2017 Search Ranking Factors: What Matters NOW and Where is Search Headed?

March 10, 2017

I get asked frequently, “what factors are driving search engine ranking and results TODAY and what about tomorrow?” With so many (200) factors now in the algorithm, the increase in Millennials use of social networks for discovery (vs use of search engines) and the increased frequency of algorithm updates, it’s a challenge staying on top of it all.

The latest Search Engine Land statistics show the most current view of SEO factors in 2017 and highlights what has changed most recently. “On-page” SEO factors including content, architecture and html as well as “off-page” SEO elements from site/page trust level, inbound links and personal history/location factors and social activity/engagement all continue to play a role in search engine ranking positions.

While domain trust authority, inbound links and anchor text continue to be the leading SEO and search ranking factors.

 

Searchmetrics

 

Several factors have recently increased in importance:

  • New factors in the algorithm:
    • Behavioral (user) factors: readability, interactive elements on the page (buttons, features), click through rates, dwell time
    • Being found in vertical/universal searches (via multiple inputs such as video, images, maps, news etc.)
    • Providing answers to direct questions by users (e.g. currency and conversion translations, charts, recipes, time of day, distances – miles from-to, etc.)
    • Using structured content (e.g. unordered lists etc.)
    • Using https secured site
  • Increased weight in Google’s algorithm:
  • And on the negative front:
    • advertising content
    • spam flagged sites (where 8 flags appears to trigger a penalty)
    • And having too high a keyword density (stuffing)

Semantic search which leverages user intent and related topics to highlight content vs strictly using keywords in content continues to be the direction search is headed toward in 2017 and beyond.

Mobile responsiveness continues to be a hot topic in marketing circles with mobile having surpassing desktop in overall user traffic after the April 2015 Google “Mobilegeddon” algorithm announcement and implementation. “Mobile responsive” sites are defined as having a score of 80+ in Google’s Pagespeed insights and mobile responsiveness testing tool (Brightedge)

Mobile is fast becoming a “must do” for marketers for now 3 reasons:

It’s where the users are
It’s where the search engine rankings are going
It’s where the advertising dollars are moving

  • Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead. (MicKinsey & Company)
  • 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. (CMS Report)
  • By 2019, mobile advertising will represent 72% of all US digital ad spending. (Marketing Land)

 

mobile ad dollars forecast

 

What factors are you seeing impact your search engine rankings in 2017? And if you need a complimentary SEO audit, get in touch!

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