We are only in April and yet I have a prediction for the rest of the year. Now I’m not saying I’m Mystic Meg but with the recent changes of everything in the world of SEO it is not a giant leap to say I can predict where this is all heading.
SEO has always been a bit of a complex science and staying up with the game is just as challenging now as it’s ever been. Google has always said they want to lead the way to a safer and higher quality web. They want to give the best results to their users when they search.
For as long as I’ve been working in this industry (which admittedly is not that long) Google has been King and therefore where they lead others are bound to follow.
To help you understand and maybe even stay ahead of the game here is my list of top trends that I can see changing the face of SEO this year.
SERPs is becoming so much more!
Many people who come to me tell me they just want to be Number 1, because then they are getting the most traffic. Well, with the rise of the newest features to SERPs this is no longer always the case.
Features such as Local Packs, Knowledge Panels & Featured Snippets are changing the way people search. They are big and pretty and they are stealing searchers attention and clicks from organic listings.
We’ve had Local Pack rankings now for a while, that lovely little box you get at the top of search showing all the companies local to you or the area you specified that match your query. This is a great thing as you may have a hugely competitive market, or maybe battling the big boys for the top positions. Local Pack will get to the top of search result even if you are not ranking Number One, and with a lovely little star rating showing next to your name.
Your Local Pack ranking is directly linked to your Google My Business account. A tool that I honestly love so much. It has been updated recently to have new features like posts, the more info you give it the better it will work for you. It also shows up when people directly Google your business on the right-hand side which is a great little bit of advertising for you, all free of charge.
All these changes are great and give you even more chance for your clients to see your brand.
Increasingly Personalised SERPs
Google, Bing and Yahoo are all personalising their search results in many ways. Search engines use information about the users such as Location, Search History and Interests to help tailor search results to them.
This can work in your favour, if you are getting traffic to your site and most importantly your articles. The search engine will remember the users that have been to your site before and will bring it up again for them when they next search another term relevant to your brand. Quickly you will become their preferred knowledge base.
Structured Data makes your pages more interesting
Now, I know that Google has never actually confirmed that structured data is a ranking factor, and let be honest in all likelihood it’s not. But let’s just forget about Google and all its lovely algorithms for a moment, I know that’s not something I say very often if all at all (Huge Google Fan-Girl) but just bear with me.
Structured data is a way of formatting the code of a website, HTML to be specific. It tells search engines how to display listing within SERPs.
In real terms, it makes things prettier.
It gives the searcher more information, meaning they are far more likely to click on your page. Rich Snippets controlled by structured data has been proven to improve click-through rate by 30%.
To get this for your site, you will need to be able to edit code or get in contact with your website designer. There are few different ways to do this but most SEOs,( myself included) go with schema.org
Backlink collection is nearly the number one thing most SEO’s will spend their time on. But this may be changing soon. Though it has not been confirmed by Google as of yet, it certainly looks as though link-less mentions of your brand could end up becoming an off-site signal of huge importance.
Google and other search engines can easily identify a mention of a brand and use it to determine a site’s authority. Currently, this is no more than a rumour running around the SEO world but it seems there is a good reason to believe Google really is paying attention to this.
Forget slow and steady, Faster is winning this race
Okay, I admit it, this bit isn’t exactly a prediction.
We know it’s coming.
We’ve known for a while.
Google has told us so if anything I’m simply the messenger but nevertheless it’s important. From July 2018 Mobile speed has become a ranking factor for Google.
Three seconds! That’s how long your page has to load, anything more and your going to start seeing your rankings fall.
You can check how your site is performing with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. It’s a great tool and even gives you a list of way to improve your speed, straight from the horse’s mouth.
RankBrain Updates are making it harder for the cheaters to cheat
Now it depends on who you are, as to how you will feel about this next one. But it’s getting harder to convince Google you have great content if you really don’t. And then penalties are even harsher than before.
Google uses a number of ways to assess content and determine if it’s “comprehensive”. By looking at billions of pages across the web Googles RankBrain learns which terms are related to one another. This means it begins to understand and know what to expect from content on any given site.
So if you are sticking to your brand’s identity and writing quality articles about the things you do and nothing else you will be rewarded, but if you are trying to cheat the system and write low quality, high key-worded content you are more likely to fail than ever before.
Voice Search is Listening
You may not have even thought about it before now, but it’s here and getting bigger than ever. With 25% of all UK homes now having a smart hub, that’s a whopping 16 million users. And that’s just Smart Home devices. Google reports that 55% of under 21’s and 40% of adults use voice search on their devices every single day – meaning Voice Search is the real deal.
Learning how to rank within Voice Search can be somewhat of a learning curve for most people but it’s not as difficult as you may think, though it will mean integrating some new keywords specific to that area. There are plenty of tools out there that can help you do Keyword Research, my preferred one is SEO PowerSuite, it has a great bit integrated within it that allows you to find common questions people are asking search engines.
So that’s it that my predictions for 2018. Good Luck with your ranking and remember to watch this space!