Like language, SEO keeps on evolving and expanding its realms. As we prepare to welcome 2018, SEO experts, enthusiasts, and consultants would do well to acknowledge the trends that are likely to make it big.
It’s noteworthy that Google’s search algorithm uses at least 200+ factors. Their priorities keep on changing, based on trends in web usage, device usage, and customer preferences.
Your websites’ success largely depends on your ability to stay in sync with the SERP trends that will go big in 2018. Here’s a guide to help you understand and prepare for the most important of these trends.
Mobile is the Keyword to Remember for Everything SEO!
These two factors are enough to explain why mobile needs to be the first priority for all your SEO efforts in 2018.
- In 2016, the percentage contribution of mobile searches hit 60%!
- Google is likely to launch mobile-first indexing in 2018; this will mean that Google will crawl your website’s mobile version (instead of your desktop version) for ranking it.
Here are the steps you need to take to optimize your website for mobile (I’m assuming it’s already responsive):
- Get rid of structured markup errors with Structured Data Testing Tool.
- Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool to get inputs on the problematic aspects of your mobile website’s page speed. More on this in the next section.
Page Speed – It It Isn’t Lightening Fast. It’ll Be Left Behind
The benchmarks for page loading speed are getting improved with time. Whereas it was fairly alright for web pages to load in under 3 seconds throughout 2016 and 2017, now’s the time when SEO experts need to start being very concerned about achieving superb page loading speeds.
Research by DoubleClick (Google owned) suggested that 53% mobile users abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. The Trainline case study is a perfect example of how milliseconds worth of improvement in website loading can result in significant revenue impact annually.
To optimize and improve your website’s page loading speeds, take these steps:
- Take Google’s page speed test, via Website Auditor tool.
- Go to Content Analysis and specify the web pages you need to test.
- The tool then shows you a list of on-page factors that impact speed, with scores against them.
- Go to Technical Factors > Scroll to Page Speed (Desktop) > Click on factors to get suggestions on how you can fix the problem.
- Similarly, use Page Usability (Mobile) to get the same analysis and insights for mobile speed optimization
Voice Search – The Future of Human-Google Interaction
Google reports that 40% adults and 55% teens use voice search daily; the indications are clear. Natural language processing, better voice recognition technology, proliferation f smart speakers (Google Home, Amazon Echo, and the likes) – there are several forces indicating that ‘voice’ is the next big thing for the web. This calls upon SEO experts to optimize their clients’ websites for voice search, which equates to re-thinking the keyword strategy.
To do so, here are some steps:
- Understand which websites deserve priority upgrades for voice optimization; the Intrrnet Trends Report 2016 shows that local searches made for 22% of total voice searches.
- Claim your Google My Business listing and complete your profile.
- The average query length for voice search is 4.2 words, as compared to 3.2 words in typed search; opt for long tail keywords.
- Make your keywords conversational; for instance “how to stop hair loss with home remedies” instead of “hair loss home remedies”.
Search Personalization – Contextualizing SERP For Users
Wait; that’s not new, because Google had started its experiments with search personalization back in 2011! However, in 2018, search results are much likelier to vary based on user specific factors such as their demographics, location, preferences, and previous searches.
Think of search personalization as your opportunity to make your websites more relevant for your target audience. This calls upon marketers to:
- Create personalized content for their target audiences
- Invest efforts in creating nuanced user personas to help them market their content to the right audiences
- Focus on these personas in everything they do in digital marketing (SEO, email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, etc)
Tip: Don’t trust your browser searches for your SEO tactic planning (such as keyword research). Instead, use a de-centralized search assistant tool for analyses; RankTracker is a good option.
The smart SEO consultant looks at changing trends as an opportunity to beat competitors that currently enjoy better SERP ranks for your target keywords. Be alert, track these trends, and leverage them for more traction.