It’s hard to believe that there are just a few weeks left in 2017. How effective were your SEO strategies and initiatives? Were they better or worse than expected?
Similar to other areas in the tech industry, SEO is constantly changing. The once fail-proof method of consistently landing atop SERPs (search engine results pages) became irrelevant within a few months. SEO practices that once dominated the industry quickly fell out of favor.
The Google algorithm itself changes constantly, sometimes with multiple changes happening within months. On top of that, the technology available to SEO professionals also constantly evolves, allowing us to stay abreast the seemingly daily changes of what it takes to dominate search.
While 2017 has brought about the dominance of Google AMP (accelerated mobile pages), the rise of HTTPS, the importance of backlinks, the precaution of the overuse of 301 redirects and reformatting of rich snippets to accommodate the increasing popularity of voice search, some of these trends will continue into 2018 and some will fall away.
On the other hand, we expect many new trends to emerge in 2018.
While Google makes it near impossible to completely crack its page ranking algorithm code, constantly adjusting to accommodate a thousand different nuances will be the challenge for SEOers in 2018 and many years to come.
Whether you want to do away with 2017 and start anew or you want to build on the success of your 2017 SEO campaigns, here are some SEO trends to be on the lookout for in 2018:
1. Increased Search Engine Results Page Features
It is the goal of any SEO professional to achieve and maintain a high volume of traffic to a given website. Ideally, this would be the result of reaching the top spot on a search engine results page. Not only is it important to achieve this coveted position, but to also maintain it as long as possible.
However, with the latest developments in the search engines, achieving this #1 ranking may no longer be enough to get the traffic you desire.
Gone are the days of the ten search results listings, highlighted in blue hypertext, and a couple of clearly marked ads. Now, when you look at a SERP, it is cluttered with images, videos, links, social media mentions, in-depth article listings, various widgets, and ads. It has become easy for a #1 result to get lost in the busy jumble of other page features.
While keyword and key phrase optimization are still important, you now have other offsite elements to consider.
Popular search engine results page features include AdWords, news block, featured snippets, local packs, reviews, tweets, video, image pack, shopping results and site links.
How can you rank and monitor your rankings for all of these? There are tools such as Rank Tracker that allow you to track your ranking and to show you possible keywords that are holding back potential traffic.
2. Rich Snippet Will Need Careful Structuring
There are rich snippets and regular snippets. Both include a clickable title, a URL, and a meta description. Rich snippets have more condensed titles that include “|” instead of a dash (-), reviews and an image. How you structure the data, however is important in how search engines will display the information.
While the difference may seem insignificant, it has been shown that search results with properly formatted rich snippets receive more clicks and have a higher click through rate, which in turn increases potential sales.
If you’re not sure what properly structured rich snippet structure looks like, you can check out Schema.org which features a step-by-step data structure guide.
3. Page Speed
In today’s fast-paced, on-demand society, people want things, including information, immediately.
Nothing is more frustrating than clicking on a website that appears to answer your question exactly, only to have to wait for the page to load. If the page doesn’t load in 5 seconds, you’re off onto another website that can hopefully give you the answers you need.
People don’t like slow webpages. If your page is slow, your site traffic will suffer. Page speed is a user experience feature that is expected for all websites.
If you’re wondering how fast is fast enough, take Google’s recommendation of 3 seconds or less.
To see how the speed of your website stacks up, you can take Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
Speed has been a critical component for years, but moving into 2018, we’re going to see even more emphasis on it in the future.
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4. Increased Page Relevance
Google continues in its quest to provide the best web browsing experience to users. Besides offering users websites that are safe, Google searches for sites that best match the user’s search intent – even if that’s a little different from their actual query.
This means that search engines will evaluate the relevancy of the content on your website. One of the ways that Google assess the relevance of a website’s content is with Latent Semantic Indexing. Through Latent Semantic Indexing Google can gather content from billions of websites and parse through the content, scanning for related terms and words.
Latent Semantic Indexing also enables Google to determine whether the content on a website is “comprehensive” and flows well.
Google also has the ability to analyze top ranking pages as identify similarities and shared features among them.
How can you make your content relevant and comprehensive throughout 2018? You can start by researching the content of the top websites in your industry and look for commonalities among them. This, however, can take a long time, especially if you’re looking for particular terms or words. To speed up the process, you can make use of some of the free trials available with different website auditors.
5. Voice Search is More Real Than Ever
Just like in 2017, voice search will continue to pick up steam. Many consumers prefer the convenience of speaking over typing. Not only is it faster, but the queries can also be more detailed.
More importantly, voice recognition software has reached the point where users are comfortable trusting it to understand their normal speech.
The increased detail of search queries means you’ll need to go beyond the simple keyword and phrases to rank and focus more on terms and phrases people are naturally going to say out loud. People speak differently than they type, so your SEO strategy should try using conversational terms and sentences.
6. Mobile Will be Even More Important
Smartphones dominate the landscape and more and more web browsing is occurring on mobile devices. In fact, the amount of people using their smartphones to browse the Internet is higher than the number who browse on a traditional desktop computer.
It is no longer optional to have a mobile-friendly website. It is now required and expected by the search engines and the users.
In fact, mobile friendliness is now a search ranking factor.
This is nothing new, and something you’ve probably heard about in many other years, but as each new device comes out and includes some kind of voice search function, you are going to have to really think about it going into 2018.
7. The Rise of “Linkless” Backlinks
Backlinks have been the bread and butter of SEO for many years. In the past, this linking from another source to bolster a webpage’s authority in the eyes of Google was abused, prompting Google come up with the Penguin algorithm in 2012.
Since then, it has become the best (and most ethical) practice for websites to try and get links from more reputable, outside sources.
While links from authoritative, outside sources gave websites some search ranking juice, the further sophistication of Google search robots are slowly taking away the coveted power of backlinks.
It’s not just about who and where your links come from, anymore. A simple link just isn’t going to stand out of the crowd.
Search engines now have the ability to associate mentions of brands, institutions, organizations and people without the need of linking to their corresponding webpages. While links are going to still carry some weight, the other content around the hyperlinked text is going to also be very important.
8. SERPs Will Continue Getting Personal
Besides the traditional search ranking factors, such as page speed, content relevancy and page authority, search engines are also using information about the user, such as interests, browsing history and location, to provide a personalized search results list.
Google, along with some other search engines, have been utilizing personalized SERPs for many years.
An SEOer’s goal of getting to the top of search results will have larger implications. Pages that succeed in dominating search will not only get more initial traffic, but when a user clicks to their page, that business’s page will subsequently appear in future searches by that user.
This will give you a greater opportunity to dominate that user’s SERPs in the future.
There is nothing one can do to land on the top of a user’s personalized SERP except making sure your traffic data is accurate and testing your page’s rankings in private or incognito mode for unbiased results.
Optimize Your Strategies in 2018
SEO is an ever-changing industry. In 2018, Google will continue to enhance the web user’s experience by scanning the relevancy of a page’s content, using personalized search engine results and faster page speeds, and include additional results page features. It will also want to ensure that websites are mobile-friendly and full of normal, conversational terms and words.
It takes a lot of time and effort to stay up on all the updates. It also takes time and long-term care. If your company is small or new and it doesn’t have a designated internet marketing professional, SEO.com can help.
Our trained and knowledgeable SEO professionals can set up and monitor a customized SEO campaign specialized just for your business’ website. Contact us now for more information.
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