SEVEN SEO TRENDS

As we reach the fourth quarter of 2017, it’s time to start thinking about the year ahead and what to expect from SEO in 2018.

There are number of search industry trends that we’ve seen the very beginnings of this year and last, which will come into greater prominence in 2018.

Here are seven you should be keeping an eye on in order to stay ahead of the curve.

Voice search and digital assistants 

Voice search technology presents a big opportunity for changing the way we communicate and process information. The rise of digital assistants has presented a growing market that can change the way search queries are performed. According to Google, 1 out of 5 searches already come from voice queries.

This changes the search market and we’re expecting to see an even bigger shift towards voice search in 2018. When it comes to setting up an SEO strategy, the rise of voice search brings out the need to focus on more long-tail search keywords and a natural language that matches the user’s conversational tone.

As accuracy improves in digital assistants, there will be more people using voice search from their mobile devices, seeking for quick and relevant answers. It becomes important to research the voice user intent will provide more accurate results, helping the algorithms provide the best answer.

Moreover, voice search is expected to grow even more with its integration in smart home hubs, helping companies access new data, while users enjoy a seamless experience through everyday devices. As digital assistants go beyond smartphone devices, there is a great opportunity both for SEO and content, taking advantage of a growing market that connects the brand with a user in a unique but still relevant and useful way.

Link building

Link building is not expected to disappear in 2018, but it will be more important than ever to create a strategy that seeks out quality links. There’s no need to aim for new links if they don’t add value and help you build an authority in your target niche.

This doesn’t always mean that the best backlinks come from the most popular sites, but it’s still crucial to seek coverage from sites that are relevant to your industry. Referral traffic can still contribute to your site’s organic search rankings, while it is also useful to start thinking of link building as a long-term process.

A successful SEO strategy in 2018 will move towards relationship building, helping a brand develop powerful contacts and links that will be beneficial in a longer term.

A challenge for 2018 will be dealing with guest blogs and how to involve them as an integral part of a link building strategy without hurting a brand’s reputation. Back in May Google warned publishers who rely too much on guest posting for link building that there will be a closer look at guest blogs in an attempt to control spammy and questionable links.

This brings out the need for a more diversified link building strategy, aiming for a complete backlink profile, rather than single links that can bring successful results.

User experience 

User experience for SEO will become even more important in 2018. Google has made it clear that the focus is on the user and this should make more sites deliver a smooth UX for their visitors.

good user experience increases the chances of people engaging with the pages that they visit. This helps search engines discover which pages are more useful for people, favoring them over others.

The first step is to monitor a site’s speed, its readability and its navigation structure to examine how these can be improved through the right changes. A closer look at your visitors’ browsing habits can offer helpful insights. For example, if the visits coming directly from search last just 30 seconds, then this probably means that the content or the user experience is hurting your site’s conversions.

Moreover, as more people consume content from their mobile devices, there is a growing need to provide an excellent user experience across all devices.

As SEO heads towards more relevant and personalized experiences, UX will be key to maintaining search traffic by creating an engaged audience. It’s not enough anymore to see a rise in search traffic if it’s not converting or bringing the desired engagement to create a loyal audience.

Featured snippets and Quick Answers 

The popularity of featured snippets has increased the competition among companies trying to appear in “position 0” in the SERP. Gaining a featured snippet in search requires catering to a specific combination of factors, which has opened up SEO beyond the traditional race to the top of Google.

According to Stone Temple Consulting, almost 30% of the test Google search queries show Featured Snippets. This brings out the need for a strategy on how to optimize a site’s content to meet Google’s standards for Featured Snippets.

Lists, tables and graphs tend to be popular, while it’s also useful to create content in a Q&A format, making it easier for Google to extract the right content to show up as a featured snippet.

An interesting angle to focus on during the next year is the optimization of featured snippets for voice search. The combination of two growing trends in the search market can create a great opportunity for more companies to show up at the top of the SERPs. This will involve considering the changes in the search queries, focusing more on longer keywords and natural language.

A similar way to reach the top of the SERPs is to create content that serves as a Quick Answer. Google’s Answer Box is an enhanced type of featured snippet that aims to answer a question in a more appealing way.

It usually follows a “how” or “what” structure and is Google’s attempt to use search intent to organize the search results in a more useful way. It has been observed that the results that show up in an Answer Box can see a CTR of 32.3%.

This will bring out the need for more companies to learn more about search intent and how they can optimize their content to show up in an Answer Box. Thus, a carefully crafted Answer Box strategy can increase both a site’s authority, but also a brand’s conversion.

SEO STRATEGY

S

It’s the right time of the year to evaluate your SEOstrategy and examine the best ways to improve it during 2017. This doesn’t have to be a complicated process, though.

New year’s resolutions are not just about our personal goals, so it may be the ideal moment to focus on your business goals and seek for the best ways to boost your SEO presence to improve authority, value and ranking.

If you’re wondering how to start fixing your SEO for 2017, here are a few suggestions you might find useful.

Add value

As simple as it sounds, it’s important to create content that adds value, while it maintains its relevance for the target audience.

It’s not just about creating quality content, but also about knowing your audience, to the extent that the content is useful and has more chances to be ranked higher in the search results for the relevant queries.

Quick tips to add more value with your content:

  • Examine your existing content and find the most popular topics
  • Learn more about your audience and find the questions that you’re going to answer
  • Find the best way to use combine timing and context, in a way that you’ll be able to beat your competitors
  • Do not hesitate to expand your niche area, provided that you’re still useful for your target audience

Facilitate the browsing experience

User experience is critical to SEO, so it may be a good idea to test how it affects the traffic to your site.

In fact, user experience starts even before the user visits your site and according to Forrester, 93% of online experiences start with a search.

Thus, it’s important to proceed to the necessary tweaks that ensure a smooth visit:

  • Test your site’s link and fix the broken links to minimise the error pages or the duplicate content
  • Your content should be appealing both for users and search engines and thus, both readability and crawlability should be taken into consideration
  • The navigation should help the user browse the pages without problems. From the menu structure to the link structure and the page’s design, even a slight detail may impact the user experience
  • A page’s speed is crucial, so don’t forget testing it from time to time. From heavy images to unnecessary scripts, there is always a reason that your site gets slow.
  • AMP may also be relevant to your site and Google seems to prefer the pages that start using it. Is it time to experiment with it?

Invest more time in your content

It was already clear from 2016 that search engines focus on the actual content rather than its optimisation.

There’s no need to spend more time on the optimisation if your content is not appealing enough for your audience.

Monitor the keywords, the site’s stats, the levels of engagement on each topic and find what users really expect from your page.

Think of new ideas to expand your content, or even to invest in evergreen content, and make sure you think like a reader, rather than a search engine.

Are the topics and the structure appealing to your target audience?

Remember, the combination of seamless user experience with quality content can have a very positive impact on your SEO rankings.

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