SMX Advanced 2017:
13 Key SEO Updates

SMX Advanced 2017 took place in Seattle from June 12-14. As is usually the case, lots of great sessions and SEO insights came from the conference.
SMX Advanced 2017 in Seattle

What happened?

SMX Advanced 2017  took place in Seattle from June 12-14. As is usually the case, lots of great sessions, presenters, attendees, and SEO insights came from the conference.

Why is this important?

As is usually the case every year, there were lots of good SEO nuggets coming out of SMX Advanced 2017 over the past few days.

While some of the updates may not impact you, some may shape your future SEO strategy and/or give you insights into what events have occurred recently that may have impacted your organic performance.

Okay, what were the important SEO updates?

Here you go….

1. Mobile Index

Google’s mobile index not coming out until 2018, and they plan to smear some of their desktop algorithmic results into it. First, if you don’t have your mobile configuration buttoned up, what the hell? Second, if you truly don’t, you’re now on a timetable. (SEL, SER)

2. Mobile Page-Speed

Google is rewriting their page speed algorithm for mobile, which confirms my prediction that page speed will be increasingly important for SEO. In fact, I believe page speed to be one of the biggest areas of opportunity, despite the fact that most sites struggle greatly and generally look at speed as a “nice to have” rather than a “table stakes” requirement. (SER, @basgr)

3. HTTPS Ranking Boost

No planned changes to HTTPS ranking boost, which officially buggers my prediction last year that the HTTPS ranking signal would only get stronger over time. I’ll still do out on a limb and say that it is likely to get stronger over time, just not as quickly as I’d anticipated. (SER)

4. Featured Snippets

Google won’t be adding Featured Snippets analytics in Google Search Console for some time – if at all – due to internal politics. (SEL, SER)

5. Voice Search

Google will one day bring voice search data to webmasters. This area will become more important for SEO’s over time, so will be great to understand how people are using voice search and voice actions. (SER)

6. Mobile Interstitial Penalty

Google confirmed that a mobile interstitial penalty did indeed roll out in January of 2017, but that it didn’t impact as many sites as the industry anticipated — really only impact sites who were aggressively violating the guideline. (SER)

7. Google Fred

Google also says that if you were hit by Fred, you should look very closely at their quality rater’s guidelines. (SER)

8. Buying Links

Gary Illyes commented that buying links is basically like throwing away money as Google has gotten very good at simply ignoring those links. (SER, @jenstar)

9. Machine-Learning

No new machine-learning algorithms coming to search soon, but Google Rank Brain is live in all countries. (SER)

10. User Engagement As Ranking Factor

Google uses user-engagement as a factor in their algorithm, specifically to see how we’ll they’re doing in terms of matching results to queries. (@Marie_Haynes)

11. Javascript Visibility

Content hidden by CSS even now has full weight. But if a js button has to be clicked to serve the content, it’s hidden from Google. (@Marie_Haynes)

12. Future Algorithm Updates

Google will do their best to confirm major algorithm updates. (SER)

13. Testing AMP’s

Catalyst Digital shared a new script that they’ve developed to enable folks to bulk test your Accelerated Mobile Pages. This is good as the current AMP validation solution is a one-by-one sort of situation, which isn’t always ideal. (@patrickstox)

See also: More updates from a 1:1 session between Danny Sullivan and Gary Illyes of Google

Any updates that I missed?

Cover Image credit: Homewood Suites Seattle and Marketing Land

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5 Responses

  1. I’m wondering if HTTPS rank boost will start to weaken the more sites that adopt SSL.

    I’m sure I remember reading that one of the thoughts behind rewarding HTTPS was the fact that spammers are less likely to pay for an SSL certificate.

    However, a lot of the low cost/cheap hosting platforms offer free SSL via Lets Encrypt, making it easier for spammers to obtain HTTPS.

    1. Thanks for the comment Richard! I think that’s a good point. I think the closer we get to 100% adoption the less beneficial it will be in terms of incrementally moving the needle for sites. That said, I think I’m still of the belief that at some point in time – especially if adoption of HTTPS plateaus – that Google might put the carrot out there in the form of an further increased ranking boost. Seems that won’t be the case for some time though…

    1. I think voice search will have an increasingly greater effect on SEO over time. It will become increasingly important to optimize for things that can be included in voice search responses such as direct answers to questions, having accurate and high-quality local listings, ensuring your knowledge graph results have accurate and helpful data, etc.

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