SEO is a dynamic, ever-changing field. As search algorithms evolve and the way we use technology in our day-to-day lives changes, the best SEO strategy will always be a moving target. That’s why it’s so important—and sometimes, a little exhausting—to pay attention to shifting SEO trends. What’s hype and what’s real? Here are a few SEO trends for 2018 that we don’t see going away anytime soon:
SEO practitioners know that mobile usage is only going to increase. A recent study found that almost 60 percent of all searches come from mobile devices, and because mobile users often prefer voice search to typing, voice technology will increase as well. The rise of home assistants such as Google Home and Alexa means voice search is becoming a bigger part of users’ home search habits, with many searchers now foregoing screens altogether.
As more and more people talk to get to your website rather than type, be sure your content is optimized for voice. Users often speak differently than they type—a desktop search might read “best tomato recipe,” while a voice search might sound like, “what’s the best way to use up extra tomatoes?” To take advantage of this, make sure your content is written in a conversational and informative tone.
The average Google search no longer produces a clear-cut list of results. Instead, users are likely to get paid ads, clips from top results, maps, reviews, and plenty of other features in addition to standard search entries. A recent study found that clicks are moving away from organic results and towards paid ads.
To survive in this new world of lower click-throughs, shoot for “position zero” —the featured content provided above standard search results. This strategy significantly helps your voice optimization, as well —Google Home, for example, will provide its spoken answer from the featured snippet result while sending the featured website to the user’s app.
As mobile usage goes up, so will local searches in which users look for results geographically near them, such as “Thai food near me.” Google reports nearly one-third of all mobile searches are related to location, so if your company provides any kind of geography-based service (such as a storefront or a delivery zone), then you’ll want to make sure your website is optimized for users in your service area.
Be sure to claim your business in local directories, such as Yelp and Google My Business, and make sure the information provided (store hours, phone number, etc.) is complete and accurate. You can also add your location to metadata to ensure Google knows exactly which areas your website is tied to.
Mobile Will Matter (Even More)
If you’ve paid attention to SEO at all over the past few years, you know that mobile optimization is essential for high rankings from Google. A 2015 update to their search algorithm was deemed “mobilegeddon” due to the dramatic increase in ranking it granted mobile-friendly pages. And Google has announced that another major pro-mobile shift is coming soon—possibly in 2018.
A mobile-first search will first analyze websites’ mobile qualities, then analyze desktop characteristics. If you have a great desktop page and a so-so mobile experience, this update will cost you. Luckily, Google is invested in creating a smooth rollout; they’re giving plenty of warning and have provided guidance on making your site mobile-friendly. If you already have a responsive site design, you’re in the clear.
User Experience Matters
User experience will never not matter. Google’s ultimate goal is to provide informative results for searchers in order to drive up usage and profit margins. All of its constant algorithm tweaks and changes are made in order to increase user happiness with the websites they click on.
If your website provides high-quality content that’s easily and quickly accessible, your SEO statistics will show it. If your website has spammy content, unwieldy design, or slow load speeds, no amount of SEO trickery will keep it near the top of the results page for long.
You probably didn’t start your website because you adored SEO. You have content to produce and goods and services to sell that you feel far more passionate about, and spending a ton of time keeping up with SEO best practices can be a real drag. That’s why the best option for many companies might be to hire an SEO firm, where experts make keeping abreast of the SEO world their full-time job.
Author Info: This article was first published by David Wither on Influencive