Forget about the endless factors that define Google’s algorithm, as the SEO industry’s lightning fast pace evolution is going to expand even more in 2018. Search Engine Optimization is a complex and dynamic task where last week’s earth shaking techniques easily become antiquated the following week. It isn’t necessarily hard to master the ever changing nature of the rules though.
If you are looking to up your game in 2018, you’ll definitely need to be in the know of the best SEO trends that will rock this year. SEO agencies have placed their wages and 2018’s latest trends will undoubtedly reshape the industry. What we’re going to dive into today is not another lame “SEO in 2018” prediction post but trends that are happening right now and are actionable based on real world metrics.
Voice Search and Natural Language Queries
Over the past year, 40% of all adults performed an estimated one voice search per day, with the majority of them made on mobile devices. You only need to look to the rising demand in ‘smart speaker’ products such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home who among their many features tout instantaneous voice searching and results to recognize the importance of this rapidly growing trend.
One of the main factors in voice searches trending is due to how busy people are in today’s world. Increasing work hours, long commute times, and never being truly disconnected thanks to mobile phones, it enables people to spend less time fiddling with tiny touchscreen keyboards or walking over to their computer to Google a quick question. The ease in which a voice query can be made helps save time, reduces mobile usage while driving, and increases accessibility for those with physical disabilities.
Currently around 20% of all queries made from mobile devices are done using voice, according to Search Engine Journal. Based on current growth, its expected that by 2020 over 50% of search queries made to Google will be done via voice search. This highlights the ever growing importance of optimizing your content for human readers and not robots. As a person is more likely to ask their Google Home or Amazon Echo, “Where is the best rated dog groomer nearby?” and not “Best Rated Dog Groomer in XYZ City”
If you’re looking to not be left behind, here are a few voice search friendly techniques.
- Employ long tail keywords and focus on suffixes like nearest, amazing, awesome, best, and top within your content.
- Focus on mobile, making sure its both fast and responsive – with special attention to site speed.
- Optimize for local listings as many natural language queries are going to be geo targeted.
- Make sure your FAQ’s and About pages are given in a natural tone to emphasize semantics.
Google’s Focus on Snippet and Rich Answers
If you’ve been paying attention to Google’s search result page design, then you would have noticed by now whenever you type in a search term for a question, a box with the desired answer appears on the top of the page. These are snippets and rich answers from top results on common questions. Google is seemingly gravitating towards increasing snippets and rich answers in the majority of their query results. Once again, it is their goal in helping its users spend the least amount of time possible finding the correct answer to their questions.
Savvy webmasters have already started rolling out tricks centered around this feature because it can quickly siphon off a lot of traffic from competitor websites. If you’d like to try optimize for this as well, you can try the following tips:
- Identify the most pressing questions from your audience and use them in your website’s FAQ section
- Make the section presentable and snippet-able with conclusive answers
- Engage metrics – they play a crucial role in your pursuit of getting featured
Improving User Experience
This is an ongoing trend from last year and continues to be of the highest importance moving forward. Back in the day when SEO was all about keyword stuffing and spamming blog comments, even a poorly formatted website could rank for top positions. Today, the picture is quite different and the challenge is on you to provide your readers with a fast, readable, and enjoyable experience when visiting your website.
User experience revolves around:
- Having a mobile-friendly website with smooth UX features
- Improving site speed and responsiveness
- Making websites easy to navigate
- Using a visually appealing color scheme
- Keeping visitors engaged so they return again and again
Mobile will be too big to ignore.. again
With more than 80% of Google searches coming from mobile devices, mobile friendliness and the now with the rise of voice search, it is safe to expect mobile to still reign supreme in 2018. Predictably, this year will continue to heavily focus on mobile SEO including:
- Increased focus on mobile-friendly and responsive designs
- Websites with well structured data
- Reducing redirects and minifying scripts and stylesheets
- Eliminating Flash content and pop-ups/over/under
Content Marketing and the power of Social Media
Content marketing dominated the previous year and will continue to do so into 2018. Social Media is another indispensable tool for businesses around the world and will continue to grow. Companies with a strong focus on content marketing and social media have seen explosive growth in the last few years and higher ROIs vs other traditional advertising channels. The key is in creating killer content both large (blog posts) and bite-sized (tweets) for your readers.
Popular social sites have been known as a cost effective way for building reputation, obtaining targeted traffic, and enhancing a businesses online profile. There is no doubt that many more companies will be looking into ways to increase their social media presence over the next year. For newer companies, it’s critical you share your website, blog content, or even photos on sites such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or even LinkedIn to maximize your brand exposure.
Tap into Video Content
Facebook, YouTube, and other social sites are absolutely buzzing with video and is increasingly a lucrative SEO technique for the next year. In fact, whenever you type in a search query on Google today, one of the first results are very likely to be a link to a YouTube video.
According to a recent HubSpot study, despite the growing video content out there today over 41% responded that they are looking for more video content. Cisco Networks also estimates that by 2021, online video will compromise over 80% of all sources of Internet traffic. There is still a significant gap in this market that can be filled with the right content. Look to making short videos that can describe your business, products/services, and how you can help your customers.
The Kingdom of Google has many competitors
While Google is still the undisputed king of them all, over the years users have slowly migrated towards topic specific search engines such as products on Amazon, hotel and restaurant recommendations on TripAdvisor, general questions on Facebook, business recommendations on Yelp, and a plethora of others. Take the time to analyze these search channels for your business and optimize your content not only for Google, but also for these lucrative alternative sources of customers.
Just to wrap this up neatly, SEO is set to change as always and staying on top of the latest trends this year is going to require persistence, intuition, hard work, and a bit of innovation. The topics and tips discussed above are not only about satisfying Google’s algorithm but also increasing the customer experience with your business, which in the end ultimately leads to more conversions.