Since the inception of the search engine, SEO has been an important, yet often misunderstood industry. For some, these three little letters bring massive pain and frustration. For others, SEO has saved their business. One thing is for sure: having a clear and strategic search strategy is what often separates those who succeed from those who don't. As we wrap up 2016, let's take a look at how the industry has grown and shifted over the past year, and then look ahead to 2017.
The SEO landscape is constantly evolving, and marketers have to adapt to this evolution. Major Google updates have rendered manipulative SEO practices somewhat obsolete. But there is still a lot that marketers have to do to ensure that their websites are highly visible in relevant searches. This makes it crucial that you keep yourself updated on the latest changes and the future predictions in regards to SEO. And what better way to get your predictions and advice than from the top experts in search engine optimization. We are going to see more "knowledge-based trust" and the Google knowledge vault returning from Google, and the Semantic Web is going to make featured snippets and structured snippets more compelling and interesting to people doing marketing on the Web. People are going to be advertising in knowledge graphs, where entities actions are going to be the focus of their campaigns. "I am an entity," is going to be a goal for many more on the Web, because it will matter even more. My main prediction for 2018 is that traditional SEO real estate, like ranking 1-10, will continue to shrink. Increasingly, you will be fighting for Featured Snippets and Featured Videos. If you do not put a strategy in place to rank for featured snippets, you are going to be at a big disadvantage. Featured snippets, answer boxes and other SERP features are at a tipping point. Visitors now expect to see the answer right there in the search results. So we should expect that clickthrough rates will decline in general.
A Wired article explains how Google is now using machine learning to understand and produce featured snippets in the Google search results. Google "just went live" on their desktop search results with what they call "sentence-compression algorithms." This sentence compression is able to learn how "to take a long sentence or paragraph from a relevant page on the web and extract the upshot -- the information you're looking for," Wired added. In short, Google is getting better at looking at content on the web and extracting the specific nuggets of information that directly answer the query. With Google Home, Google Assistant and the increase of featured snippets in the search results, it is no surprise Google is advancing their technology around this challenge.
The future of SEO involves artificial intelligence, machine learning and digital assistants. And also: voice search, irresistible content and personalized, really specific user experiences. In other words, we're seeing the rise of SEO that is intensely becoming both machine- and human-focused, in amazing, astounding ways. Then again, here's the thing: search is always in evolution mode. It's shaped and reshaped by the constantly shifting needs and wants of humans.