Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is by far one of the most effective ways for businesses to get in front of their target audience. Every year critics talk about the impending demise of SEO, but still SEO prevails. Why? Because SEO is one of the most used vehicles for finding information. There are over 40,000 search queries made on Google every second and over 3.5 billion searches per day, and a whopping 81% of Shoppers Conduct Online Research Before Buying
With ever-changing algorithms and new machine learning capabilities, search engines have been constantly evolving since their inception. What it takes to succeed at SEO today has changed significantly compared to what was required years ago.
Here’s my prediction for what you need to pay attention to when it comes to SEO Trends in 2018.
The Rise of Voice Search and How It Impacts Businesses that Rely on SEO
Voice search is the process by which a user speaks a query into their device, be it their smartphones, or other devices such as Google Home, Alexa, or Siri.
According to recent studies, voice search is growing rapidly with nearly 41% of all adults and nearly 55% of all teens performing at least one voice search every day with voice search accounting for approximately 20% of all searches on Android Devices. By 2020, it is said that 50% of searches performed will be by voice.
Why should this SEO Trend concern you?
The challenge for businesses that rely on SEO to drive website traffic, is that when a searcher uses voice search, they get one answer via a voice assistant, when compared to an online search where you can see as much as 10 search results alone on the first page.
Mass adoption of voice search means a decline in traffic, higher competition, and higher marketing cost.
To ensure your business is the answer searchers get, it’s more important than ever to be able to rank on the first page, as most voice search results are taken from the first page.
In addition, optimizing for Google’s answer box or featured snippet should also be a top priority.
You can get a head start on voice search by also paying attention during the keyword research phase to identify what types of keywords are most likely to provide a featured snippet. Businesses that start optimizing for voice search now will have a clear advantage over their competitors.
Your optimization strategy for Mobile
When it comes to SEO, most businesses focus mostly on making their website mobile friendly by choosing the right platform. For example, should I have a separate mobile site, a responsive design, dynamic serving or AMP?
In November of 2016, Google announced that they were currently experimenting with mobile first indexing. What does that mean? Currently search algorithms rank your website based on the content on the desktop version of your website. For businesses that have a separate mobile website with content that’s different from their desktop version, this could be an issue as Google rolls out mobile first indexing, since your website will be ranked based on the content and experience on the mobile version of your website. If you have a responsive design, then you won’t have too much to worry about. If you don’ t have a mobile website, well, you could be left behind.
Whatever route you take, one thing that you need to pay added attention to is user experience. Is it easy for users to use your website on mobile? Do you have large images that take a long time to load? Do you have intrusive popups? Is content hidden in accordions?
If you have a separate mobile website, does it have your primary content that you are optimizing for SEO? These are all things that you need to pay attention to as you get ready for a mobile first index.
Capturing the Coveted Featured Snippets
The fact that voice search is on the rise and 32% of the time the answer to a voice search is taken from the featured snippet or Position zero underscores the importance of capturing the featured snippet.
Position 0, the answer box or featured snippets as it’s called, is a summary of the answer to a searcher’s query. It’s the only answer given when a voice search is conducted on Google Assistant, Google Home and Google Voice Search and it stands out against the other search results which boost organic traffic for the website that captures that spot.
Featured snippets are usually shown for searches that are question-related, so optimizing for FAQs by your target audience and providing short answers to those questions will help you to capture the featured snippets. Using html markup like heading tags, graphs and bullet lists are all correlated to capturing the featured snippet.
Be on the Lookout for Progressive Web Apps
Personally, I’m excited to see the rise of Progressive Web Apps or (PWAs), because standard apps take up way too much space on mobile devices. PWAs provide an alternative. A progressive web application is a mixture of the best and most important aspects of both mobile and web applications. It is essentially a website that is fundamentally developed with website technology, but works like a mobile application. A progressive web application does not require a large backend code, and neither does it need users to download files to update. It is very easy to deploy and maintain.
PWAs are much faster than normal mobile applications and since they are available online and offline, they are constantly in use. Furthermore, they do not have to be downloaded on a user’s phone and are instead accessed through web browsers. Since PWAs are essentially websites, they are discoverable in search engines via normal SEO optimization procedures.
Businesses that are Serious about SEO will switch to More Comprehensive Content
Got a well optimized website and wondering why it’s not ranking on the first page? Chances are your content is not in-depth enough. Studies show that Google tends to favor more comprehensive in-depth content that goes into greater detail and addresses the needs of your target audience. This type of content tends to have an average word count of around 1200-2000 words.
In addition, comprehensive, long form content tends to increase dwell time (time spent on your site), engagement and shares, so it’s a win win all around.
The added benefit to creating long form, comprehensive content is that you can optimize one piece of content for multiple keywords that are similar or closely related. This means less work for you in building out unique pages to rank individual keywords.
Long form content also shows your breadth of knowledge on a specific topic.
Websites will have no choice but to switch to HTTPS
Back in December of 2016, “Google warned site owners that, at the end of January 2017, Chrome will mark sites without HTTPS as non-secure if they collect sensitive information like passwords and credit cards.” Websites that made the switch saw a slight ranking boost. Websites that still have not made the switch are more likely to see a drop-in traffic as visitors accessing sites on a Chrome browser that are not https will see a ‘not secure’ warning. This may lead to a lack of trust in certain websites and potential customers turning away because of the warning.
So, there you have it! What steps are you taking to ensure you prevail in SEO in 2018? Comment below.
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