The New Year is in full swing and website owners everywhere are examining which SEO trends will blossom during 2018. During the last year, Google put a strong emphasis on local SEO, while maximizing new technologies such as voice search. Although some of these SEO trends may work well together, others may penalize sites that don’t have a local reach. Fortunately, there are ways to combat losses in traffic.
Mobile Optimisation No Longer an Afterthought
While it was once the case that mobile optimisation came secondary to on-site experiences, 2018 is the year where smartphones will come first. With around 57 percent of web traffic coming from mobile sources, it’s easy to see why this is the case.
With most users expecting site loading times to last less than two seconds, this means businesses will need to optimise their websites for rapid loading. Furthermore, the way Google responds to mobile searches is different to laptop searches. An increasing number of mobile users do searches while on the move, prompting Google to produce local results.
For businesses operating in a specific area, mobile optimisation will work to their advantage. Now that the search engine has tweaked its Possum algorithm, so it no longer penalizes businesses that are too close to one another, mobile optimisation is an excellent opportunity to drive more traffic. For those without a local focus, however, the battle to impress with useful content and strong backlinks will only get harder.
SERPs Will Become More Critical Than Ever Before
With the rise in the number of users accessing sites via their mobile comes an increasingly heavier emphasis on SERP. In other words, the user’s location will dictate what appears in their search results. For businesses that rely on local SEO, this means taking the following strategies:
- Using tools such as Google Directory to add their company and its location
- Building localized backlinks and inviting feedback from sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor
- Continuing to focus on content with keywords their users may be searching for
One of the key stumbling points in 2018, however, is that Google is also emphasizing the user’s previous search history and their interests. Again, local businesses that pay attention to the importance of SERP stand to benefit. For those that don’t take a localized approach, their success once again depends on returning to good user experience, useful content, and an understanding of their audience.
Featured Snippets Are the Aim of the Game
While there was once a time when companies fought for being the first in search results for their target keywords, there’s now such a thing as ‘position zero.’ In simple terms, position zero means being part of Google’s featured snippets; which now appear in 30-percent of all Google searches.
Such searches involve a knowledge-related query. For example, “The best wine to pair with roast beef.” Google’s featured snippets will then appear, with the top piece highlighting the most relevant answer to the user’s query and four related queries below. Like the coveted first position in Google’s rankings, position zero has the potential to drive a lot of traffic.
The click-through rate for snippets is 32.3-percent. As such, businesses that want to thrive during 2018 need to find ways to optimise their content so that it answers users’ ‘what’ and ‘how’ questions. According to one report, specific factors contribute to sites snagging a featured snippet position:
- Using graphs and tables
- Having FAQ sections
- Creating content in a question and answer format
2018 Is Not the Year to Ignore Voice Search
As a feature that was once exclusive to iPhone’s Siri, voice search has simplified the user experience. Around 40-percent of adults will perform at least one voice search per day, and about 20-percent of mobile searches involve voice technology.
Although voice search for Google is still in its infancy, site owners who want to jump on the trend early can follow a simple format:
- Ensure the target keyword is the first page’s primary feature
- Follow the above steps to grabbing a featured snippet spot
- Take a question and answer response to creating content. For example, “Who invented the lightbulb?” or “Where can I buy dinner sets?”
It is important to note that with voice search capabilities on the rise, the legal implications of data and privacy breaches are also becoming a major problem with this feature as well, which means we need to use these voice enabled features with care.
Having some of these great features conveniently available will help to enhance our lives further, but whenever accessing these capabilities, we must always remember to do what we can to keep our private information as secure as possible. With more and more people using their mobile phones and with Google’s ever-changing focus on optimizing mobile features, the risk for fraud or identity theft will only continue to increase. As SEO trends continue to change, we must change along with them, which includes being vigilant about keeping our private details secure.