6 SEO Trends for 2018

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?

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.

Money Loves Speed

“Money loves speed.” This phrase has been quoted so often that it’s difficult to know who should be credited for coining it. In an “always-on” digital world, it’s a saying that reminds us that we need to encourage fast action to make a sale, and to act fast when a customer needs help. Today, I contrast the customer service of two digital companies—both household names and both who serve direct marketers—and suggest four money-attracting recommendations

“Money loves speed.” This phrase has been quoted so often that it’s difficult to know who should be credited for coining it. In an “always-on” digital world, it’s a saying that reminds us that we need to encourage fast action to make a sale, and to act fast when a customer needs help. Today, I contrast the customer service of two digital companies—both household names and both who serve direct marketers—and suggest four money-attracting recommendations.

One of the many aggravations for any customer is the inability to get fast answers from a company when help is needed. It’s especially a problem with online merchants. In the digital age, it’s too easy to hide behind an online form.

The contrast of service and responsiveness from Facebook and Google, in my experience, is significant. Both are digital mega-corporations, both provide advertising platforms for marketers, and both are tremendous resources of online metrics for direct marketers.

Facebook is a content marketer’s dream. Gain a fan following at little or no cost, share news, videos, how-to information and much more to your audience. In social media, your audience does your work of sharing and evangelizing for you. Facebook has evolved and requires “pay-to-play” if you want your fans to see your posts. In my view, it’s completely acceptable for Facebook to say that if you want your post to float toward the top of a newsfeed for a day that you’ll need to spend a few bucks.

I pay for posts often for an organization with a vibrant social media presence. The Facebook promoted post budget isn’t huge, but over a year’s time it runs into the thousands of dollars.

The rules for including an image with a promoted post allows up to 20 percent of the image to contain text. Recently, one of my promoted posts was rejected because Facebook technology image scanners thought there was more than the 20 percent amount allowed. But with the human eye, it was apparent looking at the photo and text that we were not over the allowed amount of text. Surely Facebook would reconsider, I thought. My credit card was ready to be charged.

The only way I’ve found to contact Facebook is via an online form. So I filled one out, asking them to reconsider the image for my promoted post expecting a quick response. After all, it took them only about 15 minutes to reject the ad, so surely as an “always-on” social media platform with thousands of employees, someone will respond quickly. Well, it took nearly 24 hours to get a reply to my request. They agreed with me and approved it. But by that point, the timeliness of the news item had passed and myself, and our followers, had moved on.

But then another rejection happened a few days ago. This time, a photo of sheet music didn’t fly. The culprit? Apparently treble clefs, staffs and rests. Once again the rejection was in minutes. I immediately asked Facebook to reevaluate it, thinking that my prior experience of 24 hours for a reply may have been a fluke. It wasn’t. The reply to this second request came in at 1:51 AM the next day, more than 24 hours later, with an approval. But again, the news cycle for this event had ended.

Bottom line: Facebook customer service is pokey. They are leaving advertising money on the table with an apparently cumbersome internal review process.

Contrast Facebook with Google. I manage Google Adwords for another client with a respectable budget. Google has assigned a representative to me. We talk. They rotate representatives every few months so I get different points of view and ideas. And if I need to contact Google, they offer a phone number for me to call where I can actually talk with someone in just minutes, enabling the ads to continue without delay.

Facebook repels money. Google attracts money.

Bottom line points for marketers:

  1. Give the customer options, such as phone, online forms, chat and more to contact you.
  2. Don’t hide behind an online form. Sure, a call center may be more expensive to operate, but it’s surely less expensive than losing sales.
  3. Be responsive. If you decide an online form is less expensive than a call center, fine. But then make sure you have a customer service representative available 24/7 who can quickly answer customer questions.
  4. Remove internal bureaucracy. Sometimes movement is brought to a halt because the internal process is too cumbersome.

In an “always-on” digital age, customers can be impatient. And for goodness sakes, if your business is in technology, act fast! It’s expected.

Money loves speed.

5 Numeric Speed Bumps to Higher Conversion

Ah, the holiday season. Your prospects are moving fast these days in an always-on world, with all the trimmings of distractions and stress. Fast thinking normally trumps slow thinking, yet sometimes you need to slow down thinking long enough to convert your prospect into a paying customer. Your most challenging task during these last days before the holidays may be

Ah, the holiday season. Your prospects are moving fast these days in an always-on world, with all the trimmings of distractions and stress. Fast thinking normally trumps slow thinking, yet sometimes you need to slow down thinking long enough to convert your prospect into a paying customer. Your most challenging task during these last days before the holidays may be slowing down your prospective customers just enough that they don’t skip over your sales message.

Fast thinking is always on. Fast thinking is instinctive and automatic. Whatever pops into the mind of your prospect often happens with no voluntary control. And sometimes fast thinking works in your favor with a quick, impulsive decision to buy.

But, not always.

So, as you set out to grab attention during these frenzied times, remember that when the mind is in fast thinking mode, short, simple sentences, with short words, are more effective. Content that’s breezy in style usually prevails over hard-to-read copy. And this helps to explain why it’s best to write copy that is readable at about a ninth- or tenth-grade level.

But how do you get the fast thinker to slow down when you want them to make a decision?

Here’s where you can create speed bumps in your message, so the mind doesn’t slide down its established memory grooves too quickly and pass you by.

One way to get attention is by introducing numbers. Numbers—especially dollars and cents—are effective speed bumps.

For people to respond to numeric data effectively, they need to be able to do three things:

  1. Comprehend the number.
  2. Interpret it in proper context.
  3. Act on it.

When our daughters were small children, one of the ways that I discovered how to get them out of an emotional tantrum was to ask a question requiring a numerical answer. Questions like “how old are you?” or “how old will you be on your next birthday?” worked like a charm to move our kids from their right brain emotional state to a left brain logical state to slow down their impulsive thinking.

So, when using numbers in marketing copy, you can slow down the readers’ thinking with these five speed bumps:

  1. Ask a question that requires a numeric answer.
  2. Reveal pricing in small chunks, such as a cost per day.
  3. Display discounts in dollars, not percentages. Not everyone quickly grasps that 30 percent off a $100 item equals $30. Better to say “save $30.00.”
  4. Illustrate improvement or satisfaction increases using specific numbers. Better: give numbers visual life in charts or graphs.
  5. Guarantee your product or service for a specific number of days (more time, such as 60 or 90, is stronger than 30 days).

All said, you may be able to get a prospect to make a purchase decision in your favor from snap thinking and decision-making (and if you can close them quickly, then why not?). But most people don’t act that impulsively. And impulsive decisions are a slippery slope to buyer’s remorse. Slow them down, if you can, in these final days before the holidays with a few strategically placed speed bumps.