While it may be the most exploited term in digital marketing, what exactly is SEO or Search Engine Optimization? It is an activity to ensure that website is found in better positions within search engines by optimizing content and other relevant elements. Hence, by following the SEO best practices for 2018, you can get your content in front of people who may be searching for the specific information. Over the years, SEO has played as one of the most crucial marketing tools for all types of businesses. It keeps on changing every year which is why it is essential for companies like us to be up to date with the SEO trends to provide our clients an edge over the competition.
There are some basic SEO practices which have been part of intense SEO strategy in 2017 and have been consistent. and They also continue to play an essential role in 2018. Let’s see what they are -
- It is essential to publish new and high-quality content always on the website, in order to show search engines that the website is still being updated and will increase the shares and likes that search engines equate with authority.
- Earning links is an important step hence, link building needs to be a part of strong SEO strategy. In order to earn links, we can write guest posts or build relationships with other site owners to get coverage.
- Website needs to provide a good user experience so that people are satisfied with your website and spend longer time. Moreover, it is essential to design a website which also provides a good mobile experience.
So, we have discussed about some basic practices for SEO strategy that are going to continue in future. But let us look at some other newer trends and practices for SEO that website owners should keep in mind for 2018.
1.Voice Search is the new addiction
Voice search is playing an important role for SEO. Based on data, over 55% of teens and 40% of adults are using voice search daily. Thus, Voice search makes up to 20% of all searches on mobile devices and the percentage is predicted to grow in future. Nowadays, businesses are looking forward to creating strong SEO strategy which gives unique user experience and using voice search for SEO gives conversational search experiences.
We may use various digital assistants like Alexa, Cortana, Google assistant and Siri for marketing and SEO efforts for 2018. In order to use voice search for SEO, here are few points to keep in mind
- Since search will be normally a question, improve the content by having both question and answer side-by-side on the page.
- AI will help to understand what the user is searching for and provide most appropriate results.
- If you want to know the weather in London use keywords like “weather London”. However, if you are conversing, you will ask a question “what is the weather in London?”. Hence, it is essential for SEO and voice search to use user’s natural speech patterns to boost search rankings. Rank tracker is voice query research tool which is used to type in keywords and develop natural speech patterns in the language.
- Keyword phrases need to be long tail and as detailed as possible to boost your SEO. For example, if you selling baby clothes the short keyword “baby clothes” will not be enough to find results using voice search. We need to use descriptive keyword phrases like “red coloured baby romper for 0-3 months” to define what potential customers are looking for.
- Content needs to be mobile friendly since users are doing most voice search using smartphones.
Google Hummingbird provides a conversational user experience for any search query asked by user.
2.Mobile first indexing
From many years we have been hearing that website needs to be mobile friendly and from last year’s data of BrightEdge - 57% of its traffic is coming from mobile devices. Google is understanding this trend and introducing Mobile-first indexing which means it will use content which is mobile friendly to create and rank its search listings, even for listings which are shown to desktop users. In other words, sites which are not mobile friendly will become outdated. The impact of mobile first will be that if your website’s mobile version has less content than desktop version, then mobile version will be given priority. This will eventually affect how your visitors think about the website. We also need to have Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) which help users to access the content immediately when protocols are present. They also help users to see the content within apps which they haven’t downloaded in their mobile devices.
3.Content plays an important role
New trends in case of content to dominate in 2018 are as follows
- Linkless mentions: As AI has started playing role in SEO, link building is taking a new shape and linkless mentions have started to play a bigger part in rankings. This is because most of the online word of mouth marketing is linkless for eg: Telling about a brand in news story, reviews, forums, blog comments, social network and many more. Awario is a monitoring tool that helps to follow up on positive or negative comments and monitor the brand. Focus of 2018 is to develop new monitoring tools to find linkless mentions.
- Topic Clusters: Hubspot has introduced this new concept that plays an important role since it helps to link all the internal content within a topic to a pillar page thus, helping the search engines to understand that the website has strong relevance and wide-ranging content.
- Longer blog posts: It is said that if your blogs have more than 2000 words then visitors spend more time on your website which is favourable for search engines.
- WordPress: In 2018, irrespective of other tools WordPress will continue to rule over all other tools of CMS. It is predicted to grow from 25% to approximately 35% because of its cost structure, extensibility, strong arrangement of plugins, hosting providers, security options and developers.
- Backlinks: There is a large number of content being generated every day and very difficult for search engines to determine the authenticity. It is with the help of backlinks that the search engines can tell if the website is authentic and useful.
For example, Candy Japan sells random assortment of candies and crossed $1Million sales. Their website is pretty simple but have footer links and links in the content. Thus, systematically planning the links can be helpful.
4.Video SEO should be focus
In 2018, every marketer should focus on videos that can increase the engagement and social shareability. As it is seen, when Facebook shares a post with images it receives 2.3 times more engagement. Hence in 2018, every brand should focus on multi-media strategy in order to increase the reach among targeted audience. YouTube comes second as popular search engine which has more than 3 billion searches per month. In order to ensure that videos could be used for SEO, it needs to be made accordingly
- Video title should be made SEO friendly by making it clickable and shareable by including keywords and power words.
- Every video needs to contain a detailed written description in order to know what the video is about.
- It is essential to have longer videos in order to do better at YouTube search
- A better video thumbnail can tell the viewers what the video is about and help in increasing the rankings.
5.The increase in SERP features
Google SERPS and updates are changing quickly and hence can expect big changes in 2018.
Let us discuss some features
- Need quick answers: It has been seen by Google that viewers need fast results and if they need to wait for long, they will bounce. Hence, most searches have started to contain a box called “People also ask”. This box consists of common questions related with the keyword and if you click on those questions it provides answers and creates an infinite loop of question and answers. This increases engagement and helps viewers receive faster results.
- Emphasize on PPC: It has been seen that majority of people are not clicking on PPC ad results which is a problem for Google since its revenue depends on it. Hence, Google made major changes in how to display ads. They removed the bold text and contrasting colour to make it lighter in eyes of the viewers. Simplicity sometimes generates an interest in viewers and this is what Google is focussing on, in 2018.
- Top ranking content should have low CTR: If we need to know the weather in New York, and we search in Google, it displays the information in most effective and beautiful way.
- Rich Snippets: Making content available which contains Q&A in a box, people are less likely to click. But if they click, it is clear that they get the most obvious answer quickly.
- Combining rich snippets with AMP: With this upcoming trend, it provides content optimization and help to scroll across multiple articles without clicking back to Google.
- Competition for answer boxes: There will be people competing to showcase their results in answer boxes in coming years.
As per the data, 66% of searches has resulted in clicks but there are 34% searches that did not require a click. It is seen that higher CTR leads to higher ranking in SERP but is going to change now. This means that companies need to focus on rich snippets and rich cards to stand out and deliver effective results.
With the help of schema markup, helps Google to tell what type of content is present on the page with all kind of information present to pull out features in rich search result which results in increase in click.
If you are a local business then make it a point to be in map cluster by focussing on directory listings, customer reviews and data which mentions city, state and address. Local SEO needs to up to date with programs like Amazon Go.
Other features like knowledge panels, featured snippets and paid results will also be upcoming in 2018.
6.To be ready for Fake news algorithm
There has been a lot of speculation in media that Google has been promoting fake news. This has hurt Google’s image, and they are confident to solve this problem. Hence in 2015, Google released a paper on Knowledge-Based Trust (KBT) which analyses the quality of web pages not on the number of inbound links but factual accuracy. Once implemented it will take care of websites which publish fake news. Thus, Google is giving truthfulness a priority factor in 2018.
In 2018, SEO strategy needs to focus on the above best practices to adapt to the changing scenarios and having an edge over the competition. Just need to focus on reliable and high-quality content, an improvement on engaging the audiences and well informed with the technology trends.