The following article was written by Adinah Brown, content manager at Leverate.
With the new year comes a new set of SEO trends. It’s important that you keep track of these changes as it isn’t going to be slowing down anytime soon. In fact, what you knew to be effective strategies in 2017 may no longer have the same sway this year.
Below is a list of the most important SEO trends this 2018, along with predictions and recommendations from industry experts. We’ve seen traces of these trends in previous years, so if you’re an internet marketer, you should already know a few of them. If you are a business owner or marketing officer, meanwhile, be sure to take note of them as you brainstorm for this year’s digital marketing strategy.
Web Loading Speed
Fast loading speed for web pages is still a ranking factor for Google. How fast, you ask? Search Engine Journal says the optimal speed is 3 seconds or less. Any slower and impatient visitors will start to move to other, faster-loading options.
Speed is a ranking factor because it has a huge impact on user experience (UX). Google aims to improve user/customer experience, that’s why it includes page load speed as a ranking factor in its mobile-first index.
Project AMP and Mobile Optimization
In line with its UX and user-first approach, Google is rolling out the mobile-first index sometime this year. They announced the update in 2016 and spent the rest of 2017 keeping this imminent update fresh in everyone’s minds.
To make the most of the mobile-first index, Aleh Barysevich of SEO PowerSuite and Olga Andrienko recommends optimizing websites for mobile. AMP integration can follow.
The #1 Rank Is No Longer #1
Clever Internet marketers know that achieving the coveted #1 spot on Google search is no longer the only way to land on the upper sections of the Google search engine results pages (SERPS). Other methods include creating Google Adwords and Google My Business listings.
Google ads now take up the first four spots in search results, especially if a user is looking for products or service providers. Meanwhile, Google Maps and business listings immediately follow the ads. They occupy a large page area, too, pushing the #1 site in the organic search listings way below the fold.
Wisely-managed Google Adwords and optimized Google My Business and Google Maps can increase your visibility even if you don’t rank in the top 10 of an organic search.
Target Position Zero
Other than the Google Adwords section, Google Maps, and Google My Business listings, there’s a fourth sweet spot in the SERPS that you’ll want to vie for: the featured snippets. Experts call them “position zero” because they always come before the organic search results. SEO experts say it’s easier to be in the featured snippet than to make it to #1, too, which makes position zero so much sweeter.
To do this, Barysevich recommends selecting a simple question and providing a short, straightforward answer for it on your site.
Content’s Multimedia Transformation
The industry has long recognized the ranking potential of videos and images, and this trend shows no sign of slowing in 2018. In fact, given people’s fascination with content snippets in social media, there’s a good chance that bite-sized formatting for content will spread to SEO-friendly content, as well.
Loren Baker, the founder of Search Engine Journal, surmises as much. He also predicts that websites that directly answer users’ questions will continue to fare better in search rankings.
Other trends worth mentioning are voice search, phrase or sentence-structured keywords, link building for Local SEO, customized SEO strategies, and a return to the technical aspect of SEO (ex: refining page tags, proper schema, and improving CTRs). It will be challenging to implement all strategies at once, so you need to determine which are most beneficial to your website and start from there.