As we inch towards the final weeks of 2017, it is time to start exploring the key SEO trends that await us in 2018. A number of search industry trends that were in their infancy this year and last are predicted to come into greater prominence in the next couple of years.
We always stay updated on the trends, search engine algorithms and methods that work and we want to share these with you so that you can also stay ahead of the curve.
1. Voice Search and Digital Assistants
More and more users are searching the web via spoken commands and this number will almost assuredly grow in 2018. According to Google, 1 out of 5 search queries is voice activated. This changes the search market significantly. Your SEO strategy should focus on new keyword phrases with a more natural language that matches the user’s conversational tone.
2. Link Building
Link building is not likely to disappear anytime soon, but the strategy will continually change and evolve. The need for quality links that add value and credibility to your site will become even more important. Your link building strategy does not necessarily need to include only the most popular sites though. What is more important is that the links originate from a site relevant to your industry.
A successful SEO strategy in 2018 will need to include a more diversified strategy involving relationships that help a brand develop powerful contacts and links that will be beneficial in a longer term. Guest blogging can be utilized but should not be relied on too much as Google warns of spammy and questionable links arising from guest posting.
3. Invest in Meaningful Content
Filling your website with boring, rehashed copy will not appeal to today’s fast-paced, user-driven world. Users prefer to be engaged and interacted with and tend to gravitate toward websites with unique, short and fascinating articles. As a result, hiring a professional writer who is skilled at producing high quality yet short and informative content will increase your brand’s presence and provide visitors with substance and value.
4. Featured Snippets and Quick Answers
Google is presenting answers for many search queries right in featured snippets, also known as a ‘rich answer’ or ‘direct answer’. These quick answers are taken from the website and appear directly in the search results. The featured snippets have become quite coveted, increasing the competition among companies trying to appear in ‘position 0’ in the search engine results page (SERP). With this new feature comes the need to understand how to optimize a site’s content to meet Google’s standards for featured snippets that go beyond the traditional race to the top of Google.
Entering into the new year and new era of SEO, it might be interesting and beneficial to focus on the optimization of featured snippets for voice search. The combination of these two popular trends can help your website show up at the top of the SERPs.
5. Optimize for Mobile
Heading into 2018, catering to the mobile platform is more important than ever. Gone are the days of optimizing for mobile as merely an afterthought. This is especially true if Google decides to finally deploy its mobile-first index. In the era of modern search, more than half of all web traffic now comes from mobile devices. More significantly, there is a difference between the way that keywords rank on mobile and the way they rank on desktop, making mobile-first content crucial if you want to have a fighting chance of being visible in mobile search.
Google dislikes a slow loading page as much as we do, if not more. In fact, they hate slow pages so much that they have introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), an open-source initiative aiming to make the web better for everyone. The project enables the creation of websites and ads that are consistently fast, visually appealing and high-performing across all devices and distribution platforms. AMP may not be a ranking factor as such, but faster loading times will reduce your bounce rate, which will ultimately boost up your website on the Google charts.
6. AI and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are changing the way that search results are ranked. AI has already been introduced in the past years. Machine learning helps users find results that match the context of the request, thereby providing a more personalized experience with search interaction. Next year, the search industry expects to see even more changes related to this concept.
The growth of voice search and virtual assistants can become a catalyst for the development of AI systems and the promotion of those SEO strategies that pay close attention to current trends. We can expect more changes to come in 2018 where AI and machine learning are concerned and we can ascertain from Google’s commitment to developing this area that many more innovations are inevitable.
It is important to understand that SEO is always changing and that rising to the first position in the SERP is no longer the only goal. As search engines evolve, you need to evolve with them or risk being left behind. New trends that include quick answers, contextual advertising, voice search and local SEO, can often provide better results than an emphasis on organic search. Therefore, it is essential to think about how to combine traditional SEO trends with the latest trends and discover how your brand can maintain a successful SEO strategy in the future by blending these two ideologies.
About The Author: Kevin Watts
Kevin Watts is the founder of Raincross, a premier web design, development and digital marketing agency headquartered in Riverside, CA.
Kevin got his start in online marketing and website design by working for some of the most prominent names in online retail. He's most recognized for helping to start e-commerce retailer Organize.com in 1998, and spent 12 years running the company's e-commerce and online marketing operations. He has been recognized and has received several online retail, marketing and merchandising awards throughout his career.
Kevin grew up in Riverside, CA and graduated from the University of Wyoming. In his spare time, Kevin is an avid fly-fisherman, college football fan, and enjoys spending time with his son Matthew, daughter Kate and wife Lindsey.
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