SEO Insights > SEO acronym busting for 2017 – AO, FS, PAA, the MFI and more!?

SEO acronym busting for 2017 – AO, FS, PAA, the MFI and more!?

Posted by Simon Schnieders on September 26, 2017


In the ever changing landscape of SEO there is often a raft of new acronyms to wade through.

In this article we tackle a few we’ve seen most frequently and are probably guilty of contributing toward the proliferation of. Finally, why SEO needs a completely new definition.


Random scrabble letters

What is ASO? – App Store Optimisation

Not new for 2017 but important to mention ahead of ‘AO’. ASO is the one area we get asked to assist in most frequently beyond SEO at Blue Array.

Essentially, both ASO and SEO are about organic visibility so we understand why the request is so frequent. For ASO visibility goals are two-fold. It’s both the app stores search results and the top charts rankings.

Here’s some more information on ranking in Google Play search and in the App Store.

Beyond basic keyword optimisation, ‘pay to play’, conversion and review optimisation there’s very little that aligns with SEO in ASO. However, that’s quite different from AO.

What is AO? – App Optimisation

App optimisation is an area of search that struggles to get real traction. In part, this due to Google stripping back the additional organic visibility that used to be afforded publishers that invested in deep linking (linking to a particular screen within an app). You can still have apps surface in core organic results but your query needs to be deemed to have app intent.

Firebase App Indexing‘ gets your app into Google search but only if users have your app installed on an Android device. For iOS, you’ll need support for universal links.

A secondary factor for why so few sites have adopted deep linking is how investment heavy in development work, complex and messy the landscape is between Android and iOS.

We expect AO to be an area that receives a renewed focus in Q1 2018 but it needs to simplify further with clearer incentives. However, there’s certainly some publishers we’d prescribe the implementation of AO for clear re-engagement benefit.

Android Instant Apps also looks to have some exciting possibilities for organic search, but there’s no first mover advantage.

What are FS? – Featured Snippets

Although Google’s documentation states featured snippets (FS) will display ‘When a user asks a question in Google Search’, featured snippets also appear for commercial queries without a question, possibly because of query expansion. These snippets are extracts from web pages or accelerated mobile pages (AMP) that display in Google search results in a special block at the top of the results page, also known as the ‘zero result’. Featured Snippets are crucially the audible answer when you query Google voice search.

What is the PAA accordion? – People Also Ask

Whenever there’s a Featured Snippet, it is usually followed by a PAA, though it’s not the only place you’ll find an accordion of query expansions.

Screenshot of Google search results for the query what is paa

VO? – Voice Optimisation

Voice Optimisation is essentially Featured Snippet Optimisation and/or attaining the number one organic result, as there is currently only one audible answer via Google Voice Search.

What is the MFI? – Mobile-first Indexing

When over 50% of search comes from mobile devices (as it did in mid-2015) it stops making sense that Google should index the desktop version of websites, certainly in mobile search results. In late 2016, Google announced that they’d begun experiments to make their index mobile-first and by late 2017, we’re still waiting for that switch to happen. The latest update is to expect this change in early 2018.

What is AMP? – Accelerated Mobile Pages

AMP was Google’s answer for publishers to abate an explosion in ad blocking in late 2015. It’s a ‘skinny’ form of HTML with pages served from the Google AMP Cache designed to be lightweight and fast. However, it has many drawbacks and it’s fairly disempowering for publishers to take AMP on board.

Increased visibility for news publishers via the AMP carousel, being lightning fast and most recently an algorithmic lean toward being utilised in featured snippets in mobile search has meant it’s still a serious consideration for many.

What is SEO? – Search Engine Optimisation

Nothing wrong with the acronym here, although we desperately need an updated definition. The Wikipedia article describes SEO as ‘the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results.’

It’s so much more than that in todays landscape however, and we aren’t limited to websites or web pages, but also app links via App Optimisation (AO).

Voice Optimisation (VO) which covers visibility in featured snippets and People Also Ask accordions (PAAs), pardon the pun, ‘speaks’ also to the audible organic result.

Given the impending Mobile-first Index (MFI) we’re also first and foremost interested in affecting the visibility of mobile, rather than ‘web’ pages, though the semantics can be argued about in the arena of Wikipedia.

Marketeers have even more of a confusing tapestry to navigate with organic search. Here’s our attempt at a new definition, ready for the MFI;

‘The process of affecting the audio or visual visibility of an app, mobile website or a mobile web page in a search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results.’ We might even be brave enough to amend that Wikipedia article.

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In addition to heading up Blue Array as its Founder, Simon also finds time to pass on his business expertise as an angel investor and advisor at, an advisor at and as a mentor at 500 Startups, Wayra and TechHub.

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