2018 SEO Trends
While it's true that SEO (search engine optimization) as a concept is constantly changing, the one thing that is NOT is its general importance as a concept. These days, 93% of all digital experiences still begin with a search engine - meaning that SEO is still the best chance you have to connect the right people with the right message at the right time.
As the new year is upon us yet again, you are now presented with a perfect opportunity to stop looking backwards and start looking forwards. More specifically, there are a few key SEO trends in particular that will help make sure that all of your digital marketing efforts in 2018 get off on the best foot possible.
Mobile First Indexing
First and perhaps most importantly is the concept of mobile first indexing, something that Google has already announced they will switch to at some point in 2018. Essentially, because the vast majority of all users will be interacting with your content on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet, you need to execute campaigns with mobile platforms in mind first, absolutely everything else second. Period, end of story.
As a result, your top priority should involve making a responsive website that will act as the foundation of every other aspect of your campaign. Make no mistake - if your site doesn't run perfectly on a smartphone in 2018, your site's rankings (not to mention its overall user experience) WILL suffer.
The Year of Voice Search
According to Google's own research, one out of every five searches already starts with a voice query from a virtual assistant like Apple's Siri or the company's own Alexa. When you consider that a huge number of people are going to be getting voice-powered devices as Christmas gifts this year, that number is only going to go higher in 2018.
Because of this, your SEO efforts need to start being executed in a way that accounts not for what people are typing into Google, but how they're speaking with these types of devices. You're going to want to focus not only more on long-tail keywords, but also SEO optimization efforts that lean into the natural language that people will be using to execute voice searches in the first place (think: the conversational tone you would use to ask another human being a question).
"Linkless" Backlinks Are Here to Stay
For the last few years, backlinks have essentially been the most important factor that Google uses to determine the overall quality and authority of a website - even more than traditional keywords to a certain extent. However, thanks largely to the way these backlinks can be manipulated, Google is taking a new approach in 2018 and it is absolutely one that you need to be aware of.
Essentially, linkless mentions are fast becoming an off-page signal of equal weight when Google determines everything from your site's relevance to its overall authority. Bing is already using this technique to determine ranking and Google is expected to make a big push over the next few months.
For the new year, you're definitely going to want to focus on getting other, authoritative brands to mention your own as much as possible - whether they link back to your domain or not doesn't really matter anymore. Tools like Awario exist for this purpose, which allows you to see the most authoritative mentions of your brands in one single-point-of-access. Regularly use these tools to check to see what types of conversations other sites are having about your brand and do whatever you can to stoke that proverbial fire all year long.
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