It’s that time of the year when most of us review the past year and make plans for the next. It’s also the time when Google and Bing release their most searched terms and SEO experts summarize the developments made during the year. Let’s take a look at what they have to say and see if they can give us some helpful insights into what we need to do in 2017, as far as SEO is concerned.
Google and Bing Top Searches in 2016
Google’s top three searches across all categories included Pokemon Go, iPhone 7 and Donald Trump, followed by Prince, Powerball, David Bowie, Deadpool and Olympics. It seems most of the people are interested in games, movies, gadgets, sports, and dead celebrities. A closer look at the consumer tech category reveals that seven out of the top 10 spots belong to either Apple or Samsung. Interestingly, a $2 (approx) Indian smartphone is the second-hottest tech trend this year, next to iPhone 7. Bing’s top searched tech trends include, in addition to iPhone 7, self-driving Teslas, 4-inch iPhone, and “Textalizer,” an app that lets police officers find out if the driver was texting at the time of an accident.
Riding on the Trends
So, what does it tell us about SEO? Probably not much, except that we can drive more traffic to our website if we blog about the latest events and trends, and can somehow relate them to our product. For instance, a fashion website can write a post about Prince or David Bowie, with an angle on the fashion trends they sparked. A retail store can give away free tickets to a trending movie as a special offer. An automobile accessory store can blog about Tesla Autopilot, and so on. You should have a strategy to link the post with your products and try converting some of the traffic that the popular search term brings.
Google Algorithm Changes in 2016
Behind the scenes at Google, there’s a lot that has changed this year. There has been a marked increase in the number of voice searches, which now account for 20% of all search queries on Google. To make matters more complicated, 16% to 20% of the over 3.5 billion Google searches per day now contain new and unique queries that have never been used before. That’s why Google has increased its reliance on RankBrain, an AI (Artificial Intelligence) based machine learning algorithm that is one of the top three ranking signals. The “mobile friendly” label is gone and AMP (accelerated mobile pages) is the new standard for ranking mobile websites. Google’s mobile SERPs now support longer page titles (up to 78 characters) and an all-new mobile-only search index has been launched. So where does it all leave you and your SEO?
How it Impacts SEO in 2017
Experts believe that SEO is very much alive and kicking, although the fate of black-hat tactics such as keyword stuffing or spam incoming link building has been sealed. In 2017, it will become more important than ever to adopt a mobile-first strategy, keeping in view the higher volume of mobile searches and higher conversion rates of mobile shopper. Businesses that can afford it should build dedicated mobile versions (m.example.com) of their website, optimized using AMP technology. This would allow them to use long-tail keywords in their page titles to take advantage of the natural language queries used in voice searches. Local businesses should also shake out of their slumber, considering the major shakedown in Google’s local listings in September this year. There’s a greater than ever need for fresh, high-quality, helpful content, because it will get linked and shared, sending the right signals to Google.
To conclude, it appears that SEO in 2017 will favour to the businesses that do the basics right and put mobile first.