In this day and age, people are very used to looking for products and services online. Whether it’s the latest movie, a hotel or the cheapest flights, you’ll rush online to check out what’s on offer and compare from a long list of massive retailers.

The whole idea is that, people will look for people, products, services and information on Search Engines. Search engines are online platforms like GoogleYahoo and Bing. What really determines the order in which Search Results appear in the Search Engines Results Pages (SERPS)?

Let’s look at a typical example. You’ve decided to enroll for Digital Marketing Classes. However, you do not know where Digital Marketing Training is offered in Kenya. You can visit a search engine like Google (by typing and on the search box you enter a “term” that is close to what you are looking for e.g. “Digital Marketing Training in Kenya” or “Digital Marketing Kenya” or “Where can I get Digital Marketing Training in Kenya?”

As soon as you enter what you’ve typed, you’ll get hundreds of thousands of search results, if not millions, that match to what you are looking for. All these results are related to what you’ve searched for. But you’ll never be able to go through all the search results by clicking them one by one. You are likely to focus on the ones that have appeared on the first page particularly the top five Organic ResultsSearch Engine Optimization is what determines the rankings of the Organic Results.  SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the name given to activity that attempts to improve search engine rankings.

Your Business or Company does not appear on the top pages of relevant search terms automatically. Your website needs to be optimized for Search Engines. When your business doesn’t appear on top search results, you don’t get any customers online. You may be missing out on many opportunities online.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a game that’s all about staying one step ahead of your opponents.

One of the best ways to accomplish this competitive dominance is to be aware of how search engines are changing, and adjust your content and SEO strategy before your competitors have a chance to catch up. The SEO industry is always moving, so it pays to be aware of these evolutions.

I have compiled five SEO Trends that are a must for every Kenyan Company/ Business to watch out in 2017 

1. Google AMP

AMP simply stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages.

This is an initiative by Google to build a more user-friendly mobile WEB by introducing a new standard for building web content for mobile devices.

The idea is that a handful of simple structural changes can make your site load up to four times faster and use eight times less data hence improving user experience.

Over the recent years, Google has shown preference to websites that are Mobile Friendly.

2. Pop Up Crackdown By Google

On August 23rd, 2016 Google announced a mobile algorithm change that will came into effect on 10th January 2017.

This again focusses on Mobile experience.

Google explains that:

“Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller. “

This in basic terms means that a user should immediately get what they are looking for in a website and not be greeted with a POP UP!

Google listed three example scenarios where Pop Ups can affect your rankings:

  • Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.”

Nevertheless, this does not mean that you should not use Pop Ups. Google has also outline good ways in which to use a Pop Up .

“By contrast, here are some examples of techniques that, used responsibly, would not be affected by the new signal:

  • Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
  • Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.

Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.”

3. Google Rank Brain

 Google RankBrain was released in 2015, and it opened the door to the possibility of Algorithmic Machine Learning.

You should organize the content on your web pages in a manner that answers long-tail keyword questions that cater for

Voice search.

Gone are the days where we would throw keywords on our titles and content.

4. Rich Snippets

What you see above is an example of a rich snippet. (Also known as a “direct answer” or “featured snippet”)

Rich snippets are a direct answer delivered in a summary format to a searcher’s question that Google shows in a special block as shown above.

A featured snippet usually includes a link to the page from where the data was taken. And thus it has a great traffic-attracting potential you can utilize.

5. Image Optimization

 Optimization of Images on our websites not just for Image search but also for score in On Page Optimization is something to still consider in 2017.

Adding an Alt Attribute and descriptions to images on our website will always be a ranking factor.

Closing Thoughts

SEO is worth implementing for every Business or Company in Kenya that has a website.

SEO is all about staying ahead of your competition. We only have ten slots on the first page.

Also, as seen above, Google is taking a strong emphasis on the mobile experiences of its users.

Every Web Developer or Digital Marketer, should know that Mobile is the Future in Search Engines.