2018 is upon us already, and while we are working to perfect our strategies from 2017, some strategies have become outdated so quickly that we will need a total overhaul to function this year. SEO is one aspect of business and online marketing which evolves so quickly that even staying up to date with changes is difficult. Previously fail-proof methods of landing atop SERPs (search engine result pages) have quickly become irrelevant in only a few months, and SEO practices which dominated the industry quickly fell out of favor. The Google algorithm itself changes constantly, and the technology available to SEO professionals also evolves constantly.
Well to keep you ahead of the pack, we have taken time to curate some trends which we expect will dominate the year 2018.
A RISE IN VOICE SEARCH
According to Google, 1 out of 5 searches already comes from voice queries. This comes as no surprise seeing that voice-activated smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo are on the rise. Also, several customers prefer the convenience of speaking to typing. Not only is it faster, but it makes for more detailed queries.
Voice recognition software has got to the point where users are comfortable trusting it to understand normal speech. This means your clients can increase the detail of their queries to more than simple keywords and phrases. As the accuracy of voice assistants continues to improve, we will see more people utilizing voice search for timely online queries.
A MASSIVE SHIFT IN FAVOR OF MOBILE DEVICES
We are probably only a few months away from Google launching the mobile-first index which allows Google rank pages based on the mobile version of the page.
To date, Google has been evaluating the relevance of a websites based on the quality desktop homepage, but as mobile devices are growing more popular, accounting for more than 60% of searches, this ranking system has become obsolete.
This is why there’s an expected shift to mobile-first index and it will probably be one of the biggest algorithmic changes in Google’s history which might turn page rankings upside down.
VIDEO AND IMAGE SEARCH WILL VASTLY IMPROVE
Our online interactions have grown to become more visual, and this is as a result of a public desire to engage with more images and videos. Accordingly, we believe there will be some changes to how Google and other search engines respond to images and videos in an online environment.
Novel startups like Moodstocks and Eyefluence have sought to recognize visual elements within images and videos more accurately thereby improving user interaction with them. There’s no telling exactly what changes these startups foretell, but there’s sure to be a vast improvement in search sophistication for visual assets.
PAGE SPEED WILL STAY RELEVANT
Since 2010, Google confirmed page speed as a ranking signal, and while it may be impossible for your site to match Google’s speed of under half a second, you should target page speeds of 2 seconds or less. Also, scan your page(s) and try to compress any bloated resources like scripts, CSS files, and images. You may want to include fewer ads and remember your site can never be too fast, so you always have to make it faster to beat the competition.
HYPER-LOCAL RESULTS WILL FINALLY TAKEOFF
2017 was expected to be the first major year for hyper-local marketing, but unfortunately, it didn’t quite hit it off as most experts predicted. By hyper-local, it means the process of targeting customers (or search results) based on their physical proximity, down to less than a block radius. It’s expected that by the end of 2018, with an increase in mobile use and the rising relevance of VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality), companies involved in local SEO will have to do more to target hyper-local keywords and optimize for even more locally relevant appearances.