We’re now a month into 2018, so it’s time to look at some of the things that we’ve noticed as trends in SEO so far. SEO is a game that changes constantly. You’ve got to be on top of the game to keep your place at the top of the rankings.
Here’s what we’ve seen so far:
Mobile is The Norm Now
Google has been rumbling for at least a year that they are going to take a mobile-first approach to their search engine results. What this means is that if you have both a mobile and a desktop version of your site, the mobile site will be seen as the canonical one. If you’re hiding information on your mobile site you could see a big rankings hit when this changeover happens.
Changing a site to be responsive or aligning mobile and desktop variants of a website might be more of a job for a web developer than an SEO guru, but it may be necessary to bring one on if you are still using old methods to deliver mobile content.
In addition to serving similar content, or ideally the same within a responsive design, speed and site size are major factors contributing to mobile-friendliness. Users want fast sites that do not use too much data. Consider using AMP (accelerated mobile pages) as a way to boost the speed of your site even further. You need to shoot for a page load speed of two seconds or less.
On-site SEO & Content
You probably noticed over 2017 the increase in rich snippets and knowledge graph entries. We believe that Google is trying to position itself to be the source for quick answers. Thus, the longer pages that provide a deeper insight on a single topic are likely to be more rewarded than smaller sites that replicate the sort of information Google is providing.
This year may be the true rise of 1000+ word content on pages. Or, conversely, the death of 500-word pages. If your pages lean toward the low end of the word count, here are some strategies:
- Expand your pages or consolidate two pages with similar contents.
- Start offering video and interactive content, as this will be judged differently than text.
Beyond length issues, the same things about on-site optimization remain the same. Use good tagging protocols and accessibility features. Also, consider learning Schema and adding it to your on-site content. Structured markup is poised to become another essential part of good on-site SEO, but it is not a major factor yet.
One thing that may change off-site SEO dramatically is the “linkless” backlink. Google has been experimenting with using mentions of brand names on sites without a direct backlink as a ranking signal. If this becomes part of the main algorithm it could dramatically change rankings and how companies approach other sites for backlinks.
As for current practices, local search is still the trend for businesses. The same focus on proximity searches, reviews, and correcting business citations from last year are still important. We haven’t yet entered the era of hyper-local searching, searches that are tailored to where your smartphone is in real time, but it is the direction Google and other search engines are going. The sooner you can get ahead of the curve on local search, the better you’ll be able to take advantage of hyperlocal search when it comes.
Search engines continue their quest to provide the most relevant information for their searchers. These trends are the next step in that journey to provide people what they want to know the instant they want to know it. By adapting your SEO strategies to these trends, you’ll be ready to take advantage of these new technologies.