SEO is a dynamic field and changes are fast and regular. Google changes and tweaks its algorithms daily. Often the changes are small and barely noticeable, while others are more dramatic.
The SEO practitioner must constantly keep up to date with the important changes or risk that the efforts put forth are no longer producing results. Many people have woken up to suddenly find their site or content has significantly dropped in the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs).
There are several important trends to look for in 2018. Granted, there will be many more, but these are the significant ones to focus on for now:
Video content is growing exponentially. As Google strives to create a better user experience, video has proven to be one tool that achieves this. As a result, it has become a significant aspect of good SEO. The same applies to social media where a large and growing percentage of content is video-based.
People are more likely to watch a video than read a lengthy text-based post regardless of how informative it might be. Be sure to make more use of video in your content and SEO efforts.
With the phenomenal growth of home AI assistants, such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, and many others, voice search is growing rapidly. Mobile device voice search is also on the increase as people strive to save time and effort.
The way in which voice searches are expressed is vastly different from text-based searches, and the savvy SEO practitioner needs to understand this and optimize for this growing trend.
Another fast-growing trend is the “near me” search, which also needs to be addressed for improved SEO.
User experience (UX)
A good user experience has always been important for good SERP results. However, the importance has increased significantly. Quality, well-written, and relevant content is still the cornerstone of SEO.
Great layout and good heading use are also important. The page must be easy to navigate and easy on the eye. Site speed is also becoming increasingly more important and it is essential you focus on page load speed.
With more than half of all searches being done on mobile devices, a figure that is constantly growing, a mobile-friendly site is critical. Failure to optimize for mobile use will effectively exclude more than 50 percent of your target market.
Google is putting a greater reliance on user relevance using cookies, browser history, and a host of other techniques to deliver more relevant SERPS. Understanding this will enable you to benefit from this practice to improve SEO results. The upside is, if you get it right, your content will be more relevant and highly targeted.
Backlinks have long been the main go-to tool for those companies that practice SEO. Google, however, is making this increasingly more challenging. In the past, it was an easy and effective practice and backlink stuffing was a common practice. This will no longer work.
Google has made regular and significant changes in how it sees backlinks and a company must use them a lot more prudently than in the past.
That being said, there is still power in relevant backlinks from high-authority sites, but a lot more planning and effort are required for them to be effective.
It is a complex process that will require some homework to get the desired results. Old-school bulk-created backlinks won’t work any longer, and could harm your SEO efforts.
These are concise answers to common questions posed to Google. Wikipedia leads the way in this area, but many companies can get great organic reach if they execute effective featured snippets.
A short paragraph, list or table that provides valuable and relevant information on topical issues is a great SEO tool. It might take a bit of trial and error, but the results will be worth it.
Social Media Marketing
Although trends change frequently, social media marketing remains a powerful tool that cannot be ignored. Understand your target audience and use social media to engage with them and drive traffic to your site.
Many of these ideas are not entirely new, but all are increasing in importance. More changes are inevitable, and the SEO gurus need to constantly keep up to date with the regular changes to remain effective. Another important factor to watch closely over the coming year is the increasing use of AI and machine learning in how Google treats searches. Although this started some time back, it will soon be a major factor that will cause many disruptions in SEO techniques. Keep a close eye on these developments.
SEO is an ongoing process that requires experience and skill. Online marketing will continue to grow in importance and companies that fail to keep ahead of the competition are going to have a hard time sustaining their business. A good online presence with quality SEO is critical to their future success.