6 SEO Trends for 2018
With the holiday season in the rearview, it's time once again to predict SEO's biggest trends through the new year. The previous year was a big one, with mobile-first results and localized optimization among the most critical shifts of 2017. What challenges will 2018 bring? More importantly, what can SEO marketers do to stay ahead of the curve?
I’m predicting the rise of a couple new SEO trends, and I also believe a handful of factors from the previous year will become top priorities in digital marketing strategies. Read on to see the top six anticipated SEO trends for 2018..
1. Page Share Becomes Critical
Earning the top organic search results on coveted search terms used to be the golden goose of SEO. In many cases, it still is. In 2018, though, expect this to change as Google refines its featured snippets, Knowledge panels and other SERP elements displayed above the organic listings. SEO marketers should already be familiar with page share — it's the concept of optimizing for as many SERP placements as possible, rather than winning a single top-ranked search result. The more Google supplements its above-the-fold search results, the more important page share will become.
Also, consider the impact of mobile SEO on page share optimization. Smartphones supplanted desktop and laptop PCs long ago as the preferred devices for searching the Web, and Google's mobile SERPs leave even less room for organic listings. Knowledge graphs now appear on most of the research-oriented searches that small businesses depend on for organic traffic. It's time to optimize for those placements to avoid being pushed into digital obscurity.
2. Long-Tail Keywords Will Dominate
Long-tail keywords are finally becoming mainstream. For years, digital marketers used long-tail keywords as less-competitive sources of both paid and organic traffic. That was before the start of 2017, when a Pew Research Center study found more than three-quarters of Americans owned smartphones, and also before most new smartphones launched with voice-activated digital assistants.
Thanks to this technology, searching the web today is as simple as asking a question. More people are transitioning to this technology, too. Google's Behshad Behzadi reported that 55 percent of teens and 40 percent of adults use voice searching on a daily basis. This opens a wealth of possibilities for opportunistic SEO marketers who research which questions their audiences are asking. Remember this form of question-oriented targeting when planning your content going forward.
3. Need for Speed
Page speed was already important in 2017, and it's going to be big again in 2018. Google solidified its preference for mobile websites last year with its decision to move to a "mobile first" algorithm. Going forward, page speed will be a critical factor among digital marketers vying for the best SERP placements.
Faster is always better. You can find free online speed tests to learn how quickly (or slowly) your pages are loading.
4. Structured Data
I've already explained how page share is becoming more important than organic results. However, organic results are still vital. They bring scores of visitors to websites, and they're also prime pieces of page share.
Structured data can help your organic listings stand out from the rest. Put simply, structured data is a special kind of HTML coding that helps Google display more engaging search results for your website. Rather than the typical listing with a meta title and meta description, landing pages with structured data can be displayed with star ratings, bylines, custom images and more. It's an incredibly useful (and free!) tool that will help websites get noticed in 2018 and beyond.
5. Unique and Comprehensive Content
Google is getting increasingly efficient at recognizing unique, quality content while ignoring content that is shallow or unoriginal. Thanks to a form of artificial intelligence known as machine learning, Google can process billions of signals from landing pages and visitors' reactions to (usually) accurately determine whether content will be worthy of a visitor's time.
Don't skimp on quality as you plan your content strategy for 2018. Be as comprehensive and unique as possible, and avoid the trap of rewriting what you see on competitors' websites. When in doubt, refer back to the research you've done (or should do) about long-tail keywords that are popular among your audience. How does your content - including blog entries, tutorial videos, infographics and more - address those needs? And how can you be proactive in helping your customers?
6. Unlinked Mentions Will Matter
Mentions of your business will matter in 2018 and beyond. Building a network of inbound links has always been vital in SEO, but unlinked website mentions never carried much weight. That changed last year, when Bing updated its algorithm to consider unlinked mentions. Many SEO experts believe Google might already be doing the same. At the very least, it's only a matter of time until Google joins in.
This is great news for small businesses that depend on local SEO. Through guest blogging, social media marketing and even contributing to local news stories, there are many ways to get your sites mentioned without a link.
The world of SEO is always evolving, and 2018 will be no different. What's most interesting about 2018 is how SEO no longer applies to just ranking your website. Going forward, building a successful SEO strategy means aiming for placements all over SERPs..
Here's to a happy, successful year of climbing the ladder in SEO!
Want more SEO tips for 2018? Click here to grab a copy of our Ultimate SEO Checklist.
Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.
Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.