As a leading SEO agency, it is essential for us to pull apart the hundreds of ranking factors used by Google and give our clients the inside knowledge on what will be at the forefront of the SEO industry, website rankings and their campaigns for the next 12 months. Here, we break down the six factors of SEO that will be shaping campaigns in 2018.
Every year we mention mobile SEO as a key player in strategies for the following year, and more users in the top ten countries for search volume are now starting queries on mobile; the channel is well and truly at the forefront of every SEO strategy.
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More so, however, are the changing trends we are seeing – 49% of B2B researchers use their mobile as the first port of call for searching, even if they are at their desk, with 51% discovering the services of a new company they had not heard of when doing these searches.
Necessarily, one in four mobile searchers is finding a new company to interact with through mobile. With an average of 63,000 searches a second worldwide – that’s 15,750 users engaging with new enterprises every second.
How do you capture this market?
As standard, websites should be optimised for mobile, and this should include everything from the rending of scripts, delivery of pages and assets, to tap targets, menu use, and overall interaction points.
Search engines are already displaying ‘This page is not mobile friendly’ images within results – the next step will be a robust penalization in rankings before a potential removal.
The next stage of mobile SEO comes on the Rise of the Machines. Alexa will now play your music if you ask, order your shopping (if you ask even more nicely with a password) and also run through the current events of the day with you. The benefits and challenges from an SEO perspective have been around for a while. The Google Hummingbird update in 2014 was the beginning of this, and SEO Agencies have worked tirelessly since to capture voice searches – albeit through Siri and Ok, Google.
The big difference now is that voice search engines are becoming part of your home, workspaces, and even wrists with smartwatch additions, so the need to capture this market is even more significant.
Google is giving more and more equity to featured snippets in its results and websites need to be focusing on capturing part of this ownership within any SEO strategy.
Want to get featured? Think about what your audience is looking for and develop a website to meet these needs. Questions and answers are a good starting point, but also look at price lists, contact details, and core information on your industry as a way of reaching these areas.
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Further, brand searches can be enhanced by utilizing multiple social channels and tagged profiles, Google Business profiles (particularly with local businesses or those with more than one location) and brand mention management.
The building featured snippets starts with understanding the placement of code on your website and the areas in which this can be improved. Alongside understanding what users need to know when searching.
Use tools such as SEM Rush to identify areas of interest, phrase matches and types of featured results to ensure you’re targeting the correct phrases, then merely build these into your website.
Even Richer Snippets
Snippets have long been in practice in the SEO industry, the most popular of these are recipes – a fragment will send the information to Google in a way that clearly lays out information to a user.
These are now rolling out to some different areas – including courses and jobs, whereby websites can make the most of information provided by the web host and present to users in a way that allows them to complete actions, in some cases without leaving the search results page.
Learning and development websites can now post course dates, locations and prices direct to search results by building the correct tags.
This starts with item props but goes much more profound and there is a need to use date tags and geo-tagging as well.
While this doesn’t generate immediate results worldwide, it does offer a local search element for users looking for a particular course in a specific location.
To make the most of snippets you need to consider the use of content on your website, structure heading tags and highlightable areas of information that users will be looking for. Get this right with a few additional tech tweaks, and you’ll be featured in no time.
Links without the Links
Linking is always a contentious subject in SEO – should you go after all links, brand links, exact match links? Well, the ongoing development of algorithms means, you might not need links at all – just mentions of your brand. Google can now interpret these mentions as signals that you’re a trusted website, so sending out for bulk links might not be a ‘forever job.’
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In fact, this makes the process of ‘linkbuilding’ or brand-building, as it could come to be known, a little clearer. Content, press releases and the use of large-scale assets could all be used without sending the awkward ‘Hi there, I know you recently featured our content… but it would be great if you could add a link’ email.
Working with an SEO agency to identify link opportunities long term and also build brand awareness with SEO in mind is essential here.
Long tail keyword groups
Data suggests that over 65% of keyword searches are now four words or more excellent. This means that long tail keywords are very much in, and need to form part of your keyword strategy on an account.
Considering that users are all different and one user will rarely search in the same way as even the closest person to them, there is a need to encompass as many variations in search as possible – a long tail targeted keyword is the way to do this.
Take into account how a user might look for a product or service, what the variations are and the additional information needed to make an informed choice. Provide this information within a website, and you’ll naturally start to see progress on long tail terms, as well as the broad terms.
Getting SEO right in 2018 can be simple by planning ahead regarding strategy and also knowing what Google (and of course other search engines) are looking for. Working with an SEO agency is a great way to kick-start a campaign with professionals that have a finger on the pulse.
This article is written by Keith Hodges, Account Manager in Polaris. POLARIS Agency is an SEO Agency based in London Bridge providing specialist SEO services across a multitude of sectors.