Everyone is curious about what new SEO trends are coming in 2018. In this post, we will be discussing the eight most important trends that every SEO should start implementing in order to stay ahead in the SEO game.
The Top SEO Trends to Look Out for in 2018 Are:
- Voice search or voice assistants (such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices)
- In-depth content and link building
- Mobile-first indexing
- AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
- The Knowledge Graph: Featured Snippets, and Quick Answers
- Google RankBrain: AI & Machine Learning
- User experience for SEO
- Video and image search
So let’s get started and break each of these down.
1. Voice Search or Voice Assistants
Voice search was popular in 2017, but in 2018, we will see the popularity of voice search increase. The main reason why usage of voice search will grow is because of its convenience. No one likes to type longer keyword searches on their phones.
People use voice search on a daily basis to make phone calls, ask for directions, and get information without using a keyboard. For multitasking addicts, voice search offers a great way to search online while doing something else, such as cooking, watching TV, and driving.
“Voice Search is one of 2018’s next big things in SEO, and this is something we can’t ignore as marketers.”
The following interesting facts make voice search or voice assistants the Next Big Thing in SEO for 2018:
- “‘50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020’ according to comscore.” Source
- Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced during his Google I/O keynote that 20 percent of mobile queries are voice searches.
- 40% of adults now use voice search daily. Source
- “Google’s Voice Search can recognize 40 different core languages. It also recognizes various accents, including Australian, Indian, English, and more.” Source
The question is, what can you do about voice search from an SEO perspective?
When it comes to optimizing content for voice search and virtual assistants, SEOs or brands should start thinking about and implementing a different type of SEO strategy.
They need to focus more on long-tail keywords or natural language queries (the terms and phrases people use in everyday speaking). The following is an example of a long-tail keyword or natural language query.
2. In-Depth Content and Link Building
We all know content and links are the most important ranking factors. In-depth content and backlinks always play vital roles. Without both, we cannot rank higher on the first page of search results.
Google’s spiders always love to index fresh, valuable, and detailed content that can help searchers learn about particular topics. If we are going to talk about in-depth content, we need to consider the following points:
- To write in-depth content on a subject, try to include all the information for which users could be searching. What do they need to know? Include it, and aim for 2000 words or more.
- Find synonyms whose meaning adds value to your keywords and are worthwhile for your content. They will help the search engines and your potential readers.
To find synonyms or related keywords, you can do the following:
- Search your main keywords, and look for the keywords around the bolded keywords. Many of these are your important keywords, and you should consider adding them to your content. Now scroll to the bottom of the “Searches related to…” section. The words in bold here are also your important keywords.
- There are free tools, such as KeywordTool.io and Answer the Public, that can help you find related keywords.
Links are still important and this will not change in 2018, but it is important to focus more on quality rather than quantity. In 2018, linkless mentions (backlinks) are also becoming a trust signal for search engines because search engines now have the ability to connect the mentions of brands with their corresponding web pages.
3. Mobile-First Indexing
Mobile-first indexing is the latest development by Google to make the web more mobile-friendly. A recent study by BrightEdge found that 57% of web traffic comes from mobile devices, which means that most people love to search on mobile.
But Google’s current ranking system is typically based around the desktop version of a page’s content, and it shows the same content to mobile and desktop users.
This situation can cause issues with mobile pages because the current algorithms are not evaluating the relevance to the mobile user. To make the results more relevant according to search query, Google now focuses on mobile-first indexing.
Here are some simple steps to help you prepare for mobile-first indexing.
A. Your Content Should Be Consistent Across Desktop and Mobile
With the mobile-first index, Google will first evaluate mobile content instead of looking at your desktop content. This is why you should prepare your site for mobile-first index.
If your mobile site has less content on a mobile page than it has on your desktop site, then Google will probably consider the mobile version with less content in mobile-first indexing. So you want to display the same amount of site content on both your desktop and mobile versions.
Let me explain that Google will not give full ranking weight to content that is hidden in tabs, accordions, and expandable boxes. But with mobile-first index, Google will give full weight to these types of content if you implement them to enhance the user experience.
John Mueller has said,
So the mobile-first indexing will index the mobile version of the page. And on the mobile version of the page it can be that you have these kind of tabs and folders and things like that, which we will still treat as normal content on the page even. Even if it is hidden on the initial view. Source
B. Move Your M. Version to Responsive Design
If you have an m.xyz.com version of your site, switch over to a responsive design right away.
C. Don’t Forget to Add Structured Schema Markup
Adding schema markup code on your website can give it a significant boost in rankings.
D. Improve Your Page Loading Time
Site speed is always one of the most important factors for SEO, and with mobile-first index it is critical. So head over to Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Enter your website URL and click to “Analyze.” The tool will give you results within seconds to help improve your page speed.
E. Make Your Site Mobile Optimized, Not Just Mobile-Friendly
Many sites technically work on mobile devices. But when it comes to the quality of the websites, there is a huge gap when people actually use them.
A truly mobile optimized site should resize for multiple screens and resolutions. If you are not sure whether your website is mobile optimized, check this Mobile-Friendly Test tool from Google. Enter your URL and hit “Run Test.” The tool lets you know if you are on the right track or not.
4. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
Google is currently rolling out Accelerated Mobile Pages in its mobile search results. The question is, what is AMP? AMP is a framework designed to create fast-loading mobile web pages.
AMP consists of three basic parts: AMP HTML, AMP JS, and AMP CDN. While creating for AMP, we need to be aware of the following:
- There are certain HTML tags you can’t use for AMP.
- You need to use a streamlined version of CSS.
I recommend you read this Quickstart guide here to get up and running with AMP. For more details on how to create your AMP HTML page and on how it differs from basic HTML, check out the basic list here of required markups that your AMP HTML page should have.
Google also started highlighting AMP in its mobile search results, and you can test your pages on Google’s AMP Test tool.
5. The Knowledge Graph: Featured Snippets and Quick Answers
According to Wikipedia, “the Knowledge Graph is a knowledge base that Google and its services use to enhance the search engine’s results with information gathered from a variety of sources.”
The Knowledge Graph, Featured Snippets, and Quick Answers are the next big SEO trends. The popularity of these resources has increased, and brands are now trying to appear in “position zero” in the SERP (search engine results page).
Featured snippets are the summaries of user queries, displayed at the top of Google’s organic results. To rank for position zero, work on the following steps:
- Identify which questions Google users are asking according to your niche.
- Create your best content for the purpose of answering questions. By doing so, there is a chance that Google will pick your content as a featured snippet.
- Add a Q&A section to your website with an attractive, illustrative image.
- Your content should be between 40 and 50 words, according to SEMrush’s analysis.
- Results for queries such as, “how does,” “how do,” “how to,” “what is,” “why,” and “what” are more likely to earn a spot in the featured snippets, says stonetemple.
6. Google RankBrain: AI & Machine Learning
RankBrain is the third most important ranking signal in Google’s search algorithm. And in 2018, it is going to be even more important. But what exactly is RankBrain? And how do you optimize for it?
RankBrain is a machine learning, artificial intelligence system that helps Google sort the search results. Google RankBrain has already changed the whole search space.
Google is displaying organic search results with answer boxes, ads, carousels, featured snippets, and quick answers sections, all for a personalized experience. The following information comes from this Search Engine Land article:
What Is Machine Learning?
Machine learning is where a computer teaches itself how to do something, rather than being taught by humans or following detailed programming.
What Is Artificial Intelligence?
True artificial intelligence, or AI for short, is where a computer can be as smart as a human being, at least in the sense of acquiring knowledge both from being taught and from building on what it knows and making new connections.
RankBrain mainly refines queries according to user searches and measures how users interact with the search results. Then it ranks the pages accordingly.
For example, you might search for “padmavat” in Google. Google contextualizes and personalizes the search engine results pages for your search term.
Here’s what happens when you search the keyword “masala chai.”
Say that the #1 result appeals to you. You click it, bounce back due to its content, click on the #4 result, and find that content worth reading. So you stay longer on that site and check everything out.
RankBrain considers these metrics and gives the #4 result a ranking boost. RankBrain focuses mainly on the following factors:
- How long users stay on your web pages
- Click-through rate (the percentage of people who click on your search result)
- Whether people used complex long-tail search queries
7. User Experience (UX) for SEO
User experience will play a greater role in search rankings and will become even more important in 2018.
Here are some UX factors that affect rankings:
- Page loading speed
- Mobile responsiveness
- Quality, informative, and in-depth content
- User behavior and interaction with content
- Structure markups
- Site navigation
- Bounce rate
- Site security
- Optimization of text, images, and internal links
8. Rise of Video and Image Search
Video and image searches (we can call them “visual search content”) take the user experience to the next level. In 2018, we will see a huge growth in visual search content and should start creating and prioritizing it. Here are some visual content stats:
- 37% of marketers said visual marketing was the most important form of content for their businesses. (Source)
- 74% of social media marketers “use visual assets in their social media marketing.” (Source)
The following are types of awesome visual content you can use:
- Data-driven visual content, which can be easily embedded in other sites
- Infographics with relevant data
- Videos embedded on your blog or page content
So these are the SEO trends you should look for in 2018. Feel free to share any other SEO trends we should consider for the coming year. Don’t forget to incorporate featured snippets, rich content (such as videos), links, and UX into your strategy.
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