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The Future of Search Engine Optimization: Top SEO Predictions for 2017

Posted on Dec 29th, 2016
Written by TopRank Marketing
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    In the past, the SEO battle was focused on either black hat, or white hat tactics. Black hat SEO was considered extremely aggressive and didn’t typically play by the rules of search engines. White hat SEO tactics on the other hand were typically closely aligned with search engine guidelines.

    Today’s world of SEO looks much different (and it’s about time). Instead of hyper focusing only on keywords or search engine needs, smart marketers are concentrating first and foremost on the needs of users. User experience as it relates to mobile accessibility, content structure and user intent on search engines have become the new norm.

    Content is the reason search began in the first place. – Lee Odden

    As many of you know, TopRank Marketing’s history is deeply rooted in SEO. Over the years, we’ve continued to incorporate an optimized approach to digital marketing by implementing integrated digital marketing programs that always follow SEO best practices.

    But what does the future of SEO hold, is there more? We tapped into the minds of some great marketers to provide their predictions of what SEO will look like in 2017.

    Experts Share Their Top Predictions for 2017

    Doug Walker


    Senior Search Marketer, Dell

    Companies will experience big wins by creating relevant and highly useful content. @dougwalkerseo Share on X

    While I think it will be important to be up to speed with AMP and other important technologies, with continued content saturation, I think we’ll see even bigger wins by companies who can remain focused on the effort to:

    1) Create stand-out content, completely relevant and highly useful to their target audience.

    2) Successfully promote that content to drive consistent engagement in the form of links, social shares, news, and other buzz.

    Troy Eaves


    Senior Manager, Digital Media – Target Corp

    In 2017, RankBrain will factor in more user intent signals than ever before. @Troyville Share on X

    We’re already seeing RankBrain begin to ‘take over’ and factor in more user intent signals than ever before. I think that will continue to happen and increase in 2017 (specifically, time on site, bounce rates, etc.). I think CTR from SERPs will be a bigger factor in re-ranking URLs as people develop more affinity for the brands they like and click on them when they see them; regardless if they are in pos. #1 or #9.

    I think people will try to optimize for voice searches because, well voice is here. I think links will still be important. I don’t care what article you read that says they are dying, they aren’t. I think social sentiment around brands, hashtags, keyword association (neighbors) across the web will help sort results.

    If social platforms ever work together with Google, I could see platform specific searches influence rank on Google too.

    Kevin Cotch


    SEO Analyst, TopRank Marketing

    SEO experts need to focus on the mobile user moving forward into 2017. @KCotch Share on X

    The most significant change for SEO in 2017 will be the importance of the mobile-first index for Google. Many sites are ready for a mobile-first index but unfortunately many others are not. Google is continuing its focus on mobile, and it has been increasingly important to optimize for mobile users. SEO experts need to focus on the mobile user moving forward in 2017 in terms of metadata and user experience.

    Danny Goodwin


    News Writer, Search Engine Journal

    In 2017, pay attention to how much engagement your brand or business is generating. @DannyNMIGoodwin Share on X

    With the rise of Google RankBrain, AI and machine learning are becoming incredibly important to think about for marketers and SEOs who want to capture valuable search visibility and be found at key moments of the customer journey.

    What do these types of algorithms reward? Engagement – how many searchers click on your result and how long they stick around on your website. While these aren’t the only signals Google looks at to determine the quality of its search results (and where your site should rank for specific queries), it is definitely important.

    In 2017, pay attention to how much engagement your brand or business is generating. Specifically: organic search CTR and time on site.

    Even if improving your organic CTR and time-on-site doesn’t directly impact your rankings, it will still bring in more traffic that sticks around longer (and is more likely to convert). Write great titles that make searchers click – and reward searchers for their click by providing awesome, relevant content to match.


    Optimize for Humans in 2017

    Each of these experts shared great advice about different tactics that they predict will rule 2017. You’ll notice that the core message behind each of these predictions is the same: put people first.

    By focusing on creating a great user experience and understanding what it is that your users want, you’ll start 2017 off on the right foot!

    Disclosure: Dell is a TopRank Marketing client.