The art of optimizing your website, online social media presence, and web content to appear higher in organic rankings is constantly changing. As each year passes, new discoveries, interesting trends, and game-changing algorithm updates often necessitate reworking (or at least re-evaluating) your current strategy to fit the industry’s best practices. In addition to the more scientific side of SEO, there’s also the public relations, UX, and conversion optimization side of things (38% of consumers said they’d immediately leave an unattractive web page). After all, what’s the good of bringing in traffic through organic search just to have visitors leave?

It’s ironic that as search engine optimization becomes less and less about the search engines themselves, it actually increases in overall importance. Recent marketing studies have produced surprising results that have further proven just how vital it is. Here are stats that show SEO will be more important in 2017 than ever.

Keyword research and web updates are becoming more important

In a recent marketing study conducted by Ascend2, 48% of respondents within the industry replied that keyword research was the most successful SEO tactic, and 34% replied frequent web updates. When the market was less saturated (as it was not too long ago), keyword research was as simple as tossing 10 words relevant to your business on your web page and waiting for the traffic. In more crowded markets, in-depth research is required to find the right keywords and key phrases to draw in visitors. Also, frequent updates are now needed more than ever to keep fresh. Being fresher means being more engaging and up-to-date for the 100 billion monthly Google searches.

SEO is still bringing in big ROI

Despite a lot of talk from agencies, pundits, and experts, Google updates and the move toward a more semantic web have not spelled the end of SEO; in fact, the opposite has happened. In a survey by eMarketer, 73% of in-house marketers and 78% of agencies reported that SEO provided either excellent or very good ROI. The increasing complexity of obtaining a high SERP ranking and maintaining it has actually lead to a growth in the importance of having a professional SEO company in tow.

Effectiveness is improving: more than 70% of the respondents in that same study said that SEO effective was actually improving instead of declining.

Mobile importance is increasing (but businesses are lagging)

Mobile usage has surpassed desktop usage across the globe, and that gap will continue to widen as devices become more sophisticated and businesses take notice. The issue here is that, in general, companies seem to be lagging behind. A BrightLocal study concluded that the majority of consumers are more likely to visit a company’s site if it’s optimized for mobile (it’s only logical), and yet another eMarketer study found that only 33% of small or medium business that had a website actually had a mobile-optimized one. In 2017, mobile will surely only increase in importance meaning that businesses will need SEO companies to help them get with the times.

It’s certainly not as easy as it used to be, but that doesn’t make it any less important. As time goes by and algorithm’s become more complex, search engine optimization only increases in importance for companies looking to gain more traffic via the web. These statistics show that SEO will be more important in 2017 than ever before.