SEO Trends that are Shaping Search Engine Optimization in 2018
If there’s anything we’ve learned so far, it’s that SEO is by no means a static industry. It’s dynamic, ever-changing, ever-evolving. Google rolls out big changes each year, and while some updates are more significant than others, each one makes a difference in how we approach SEO. Staying on top of key trends allows you to see how you stand as a business and future-proof your SEO for the year ahead. In this blog, we’ll break down some important SEO topics creating a buzz in the SEO community, and how these will shape search engine optimization in 2018. Let’s dive into it. RankBrain and Machine-learning Topic: RankBrain will play a bigger role in filtering search results. In 2015, Google launched one of its most fascinating projects to date: RankBrain. You may have heard of RankBrain when it came out as Google’s third most important ranking factor, right behind links and content. RankBrain is a machine-learning artificial intelligence system that helps Google sort and monitor some of its search results. The idea behind the AI system is to make the internet a better, easier place to search. It does this by measuring how users interact with the search results and ranking the results accordingly. For example, your search term is â€œbrownie recipeâ€. The first result on the page looks especially helpful, so you click on it. When you get to the article, it has the content you need and offers an easy, quick read. So you stay on the page. Rankbrain will take note, and give that result a ranking boost. In contrast, let’s say for the same search term (brownie recipe), you click on the second result instead. But this time, the article gives you poor-quality content off the bat, so you leave the page after a few seconds. You’re chucked back to the results page, and you click on the first result to see if it has content that’s worth reading. RankBrain will also process this information. If enough users instantly bounce from the second result, Google will downgrade it from the second spot, slowly yet surely. Simply, RainBrain evaluates the time a user spends on the page (dwell time), and the number of users who click on the result (click-through rate). With each passing year since its launch, RankBrain becomes more relevant. In 2018, Google will use RankBrain to filter results more effectively and offer users a better experience. Google uses machine-learning technology, like the one in RankBrain, to find patterns and make sense of relevant data when it evaluates user engagement with web pages. It is from this data that Google can evaluate user intent and provide the best results to meet it. Currently, the search engine giant is using conventional signals to determine ranking. In the next few months, we might see more of RankBrain in action â€“ albeit behind the scenes. Mobile-first Indexing Topic: If you still aren’t mobile-first in your SEO approach, you need to be in 2018. Over the last few years, marketers have emphasized the need to be mobile-friendly or mobile-responsive. But 2018 is the time to push harder. In 2015, we learned that mobile searches had exceeded desktop searches on Google search â€“ and just last year, we found out that Google’s mobile-first index is finally being rolled out. With mobile-first indexing, Google will rank its search results based on the mobile version of their content, even for results that appear on desktop searches. This is Google’s response to the increasingly mobile behavior of users. Now more than ever, people are using their smartphones and tablets to access the web, so it stands to reason that search engines focus on providing mobile-friendly results. For webmasters, this means a mobile-first approach must be implemented to capitalize on this shift in web behavior. Businesses that grew up on desktops would naturally use a desktop frame of reference in terms of page performance, web design and analytics. Given the widening gap between mobile and desktop searchers, this mindset isn’t likely to survive in 2018. With the rollout of mobile-indexing, it is the year where signals that used to affect only mobile searches will become signals that impact all searches. Following that trend, websites that are clunky and don’t respond well on mobile devices may soon become obsolete. On the other hand, sites that are designed simply, elegantly, and can run quickly on less powerful devices will dominate. To keep up with demands, businesses must:
- Design and optimize sites for speed and mobile-friendliness.
- Identify the different user intent signals on both desktop and mobile devices.
- Optimize mobile pages and mobile content to increase conversions.
- Focus on more long-tail keywords and a natural language that matches users’ conversational tone
- Have their content on the first page
- Have their content appear in a Featured Snippet
- Include a question in their content, as the vast majority of voice searches are question-based