The world of SEO is a constantly changing place, a fact that people who work in SEO marketing or follow SEO trends know only too well. Between Google’s updates and algorithm changes, the continued rise of mobile search, and ever-evolving user behaviors, SEO marketers must consistently adjust their strategies to stay on top of current trends and get the best return for their efforts.
Towards the end of each year, it has become customary—traditional even—for SEO players to speculate about trends that will create quite an impact on the industry for the following year. While not all of these predictions see the light of day, SEO marketers would still do well to be aware of the major SEO trends that are likely to affect the landscape of the industry in the coming year. Here are some of the major SEO trends that you should be aware of for 2018.
Google has already announced its plan to roll out mobile-first indexing, which it has been testing since late 2016, and many within the SEO industry believe that Google will finally implement it in 2018. Currently, Google indexes the desktop version of a website first and generously favors websites that are also mobile-friendly. Mobile-first indexing is definitely going to change the game, as it means the mobile version of a website will get dibs in the indexing process. If that doesn’t stress out enough the importance of having mobile-friendly website, then nothing ever would.
SEO experts have been stressing the importance of mobile friendly websites for the past couple of years as the number of mobile searches has outgrown desktop searches. Regardless of whether Google implements mobile first indexing in 2018 or later, you must make sure that your website displays and performs properly on mobile devices.
Google already favors mobile friendly websites and has made mobile friendliness a search ranking factor. With more people now searching on mobile devices, it is crucial that your website enhances the mobile user experience. Your website must not only display and perform properly across all mobile devices, but it must also have fast loading speeds, or you will have a very high bounce rate from mobile users. By making your website mobile friendly now, you will be ready when Google does implement mobile first indexing.
The use of voice search has been steadily increasing over the last several years and took a major jump in 2017. The rise started when voice search became a feature on most smartphones, and it has grown and evolved as devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa became more popular.
Around 1 in every 5 Google searches is a query from voice search and according to ComScore, voice search will account for half of all searches in 2020. Without a doubt, this is a growing trend that SEO marketers must take into account when planning their strategies.
The biggest effect that the rise of voice search will have on SEO is how we deal with keywords. Compared to the search queries people type on their computers or devices, voice search queries look quite different. Typed queries tend to be shorter phrases with exact match keywords, while voice search queries are typically longer, broad phrases with the syntax of natural language. This means that SEO marketers must pay more attention to the long-tail, semantic nature of voice search queries and try to understand and meet the user’s intent with these queries. Shifting your keyword strategy to better accommodate voice search will help draw more search traffic from mobile devices.
2017 has brought about many changes to accommodate the increasing popularity of voice search, including changes to the Google SERPs, the dominance of Google AMP (accelerated mobile pages), the rise of HTTPS, and reformatting of rich snippets. Some of these trends will continue into 2018 and some will probably fall by the wayside.
Link building has long been a staple of a solid SEO strategy, but the way Google has valued backlinks has changed significantly. For your backlinks to provide any benefits, they must be quality links that add value to your website and contribute to your brand or authority. Link building should be thought of as more of a long-term, networking strategy in which companies build relationships and exchange quality links to help develop their brand.
Search engines now have the ability to associate mentions of brands, institutions, organizations, and people without links to their webpages. While quality links still matter, the content around the hyperlinked text is also very important. This trend will continue in 2018.
Content is and always will be king in the world of SEO. As Google continues to refine its search algorithms, quality content that provides real value to the user will continue to be more important each year. Google is getting much better at recognizing well-written content, and it also tends to favor fresh content over old content. You should aim to consistently produce fresh, valuable content to give your content marketing strategy at better shot at success.
Your content marketing strategy for 2018 should also go beyond just textual content and incorporate visual content. Social media posts with images always receive more than twice the engagement of those without, and many believe increased engagement on social media can affect organic rankings. Visual search is also growing and tech companies like Google and Pinterest are staying on top of this trend by developing visual search engines. With Google placing more value on visual content on your website, it has become doubly important to not only include engaging visuals, but to make sure they are optimized as well.
One theme that these SEO trends for 2018 have in common is the emphasis on the importance of quality. Search engines like Google are continuing to get better at recognizing quality content, visual content, mobile friendly web designs, and backlinks in order to accomplish their main goal of delivering the most relevant, high-quality search results to their users. Focus on the quality of your website and content, and you’re well on your way to refining your SEO marketing strategy for 2018.