs need to focus on in the year ahead:

  1. Preparing for voice search
  2. Taking a continued look into local search results
  3. Rewiring page code to be screaming fast
  4. Marking sites up with schema

1. Get ready for Voice Search

What is voice search? Voice search is spoken search.

How is voice search unique? Voice search tends to be more question-based, a bit longer, and is in the rise.

How do you prepare? Make your content conversational. This really should have been on our minds and something we’re doing already.

According to ComScore 50% of searches in 2020 will come from voice search. 

With semantic search, Google’s algorithm forced us to begin being less focused on one keyword phrase and to consider a broader approach. Include synonyms, speak topically. Be useful.

Being useful has – arguably – been not simply a search manifestation, but a marketing manifestation. With millennials we have a generation larger or as large as any alive. One that also has – like the rest of us – found itself to be tired and untrusting of corporate advertising messages. Bored and ‘done’ with corporate-speak – this generation is looking for brands that can be helpful, human, and handy. I can’t stress that enough. Authentic, genuine, real. Time has come. … Make your content conversational. Write how you speak. It’ll pay dividends with voice search, and with millennials and anyone else looking for a real voice.

2. Continue to Optimize for Local SERP

Continue to look into local search engine results pages (SERP). Things continue to change there, and depending on your type of business this could be a pretty serious battleground.

There are a whole host of variables that play into ranking in local search engine results. Furthermore there are many great articles out there to provide timely insight as to how to optimize for local search engine results.

Monitoring (and mobilizing on) these things in 2017, I believe, will continue to be a priority for SEOs.

3. Continue to Model a Mobile First-Mindset

Make your pages screaming fast (and optimized for all users). We’ve know for a while to put the mobile experience first. Google made their preference for a mobile-mindset through a variety of updates this year. 

The introduction of Accelerated Mobile Pages (aka AMP) is one of Google’s bigger directives for webmasters and SEOs in 2016. This project has only just begun. AMP opportunities continue to evolve, allowing more and more pages to be marked up with the mobile-first language.

In May of 2016, at their Performance Summit, Google announced many of the changes we came to see in 2016.

  • They got rid of right side rail ads admitting the value of them wasn’t future-oriented 
  • Changed their ad mobile layouts
  • Introduced new mobile ad features
  • Introduced new ad extensions
  • They even updated Google Analytics replacing traditional web metric language with mobile app terminology. 

They’ve been recommending that page speeds be a point of interest for a while now (to accommodate at large mobile users), even providing tools for webmasters and SEOs to get site and individual page download speed ratings. Advising site owners to use page speed tools info to deploy optimizations.

In 2017 they’ll be making their index mobile-first. There’s some debate as to what this will ultimately mean, but no doubt there’s no excuses not to have a mobile-first mindset. 

4. Elevate Your Schema Game

We’ve seen more and more happening directly in SERP, and will continue to do so.

At-large, schematic markup (which involves applying additional markup for Google to better understand and further showcase page content) is helping inform and colorize general search SERP as well as the aforementioned local SERP.

Instant answers, the knowledge graph, and rich snippets continue to push the envelope on what is bound to show up in text-driven SERP.

The most current recommendation from Google on schema is to use the JSON version. As of November 21, 2016 – restaurants now have their own rich cards.

SEOs need to be familiar with AMP and schema in 2017. No question about it. AMP and schema are being used together in some instances; and Google, in 2017, is set to make it’s index mobile-first. Getting very familiar with AMP, in its current and more than likely continuing to evolve states, is something SEOs should be doing now and into 2017.  

There you have it. We could throw in a note or two about optimizing and including images in your search + content creation plans. Strategize having relevant images to offer the world and search engines.

Too, we could touch on the (6 years in a row) declaration that video is set to explode; and discuss the value of such a rich media, but let’s end here.

We’ve got plenty to do with the main four notes above.

Keep in mind these trends are only directional anyway, each of those areas is likely to continue to grow, expand, and tighten in the next week, month, and quarter. Get ready. Take 2017 by the horns.  

If you’re an SEO, webmaster or marketer looking to dive into the particulars of some of the items shared above, here are some good resources to get you started.

Google’s recent blog post and introduction to resturant-specific rich cards:

Google’s documentation and testing tools for developing schematic pages.

A great AMP by example resource:

An index of all things schema:


The Inevitable: A Book Review of 12 Trends Shaping Tomorrow

Kevin Kelly is the/ a co-founder of Wired magazine. He is seen as a tech culture visionary, and in his book Inevitable: 12 Trends he offers a look ahead into the increasingly wired world we live.

Through its chapters Kelly’s book provides insights around 12 cultural-technology-work trends that are already starting to shape how we live and work.

Our lives, including all inward and outwardly focused relationships, are being changed by the development of internet technology.

Here’s a quick re-telling of those 12 trends.

1. Becoming

In a world where each day brings with it innovations that weren’t around the day prior — we’re all new to this newness. It’s impossible not to be.

In the chapter entitled ‘becoming’ we’re introduced to this notion of ever-becoming familiar with the emerging world around us. … it’s a pretty plausible and insightful notion.

2. Cognifying

Wiring up our tennis shoes allows us the opportunity to see how far we’ve walked over a day, or similar. When so many of our daily use items get wired to the internet they’ll empower us to learn and do new things. For Kelly, Kogon the fine is about adding Internet, artificial intelligence, or similar technology infused enhancements to every day items. Snap chats glasses, a much less serious, fun, and potentially superficial offering is a good example of tech cognifying eyewear.

3. Flowing

“Whatever business you’re in, you’re now in the data business.” — Kevin Kelly. Today we live in streams of information, tomorrow an ocean. Flowing isn’t only about the over abundance of pixels and bites flood in our lives, but also about the time space ride we increasingly take and being washed in technology. Others have written about how culture has become much more fluid, less fixed and linear. Flowing, and my perspective, is also a reference to this phenomenon.

4. Screening
5. Accessing

“Access is so superior to ownership in many ways that it is driving the frontiers of the economy.” — KK … Speaking of, Bloomberg provided a nice run down on the self-driving cars hitting Pittsburgh in August, 2016. Here’s a key bit from it, “Starting later this month, Uber will allow customers in downtown Pittsburgh to summon self-driving cars from their phones, crossing an important milestone that no automotive or technology company has yet achieved.”

Uber Debuts Its First Fleet of Driverless Cars in Pittsburgh
Near the end of 2014, Uber co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick flew to Pittsburgh on a mission: to… 

6. Sharing

7. Filtering

SOOOO much info. Need filtering to help select and make sense of it all.

8. Remixing

A fundamental habit of societies to advance what’s working and what’s needed of existing goods and services. Often commodities aren’t altogether new things, but improved modifications of known items.

9. Interacting

“Virtual reality is going to change our internet of information into an internet of experiences.”
10. Tracking

Anything that can be tracked will be tracked. The upshot is an extremely personalized life+internet (?!) experience.… On that note, here’s a nice article on encrypting your life. 🙂

How to encrypt your entire life in less than an hour
“Only the paranoid survive.” — Andy Grove 

11. Questioning

Moving from a world where answers are free … into one where really, really good questions are formed.

12. Beginning

This is an evolutionary period in history.

It’s a solid book. I have to take it back to the library today, and I haven’t finished it, but what I did get out of it was good. It has me thinking.