1. RankBrain is slow and sneaky (and because we only track 500-ish words), we won’t notice any changes, but 2017 will experience the biggest shift in SERP history. Long tails are going to see massive swings. I’m setting up campaigns in one my tools to track 10 competitors, in various industries, 2000 keywords deep.
  2. AMP will—more so—become a thorn in everyone’s side. Because of this, there will be a surge of mobile apps. Which means staying on top of trends for how to rank apps in the app stores.
  3. With the increase in throttling and the decrease in total results on the front page, I’m predicting that by the end of the year, 7 will be the new organic listing number. With 3-4 ads, Featured Snippets, Recipe Boxes, Twitter Feeds, and People Also Ask, by the time you get past all that, all you want is 6-7 more results.
  4. Google will either merge Featured Snippets into the top of the organic list, making it the natural #1, OR it will make it like the Local 3 Pack where people can place paid ads in the Featured Snippets.
  5. Speaking of 3 Pack…it’s gone. Organically…speaking. With the roll out of the new Google Home Services ads and them making available “some” of the 3 Pack Pay to Play, the entire 3 Pack will become paid ad space by the end of the year.
  6. Google is making it harder for black hat linkbuilders—they dropped a huge bomb on PBN-ers last week (mostly bark). Nevertheless, the new “thing” in blackhat SEO will be spoofing engagement. Expect to hear a lot about this in the next year: increasing click thru rates for keyword searches, having longer dwell times on sites, having more social signals sent to pages.
  7. The Google will experience a MAJOR loss in search volume. Yahoo is being bought by Verizon, voice search is 25% of Bing’s baseline and voice search is exploding, DuckDuckGo saw a 30% YOY growth from 2016-2017. I’m predicting Google loses 4-5% of the market share. (Their only saving grace will be voice search…lazy millennials.)
  8. Google Analytics will take away more data. We got some new flashy Google Analytics 360 model…which means those of us using the free version will see a loss in valuable data this year.
  9. Enough about Google. Lots of talk about tools in 2017. Lots of talk about consolidation and IPOs. SEO is becoming big. No one can ignore it anymore, so the companies that make our tools are getting lots of attention, too. I think we will see A LOT of SEO tools being bought out and going public. (Definitely Yext…maybe Moz?)
  10. Speaking of buying out—and we are back to Googlethe Google will make a huge play for Twitter. They need to compete with Facebook. Microsoft has LinkedIn. Google+ is a flop. Twitter is THE most massive influencer on the market—Google must have….

While all this looks bleak, there is a silver lining. The days of the Wild, Wild West are over. If I’ve seen nothing else in my time as an SEO-er, it is that large corporations that have largely ignored SEO are now seeing the importance of it and want to utilize it.

Because the industry has become so—for lack of a better word—“regulated” and changes so constantly, companies that offer SEO services will see a good year in 2017. You can no longer get by on keyword research and quality content; it requires a full blown strategy with methodology to back it up. I’m predicting a busy year for those in Content and SEO. So if you’re in need of content, hire a Memphis copywriter who know how to convert!

A lot of these predictions are based on my time spent working for Wunderman Memphis and having the opportunity to get my hands on the type of data that comes with working with high caliber clients. FYI, good guys if you are looking for a major player with significant digital capabilities.

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