SureFire has specialised in SEO for over 15 years. In Internet terms, that’s a long time (Internet years are like dog years). During this period we’ve seen many, many changes. Most have been small, but some very big. And over time the changes collectively have been significant. There’s no denying that SEO in 2017 is exceedingly different to what it was back in 2002.
That said, we believe 2017 is going to be the most turbulent year yet from an SEO perspective due to big changes Google is rolling out. These are:
As we’ve previously reported, Google is increasingly pushing the barrow on this and strongly encouraging implementation of SSL by website owners. The most recent example of this has been the roll out in January of the latest version of Google’s Chrome browser. If a website has a log-in page that is not secure, Chrome now posts a warning like below.
This is something which may well alarm many users and scare them away from your site.
If you think this isn’t a big deal, be aware Google has stated this is just the start. Eventually, they plan to label ALL http pages as non-secure.
The fix: switch your site to SSL (https).
In 2015 Google rolled out “RankBrain”. This is an artificial intelligence learning system designed to help Google process search results and provide more relevant search results.
While there’s still a great deal of uncertainty amongst SEOs about just how this works, it’s clear that through its enhanced capabilities in AI Google is getting significantly better at interpreting the intent behind searchers’ queries. In addition, Google is increasingly able to judge the content of websites more like humans do (that is, from a qualitative perspective, as well as relevancy).
What this all boils down to is that Google is able to do a far better job matching the best search results to searchers’ queries.
So what does this mean for website owners? It means that if you want to win and retain top ranking positions for competitive search topics you increasingly need to invest in having excellent high-value content, and present it in a way that maximises user engagement.
This is big!
In the next couple of months, Google will dramatically change it ranks the mobile and desktop versions of websites.
Currently, the mobile version of a website ranks in Google is based on the ranking of the desktop version of that site, (subject to the mobile site being deemed “mobile friendly”).
But when Google makes the big change they’ve warned us about and switches to a mobile first index, everything gets turned on its head. Google will move to primarily evaluating a page based on the mobile version of the page.
This means that how well your site ranks in Google for both desktop and mobile searches will be determined by the mobile versions of its pages. This is a real game changer which could have a big impact on many websites.
The quick fix: ensure your website uses a responsive design.
Why should you care?
Each of these changes by Google could have a significant impact on how well your site ranks in Google’s organic search results.
And collectively, the impact will be huge.
Read disastrous, if your site is not ready.
If organic search is a key channel for your business, (for most websites it’s the single biggest source of traffic), then you really need to ensure as a matter of priority that your site is ready for these changes.
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Mark is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire which he founded back in 2002. Prior to establishing SureFire he worked for KPMG Consulting. Today Mark heads up SEO, embracing the challenges that can come with complex website implementations. Outside of work, his interests beyond his family are running, snowsports, diving and fishing (badly).