Three trends that will shape SEO in 2018

With search engine optimization being a nonstop transformation, it is vital for marketers to keep a vigilant eye on up and coming trends to ensure optimum visibility of their business.
26 March 2018

What can you do to future-proof your SEO for the year ahead? | Source: Shutterstock

W ith over 200 factors in Google’s algorithm, search engine optimization (SEO) is a pretty complex science. Search engines are constantly seeking ways to improve the search experience, and as such, SEO is constantly evolving.

The challenge for SEO marketers is not to understand the complexities behind the strategy, but rather to have the ability to adapt to the ever-changing rules of the game. And this year, SEO is looking especially futuristic with search engines becoming smarter and smarter.

So what should marketers expect to prepare for this year? Read on to find out about the SEO trends set to flourish this year.

Optimizing for voice search

Your customers are picking up their phone to engage with voice assistants. Source: Shutterstock

Today, when one has a burning question but no one around to answer it, they’re simply asking their phone. Voice-activated search is rapidly growing thanks to voice recognition software used in both mobile devices and home speakers.

Today, over 40 percent of adults and more than half of teens are using voice search on a daily basis. And by 2020, it has been predicted that half of searches will be voice activated.

Voice-activated search epitomizes convenience, allowing searching to ask their phone a question while sending an email to a friend.  With more people using search now more than ever before, gaining insights into voice search data can give marketers ideas for how to provide better experiences for those searching by voice.

And when there is demand, there’s supply. Many big tech players are investing in virtual assistants with the ability to carry out voice search. Apple has Siri, Google has Google Assistant and Google home, Amazon has Alexa, and so on.

Following this trend of voice-search, it is clear that SEO marketers need to conquer the fresh market of virtual assistants. This year, we shall expect to an increasing number of web pages competing to be the favored result by voice assistants in order to reach users.  

Mobile matters

The explosion of mobile devices means you’ll need to pay attention to how your site performs on phones. Source: Shutterstock

The rising popularity of voice search would not be possible without the growth of mobile devices since smartphones are the main source of mobile search. And though it is said time and time again, mobile matters. It is simply too big to ignore.

Mobile devices are not only used to make calls and to send texts but are also used to search things on the go. Over 50 percent of searches are done via mobile devices, and this figure will only continue to grow.

Google has already taken steps towards mobile-first indexing, which is expected to finalize this next year. The search-engine juggernaut is on the lookout for Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) which favor formats dedicated to blog posts and articles which enable super speedy loading when clicking on from search results.

So, to be an SEO survivor in a saturated digital space, it is crucial you have a killer mobile website. From page responsiveness to content readability, your SEO campaign must be ready to compete.

Machine learning will play a greater role in providing search results

Machine learning is picking up. Learn how it can help you here. Source: Shutterstock

It has been predicted that by the end of this year, machine learning will have a greater influence over traditional search results and will soon replace algorithm updates with its automated, continuous, and iterative algorithm updating process.

In 2015, Google introduced RankBrain, a machine-learning, artificial intelligence technology designed to help process and deliver its search results. The system analyses user behavior to provide more accurate search results, and a big factor of this is the amount of time spent on a webpage.

So, as the system is essentially after user experience, RankBrain will not make a great impact on the way marketers should approach SEO directly. Instead, preparing for this machine-learning technology means fundamentally optimizing for human experience, since its goal is to make predictions as a human would.