Let us recount some of the developments in the year and how this will affect SEO in 2017.
It is no doubt that 2016 has been a rollercoaster ride for most people. Too many famous people departing, terrifying change of commands in the West, to exploding phones on planes. Many can agree it has not been the best of years. But not all is lost.
It has been a busy and exciting year for PurpleClick and, without doubt, for you.
SEO rises from the ashes
You may recall a time when SEO was something you hired a freelance copywriter to do or value added service thrown in by your web developer. In only a few years, the need for more knowledge, tools and experience, SEO has risen from its apparent death. (Recall the numerous ‘SEO is dead’ mongering hysteria around the web? So many people got it wrong.) Don't say we never say.
Companies, SMEs to MNCs, are seeing how intelligent SEO strategies have power to change their business.
How PurpleClick caught up:
Better site analytics: We improved the integration of Google Analytics & Google Search Console with SEO campaigns. This allows us to give data-driven insights from website analytics and you get to see the ROI.
Machines 1, Humans 0
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now more prevalent than ever before. After years of having to put up with having to repeat everything so Siri can catch up, we finally have better alternatives. (Google Assistant & Alexa)
Gone are the days that only techies used voice searches. Now up to 20% of searches on mobile apps and on Android devices are via voice—a signal that a typical consumer is getting cozy with AI.
Google’s AI system, nicknamed RankBrain, for example, now handles 15-20 percent of 3 billion search queries. What’s more interesting is that most of these queries have never been searched before. Google basically uses machine learning to help deliver results.
The algorithm learns by translating written languages into numbers that it can understand. Using that it tries to predict unique search queries by guessing meaning based on historical searches. If the predictions are good, then the algorithm updates the next time it’s active.
And it is effective too. Google revealed that RankBrain is smarter than the company’s engineers. In a head-to-head test, the system scored 80 percent while the engineers came in at just 70 percent in accuracy.
Unsurprisingly, RankBrain has become the third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query. Which means, search results are real-time. Your organic search listings get shuffled instantly.
How PurpleClick caught up:
Search Engine markup code: We enhanced mark-up codes in all campaigns that enables your website to be displayed with rich snippets and rich cards for your web pages. This means that when your brand appears in SERPs, users see an enhanced look of your web pages on Google's result pages.
Strategies to dominate Page 1 SERPS: We ran a seminar, “Discover Your Digital Personality” to share insights on how to occupy as much digital real estate as possible.
Speak to our Digital Consultants about the SEO booster package. Get In Touch
The Google Shuffle
Every so often, Google likes to surprise us with a major algorithm update— some years we get one with minimal impact, and other years, like 2016, we get a windfall.
While Google makes numerous minor tweaks to the algorithm every year, when we look back at 2016, the algorithm updates is enough make your head spin.
• Mobile-friendly algorithm boost
A little under a year after the launch of Google’s mobile-friendly ranking algorithm, they officially announced the effects of this algorithm to further benefit mobile-friendly sites on mobile search. That boost rolled out on May 12, 2016, though the impact was not nearly as significant as when the mobile-friendly ranking algorithm initially launched.
• Penguin 4.0
While this ended up being a two-phase rollout, Penguin 4.0 made its entrance on September 23, 2016. This was a helpful update which devalues bad links instead of penalising sites altogether. The second phase of Penguin 4.0 was, in which sites impacted by previous Penguin updates began to finally see a recovery.
This one is a speculative update that was never confirmed. PurpleClick noted a major shake-up in local 3-pack and Google Maps results in early September 2016.
We think that the update was a push to make local search results dependent on the searcher's location. This means that a lot of smaller businesses can have a location advantage over larger ones with a proximity advantage.
• Google says… Content. Nope! … Mobile
As mobile search continues to account for more and more of the global share of search queries, Google is increasingly taking steps to become a mobile-first company. In November, Google announced that it was experimenting with using a mobile-first index, meaning that the mobile version of a website would be considered the “default” version for ranking purposes instead of the desktop version.
You may be affected if you have:
A mobile site with reduced content on each page, different internal linking structure, or fewer pages - whether served on separate URLs or dynamically-served on the same URLs as the desktop site; and / or
No mobile site and a desktop site that is not responsive - and hence is flagged as not mobile friendly by Google