5 SEO lessons learnt from 2016

SEO for 2017

Now that 2016 is over and 2017 is here, it’s a great time to look back at the previous year for SEO lessons that can be applied this year to help improve our SEO strategies. Whether your SEO efforts were successful last year or mired in setbacks, putting together a strategy early for this year using lessons from the past one will help ensure continued success or a resurgence from last year’s slump.

They say it’s only by looking at the past that you can predict the future, so here are 5 important SEO lessons we learnt from 2016 that will help you create effective strategies for the future:

  1. SEO is not dead. Several years back, a lot of people had declared SEO to be dead, a notion that has been proven false in subsequent years including the last one. A study by Borell Associates estimated that companies spent about $65 billion on SEO in 2016, a figure expected to hit the $79 billion mark by 2020. This data shows that not only is the industry well and healthy, but also growing at a high rate. As the industry grows and users, as well as search engines, continue evolving, the amount of specialisation in the industry will continue to increase with more knowledge, data, experience and tools being required to maintain an upper hand. Continuous skills improvement will be necessary to thrive in the growing industry. 
  2. Mobile compatibility is crucial. With the number of mobile search queries increasing with every passing day, Google is working to establish itself as the best engine for mobile search. This saw the introduction of mobile-first indexing last year – a feature that will see a site’s mobile site considered to be the default version when ranking, instead of the desktop version. This means that optimising for mobile in 2017 is essential to getting a good ranking.
  3. Artificial intelligence is taking over. 2016 has seen the establishment of RankBrain, Google’s machine-learning AI system as one of the top three ranking signals for Google’s search algorithm. This is meant to improve the quality of results for user queries. SEOs will need to understand how Google uses this AI and create quality content that can be interpreted by the tool for SEO success in 2017.
  4. Google is continuously shaking up things. Google is continuously making tweaks and updates to its algorithm for improved customer experience. Estimates put the number of tweaks each year at around five hundred with most of them being small changes. But every so often we do see major updates that have huge repercussions. Last year’s major updates included the Mobile-Friendliness Update, Penguin 4.0, ‘Possum’, and Divided Index. Same as previous years, we can expect to see more updates from Google. Quick adjustment to these updates will ensure you remain ahead of the curve and achieve a good ranking. 
  5. Content still matters. Quality content was a crucial part of SEO last year a trend that will continue as search algorithms get better at identifying up-to-date content with relevant information. With search engines focusing more on the actual content rather than its optimisation, it would be wise to create engaging content geared towards the reader rather than the search engine.

Although predicting the future with 100% accuracy is impossible, by looking at the past we can be able to predict with a significant amount of accuracy the general direction the industry is headed. 

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Ashley Bryan's picture

Ashley is owner and GM of Webstrategies a website optimisation company providing optimisation services for clients throughout Australia and New Zealand, Ashley writes business related articles and blog posts.