As we dive into 2018, it’s worth reviewing our SEO and seeing if anything needs to be addressed for the new year. The search engines seemingly change their algorithms on a daily basis and it’s hard to keep up. The trends we’re seeing for 2018 are:
- Voice Search and Digital Assistants. Today, we speak our search requests nearly as often as we type them. When speaking search requests, it oftentimes becomes more conversational and also, longer than when we type a request. This will require improved accuracy and algorithms to keep up with the popularity of voice search devices in the home. Can your website respond to a more conversational search? Or a longer search string request?
- Link Building. It’s not going away. But the quality of those links is becoming more important. In May, Google warned, “publishers who rely too much on guest posting for link building that there will be a closer look at guest blogs in an attempt to control spammy and questionable links.” What this means to you is that you’ll need to have a more diverse approach to your link building. Perhaps look at links as a more long-term approach; multiple links used to develop contacts and assist with your branding.
- User Experience. What experience is your end user having? How long do they stay on each page they visit? How many pages are they visiting on your site? Are the pages loading quickly? Is the navigation simple and friendly? Are your pages intuitive? Is the user experience consistent across all of their devices? These are the questions search engines will be answering in 2018. User Experience is a big focus.
- Featured Snippets and Quick Answers. Featured snippets are the tables that pull up on Google when you conduct a search. They’re a short list of questions that hopefully address yours. Research shows that the results showing up in these boxes have a click-through rate of 32.3%. Very nice. So how do you get your content there? Lists, tables, graphs, and a solid Q&A format will make it easier for Google to grab your content. As an interesting spin, Google is optimizing Featured Snippets with Voice Search.
- Putting Mobile First. Google has been talking about deploying a mobile-first index. Up to this point, mobile devices have kind of been an afterthought. “Oh yeah, let’s make sure that pulls up on a handheld device too.” 2018 will see a reversal in that thought process. With approximately 57% of searches being conducted on mobile devices, and keywords pulling differently for mobile devices vs desktops, it becomes more important to put mobile first. Combine this with voice search and there’s your 2018 focus. Focus more on context when putting mobile first. Site speed becomes even more important for the mobile device than the desktop.
- Visual Search. We’ve already seen the beginning of this trend with Pinterest. In 2018, SEO strategy will need to take into consideration how we utilize visual content and how the search engines are now going beyond the text. Rich and engaging visuals are using neuroscience and innovation to grab your visitors. Does your website have strong visuals? How engaging are they?