2017 has been an interesting year for SEO. Google rolled out a new update that made mobile search the primary index; topical relevance has become the key to a modern SEO strategy; Google also introduced an intrusive interstitial penalty, forcing marketers to rethink their client strategy development processes.
Now, that 2018 is just around the corner, marketers can’t help but wonder what other changes might come their way. And, make no mistake: important chances are going to take place. After all, if there’s on constant in SEO is that it’s an ever-evolving landscape.
Let’s take a look at some of the hottest trends that will rule next year and what you can expect from them.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
We live in a fast-paced world where if something takes a fraction of a second too long to load, people will click away and search for something else.
In this instant gratification world, page speed is everything.
If up until now, webmasters had to use different tricks to increase the load time of their sites, thanks to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) this task will become increasingly easy. AMP-enables sites load almost instantly, and that will translate into no more dead times, frustration, and high bounce rates.
But, before you get started with Accelerated Mobile Pages, you must learn first that the platforms that will perform the best on AMP are the ones that produce content. So, don’t move your entire site, but just your blog or section of your platform.
Now, the question you may be asking right now is: will Accelerated Mobile Pages affect SEO? While AMP is not a ranking factor yet, it still affects clicks, impressions, as well as user experience, and, by extension, the effectiveness of your SEO too. In other words, if you haven’t joined the AMP trend yet, you may start to notice drops in clicks, impressions, and user engagement.
Penguin 4.0 Update
If you ever embarked on a link building strategy, then you know how easy it easy to make a silly mistake and see all your efforts go down the drain. It used to be that, if your website got a Penguin penalty, you couldn’t recover from it until the algorithm was refreshed. So, webmasters had to carefully analyze every link on their website so that they wouldn’t get hit by a penalty.
Things had changed in 2016 when Google introduced Penguin 4.0 and made a few important changes. For starters, Penguin became part of its core algorithm, meaning that link building has become an essential part of search engine ranking.
Penguin also became real-time, meaning that any change will become noticeably faster. At the same time, if you are caught using black hat techniques, you could face an immediate penalty.
Google Penguin will play a vital role in your SEO strategy in 2018. Make sure that you are building links only from authoritative sources that are relevant to your audience. Use appropriate anchor texts that help users find what they’re looking for quickly. Use white hat techniques to acquire links, such as guest posting, expert roundups, and so on. If it sounds like too much trouble for you, then you should employ the SEO services of a specialized digital marketing company. Winging your SEO is not an option anymore.
Quality Content Remains King
Content is king, and it will continue to be a crucial part of any marketing strategy. However, you need to start thinking beyond how engaging your writing is. You should also question how well your content is structured and dig deep into what makes your audience tick. Think about it this way: it doesn’t matter how well-written your articles are; if there is no interest in the topic, then your efforts may just be in vain.
Don’t create content just for the sake of it. Make sure that your articles are in response to a problem or need that your audience might have. Then, after you’ve identified this need, ensure that your posts are well-written, unique, and relevant. If your content does not possess these three qualities, then it would be best not to post anything at all.
Another thing that will change in 2018 is that keywords will continue to lose their importance. Google is becoming better and better at understanding what a page is about without the help of keywords. Topic relevance and latent semantic indexing now play a bigger role in helping search engines read a page and determine how to rank it.
So, instead of wasting your time researching keywords and trying to achieve the right density, focus on creating a quality piece that adds value to your audience’s life.
AI and Machine Learning
You’ve probably been hearing a lot about machine learning these last few years, but if you’re still not sure how it works and influences SEO, it may be high time to pay more attention to it.
A lot of people make the mistake of believing that machine learning and artificial intelligence is the same thing. However, there is a crucial distinction between them. Machine learning represents the subfield of artificial intelligence that deals with the algorithms that assist computers in learning. Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, is the science of altering computers so they can perform tasks that would typically require human intelligence.
Now, you may be asking: how is artificial intelligence going to chance SEO in 2018? Well, the truth of the matter is that the change already began. In 2015, Google released RankBrain, a machine-learning system that processes search results and helps Google decide what and how to rank high in SERPs. Now, Google can interpret the context of the content. It can also show users relevant pages that do not necessarily include the keywords they looked for but have content related to them.
The internet is becoming more and more visually-focused, and that could change the way search engine rank content.
Just consider the following statistics for a second:
- When people read information, they are likely to remember just 10% of it. But, when the content is paired with a relevant image, then they will remember up to 65% of it three days later. (Source)
- It is estimated that the global traffic from videos will account for more than 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. (Source)
- Up to four times more people would rather watch a video about a product that read an article about it. (Source)
Data like this makes it clear that the world is about to change and visual content will become the main focus in 2018 and the years to come. While articles, how-to-posts, and listicles can still deliver SEO value, now it’s high time to start experimenting with visual content as well.
2018 will be an interesting year for SEO. While traditional techniques are still employed and efficient, there are many trends in the works right now that could greatly impact your rankings. Check them out and make sure to adjust your strategy accordingly.