I think you’ll agree with me on one thing–the most exciting thing about the SEO game is that it is constantly changing its rules and evolving.
The main reason the rules of SEO change so much is because search engines strive to provide a superior user experience and adapt to satisfy the user’s search needs as much as possible.
What used to work before, might not work in the coming future and as SEO managers, we have to stay on top of all the algorithm changes and constant policies that search engines dictate.
With this in mind, I’ve compiled six SEO trends that are likely to dominate in 2018 and that will help you stay ahead of the game.
1. Voice Search is Growing Fast
Voice search is a product of mobile innovation, and today, it is becoming predominately used whenever we seek for instant, simple answers.
Personal virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Now, and Microsoft’s Cortana, are interactive-voice-enabled search engines that do just that; provide instant answers. Those devices, however, are capable of performing more tasks, like music playback, setting alarms, syncing with other home gadgets, making to-do lists, and providing real-time information.
Their AI technology is constantly evolving and with every interaction, it understands the context and the intent behind our searches more deeply.
When someone engages in a conversation with these virtual assistants, they are typically expecting direct and prompt answers to simple questions, or immediate action on simple tasks.
“OK Google! How’s the traffic to the airport?” or, “Alexa, please order more dog food”.
Google and Bing report that in 2017, compared to previous years, a higher percentage of the queries are voice searches. For us marketers and SEOs, that means in 2018 voice-queries will be:
- Performed in natural “conversational” tone
- Will use more words per query
- Will be question-based (Who do I…?)
- And will provide richer user intent
“20 Percent of all searches on mobile are voice searches” – Source: Search Engine Land
The rise of voice search doesn’t necessarily mean that traditional web search results are going to be less relevant. It means that search engines along with AI technology are now capable of providing instant answers and performing simple commands.
If a significant portion of your web traffic comes from queries that can be answered by a virtual assistant, I’d urge you to shift the focus to answer more complex questions.
In 2018, marketers will need to evaluate and reinvent their current content and keyword strategy and optimize their pages using natural conversational language.
2. Links are Changing
Content and links are still very relevant in 2018, and in the years to come, I suspect they will continue to be the #1 and #2 ranking factors in Google.
Now, more than ever, it is important to shape a link building strategy in which your main goals is to acquire links mostly from venues that are highly relevant to your product, industry, or target niche.
Google is also starting to look at brand mentions that don’t necessarily link back to your website. These are called “linkless mentions”.
While these might not impact your rankings directly, they will help Google determine who is talking about you and what are they saying. So be sure to monitor your brand mentions and reviews about you or your product on platforms such as Yelp, Google My Business, and TrustPilot.
A successful link strategy in 2018 will:
- Embrace the power of no-follow links and linkless mentions (Brand mentions)
- Seek coverage from websites that are authoritative and highly relevant to your industry and niche
- Build relationships with websites, bloggers, and influencers
- Diversify the types of links to acquire (.edu, .gov, etc)
- Bring in referral traffic
3. User Experience Signals
Let me ask you a question. What would happen if one prospective customer lands on your website and it is not displaying properly on their phone screen? The text is too small and they can’t read it, and to make things worse, it takes 15 seconds to load?
You’d certainly lose all chances of getting their business.
If your site is not properly designed for mobile devices, or if it takes ages to load, the people who are visiting your site will leave immediately.
Responsive web design and overall user experience matter, now more than ever. In 2018, the focus must be on the user and in delivering a smooth user experience. Ensuring that your website design is responsive and that it loads in under three seconds must be your #1 UX priority.
To optimize your site load speed, use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Just enter any URL and the tool will grade your site’s load speed for both mobile and desktop. The tool will also provide you suggestions on what needs to be fixed in order to improve the load speed.
“Speeding up websites is important — not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there. But faster sites don’t just improve user experience; recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs.” – Matt Cutts
4. Prepare for Mobile-First Index
Have you noticed that anywhere you go almost everyone seems absorbed in their phones?
Mobile device usage has been rapidly increasing since 2014, and nowadays, people are spending more time on their mobile devices than on their desktops.
Due to this, Google announced that they will launch mobile-first index.
What it means is that Google is changing how they index websites. Before, they looked at the desktop version of your site first. Once Mobile- First Index is implemented, Google crawlers will primarily index the mobile version of your website and they will determine if you should rank for certain keywords based on the content on the mobile version of your site.
If you have a responsive website, you should be good. But if your mobile version doesn’t serve the same content and information as your desktop version, I’d suggest investing in a mobile responsive layout.
Do this exercise right now: Go to your website/blog from a smartphone or tablet, navigate it for a while, and ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you able to navigate with ease?
- Are the images and text showing properly?
- How long does it take to load? (Time it)
5. + Video content
Audiovisual content has become the preferred format of content consumption by almost everyone. In fact, Hubspot reported in 2016 that 45 percent of people watched more than an hour on Facebook and YouTube videos a week (Source).
I believe that number will be higher in 2018.
Simply put, if you are not creating videos, you’re going to have a hard time engaging with your customers and social media followers.
Making videos doesn’t have to be complicated, and if you harness the power of video marketing, it can bring a bunch of benefits for your business.
It is easy. All you really need in order to make a video is a cellphone camera, editing software, and lots creativity.
I’d suggest that this year, you invest more time and resources on creating video content and learning how to optimize it for optimal search performance.
For those looking to expand their business internationally in 2018, Localization is a term that will come in handy.
Localization is the process of adapting a website, a product, a book, etc., to the language and culture of a target region.
Every day, more organizations are translating their content into various languages because it brings more traffic and the opportunity to increase sales.
Translating and localizing your content will have no direct impact on your local rankings, however, it gives you the chance to compete for search queries in other languages. If you know some of your customers speak, let’s say, Spanish, why not showing them content in their native language? It will certainly deliver a more personalized user experience.
2018 is set to be an exciting year, and with these SEO trends in mind, you will surely stay ahead of your competitors.
Camilo Atkinson is the Inbound Marketer at Day Translations. Self-proclaimed as a music lover above all, Camilo’s creativity shines through in his innovative marketing strategies here at Day Translations. Passionate about continued learning and entrepreneurship, Camilo tries to learn as much as he can from every single person he meets or situation he finds himself in.
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