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8 Things SEOs Should Keep an Eye On and Implement in 2018

Everyone is curious about what’s new in 2018 for SEO. In this post, we will be discussing the 8 Important trends that every SEO should start implementing to stay ahead in the SEO game. 

The Top SEO trends to lookout for in 2018 are:

  • Voice search or Voice Assistants (like the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices)
  • In Depth Content and Link Building
  • Mobile First Indexing 
  • AMP Pages
  • The Knowledge Graph: Featured Snippets and Quick Answers
  • Google RankBrain: AI & Machine Learning
  • User experience for SEO
  • Vastly improved Video and image search

So let’s get started and break each of these down: 

1. Voice Search or Voice Assistants (like the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices)

Voice search was popular in 2017, but in 2018 we will see the continued popularity and increase of voice searches. The main reason for the increased use of voice search is its convenience and because no one likes to type long keyword searches on their phone.

People on a daily basis commonly use voice searches to call someone, ask for directions, and to get information without using a keyboard. For multitasking addicts, Voice search offers a great way to search online while doing something else, such as cooking, watching TV, and driving

“Voice Search is 2018’s next Big Thing in SEO and this is something we can’t ignore as a marketers”

The following interesting facts make Voice search or Voice Assistants the Next Big Thing in SEO for 2018:

  • 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020” according to comscore. Source
  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced during his Google I/O keynote that 20 percent of mobile queries are voice searches.  
  • 40% of adults now use voice search daily. Source
  • Google’s Voice search can recognize 40 different core languages. It also recognizes various accents, including Australian, Indian, English, Irish, American and more. Source 

Now the question is – what you can do about it from a SEO perspective.

When it comes to optimizing content for Voice Search and Virtual Assistants, SEOs or brands should start thinking and implementing a different type of SEO strategy i.e. they need to focus more on long-tail keywords or Natural Language Queries (the terms and phrases people use in everyday language) 

The following term is an example of a long-tail keyword or Natural Language Query.

2. In-Depth Content and Link Building

We all know content and links are the most important ranking factors.  In-depth Content and backlinks always play a vital role and without both, we cannot rank higher on the first page of search results.

Google spider always loves to index fresh, valuable and detailed content that can help searchers learn about a particular topic. If we talk about In-depth Content, the following points need to be considered:

  1. To write in-depth content on a subject, try to include all the information a user could be searching for. What do they need to know? Include it, and aim for 2000 words or more.
  2. Find synonyms whose meaning adds value to your keywords and are worthwhile to your content.  This helps the search engines and your potential readers.

To find synonyms or related keywords, you can also do the following:

  • Search your main keywords, and look for the keywords around the bolded keywords. Many of these are important keywords you should consider adding to your content. 

Now scroll to the bottom “Searches related to…” section, the words in bold here are also important keywords. 

There are free tools available that can help you to find related keywords like KeywordTool.io and Answer the Public.

Links are still important and this will not change in 2018, but it is important to focus more on quality links than quantity. In 2018, Linkless mentions (Backlinks) are also becoming a trust signal for search engines, since Search engines now have the ability to connect the mentions of brands with their corresponding web pages.

3. Mobile First Indexing 

Mobile-first indexing is the latest development by Google to make the web more mobile friendly. A recent study by BrightEdge found that 57% of web traffic comes from mobile devices, which means most people love to search on their mobile devices. But Google’s current ranking system was typically based around the desktop version of the page’s content and shows the same content to mobile and desktop users. This resulted in issues with mobile pages since the algorithms were not evaluating their relevance to the mobile user. To make the results more relevant according to search query, Google has now focused on Mobile-first indexing.

Simple steps to help you Prepare for a Mobile First Indexing

A. Your Content should be consistent across Desktop and Mobile
With the mobile-first index, Google will first see the mobile content instead of looking at your desktop content. This is the reason you should prepare your site for the mobile-first index. If your mobile site has less content on a mobile page than the desktop site, then Google will probably consider the mobile version with less content in Mobile First Indexing. This is why you want to display the same amount of the content for your desktop version and mobile version.

Let me explain that:

The content that is hidden in tabs, accordions, and expandable boxes is not given full ranking weight. However, with mobile-first index, Google will give full weight to these types of content if implemented to enhance the user experience.

John Mueller confirmed this:

“So the mobile-first indexing will index the mobile version of the page. And on the mobile version of the page it can be that you have these kind of tabs and folders and things like that, which we will still treat as normal content on the page even. Even if it is hidden on the initial view.”

Source

B. Move your m. version to Responsive Design
if you have m.xyz.com version of the site, Switch over to responsive design straight away.

C. Don’t forget to add structured schema markup

Adding Schema markup code on your website can give your website a significant boost in your rankings.

D. Improve your Page-loading time
Site speed is always one of the important factors for SEO and with mobile-first index it is critically important.

Head over to Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Enter your website URL and click to “Analyze”. It will give you results within seconds to improve your page speed.

E. Make your site mobile-optimized, not just mobile-friendly
Many sites technically work on mobile devices, but when it comes to quality of website, there is really a huge gap when a user actually uses the website.

A truly mobile-optimized site should resize for multiple screens and resolutions. If you are not sure whether your website is mobile optimized, do check Mobile-Friendly Test tool from Google. Enter your URL and hit “Run Test. The tool lets you know if you are on the right track or not.

4. AMP Pages

Google starts rolling out accelerated mobile pages in its mobile search results. Question is what is AMP?
Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP short form), is a framework designed to create fast-loading mobile web pages.

AMP consists of three basic parts: AMP HTML, AMP JS and AMP CDN. While creating the AMP, we need to be aware of the following:

  • Certain HTML tags you can’t use for your AMP
  • You need to use a streamlined version of CSS
  • Third party JavaScript is not allowed with AMP

Recommended read: Quickstart guide to get you up and running with AMP here and for more details on how to create your AMP HTML page and how it differs from basic HTML, check out the basic list of required markup that your AMP HTML page should have here.

Google is also Highlighting AMP Pages In Its Mobile Search Results and you can test your pages on the tool from Google AMP Test .

5. The Knowledge Graph, Featured Snippets and Quick Answers

According to Wikipedia: The Knowledge Graph is a knowledge base used by Google and its services to enhance its search engine’s results with information gathered from a variety of sources.

The Knowledge Graph, Featured Snippets and Quick Answers are the next big things in SEO, the popularity of these has increased and brands are now trying to appear in “Position Zero” in the SERP.

Featured snippets are the summary of user queries, displayed on top of Google’s organic results. To rank for the position zero, work on the following steps:

  1. Identify which questions Google Users are asking according to your niche.
  2. Create your best content that answers questions. By doing this, there is a chance that Google will pick your content as featured snippet.  
  3. Add a Q&A Section to your website with an attractive, illustrative image.
  4. The content should be between 40 and 50 words, according to SEMrush’s analysis. 
  5. Search results for queries like How does, How do, How to, What is, “why” and “what” are more likely to earn a spot in the featured snippets, says stonetemple.

6. Google RankBrain: AI & Machine Learning

RankBrain is the third most ranked signal in Google’s search algorithm and in 2018 it is going to be even more important.

Now the question is, what exactly is RankBrain and How can you optimize for it?

RankBrain is a machine learning, artificial intelligence system that helps Google sort their search results. Google Rank Brain has already changed the whole search space and Google is showing organic search results with Answer Boxes, Ads, Carousels, featured snippets,  Quick Answers sections, and more for a personalized experience.

From the searchengineland article:

What is machine learning?

Machine learning is where a computer teaches itself how to do something, rather than being taught by humans or following detailed programming.

What is artificial intelligence?

True artificial intelligence, or AI for short, is where a computer can be as smart as a human being, at least in the sense of acquiring knowledge both from being taught and from building on what it knows and making new connections.

RankBrain mainly refines queries according to user searches and then measures how users interact with the search results and ranks the pages accordingly.

For example: if you search for “padmavat” in Google, Google is contextualizing and personalizing the search engine results pages for your search term.

Secondly, say you searched the keyword “masala chai”

The #1 result appealed you. Therefore, you clicked on it, bounced back because of its content, clicked on the #4 result, and found the content worth reading. So you stayed longer on the site and checked everything. 

Rank Brain considers these metrics and gives the #4 result a ranking boost. 

RankBrain focuses mainly on the following things:

1. How long users stay on your web pages?

2. Click-Through-Rate (The percentage of people that click on your search result) 

3.  Complex long-tail search queries.

7. User experience (UX) for SEO

User experience will play a greater role in search rankings and will become even more important in 2018.

Following are some UX factors That Affect Rankings:

Page Loading Speed

Mobile Responsiveness

Quality, informative and In Depth Content 

User behavior and interaction with content

Structure Markups

The navigation of your site 

Bounce rate

Site security

Optimization of text, images and internal links 

8. The rise of Video and image search

Video and image search, which we can call visual search content take user experience to the next level. In 2018, we will see a huge growth in this area and should start creating and prioritizing the importance of visual content.

Some visual content stats:
1. 37% of marketers said visual marketing was the most important form of content for their business (Source)

2. 74% of social media marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing (Source)

Types of Awesome Visual Content You Can Use:

  1. Data-driven visual content which can be easily embeddable to other sites.
  2. Infographics with relevant data
  3. Gifographics
  4. Embedded Videos on your blog or page content
  5. Screenshots

Conclusion

So these are the SEO trends we should look for in 2018. Feel free to share any other SEO trends we should consider for 2018.  Don’t forget to incorporate these SEO trends: featured snippets, rich content (like videos), links, and UX in your strategy.

About the author

Ashok Sharma

Ashok Sharma is the Digital Marketing Consultant at Signity Software Solutions, and he helped businesses gain more traffic and online visibility through technical, strategic SEO and targeted PPC campaigns.
Connect him on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter for a quick chat.

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