Originally developed in the 1990’s, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) first began as a practice that aimed to outsmart popular search engines. Filled with keyword stuffing and other practices now deemed unethical, it did not take long for the developers of search engines to catch on to these shady marketing tactics. As a result, search engine algorithms and rules were altered shortly after the inception of SEO. Many who had utilized the initial tactics believed that these changes would end the practice altogether. Surprisingly, however, SEO was reinvented with a new focus on working in unison with search engines to improve the overall user experience. Over the years, SEO tactics and the practice as a whole has continuously evolved and adapted to remain relevant each time changes to search engines are implemented. Still, each year numerous false claims are made declaring the end of SEO.
This year, naysayers will certainly continue to doubt the adaptability of SEO but the fact is that SEO remains a critical component in any online marketing strategy. As the strategies and areas of focus are ever changing, however, it is crucial to remain up-to-date on emerging trends in the field to ensure maximum effectiveness. In 2018, there are a number of notable changes including targeting SERP (search engine result pages) features, voice searches and mobile-first indexing.
With the introduction of SERP features, like Featured Snippets, gaining popularity since they were introduced in 2016, SEO experts have dubbed many of these features as “position zero”. Essentially, getting featured on the SERP is even more desirable than being ranked in the first position on the SERP. With hopes of reaching this position, optimized content is being catered to mimic the tone and length of these SERP features. Similarly, SEO experts and novices alike have taken notice of the increasing popularity of voice search. With around 40 percent of adults utilizing the technology each day, and with this number expected to rise rapidly by 2020, targeted keywords are changing. Instead of awkward phrases, keywords are now honing in on much more natural sounding language. This is because people use more natural language to perform searches with voice search than they do with traditional text searches. Lastly, the field of SEO is embracing the staggering popularity of mobile devices. With more than half of all searches being performed from mobile devices, search engines now prioritize webpages, which are optimized for mobile viewing. This is especially important for local business optimizing for local SEO customers. In turn, experts in the SEO industry view this as a necessity for boosting SERP rankings.
While these elements are important for SEO in 2018, it is likely that new ones will emerge in the years to come. With an uncanny ability to adapt in a fast-paced, technologically advanced world, SEO will certainly continue to remain relevant for many years to come.