As we approach the new year (how time flies), what are the key Search Engine Optimization (SEO) issues that will matter in 2017? Here is a distillation of a recent podcast by Google spokesman Gary Illyes on what will matter in 2017.
1. Https Website Encryption
Https is a protocol for securing the transmission of content from your web page to the browser. All communications between your browser and the website are encrypted. Https makes it much more difficult for your website content to be intercepted and read by a third party. Google has stated that this is a ranking factor. In other words, securing your website using https may improve your rank in Google search engine. Google wants to see all websites encrypted, not just e-commerce sites.
What you should do: Consider adding https encryption to your website. It is easier and cheaper than ever to do so. Your web host most likely offers an easy way to implement https. This is an easy Search Engine Optimization strategy that can only benefit your website ranking and make it more secure.
2. Mobile Will Become the God of Search
In 2017 Google will split its search engine into two indexes, one for mobile searches and the other for desktop. The mobile search index will become the primary index, with more websites indexed and faster updates. The desktop index will not be updated as often and will contain fewer website (websites not optimized for mobile search).
What you should do: Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. The best way to do this is to have a responsive website that instantly adapts to any mobile device. If not, you will miss out on the bulk of mobile searchers (pretty much all consumers) that will be using mobile search. Don't wait. Do it now!
3. AMP Pages Will Be The Hot New Thing in Mobile Search
AMP pages are basically very fast mobile web pages stripped down to basic text and images. If you have a blog or news website AMP will make your pages load instantly on smartphones. They show basic text and images, stripping away fancy coding that loads slowly on smartphones. AMP pages are perfect for frequently updated blogs and news sources. Any website that offers news and journalistic information should implement AMP pages.
What you should do: Chances are that if you have a frequently updated blog, it runs on the WordPress software (or something similar). If so, there is a plugin that will generate AMP pages from your blog posts instantly. Here is a link to the WordPress AMP plugin. For most websites that use a Content Management software such as WordPress, there is most likely a plugin that will generate AMP pages.
4. Structured Data
Structured data makes it easier for search engines to determine company information, such as name, address, business hours, as well as more complex information such articles, events, products, recipes, etc. on your website. Structured data organizes data in a standardized way that can be understood by Google. An example of structured data used by Google for a restaurant search listing is shown below:
What you should do: Structured Data benefits business who want their company information to be featured in Google search engine. For example, if you have a restaurant, structured data organizes information that Google needs to know to properly list your business address, type of cuisine, hours, telephone number, and menu. Have your web developer add structured data code to your web pages. If your website runs on WordPress, there are a number of plugins that simplify the process.
Of course, traditional SEO continues to include creating fresh useful content that website visitors find useful. However, the four key strategies listed above will become very important in the near future. Might as well prepare for them now!