Search engine optimization best-practices are always evolving. That’s why it’s important to know about the latest trends in Search Engine Optimization in 2018.
- This year, it’s all about.
- Getting ranked in more search engines than just Google
- Mobile ready and fast page speed
- A great user experience
- Pumping out a ton of content
- Optimizing for voice search
- Acquiring natural links
- Read the rest in the article below.
You might think that the strategies you were using a couple of years ago will work just fine today. That’s not necessarily the case.
For starters, the technology has changed recently. You’ll need to adapt your efforts accordingly.
Also, your competitors are probably using some of the more common SEO techniques. You can outwit them with more contemporary (and less popular) strategies.
To win in this game, you need to understand all the latest bells and whistles. Let’s look at several of them.
Your 2018 Search Engine Optimization Strategy Should be AMP..lified
Accelerated mobile pages (AMP) has rightfully earned the #1 spot on the list of 2018 SEO trends.
Why? Because the world is becoming more mobile.
As a result, Google loves sites that cater to people on a mobile platform. One of the best ways to do that is to adopt AMP technology.
If you’re unfamiliar with AMP, it loads your website pages in a jiffy. That gives mobile users a better experience.
Google tends to favor user-friendly pages in the mobile search results. If your site takes too long to load, you can expect that it won’t rank well.
AMP can solve that problem for you.
Page Speed is an Important SEO Initiative in 2018
Speaking of page speed, you should ensure that your site loads quickly for desktop users as well.
Although the world is moving towards mobility, that doesn’t mean desktop is extinct. People still love their laptops and large monitors.
If you’re running a website that’s a software-as-a-service app, you especially need to make sure that your site loads quickly. Otherwise, you’ll lose customers.
You’ll also lose rank. As a result, your content marketing efforts won’t reach as many potential customers.
Do yourself a favor: run your site through Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to make sure that it loads quickly.
SEO is Moving to Mobile-First Index in 2018
Have you heard? Google is moving to a mobile-first index.
In fact, the new index is already in the process of rolling out.
That means the Googlebot will crawl your site as if it were using a mobile device instead of a desktop device. The bot will “see” your site through a mobile screen.
So if your site is user-hostile to people on a smartphone, tablet, or phablet, the Googlebot will pick up on that. Your site will likely suffer in rank.
The best way to prepare your site for the mobile-first index is to equip it with a responsive design. That means it will look great on a screen of any size.
However, it does not need to be responsive. There are all AMP sites being built, mobile subdomains other methods that also work.
Also, use Google’s mobile-friendly test to make sure that your site looks great for a mobile audience.
If You Haven’t Moved to HTTPS Now is the Time
We’re getting to the point where it’s mandatory to have a website that uses the secure HTTPS protocol instead of the insecure HTTP protocol.
For starters, Google gives a bit of a ranking bump to sites that use HTTPS.
Beyond that, Google Chrome will mark all non-HTTPS sites as “Not secure.” That will happen starting in July 2018.
If you have a website that you’re trying to position as an authority on a subject, it’s going to be difficult to accomplish that when Google Chrome users see “Not secure” in their browser bar as they’re reading your content.
Also, Google advises all new sites to start with HTTPS.
It’s time to move to HTTPS if your site is still using HTTP. It will cost you some money (probably about $100 per year), but it’s an investment that should give you some great returns.
RankBrain is Becoming More Important for Search Engine Optimization in 2018
RankBrain is Google’s machine-learning algorithm that helps it process search queries.
How does it affect your SEO strategy? You can think of RankBrain as a live person evaluating your content to determine if it’s a suitable match for a keyword.
That means RankBrain will go beyond simple keyword placement sprinkled throughout an article and included in the title. It will look at the content itself to determine if it’s related to the search term.
Then, RankBrain will evaluate that content against other content online to determine where it should rank (hence the name).
Bottom line: produce quality content that’s optimized for your keyword. RankBrain will take notice and reward you with higher placement in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Editorial Links Are More Important to Your Search Engine Optimization in 2018
Editorial links are backlinks that you earn because your content is so awesome. They’re not links you get from guest-posts or because you requested them from another webmaster.
That’s an additional reason why you need to produce amazing, relatable, shareable content. Because it will get you backlinks from other websites.
In fact, editorial links are the most valuable types of backlinks. You’ll likely notice that your rank goes up when other authors start linking to your articles.
When you do decide to pursue a backlink strategy, make sure that you play by the rules.
There are countless sites online that will sell you backlinks from private blog networks (PBNs). Although you might be tempted to take that kind of shortcut, you’ll be playing with fire if you do so.
Why? Because it’s a blackhat technique to pay for backlinks.
You can be sure that Google is on the hunt for those PBNs. Once they’re discovered, the links won’t pass any page rank, and you will have paid for absolutely nothing.
Even worse, though, you could find that your site gets penalized by Google. If that happens, all your SEO efforts won’t mean anything.
So do yourself a favor: only pursue whitehat links.
Click-through Rates Are an Increasing Ranking Factor in 2018
Most of the time, when online marketers talk about click-through rates (CTRs), it’s about advertising. Although it’s important to optimize CTRs for digital ads, it’s also necessary to optimize them for your links that appear in the SERPs.
Why? Because if your link appears in the #1 spot and nobody clicks on it, that tells Google your link isn’t relevant to that search term. You can expect it to get pushed down.
Although plenty of SEOs pay attention to ranking factors that get their content to the top spot in the search results, not as many focus on keeping their content ranked high. You need to be different.
Go through your search analytics in Search Console. If you find that you’re getting sub-par CTRs, optimize your titles. Make them more relevant to your keywords, put more emotion into them, or generate a curiosity gap.
Give people a reason to click your link in the results list, and you’ll more likely get a great rank.
Your dwell time metric is the amount of time people spend on your site. It will also affect your rank.
If people click on a link to your site in the search results and bounce back in less than 10 seconds, that tells Google you weren’t offering what they were looking for. Your rank will drop.
That’s why you need to make sure of two things
- Your content matches your keyword and meta description
- Your content offers original, valuable info
When you break one or both of those rules, that’s when visitors decide to go back to the SERPs and look for something that’s a better alternative.
So this is a recurring theme: give your users quality content, and your rank will improve.
Your 2018 Search Engine Optimization Should Look at Bounce Rate
Google knows your bounce rate. Also: you know that Google knows your bounce rate because it’s reported in Google Analytics.
If you’re unfamiliar with bounce rate, it’s the percentage of people who visit one page on your site and then leave without visiting any of your other pages.
If you go through Google Analytics and find that your bounce rate is unusually high, you need to take action. Sprinkle some more links in your sidebar or your content so that people visit other pages.
Optimize Your Site for Voice Search
That two-word phrase might define the next generation in search. According to comscore, a whopping 50% of all searches will be voice search by 2020.
If your site isn’t yet optimized for voice search, then now is the time to start rolling out your voice strategy. Here are a few ideas:
- Answer questions – A lot of voice searches are posed as questions. Create a blog post with a popular question related to your niche as the title and answer it in the content.
- Use conversational keywords – People tend to be more “formal” when they’re typing in a query. But when people talk, they’ll use a conversational tone. Make sure that your content is in easy-to-understand language. Write at a fourth-grade level, if possible.
- Make your content scannable – When Google can easily parse your content because it’s broken down into distinct sections, you’re more likely to score a link at the top of the SERPs. That content could also be included as a response to a voice query.
- Give your site a mobile-friendly makeover – We’ve already covered the importance of mobile-friendliness, let’s just put the exclamation point on it right here. A lot of voice search happens on a mobile device, so you need your site optimized for mobile search results. Make sure your site loads quickly on a mobile platform and is easy to navigate on a smartphone, tablet, or phablet.
Use Search Engine Optimization to be Featured in Rich Snippets
Back in the day, it was an SEO’s dream to reach the #1 spot in the SERPs. Now, you can Rank #0
What’s the #0 spot? That’s the so-called “featured snippet” or the enhanced result at the very top of the organic results.
For example, Google “best cake recipes.” At the top of the search results, you’ll see a featured snippet from the Huffington Post entitled “Here are the 50 all-time best cake recipes, go on and have a slice (or four).”
As you can see, the snippet has more than just the title and description. It also includes bullet points, each of which is a different recipe.
The featured snippet makes it possible for people to learn something about their query without ever leaving Google. As is the case here, though, the snippet is usually just a “teaser” that tempts people to click through.
Here are a few ways to land the coveted #0 spot:
- Get to the point – Avoid writing long, excessively wordy introductions before you start addressing the topic in the title. Instead, give your readers the info they’re looking for right out of the gate.
- Keyword research – Find keywords that your competitors aren’t using. Optimize some excellent content for those keywords. You’ll likely get a featured snippet.
- Use lists – As you can see from the “best cake recipes” example, Google loves to include lists in the featured snippet. Give your page a competitive advantage with a list that Google can easily parse and include in the snippet.
Does your 2018 Search Engine Optimization Strategy Have Schema?
All the best websites use schema.org markup.
Why? Because markup gives Google information about the content that it might not have learned with its standard crawling algorithm.
If none of your content is using markup, it’s likely that your rank will suffer.
Also, markup makes it possible for Google to display relevant info about your content, services, or products in the search results. For example, if you Google “cake mixers,” you’ll see several links in the organic search results with star reviews. Google grabs those reviews by evaluating the markup schema on the page.
Ask yourself this question: which link are you more likely to click on the search results: the one with a high star rating or one with no rating at all? You’d probably pick the one with the high rating.
Structured data, by the way, will also help you rank with voice search and land a spot in the featured snippet.
Do yourself a favor: contact your development team and learn about the various markup options that are relevant to your site.
Google Will be Prioritizing Intent in its Search Engine Rankings
It sure looks like Google is prioritizing user intent more and more these days.
For example, if Google determines that a search query has purchase intent, then the results list will heavily favor e-commerce sites. That’s because the user is looking to buy something.
On the other hand, if Google determines that the search query is part of a research effort, the results list will favor sites with the best content.
Think about that as you optimize your site for keywords. Don’t just rely on the keyword itself, but ask what kind of intent the user would have when typing that keyword into a search bar. Then, produce content that matches that intent.
Site Structure is a Big Search Engine Optimization Priority in 2018
You want to make it as easy as possible for Googlebot to traverse your site. That’s why you need a sensible site structure. Here are a few best practices:
- Link to important pages from the homepage
- Arrange your pages in a tree-like structure based on categories
- Only link internally where it’s relevant
- Include breadcrumbs on your pages so that it’s easy for people (and bots) to navigate around
Here are a few site structure missteps to avoid:
- Huge link lists, like a hundred items under one menu heading
- A transparent attempt to link to every single inner page
- Making it difficult for users to go back without using the “Back” button
If you haven’t done so already, conduct a site audit. Get an understanding of your structure. Does it make sense? Is it easy to move around? Can users go back without using the “Back” button?
After your audit, contact your development team to make the necessary changes.
Here’s another one you can file under: “Make It As Easy As Possible for Google to Traverse Your Site.” Add a sitemap.
If you’re unfamiliar with a sitemap, it’s an XML document that’s a “map” of your website. Google uses it to find all of your pages.
Of course, it’s quite possible that with a great site structure, Google will find all your pages anyway, so why use the sitemap? Because a sitemap makes it easier for Google to find pages and index them.
In some cases, your site might be so large that it needs multiple sitemaps to list all the pages. That’s perfectly normal. In that case, all you have to do is upload the “parent” sitemap and Google will find the rest.
If you’re using WordPress, you’ll be happy to learn that the Yoast SEO plugin automatically creates a sitemap. You don’t have to do anything.
Rich Site Summary (RSS) is a great way to make it easier for people to access your content.
Also, a crawlable RSS feed will notify the search engines about new content. You might find that some of your articles get indexed faster if you use it.
Again, there’s great news for WordPress users here. WordPress automatically creates an RSS feed.
If you have to create one manually, you’ll need to contact your development team.
According to Google, it’s difficult to determine the primary language when your page is using multiple languages. That’s why you need to translate everything when you’re moving a page to a new language.
In this case, “everything” includes the alt tags on images.
According to Google’s John Mueller, the text in an alt tag is viewed by Google as part of the page. So to stay consistent you’ll need to translate that as well.
Another astonishing fail from a lot of digital marketers: they don’t bother to put favicons on their websites.
Favicons are those little images that you see in the browser tab when you’re viewing a web page. They appear just to the left of the title.
For most businesses, the favicon should be the logo of the company. If that’s not practical, it should usually be a recognizable part of the logo.
Google has recently started issuing warnings to sites that don’t have a favicon. So you know the search giant takes those little images seriously.
Fortunately, many WordPress themes make it very easy to upload a favicon. All you have to do is create the 32×32 or 16×16 image and provide it.
If you’re unsure about how to do any of that, you’ll have to consult a professional web designer.
AMP Stories Will Be Big in Search Engine Optimization in 2018
We’ve already touched on AMP but here’s a very recent addition to that technology: AMP Stories.
What are AMP Stories? Google describes them as a “mobile-focused format for delivering news and information.”
And yes, as you can imagine, they’re based on the concept of Snapchat stories.
So far, only high-profile news sites are allowed to participate in AMP Stories. It’s a good bet that Google will open the program up to other sites later on.
When that happens, boom! You have another opportunity to rank well for mobile users.
One of the many ways that Google made news this past year was when it announced longer search snippets. Now, webmasters can use more characters to describe their content.
Although Google says that meta descriptions do not affect your search rank, they can (and probably do) affect your CTR. That means you should optimize your meta descriptions to give people even more of a reason to click on your link in the SERPs.
It’s an especially great idea to do that if your website has been around for a while. That means you were stuck with the old search snippet length for a long time. Now, you can do more with the meta description.
Keep in mind, though, that the meta description won’t always be used as the search snippet. That’s because Google will often construct a snippet from your content that’s more relevant to the search query.
Still, sometimes those meta descriptions will appear. Optimize them for more clicks.
Video has been easy to access online for years. Lately, though, it’s seen as great tool for SEO professionals.
Why? Because 55% of Internet users say they thoroughly consume video content versus 32% who say they just skim it.
Conversely, only 29% of users said that they thoroughly consume blogs. Almost half (43%) said that they skim blog content.
Video content is an excellent way to increase a visitor’s dwell time on a page. That’s especially true if the video takes a few minutes to watch.
The next time you post some content, browse through YouTube to see if you can embed some relevant videos. You might find that it helps your rank.
Search Engine Optimization in 2018
This year, it’s all about quality, being technically correct and innovating! Good luck in 2018.