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As websites and online platforms continue to become more user-centric, so does the search industry with a focus on providing results that are relevant and customised for your user.  This has a direct impact on SEO, highlighting elements which contribute to a user’s experience.

SEO trends

We take a look at the top 7 SEO trends for 2018.

Diversified links and brand mentions

While backlinks may have had their prime, it would appear that they still carry weight when it comes to optimising your website for a Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

Focus is on quality link building which serves to indirectly endorse your website as an authority in your industry with the implication that if a trusted source (i.e. a website) is linking to some of your content, then your content is, by association, relevant and of a high quality.

Back in the day, it was common practise to have a guest blogger who would then create a hyperlink from their own site to a brand’s blog or website.  However, Google is becoming increasingly wary of this, viewing this as “spammy links contained in articles referred to as contributor posts, guest posts, partner posts, or syndicated posts. These articles are generally written by or in the name of one website, and published on a different one.”

Additionally, search engines now have the ability to associate mentions of brands, institutions, organisations and people without the need of linking to their corresponding webpages. While links are still going to carry some weight, the other content around the hyperlinked text is also going to be very important.

Voice Search

According to Google’s The Mobile Voice Survey – 55% of teens and 41% of adults use voice search.  The increase in this search medium needs to be considered in order to optimise your content to make it eligible to rank in voice searches. Interestingly, this means thinking more in terms of long-tail keywords and along the lines of natural speech, rather than only search which is based on written words which tend to be more succinct than keywords associated with speech.  Think in terms of tone, using keywords that are less formal and more conversational.

If your brand is locally based or if it has a specific location, then optimise the search results by including details such as ‘best’, “nearest’, “cheapest”, “quickest”.   Adding FAQs, using questions that will most likely be asked in relation to your industry, might also be helpful for your rankings.

HTTPS as a ranking factor

Google penalises those websites which do not have the secure https protocol on their website address.  As the search giant focuses on providing optimal service for its users, Google has a vested interest in their online safety and security.

This is essential if are running a business website to ensure secure data transmission on all transactions.  Additionally, it makes your customers feel safer, adding to the credibility of your brand.

Optimising for Mobile

As accessing the internet via mobile overtakes desktop access, SEO must be considered for optimising mobile for ranking on SERPs.  Some of the key optimisation elements for mobile include speed and responsiveness.  Google’s Mobile page speed provides insights by analysing the content of a web page, providing suggestions to make that page faster.

Mobile search results favour local businesses.  Optimise your business in local searches by creating a free business listing on Google My Business.  This optimises your brand’s visibility in Google Maps and Google Search in your local community.

Google matches user search requests with relevant searches for your business or businesses like yours on Google Search or Maps. Google My Business is a free service where you can create and update your listing, drawing attention to your brand and creating awareness of your offerings online and within a local context.

User-centric experience

Key factors which make a good user experience are a speed, readability and ease of navigation.  As more people access the internet via mobile devices, this user experience has to be optimised across all devices.

If your visitor is directed to your site from a SERP and bounces within 30 seconds of landing on your webpage, this could impact negatively on your ranking, indicating to Google that your site is not servicing the visitor’s needs.  This also applies to an insufficiency of conversions and engagement on your site which can be seen by Google as a website’s lack of quality and relevance.

New rules for Google’s new #1 spot

SEO rules for organic ranking have been modified with the new format on Google’s SERP with the new feature snippets and quick answers being ranked first on the results page.

Now, to rank in this new format, content on a website must be optimised both in terms of relevant keywords and in the relevant format of lists, graphs, tables and Q&A in order to be eligible for the #1 position on Google’s SERP.

Visual Search

As visual content continues to increase in significance on the internet, search engines are accommodating this trend with the option of visual search. As internet content changes, key players in the visual content and visual communications (Google, Amazon and Pinterest) provide the option using a visual entity as a way of requesting a search. Visual search engines increase the importance of visual based content such as images and videos as elements which can be optimised.

As can be seen, SEO trends often follow technological developments.   While traditional SEO is still an integral part of optimisation, SEO is continuously evolving with new technology so that search engine results become more tailored to cater for people’s needs in difference context and across different devices.  This evolutionary trend of adapting and accommodating new developments should make it interesting to watch the SEO trends for 2018 which will both set the parameters of optimising for ranking while also accommodating search trends as new technological innovations continue to develop and emerge.

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