Change is inevitable and even our digital marketing industry abides by this universal truth. With the dawn of each New Year comes some major transformations in the search engine optimization trends. While the year 2011 saw a drastic rise in quality content with the announcement of the Google Panda update, 2012 got us Penguin update to stamp out spam-based links. Likewise, 2013 and 2014 began shaping well-optimized websites in the local searches. The year 2015 marked the history by releasing the Google’s mobile-friendly update making it obligatory for the website owners to design mobile-optimized sites. As a result of all these advancements, user behavior towards web search significantly changed last year.
And now when we’ve already stepped into 2018, everybody is busy predicting the changes that are likely to unfold this year. Based on the happenings of past year and constant evolution of this industry in the last decade, experts have listed some game-changing SEO trends that are expected to dominate in 2018.
Have a look.
Speed is Big
Google is obsessed with page load speed. It plays a crucial role in organic search rankings, especially past 2010 when the Giant officially announced page speed as a ranking factor in its Webmaster Central Blog.
In a recent Google analysis of mobile page load, it was found that most of the mobile sites are bloated and thus load slow. It revealed that out of the 70% mobile pages it analyzed, 10% sites took over 10 seconds to load visual content completely below and above the fold. Further, it stated that most of these sites took over 7 seconds to display the visual content on the screen above the fold. This analysis was a clear indication that slower page load speed is a major cause of the underperforming websites. In the same study, Google also discovered that an upswing from one to three seconds in the mobile page load speed can enhance the possibility of a bounce by 30%.
To conclude, 2018 would be the year of faster loading mobile-optimized pages to make a difference in the organic search rankings.
Voice Search will continue to Steal the Show
2018 is foreseen as the tectonic shift in the online searching criteria. Users are more likely to be interested in using their voice and ears for placing the queries before. While the previous year saw a sudden upsurge in the smart speaker sales, like Google Home and Amazon Echo, (Google says 1 out of 5 searches come from voice queries). 2018 is believed to experience even more hike in the sales of voice devices with many newer models on their way to the market.
This rise in the voice searches will definitely revamp the SEO strategies in the year ahead. Hence, webmasters should start focusing more on the long-tail keywords and syntax of the language that matches the conversational tones of their users.
Featured Snippets is the Real Deal
Currently, almost 30% of all the Google queries have concise answers in the form of featured snippets, which clearly signify their astounding growth in the search results.
Since featured snippets are now considered as the new #1, these are already stealing nearly 10% traffic on the first page. With the increase in the popularity of voice search and structured data, featured snippets will continue to stand out in 2018.
With this, webmasters will need to find out ways to optimize their site’s content to meet the standards for Google’s featured snippets. Not only this, the upcoming strategies for featured snippets must be relevant to the voice search.
Hence, in order to show up at the top of the SERPs, companies should learn to make the best use of these two evolving trends, i.e., featured snippets and voice search.
User Experience Is Still the Key
Undeniably, a good user experience is the key to increased engagement and traffic on a website. This is also an important factor for the search engines to discover pages that are more useful for the visitors.
When it comes to user experience, page load speed isn’t the only thing. For instance, your website might load instantly on your visitors’ browser, but a complex navigation can still annoy them, forcing to bounce back.
The year 2018 will be the time to make efforts on enhancing user experience covering its various aspects including speed, navigation, readability of the content, design and the information architecture.
SEO no more confined to Google and Bing
The last few years have seen a shift in brands’ interest competing for rankings spaces other than Google and Bing. While Google continues to be the #1 search engine, third parties like Amazon and Yelp are competing to be the top search platforms in their own way. Even, the digital assistants like Siri are no behind and have made their way to the competition. Thanks to the voice search services!
Hence, companies are now required to think beyond Google and Bing in order to seek the attention of a greater mass of user queries and grab a wider percentage of audience possible.
Which is the one factor that has been the reliable signal for search engines? Undoubtedly, links! The significance of external links and mentions in the search engine rankings is nothing new. To bring to your notice, Moz’s and Stone Temple’s recent study has still considered external links as the top organic ranking factor.
While everybody from the SEO industry knows the value of external links, what most of them don’t know is that simple mentions by trustworthy third-parties can also be valuable. Yes, with the changing times, link-less or plain text mentions are becoming an off-page signal of measuring the quality of any webpage. The search engine Bing has already started using link-less mentions for page ranking, which gives a reason to believe that Google might be doing it as well.
Simply, put mobile first! This year, brands are required to realize the prospects of putting the mobile above all. 2018 is possibly the time for Google to release its mobile-first index, which means that it will now rank pages based on their mobile version. Since mobile searches presently account for over 60% of the overall searches, the desktop ranking system has gone obsolete.
Mobile searches revolve around the context, therefore companies should focus on offering the best possible results for their user queries. This will also enhance the popularity of local SEO. Hence, 2018 will be the time to improve the search experience of users through fast and responsive mobile pages that display personalized and relevant answers.
The Bottom Story
It can be assumed that 2018 will experience reformation of traditional SEO trends to more refined and advanced ones. New trends like mobile-index, link-less backlines, voice search are believed to change the face of SEO completely and set new standards for search rankings.