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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a never-ending, highly competitive game. The real competition begins when you have reached on top of the search engine results (SERP’s) because SEO is evolving through time. It’s constantly changing its principles and methods to evaluate the web page rankings. Most of the previous top ranking factors are losing their weight in terms. So, SEO professionals have to concentrate on few more things (following latest SEO trends) in the year 2018. Obviously, it took more efforts but not impossible.
Search engines are getting more intelligent than ever day by day. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) based search algorithm updates, now search engines can easily identify high-quality web pages and rank them for best user experience.
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This is the time for SEO’s to change their SEO strategy, tactics, whatever… So, you may think that “What are the latest SEO trends that will rule the industry in 2018? How to do SEO in 2018? And what are top ranking factors you should concentrate to dominate the SERP’s in 2018?”
This is not the another “How to do SEO in 2018” prediction. All the information provided here is – research backed and proposed by world leaders of SEO industry that are working right now. Let’s find the latest SEO trends that will govern the future of SEO.
Please read this until the end of the article. I’m sure you’ll get the clear resolution on latest SEO trends and the insightful information to face the challenges in SEO game.
Note:- The main purpose of the post to discuss the latest trends that gonna govern the future of SEO and Digital Marketing industry. And offer ideas and techniques to help SEO’s to face challenges in SEO and create new effective and actionable SEO strategy in the new year.
For any queries and suggestions, please feel free to comment below.
So, What that matters most in SEO for 2018?
1. User Experience (UX) Signals:
User experience (UX) signals have always been important to SEO, or at least a little. Google has been always a bit favorable to websites that optimized for good user experience. In 2018 user experience signals going to be more prioritized and becoming a major search engine ranking factor.
A good user experience increases the chances of people engaging with the pages that they visit. This helps search engines to determine which pages are more useful for people, favoring them over others.
How To Know Your Websites’ User Experience (UX) Score?
Google analytics is the best free tool to identify user experience signal of your website. Just take a close look at your audience behavior. Metrics like bounce rate, average time spending on page and behavior flow can give you more insights into your audience browsing habits.
a) Average time spending on a page:- How much time audience spending on a web page is gonna be much important this year. Longer session time means that your content a web page is worthy and useful for users.
If an average user spending less than 30 seconds on your web pages, it indicates poor user experience of your website.
b) Bounce rate:- If bounce rates increase that it means users completely ignoring you, search engines don’t want to show this kind of results for their users. It’s a major downside for an SEO.
The formula to calculate bounce rate:-
- Rb = Bounce rate
- Tv = Total number of visitors viewing one page only
- Te = Total entries to a page
To check average time spend on a particular page and bounce rate of each page on your website:-
- Goto ‘Google analytics’, select ‘Behavior’ from the left side menu on the page.
- Click on the ‘Site Content’, and select ‘All Pages’ from the drop-down menu.
c) Behavior flow:- It represents your website navigation and internal linking structure. Websites with a good navigational structure and internal linking are more likely to have lower bounce rates.
To check the behavior flow of your website:-
- Goto ‘Google analytics’ and select ‘Behavior’ from the left side menu.
- Then click on the ‘Behavior Flow’.
So, how to improve your website user experience to rank higher in the Google search results? Here is the list of top user experience signals you should focus on this year:
2. Major User Experience Signals:
To improve the overall user experience of your website, you should particularly focus on few on-page optimizations and technical SEO aspects. Here’s the list of most important user experience signals you should concentrate on to success in the SEO game this year:
a) Mobile Friendliness
2018 is more than likely to be the year that businesses, brands and SEO’s should focus on mobile friendliness. As previously, Google webmaster trends analyst Mr.Gary Illyes has said — there is more likely to Google launches its Mobile First Indexing System this year.
But even if it doesn’t, brands and SEO’s need to concentrate more on mobile first anyway. While mobile web traffic is growing rapidly, a recent study by BrightEdge revealed that more than 57% of web traffic comes from mobile devices. More than this, most of the keywords performing better for the mobile devices than the desktops/laptops. So, it is recommended you to optimize your website for mobile devices in order to increase online visibility.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP):
Have you ever experienced irritation while browsing and give-up when a web page takes too much time to load? Exactly, keeping this user behavior mind, Google introduced accelerated mobile pages (AMP) in 2015.
Google constantly pushing webmasters to implement accelerated mobile pages (AMP)in their websites in order to deliver smoother and better user experiences to the audience. Accelerated mobile web pages are well known for instant loading, in less than one second and consume very low data compared to non-AMP web pages also it has proven AMP improves 35% more engagement time.
Responsive Web Design:
Responsive web pages are not the obvious alternative for the accelerated mobile pages, but they are able to fit for mobile and tablet anytime, anywhere on the go which is crucial for better user experience.
There are a lot of ready-made web template/themes are available for most CMS (Content Management System)’s. Read our list of 10 best WordPress themes here. Therefore, you must design a responsive web page or at-least use a ready-made responsive web template that adjusts well to all screen sizes for best SEO results.
b) Website Speed
Whether it is mobile or desktop speed is it most important factor, not only as a ranking signal also it is a major user experience (UX) factor. Website speed or Page loading speed is already a major ranking factor now.
But how fast a web page should load? & what is the optimal page load time? Google expects pages to be load in less than three seconds.
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How to reduce page load time and improve website speed?
There are a bunch of SEO tools available online to perform website speed test, but my favorite tool is GTMetrix, it offers a comprehensive analytical report on all technical aspects that linked with page load time and website speed. Also, it recommends suggestion to improve website speed.
c) Website Navigational Structure
Little things matter most. Your website structure is not an exemption. The website structure can make a huge impact on results, and how your audiences browse within your website.
A good navigation structure will help your audience to easily surf and navigate within your website, this can lower bounce rate and improve the average time that user spent on your web pages. Good website structure also attracts quality users and increase conversion rates.
d) Content Readability
Small things make a big difference, text that isn’t nice and easy to read will give your audience a bad user experience. Nobody likes to read worst content that stuffed with a bunch of keywords. After the Hummingbird update, Google became a lot better at recognizing synonyms for keywords.
All the text content on your web page should be clear, straightforward and focused on your targeted audience will give them the best possible user experience. Otherwise, you’ll end up with poor user experience signal, and Google takes it to the count.
e) Encourage Blog Commenting
Do blog comments help your rankings?
Yes! Google said, “comments are the great on-page user engagement signals for SEO”. A website with an active community (blog commenting) means Google sees that website has worthy, engaging and useful content for users. This can boost your rankings in search engine results.
3. Local Search Optimization
Recently, Google claimed that around 73% of all online activities are related to local search. Due to globalization effect, people travel around the world and turn to local search to explore the places for local businesses and companies they visit on the go. Also, there is a huge increase in people searching for businesses and companies in their localities.
For this particular reason, brands, businesses and SEO’s who want to take advantage of the opportunities presented by these searchers should concentrate on local search optimization in 2018.
Tips for local search optimization from SEO experts:-
- Setting up Google my business account and optimizing your Google local listing is an excellent way to get started with your local search optimization. These listings are featured prominently in the local search results page and attract significant quality customers to your business.
- Mobile searches are all about context, they seek more content while they are on the go. Local search optimization along with mobile-friendly optimization will help businesses and brands to get an increased opportunity for marketing their business in local search.
- With the rise of voice search, optimizing for voice search and facilitating customers with the personalized and relevant answer is an excellent way to create successful SEO strategy for 2018.
4. Voice Search Optimization
Voice search is going to be another biggest SEO trend in 2018. According to Google, 20% of searches already coming from voice search, It means 1 out of 5 searches are coming from voice search and it is rapidly increasing.
Whether people find it as easy or hard to type long-tail keywords in mobile phones, however people are quickly adopting voice search into their browsing habit.
As the SEO rapidly changing its path towards voice search, businesses, brands and SEOs should really need to focus on voice search optimization and adopt it into their new SEO strategy for 2018. The rise of voice search brings out the need to focus more on long-tail keywords/phrases and general conversational search terms using natural language that matches the user’s conversational tone.
Moreover, with the advent of smart home automation devices and virtual digital assistants, voice search is expected to grow even more in 2018.
Tips for voice search optimization:-
- Most voice search users are from mobile phones, they are all about context and always expect for quick and relevant answers.
- So, it is important to research the voice users intention/need and provide them more relevant and accurate results.
- It becomes important to research the voice user intent will provide more accurate results, helping the algorithms provide the best answer.
- Long-tail keywords with natural language and general conversational terms will take your SEO strategy to next level.
5. Artificial Intelligence In SEO & Digital Marketing
Search engines are becoming more intelligent day by day. They changed the way they rank the search results. Machine learning system which makes search engines to learn/understand users intention and respond with relevant & accurate answers/results. Artificial intelligence in SEO help users to find contextualized results. With the advent of voice search and virtual digital assistants, this will lead to a more personalized experience.
As Google rolled out its AI-based deep learning algorithm called ‘RankBrian’ last year, which is machine learning system capable of returning direct answers to the user’s search queries. In terms, artificial intelligence optimization became mainstream in 2018, that every SEO should focus on…
a) What Is Google’s RankBrain?
RankBrain is Google’s core algorithm powered by artificial intelligence, to process search results to determine the most relevant results for the search queries.
RankBrain is a machine learning system which is able to teach themselves from data inputs and update its algorithms accordingly.
b) How Google’s Deep Learning Algorithm – RankBrain Work?
As a billion-dollar company, Google always tend to enrich their user’s online experience. Google’s new Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) powered web ranking algorithm “RankBrain” purposefully does the same.
RankBrain uses mathematical processes to convert all the textual content of search queries into ‘word vectors’ and similar words in a word vector will be given the same address in mathematical spaces that the computer can understand. When the users search for a query, these mathematical mapped relationships to assume the best fit to the query and returns the multiple related results.
RankBrain uses artificial intelligence based advanced understanding of language semantics to understand more about how and why people search and respond to the queries in the same manner like a human. Then apply those conclusions to search algorithms to provide more relevant and accurate search results in future. Not like Google search has been up until now, it can update itself over time.
c) Tips For Optimizing Content For RankBrain:-
- Use natural language to write content that sounds human.
- Use natural conversations that we would use in our daily life.
- Be clear and straightforward to make it easier for the users and search engine to understand the purpose of the content.
- Provide more content with in-depth of information.
6. The Rise Of SERP Features
As mentioned previously, the real competition begins as you reached on top of the search engine results or at-least on the first page. You may think that ranking no.1 in Google search results is enough to drive significant traffic to your website, think again. That’s not gonna actually work anyway this year. Surprisingly, SERP features are stealing searcher’s attention and click from organic search results. Featured snippets are special search results that appear on top (position #0) of all search results. For example rich snippets, knowledge packs, local packs, site links, reviews and direct answers/quick answers.
Rank ”0” is already dominating the SERP’s, which is are featured snippet, rich snippets, knowledge graphs and direct answer that will show on top of all the “blue links”. It has proven that these SERP features can increase your CTR (click through rate) by 30%, and many real-life experiments proved that increase in clicks will boost search rankings.
2018 going to be a witness for the competition among the brands and companies trying to appear in “position 0” in the SERPs. So, it is very important for every SEO to focus on SERP features and optimize your content for featured snippets, rich snippets, and knowledge graphs.
a) More Personalized SERPs
Personalized SERPs is another latest SEO trend. You need not to ranked in #1 position always, these SERP features can increase your visibility in SERPs. Personalized SERPs are mostly based on user’s location, search history and interests. Google, Bing, and Yahoo all personalize their search results according to user’s online activity and location.
b) Structured Data
However, Google never officially stated structured data is a ranking factor, and it does not. Then why you bother?
Structured data is a way of formatting HTML that allows search engines to not only crawl your website but also understand your content and its information on the website. Then use this information to improve your search listing by generating rich snippets and knowledge graphs. These rich snippets and knowledge graphs can increase CTR by 30% and boost your search rankings.
Why use structure data?
Structured data helps search engines to better understand the details such as name, address, place, events, products, price, and articles information that mentioned on your website.
7. Content Strategy
a) Create Worthy & Meaningful Content
Who wants to read long boring and meaningless content. In fact, I don’t like to read lengthy content.
People always uphold the web pages with no-nonsense, straightforward and purpose-oriented content. As the user experience signals are going to get more priority in SEO, every SEO should focus on sharp, interesting and informative content for their websites or blogs. It is advisable to hire an expert in order to deliver a valuable content to your users in 2018.
b) Take The Advantage Of Visual Content
You might be hearing this before or more often. People are much interested in visual content, due to social media, visual content photos and videos get an instant response through likes and shares. This will make your website popular in no time at all. Short and interesting text content along with contextual visual content is in demand.
8. Link Building
Backlinks have been a major ranking factor for years – many SEOs spend much time and money building backlinks for their domains. Backlinks will be more important than ever in 2018, it is all about quality of links, not quantity.
In 2018, A successful SEO strategy defined as building relationships with brands in the same niche and develop powerful contacts and links that will be beneficial in a longer term.
b) Linkless Backlinks — Mentions
Linkless mentions help web pages that search engines find them as more authoritative. These linkless backlinks going to become off-page ranking signals of equal weight as backlinks in 2018.
Second largest search engine Bing already using these unlinked mentions to rank search results. There is more probability to Google also doing the same to rank the search results.
2018 seems to be very interesting than ever for SEOs. As the latest SEO trends took their turn, traditional SEO techniques are still effective. With the rise of artificial intelligence, voice search, SERP features and prioritized user experience signals, SEO going to have more diversified SEO trends in 2018.
However, it brings up the need of optimizing content for natural language terms or keywords. Whether you are after voice search or RankBrain or user experience (UX) or SERP features like answer box, you must be concentrate on natural language and general conversational terms that we use in our day to day life for keyword research and creating content in a Q&A format.
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