As 2017 winds down and we move into the start of another exciting new year, I predictably always hear the same rumors start to float around, especially in the SEO world. It seems like I always hear someone say that “SEO is dying! No, really, this time it's real!” First of all, allow me to immediately quell the rumors in case you've heard them too: SEO is still a critical part of any online marketing strategy, and it's not going anywhere in the near future.
I'm not sure exactly why people always claim that SEO is going to go the way of the dinosaurs in the new year (there's always some blog post or loudmouth trying to stir up fear and controversy), but I think some of it has to do with humans inherent nature to fear the unknown.
As New Year's Day approached in years past, digital marketers and web administrators were practically running around like chickens with their heads cut off, fearing that a new Google update would annihilate their rankings.
While it is true that SEO and digital marketing is always birthing some new exciting technology and trend, you can rest assured that 2018 isn't going to usher in Y2K 2.0 or end the existence of SEO. But you do need to be aware of what's changing in the SEO world, and what to expect from the coming year.
So, let's take a look at some of the newest SEO trends of 2018.
Voice search has been steadily growing for years now, and smartphones aren't the only voice search enabled devices. Innovations like the Alexa Voice Remote are becoming more and more mainstream now that the voice recognition and response technology has become sophisticated and useful, even though it's still not 100% perfect.
At any rate, now that people can talk to their mobile devices, more people are audibly asking their phones questions instead of tediously typing the keywords into their phones, which is distracting and cumbersome. With voice search, people can query the Internet hands-free and keep their eyes on other tasks, and this trend looks like it's only going to grow in 2018.
Voice Search and Your Website's SEO
But how do voice search features affect your SEO strategy, you ask? Well, voice search causes users to query with more organic, colloquial sounding queries, as opposed to queries that are typed out. For example, consider the two different search terms:
- Voice search: “How many people live in the US?”
- Text search: “US population size”
To help accommodate this trend, you'll want to make sure that you not only incorporate old-school keywords as organically as possible (if you include keywords at all), but also include natural sounding colloquial expressions to capture voice search.
Personalized Search Results
The days of a static Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) are long gone. And though many are aware that custom personalized results pages aren't really new, do be aware that the shift towards personalization is going to continue in 2018.
Personalized results aren't only based on the keywords that a user queries, but rather a combination of other factors such as:
- what location the user is at when performing the search
- tracking data
- past search history
- other individual data
If you can keep visitors on your page long enough to get them engaged, chances are you'll continue to populate their SERPs for similar searches in the future. Just make sure to keep your bounce rate low, and to not be discouraged by a high level domain in your industry that continually ranks in the first position. Personalization may be able to help you gain repeat visitors if your content is high quality and fulfills a need.
Yeah, sure enough. Visual search is pretty cool too.
Recently Pinterest released an update letting you search for the items you see in a picture on their site.
And Pinterest isn't the only one - Google Goggles has been out for a few years now. Take a picture of something and get more info about it immediately.
You can also take pictures of an item or product with the Amazon app and it will give you shopping options to purchase it (from Amazon, of course!)
There is some markup you'll need to do to your products to get this to work, but I can only assume it's smart to be on the leading edge of this!
Google's Content Standards and Intelligence Continue to Increase
Do you remember trying to hunt for content only ten or fifteen years ago? How many times were you fooled by a spammy site or found results that weren't anywhere close to what you were looking for?
Fortunately for Internet users, Google's standards are always getting higher and higher. About a decade ago, it didn't really matter if your content was better than the competition's, because there were numerous ways to “game” the Google algorithm to rise to the top.
These days, however, Google has a myriad of sophisticated ways to determine the quality of your content.
For example, did you know that Google can rapidly scan text and compare your content with competitors' content in the same industry (and with the same keyword markers)? It can even compile and aggregate topics and concepts to see if your content is wholesome and complete, or if it's missing something that the competition included.
The bottom line is that Google can intelligently discern whether your content is high quality...or not. Updates like RankBrain can translate text into mathematical formulas and algorithms to make intelligent decisions regarding the quality of content, and it's only going to get smarter in 2018.
AMP Will Gain Increased Relevance
Mobile is still continuing to kick traditional desktop systems' butts, and this trend is expected to continue well into 2018. For that reason, you need to make sure that you have implemented AMP's to boost the speed of your pages. Did you know that Accelerated Mobile Pages can load up to four times faster than traditional pages?
That's nothing to sneeze at, especially since we live in an age of instant gratification and demand information to load in the span of milliseconds. If you haven't looked into AMP implementation, it's past time to do so because they not only improve the user experience but also help send positive signals to the Google ranking algorithm.
If you're using WordPress, there's a free plugin you can install that will solve this for you. Here's more info from Yoast.
Are You Ready?
2018 is just around the corner, and a lot of new and exciting marketing trends are emerging. If anyone tells you that SEO isn't relevant anymore, then I'd advise you to take what they say with a grain of salt. The truth is that SEO is here to stay, though you do need to stay up to date with the latest 2018 trends to stay relevent.