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8 SEO trends to look out for in 2018

When searching online, you want the answer – not billions of web pages, so Google ranking systems sort through the hundreds of billions of web pages in their Search index to give you useful and relevant results in a fraction of a second. The 200+ factors in this algorithm make SEO a complex, ever-evolving science.

As 2017 draws to a close, it’s time to start thinking about the year ahead and what to expect from SEO in 2018. Here are 8 SEO trends you should be keeping an eye on to stay ahead of the curve:

 

1. The rise of SERP features

Increasingly, SERP features (local packs, Knowledge panels, featured snippets and so on) are stealing searchers’ attention and clicks from organic listings.

2. Structured data

This allows search engines to interpret content and how to display it in the SERPs, and is added directly to a page’s HTML markup.

Structured data lets you enhance your search listings in several ways: Think Knowledge Graph panels and rich snippets. The latter can increase your listings’ CTR (click-through rate) by 30 percent. Multiple real-life experiments show an increase in clicks boosts rankings.

With search results getting more diverse, you can’t ignore the opportunity to stand out.

3. Survival of the fastest

Not only is speed a ranking signal, but it’s a major UX contributor and UX in turn, impacts rankings.

But how quick is quick, exactly? Google expects pages to load in under three seconds.

4. Relevance 2.0

Google are making it more and more difficult for you to convince them that you have great content when in actual fact you don’t. As such, it’s becoming easier for them to penalise you. Don’t underestimate the quality of your content.

So how does Google assess the quality of content?
One of the several ways includes Latent Semantic Indexing – a mathematical method which assesses the relationships between terms and concepts within content that is assessed over billions of pages.

Further analysis may be carried out to examine the best-performing search results (determined by Google’s user satisfaction metrics), and similarities are drawn up between them.

Google may further analyse the best-performing search results (according to Google’s user satisfaction metrics) and look for similarities between them. These shared features, such as use of certain terms, may become query-specific ranking signals for the given search term.

5. Voice search

A rise in digital assistants has in itself presented an emerging market that appears to be changing the way that we search. According to Google, 55% of teens and 40% of adults use voice search every day, with the ratio of voice search spearing to grow faster than type search.

When it comes to setting up SEO, the rise of voice search calls out for a whole new keyword search routine, focusing on a more conversational tone that is relatable to the user’s voice.

6. Mobile is obvious

Since more than half of web traffic comes from mobile devices (BrightEdge), 2018 appears to be the year with which a mobile-first approach may finally take place. As such, mobile-first content is necessary to have even a standing chance at making your brand visible within a mobile search.

7. ‘Linkless’ backlinks

Links have been one of the greatest search engine trust signals for many years and despite many SEOs having spent a long time optimising backlinks, change seems to be on the horizon. Linkless mentions may be fast becoming another off-page method to determine popularity and trust.

Search engines can easily associate mentions with brands and use them to determine a site’s authority. Duane Forrester, formerly senior product manager at Bing, confirmed that Bing is already using unlinked mentions for ranking. This patent and many SEO experts’ observations are reason enough to believe that Google may be doing this too.

8. An increasingly personalized SERP

Personalized search results aren’t just based on the traditional ranking factors, but also on the information about the user i.e. location, interests or search history.

Google, Bing and Yahoo all personalize their search results in multiple ways. Back in 2011, an experiment showed that over 50 percent of Google searches were being personalized; that number has likely only gone up since.

(Article originally published on Search Engine Land)