As Earth begins another trip around the sun, it is time again to look ahead and educate ourselves about trends and topics that we should embrace throughout the upcoming year. This forecasting happens in every industry on the planet, and digital marketing and SEO are no different. Here are some of our favorites!
THE FUTURE IS FREE
We mean type-search free. As users across the world become more and more interwoven with their mobile devices (and portable devices like smartphone watches and accessories), mobile search will continue to far outrank desktop web use. Moreover, the voice search and search assistant features like Siri, Cortana and Google Now will be more important than ever in determining your website’s success. Your audience engagement strategies need to be considerate of this aspect of the mobile world. Perhaps the best way to do this is to make sure that you are utilizing long-tail keywords which are far more likely to be used in a voice-based query. Long-tail keywords are the most specific, honed in phrases you can use to find whatever it is you may be looking for. Since most voice searches are performed while a person is multitasking, they want that specific information to be displayed quickly.
VIDEO CONTENT TO OVERTAKE TEXT
Even though in today’s world written content is by far the ‘standard’ in digital marketing, this is definitely going to shift. Including different types of content is key to appearing high in the SERPs (search engine results page). Video is proven to be more entertaining, engaging, and brings higher click-through and ROI overall. Apps such as Vine, Vimeo, Periscope and Snapchat are largely responsible for this trend, setting user expectations and preferences toward visual content. In 2018, the real catalyst may come from Google, which is now experimenting with video ads in search results.
SOCIAL CONTENT TO BE INDEXED IN RESULTS
You have probably noticed that news-related mobile search results now contain tweets or links to social media. This is thanks to the fact that Google already has deals in place with Facebook and Twitter. In 2018, we’ll likely see more platforms become more heavily indexed in the information vaults available to search engines. Social posts will certainly carry a ‘value’ and consideration- similar to the current independent web page, continuing to blur the line between the separation of web and social media.
LOCAL SEARCH WILL GET MORE LOCAL
This was a big trend prediction for 2015 but we think this is likely to really explode this year. Last year’s onset of wearable devices like the Apple Watch combined with an increased sophistication of Google’s local indexes will lead to exponentially more specific types of local queries. Rankings will soon generate based on your street corner or neighborhood, rather than zip code or city. As a modern marketer, you must let Google (and others) know your business’ specific details about location and business type, so that your listing, especially in front of the relevant audience increases. It is a must to have your local pages updated which will include the name of your business, address etc. with Google, Yahoo and Bing. With the “Pigeon” update on Google, local SEO has forced businesses and marketing professionals to focus on their local tangents. Use location-specific keywords and personalize your content to stay on-trend in 2018. Here are some interesting stats to show you the importance of local search.
-Local searches direct 50% of mobile visitors to visit physical stores within a day. (Source: Searchengineland.com)
-More than 60% of consumers have used local information in ads. (Source: Business2community.com)
–50% of mobile searches are conducted in the hope of finding a local result. (Source: Business2community.com)
MOBILE OPTIMIZATION IMPORTANCE IN 2018
Again, we’ll ask- is your website mobile-friendly? Your customers are no longer in one place, and haven’t been for close to a decade. People use a myriad of devices to access the web and if your brand isn’t already totally optimized for mobile, you are behind the curve. Google’s algorithm update this year ensures that mobile-friendly websites get ranking boosts for mobile searches. They are making it easier to find mobile-friendly sites by displaying them first. Make sure that everything on your site, from colors and fonts to content and logo design, will look appealing and load properly on a mobile device. Mobile optimization is the norm in 2018, and here are some statistics to highlight the mobile-based internet world we live in.
–4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones to shop online for products and services. (Source: Convinceandconvert.com)
–70% of mobile searches lead to online action within an hour. (Source: Socialmediatoday.com)
-Over 1.2 billion people access the web from their mobile devices. (Source: Mobify.com)
USER BEHAVIOR ALGORITHMS
It is a topic of debate whether or not user behavior on a site actually impacts search-engine rankings. Google denies this, but there have been a number of experiments that show otherwise. Regardless, even if user behavior isn’t officially part of Google’s ranking system, it probably will be in the near future, so it’s best to prepare your site today- the early bird gets the worm, right? The (possible) new searcher-output SEO elements include:
Click-Through Rates (CTR)
CTR will definitely play into your ranking if this user behavior algorithm comes to fruition. High click-through rates can be achieved by revising your titles and description to attract traffic to your pages.
Do users find what they were looking for on your page or do they go back and click through to other results? How long do they stay on your page and perhaps click forward to another after they spend some time there? These questions relate to the engagement that users experience from your site and information, and it is important to how you’re ranked. The most engaging sites load quickly, provide valuable content, and lack annoying features (pop-ups, constant ‘next’ pages, and many others) just think about what irritates you about sites you’ve been to lately.
Shares, Loyalty, Mentions & Links
Social signals could absolutely be considered a part of user behavior. Pages with lots of social activity outperform ‘quiet’ ones- even when highly competitive keywords are used. Is your comment section a popular area? That’s good. Seeing mentions of a new blog post on social media is great too. It means that people felt engaged, informed, and entertained enough to take the time to specifically respond to you or mention your page somewhere else.