With the holiday season in the rearview, it’s time once again to predict SEO’s biggest trends through the new year. The previous year was a big one, with mobile-first results and localized optimization among the most critical shifts of 2017. What challenges will 2018 bring? More importantly, what can SEO marketers do to stay ahead of the curve?
I’m predicting the rise of a couple new SEO trends, and I also believe a handful of factors from the previous year will become top priorities in digital marketing strategies. Read on to see the top six anticipated SEO trends for 2018..
1. Page Share Becomes Critical
Earning the top organic search results on coveted search terms used to be the golden goose of SEO. In many cases, it still is. In 2018, though, expect this to change as Google refines its featured snippets, Knowledge panels and other SERP elements displayed above the organic listings. SEO marketers should already be familiar with page share — it’s the concept of optimizing for as many SERP placements as possible, rather than winning a single top-ranked search result. The more Google supplements its above-the-fold search results, the more important page share will become.
Also, consider the impact of mobile SEO on page share optimization. Smartphones supplanted desktop and laptop PCs long ago as the preferred devices for searching the Web, and Google’s mobile SERPs leave even less room for organic listings. Knowledge graphs now appear on most of the research-oriented searches that small businesses depend on for organic traffic. It’s time to optimize for those placements to avoid being pushed into digital obscurity.
2. Long-Tail Keywords Will Dominate
Long-tail keywords are finally becoming mainstream. For years, digital marketers used long-tail keywords as less-competitive sources of both paid and organic traffic. That was before the start of 2017, when a Pew Research Center study found more than three-quarters of Americans owned smartphones, and also before most new smartphones launched with voice-activated digital assistants.
Thanks to this technology, searching the web today is as simple as asking a question. More people are transitioning to this technology, too. Google’s Behshad Behzadi reported that 55 percent of teens and 40 percent of adults use voice searching on a daily basis. This opens a wealth of possibilities for opportunistic SEO marketers who research which questions their audiences are asking. Remember this form of question-oriented targeting when planning your content going forward.
3. Need for Speed
Page speed was already important in 2017, and it’s going to be big again in 2018. Google solidified its preference for mobile websites last year with its decision to move to a “mobile first” algorithm. Going forward, page speed will be a critical factor among digital marketers vying for the best SERP placements.
Faster is always better. You can find free online speed tests to learn how quickly (or slowly) your pages are loading.
4. Structured Data
I’ve already explained how page share is becoming more important than organic results. However, organic results are still vital. They bring scores of visitors to websites, and they’re also prime pieces of page share.