With hundreds of factors in Google’s algorithm, SEO can be complex. But it’s not how much you need to know that makes it really challenging — it’s the ever-changing nature of the rules of the game.
To help you stay ahead of the game for SEO in 2018, here’s a list of prominent trends, with tips on how to prepare for each.
1. SERP Appearance
SERP features (local packs, Knowledge panels, featured snippets and so on) are grabbing searchers’ attention and earning clicks over organic listings.
Google has come a long way in their SERP from the old days of listing 10 websites.
… to something that is more appealing and "all inclusive"
How can you prepare SERP appearance changes?
With the evolution of SERP, it’s critical that you track and monitor your rankings. SEO PowerSuite’s Rank Tracker can help you with this. Remember though, this only a tool and don't optimize for numbers - optimize for HUMANS.
2. Structured data
Structured data is a way of formatting contact in a certain way, telling search engines how to interpret the content — and how to display it in the SERPs.
Structured data allows you to enhance your SERP listings in several ways. Look at the above image, which one is more enticing for a user to click? With search results becoming diverse, you can’t ignore the opportunity to stand out.
How can you prepare for structured data?
There are many structured data formats, but specifically I'm talking about Schema.org. There are even plugins and software that can help you with your structured data implementation. Once you’ve implemented structured data markup, track whether rich snippets show up for your site.
3. Only the fastest survive
Speed is critical, for two reasons:
- It's a ranking signal
- It's a user experience factor
Google expects pages to load in under three seconds.
What can you do about site speed?
It’s increasingly harder to convince Google you have great content, when you really don’t. Google assesses content quality in numerous ways.
What can you do about relevance?
How do you make sure your content is relevant? research top-ranking pages in your market and look for the features they share.
5. Voice search is the future
Consider this, Google reports that 55 percent of teenagers and 40 percent of adults use voice search daily. Voice search is a whole new beast for SEO. Voice searchers use normal sentences instead of the odd-sounding queries. Example:
- Who does web design in Seattle
- Seattle web design
How can you prepare for voice search?
Voice search will be tricky because you need to optimize for the actual phrases being used and questions being asked. It's not just a focus keyword optimization -- it's a complete phrase and sentence optimization.
6. Mobile friendly is critical
Not only is voice search growing, so is mobile search with over half of Google searches coming from mobile devices and mobile-friendliness being a ranking factor, you can’t afford to ignore mobile SEO.
What can you do about mobile friendly?
First, check if your pages are mobile-friendly. If you don't know how to, consult with someone that knows how to check for this. It's imperative that you don't skimp or try to take the easy way out. Mobile friendly is very important and can make or break your business.
7. Linkless "backlinks"
For years, links have been the top trust signal for search engines. Times are changing, and linkless mentions are becoming a signal of equal weight.
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.
What can you do about linkless mentions?
In addition to a backlink checker, use a web monitoring tool to find mentions of your brand and products.