Yes, 2017 was a great year for SEO, but what about the incredibly impressive features already lined up for 2018? We’ve brought together the top trends that will dominate Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in 2018.
The manner and rate at which the volume of search queries has grown over the years are mind-blowing. Google records over 100 billion searches performed each month, which is roughly 1.2 trillion searches per year. Engines are becoming smarter than ever. Voice search is now almost commonplace among desktop and smartphone users. Additionally, smart home devices and digital assistants become increasingly popular which also increases the use of search among consumers.
Based on observations of SEO in 2017, some speculation about new features and innovative technology which can potentially improve the search experience, we’ve summarized the top Search Engine Optimization trends which will most likely dominate in 2018:
1. SEO Voice Search Is Here to Stay
We’ll start our list of SEO trends 2018 with Voice Search, which is indeed justifiable since it’s at the forefront of an apparent shift in how we are searching for information on the Internet. Did you know smart speaker sales – primarily Amazon Echo and Google Home – exploded in 2017? And 2018 will most likely be a better year as more functional models roll out.
Users are interacting with smart speakers and voice-assisted devices every day. Since these devices are activated by sound and provide spoken search results, this technology challenges our view of the traditional Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).
Google explains voice search already accounts for 20% of its total search volume, and comScore projects voice-based search to represent about 50% of all searches by 2020. Behshad Behzadi, Principle Engineer at Google, has also argued the ratio of voice search to type search is growing much faster than expected.
This explosive growth is a strong indication that voice search is quickly becoming a powerful tool in search engine marketing. Start spending more time optimizing for voice and conversational search, or you’ll find your brand losing visibility and traffic in the years ahead.
2. Video and Image Search Engine Optimization Will Play A Larger Role
Gradually, user engagement on the Internet has evolved to break off the over-reliance on text and incorporate graphic, video, and interactive elements. Over the past years, hyper internet speeds, visually-appealing social media websites and a widespread willingness to engage with more graphic factors have led to an increase in visual online interactions.
As a result of this, drastic changes have occurred on Google and how major search engines treat images and videos in an online environment. Newly-founded startups Moodstocks and Eyefluence (which have both been acquired by Google) created innovative technology for recognizing visual elements within images and videos with a high degree of accuracy. Google sought to better user experience when interacting with users. The integration of acquired technology is evident in the progressive changes to the Google Photo app. This sizeable improvement in search sophistication for images and video needs to be a concern in your digital marketing strategy.
3. The Knowledge Graph and Featured Snippets Will Become Significant
Over the past years, Google has gradually increased the frequency and accuracy of featured snippets—direct answers to search phrases which are questions. However, around late 2017, the featured snippets started displaying Knowledge Graph boxes, which would give the same answers as the featured snippets. This move by Google is a precedent for the absolute dominance of its Knowledge Graph. It will occupy a significant part of the area presently occupied by featured snippets. Google seems to want to provide better and more accurate answers to questions users ask. SEO tactics should focus on getting content crawled by search engines to appear as a featured snippet, knowledge graph box, or even in the carousel!
4. User Experience Will Be A Huge Factor in Site Rankings
SEO and UX go hand-in-hand; we optimize our websites not for the search engines, but for search engine and website users. As a result, user experience (UX) is an integral part of Search Engine Optimization. In fact, User Experience-optimization is among the latest factor influencing SERP rankings.
Consider the following three (3) areas for On-Site Optimization to enhance user experience:
- Up-to-date website protocols and development technology: when it comes to poorly functioning websites, users bounce. Especially in 2018, users have high hopes for your site. You must only use current website protocols, scripting languages, and techniques. For instance, your site should be HTML5 optimized. Outdated website technology slows down your website, makes it vulnerable to hacking. Therefore you run the risk of unintentionally exposing your users’ information (Google might even blacklist you). A good example is Flash, which shouldn’t be on your website. Also, an HTTPS website is more secure than one using plain old HTTP, so make sure you have an SSL certificate!
- Mobile optimization: in a lot of countries, smartphones, and tablets account for over 50 percent of the total search volume by the device. Consequently, if you’ve not done so already, you should optimize your website for mobile devices in 2018. Responsive, Progressive, and PWA designs bridge the gap between desktop and mobile web development, so consider those types of builds.
5. AI and Machine Learning Will Improve Much Further, Driving SEO Needs
Google introduced Rankbrain, an AI search algorithm in 2015. It was developed to handle search queries which haven’t been previously made – around 15 percent of the total Google searches daily.
Rankbrain’s made a lot of improvements, and with it, Google will finally be able to provide answers to even the most complicated of questions. We should, therefore, expect much smarter search engines ranking elements which will better understand users and target audiences in 2018.
6. The Mobile First Index Is Coming This Year
Google has diverted much attention to mobile since 2016. The push towards mobile doesn’t come as a surprise though, since the number of Internet users on mobile devices has risen exponentially over the years, and it even surpasses the number of desktop users presently.
However, optimizing for mobile devices only became a yardstick for ranking websites in 2016. By 2017, Google had begun a mobile-device project called Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) which is sure to take a significant role “Mobile First Index” will kick off in 2018. Google may favor AMP pages in the mobile index, which is already optimized for mobile devices. AMP works very well for blog posts, but some argue web pages should remain within the mobile design.
You should ensure that your website is mobile-friendly and that it has been optimized for mobile. If you don’t, you’re losing a lot of things – traffic, reach, and of course, money. Having a responsive design with a blog component with AMP support is ideal for tackling mobile-friendliness.
7. Structured Data Will Become Much More Vital in Website Ranking
The SERPs have undergone drastic changes and significant improvements. Google is utilizing structured data more frequently than before, and composing featured data as well, which means it can create meaningful problem-solving descriptions and content from existing ones. Optimizing structured data needs to be a priority in your 2018 new SEO strategy.
Google needs structured data from websites to generate rich snippets and display them based on search queries. The issue is that there’s lesser space on SERPs for organic search results due to the features outlined above. Therefore, you need to ensure that your meta descriptions are unique. Meta-descriptions have also seemed to grow longer. 300-320 characters, as opposed to 150-160, is now the norm of the SERP.
Additionally, rich snippets can increase your website’s CTR to a considerable extent. Some experts mention up to a 30 percent increase. Your content should be structured in the best way possible, using valid markup. For instance, you can use schema.org or JSON-LD. Having strong content will help Google’s semantic index crawlers piece together vital information and plug it into a featured snippet. Featured snippets are the only voice emitted results on the Google Home system. Google Home is an untapped market in organic search engine rankings.
And there you have it, 7 of the most-important potential search engine marketing trends 2018 has to offer. How will you tackle these changes moving forward?