7 Search Engine Optimization / SEO Trends For 2018
Search Engine Optimization is a marketing strategy that has become imperative in the past decade. This is largely because the internet has become the primary place customers seek goods and services. With so many people online today, businesses are finding that to survive, they have to establish an online presence for themselves.
However, just starting a website or blog isn’t enough for business. To gain relevancy, you have to apply effective marketing strategies. That is where SEO steps in. Search engine optimization includes implementing popular keywords into the pages of your website. That’s not going to change.
Keywords are crucial because they not only signal to users what a site is about, they also give a site a higher ranking in search engine results. A higher ranking leads to more user traffic, which is ideal for business.
Like other marketing strategies, this is one that is always evolving to the changes in the business world. For marketers like SEO Expert Brad, it is their job to adapt to the newest trends. Including trends beyond just that of the obvious keywords. Past trends tended to focus mostly on keywords, but in 2018 the trends are expected to grow beyond that.
Here are just some of the 2018 trends in SEO I foresee.
Trend #1: Mobile Optimization
People are increasingly turning to their phones for online searches. It makes a lot of sense, as phones are smaller and much more portable for carrying around. When out in public, people want to be able to whip out their phone to perform a web search quickly. Additionally, 2018 is the year of Google mobile first index, so if you aren’t prepared, you’re going to fade away into uncertainty.
With mobile first indexing, Google will ultimately begin with your content’s mobile version in deciding where that content is placed in the SERPs. This concept is practical for Google because it eliminates the traditional weak link in indexing content. When Google began by indexing desktop content as the priority, this often meant that some poor loading version of that content was dragging down the mobile search results. By beginning with mobile indexing as a priority, the issue of a poor loading sister version on desktop is much less likely considering that desktop computers and laptops have bigger processing engines.
Does this mean that a site without a mobile optimized, or isolated mobile version, will be delisted or penalized? No, it doesn’t mean that; instead, it means that the odds are better if your site has an optimal mobile version running. If your site’s desktop content is the only version of that content and that content happens to load fast, you will have no issues. However, often times, this simply isn’t the case as desktop versions of content typically don’t play well with smartphone processors and screen limitations.
Web developers are adapting to the increased mobile usage by developing more phone-friendly websites. Many WordPress themes are becoming more and more helpful in terms of possessing a responsive version. In other words, things are getting easier for online business owners to adapt. For SEO strategists, this means adjusting the search optimization strategy to attract more mobile users. More research will need to go into the types of search engine keywords that mobile users are likely to apply.
Is your website mobile friendly? Check it on the Google mobile friendly tester. You should always be cross-checking your website’s responsiveness, load times, and usability across multiple platforms to ensure the highest-quality experience.
Trend #2: Voice Search
Because innovations are being made to improve Voice Search applications like Siri and Google Voice Search, it is predicted that voice searches will become more commonplace for people in 2018.. Voice Search innovators are looking to make technology that recognizes the user’s voice, remembers previous searches, pinpoints the user’s location, and applies personal information for a more seamless experience.
But the biggest indication of voice search growth in 2018 is, plain and simple, the massive surge in artificial intelligence device sales. Devices such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Homepod, and Google’s Home, are selling like hotcakes. More and more homes are becoming wired with these devices. Fewer people are turning off their lights at night by hand, they are calling out to Alexa for such “inconveniences.” While you may buy an Alexa device initially because you want it to start your car or adjust your air conditioning, you will eventually end up using it to search for a budget hotel deal. That’s the evolution and it is more than a threat, it is a promise.
Additionally, people are looking up local businesses and services using voice search devices at a stunning rate. In fact, I have a deep-dive into voice search stats for 2018, which is worth a read if you want to learn more about what’s on the horizon (or should I say, already here).
Just like with mobile optimization, voice search optimization will require more research and implementation by marketers in 2018.
Trend #3: MicroFormats
In coding terms, microformats are small HTML patterns that signal information about a website. The more information a search engine knows about the site, the more accurately it can rank it. Search engines will typically award you with a better ranking if you can give an honest description of what your website is about.
Additionally, microformats often make your content more appealing to the consumer, thereby enticing more clicks. Increased clicks, of course, mean improved ROI and enhanced SEO signals to search engines such as Google.
Microformats add labels or tags, however you enjoy terming it, to your content. They translate to search engines what your content is about. The use of these labels typically comes by way of rich snippets, an option you’ve likely noted seeing inside of popular SEO plugins such as Yoast. Rich snippets allow for information beyond simply the url, title, and description to be transposed into Google’s SERP display. For example, you might want your rating with consumers to display or your hours of operation. For this reason, microformats are widely utilized by local businesses.
Microformats aren’t exactly for every business (although they don’t hurt). If you aren’t a business with ratings, hours of operation, or a specific location where consumers might visit you, microformats potentially aren’t pertinent to your needs.
Trend #4: User Intent Optimization
In the marketing world, research is still going into the intent of web searchers when they type in certain keywords. Search engine optimization isn’t just about stuffing popular keywords into your web pages. It is about integrating keywords so that your site delivers its promise to the searcher. For your own benefit, you want consumers who intended to seek out products and services offered by your website.
When someone searches for a particular phrase in a search engine, that search engine wants to give the searcher the most accurate and helpful result. For the searcher, when they are brought to the more practical result, it gives them a good idea of who they should do business with.
Intent optimization is the future because the future of search, 2018 and beyond, is voice search. Voice search is cleaning up user intent in expedited fashion. Rather than laboriously type in truncated versions of a search intent, a consumer can now blatantly and clearly state what they are looking for in terms of products or services or even information.
The best way to achieve prime user intent optimization is to simply think of yourself as the one performing the search. What would you be looking for? What calls to action would influence you to learn more about a product or service? What value would be the most pertinent in your experience with your website?
User intent optimization in 2018 is going to be more important than ever, largely due to the rise of voice search. We covered the voice search trend in the prior section.
Trend #5: Local Search Targeting
Local searches are particularly relevant to businesses that rely on attracting local customers. For a dog groomer located in Texas, they want to be the first Google search result for “dog groomer in Texas.” The best way to ensure that is to optimize the dog groomer’s website to indicate where the business operates. Small businesses should focus on local search optimization.
For 2018, local search targetting is going to become even more precise. The added precision will mean even more targeted search results. This means rather than targeting a suburb of Dallas, you may end up targeting the cross-streets. More precise, or hyperlocal targeting, will essentially create improved funnels for pre-qualified consumers.
The fact is, proximity matters to all of us. If an equal, or slightly lesser quality service, is 10 miles closer to us, we might take it over the competition. When you can target down to streets and corners, you embrace the power of mobile searching. Someone simply walking down the street may search for a deli and be shown delis that are only blocks away, rather than miles. This same scenario is likely to be exposed when consumers visit stores that fail to carry a product they are looking for. In these cases, consumers will want to locate the nearest business which does carry the product.
Highly targeted search campaigns, whether it be SEO or paid ads, is going to rule the roost in 2018. The closer a local business can get to a pre-qualified consumer, the more likely that a financial transaction will occur. This takes searching from the singular experience of being car-based to being foot-based. “Near me” searches have exploded over the years.
Don’t take my word for it, take Googles. From 2014 to 2015, “near me” searches grew at an astonishing 130% rate. If that data doesn’t put some urgency to include targeted local structure into your SEO strategy, nothing will. Consumers are extremely comfortable with shrinking local search parameters. Most consumers at this juncture expect their searches to lead them to more precise results.
Trend #6: Content is Still King
Content as a strategy is already popular for marketers, and it will continue to be for the upcoming year. Producing quality, engaging content can inform people about what a website or business is about. It also signals to readers that the company cares about helping people, which is perfect for a brand’s image.
2018 will be no different than years past in terms of content’s powerful influence in search engine rankings. The production of content is a core business model in the SEO industry with thousands of companies popping up as content marketing solutions every few months. Most content marketing companies are scams that use overseas workers to bang out low-grade content that eventually finds the bottom of the rankings. However, many content companies are working hard to find quality writers and videographers that can produce top-level stuff.
With more and more content creation companies cropping up and infinite numbers of new websites being turned on each day, the competition for high-quality content experiences is likely to be as rich as ever in 2018.
In 2018, if your website is content-dry, you’re not likely to make much progress with your SEO ambitions. You’ll need to decidedly beat your competition in the content sphere if you want to rank above them.
The ability to have a deep arsenal of proven content will benefit a website from a variety of standpoints, including internal linking which helps Google learn more about the new and old content you’ve produced. It also helps to funnel web surfers who are already impressed with a portion of your content into more of your content. This helps improve your pages per session statistics in Google Analytics which is a big trigger in Google’s SEO algorithm.
In 2018, being content heavy and quality driven will be a must for those looking to succeed in SEO.
Trend #7: Intense Competition
I’ve touched a bit on this in the prior section regarding content production, but it certainly deserves its own section. Online marketing is expected to become more intense in its competition. Because more businesses are coming online, this should create an environment where several local businesses will be competing in the digital world as well as the real world.
Not only that, but brands will have to compete with huge corporations that have highly vetted marketing teams working for them. That is why so many smaller businesses are turning to professional marketers like SEO Expert Brad.
For those who are new to the world of search rankings and online marketing, a digital marketing firm can help you with keyword optimization, social media platforms, local research, personalization, and finding new strategies to help businesses thrive.
The days of “do it yourself” are slipping away. With more dense competition comes an urgency for small business executives to make their products and services the best around. As an executive, you can’t focus on your products and services when you are also running an internal SEO company.
That’s why solutions such as SEO Expert Brad offer the best of both worlds. Your products and services improve right alongside your SEO rankings. Competing in the local SEO market in 2018 will mean having the backing of a true digital marketing foundation. The truth is, your competition who is ranking above you probably already does.
In 2018, SEO trends will be deeply embedded in hyperlocal searches and more enriching content experiences. Keyword relevance and backlinks are likely to remain foundational functions which can’t be ignored. However, local websites that can achieve “authority” prowess by creating amazing niche focused content will certainly garner more blessings from Googles SEO algorithm that’s constantly looking to improve SERPs for consumers.
Consumers are now looking for solutions that are near to them, even in walking distance. Local businesses that are experts in their field and can capture consumers who are looking for their solution when they are in the proximity of their business will win the race to serve the sale.
With the rise of more competitive websites coming online daily, it is likely that local businesses backed by highly vetted digital marketing companies will reap more rewards.
In the end, 2018 will offer one thing in common with years past and that is that those who work hard will be the ones who rise to the top.