You can be forgiven for thinking that SEO in 2018 is another year of being mobile first, optimised for voice search and aiming for rank zero (the framed search result at the very top of Google). Forget these more glamourous elements of SEO for a moment if you can though because the most important elements of SEO in 2018 aren’t glamourous, at least not according to the industry or our own SEO experts.
As Google continues to dazzle searchers with it’s ever growing abilities to answer questions in unique ways, it’s important to remember the components of SEO which are crucial to more lucrative developments in SEO for 2018.
To give you the best insight that we can into these lucrative and unglamourous SEO developments, we’ve let the dust settle and compiled the SEO predictions, checklists and trends from SEO experts such as Rand Fishkin, Neil Patel, Will Critchlow, Paul Dean, Joost De Valk and Greg Gifford. Here’s 15:
Click Through Rate
2017 was the year that Google announced that Rankbrain has “become the third-most important signal contributor to the result of a search query.” Brian Dean describes this technology the best by saying that RankBrain picks up on bounces from search clicks, helping to focus on better search results with higher dwell times and overall – ditching websites that users don’t actually like. What’s more, he goes on to suggest that the masters of SEO in 2018 are CTR (click through rate) Jedi’s, there to serve the new contributing Rankbrain algorithm in the best way possible.
“It’s getting harder to convince Google you have great content when you really don’t” says Search Engine Land. Google knows the terms that relate to a topic, it understands the likelihood of content being irrelevant and thin. To avoid this, Rand Fishkin of Moz advises SEOs to focus on related keywords that make the best semantic connections to your overall keyword objective e.g. by measuring the density of topical keywords in your competitor website pages. He goes on to say that Google views this is a critical factor to proving that your content is relevant to the searcher query that you are targeting.
At Zeal we might refer best to this as the bullseye (below), the key target for Zeal’s SEO in 2018. Or as Google puts it in their recent spoken word SEO document, being “beneficial for the user… more concise or more detailed?”.
Tom Whiley on Wordstream recommends SEOs to look again in 2018 at content length, “there’s a clear correlation between content depth and rankings” he goes on to say. Fusing content with lower word counts therefore may seem essential in 2018 for those looking to scoop the top spots in Google. This is because for Google to see your content as a relevant authority, it has to span a great deal more related topics.
Keyword Research and Optimisation
Rand Fishkin of Moz recommends making the most of primary optimisations by identifying your priority keywords and where these can fit best into key optimisations e.g. in urls, page titles, headers and content.
This is something that Zeal looks at when auditing websites for SEO (see our SEO Checklist for 2018)…
Don’t Fail the Long-Tail
Will Critchlow of Distilled reminds us all that “only 3-4% of all searches result in a click on an ad in Google. Google’s incredible (and still growing) business is based on a small subset of commercial searches.” This is a shocking reminder of the impact that SEO has, if you’re smart with your long-tail SEO targeting that is!
Do you know “who is going to help you amplify your content… so that your content can be seen by Google’s crawlers, and by human beings as highly relevant and high quality” says Rand Fishkin of Moz. Well said, content is often designed with a specific audience in mind. Involving more people in the sharing, publishing and creation of content like Zeal does with it’s Zeal Buzz network is paramount if you don’t have a solid authority in Google natural search.
Greg Gifford recommends building invaluable PR for SEO relationships with publications and writers that you love, safe in the knowledge that they will give your site the target audience you need and of course the referral traffic and authority that is great for SEO.
Map Your Apps
Rebecca Sentance of Search Engine Watch recommends mapping your app to search so that users can access these mobile first platforms via search.
Never Forget UX
A good user experience, such as increased website speed can improve the chances of people engaging more with your pages says Tereza Litza of Search Engine Watch. Furthermore, Joost De Volk of Yoast suggests that AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) will be an even bigger focus at Google in 2018, especially for larger site website owners who are looking to make rapid improvements on their site speed.
“Search results aren’t just based on the traditional ranking factors, but also on the information about the user such as their location, search history or interests” says Search Engine Land. Getting users to your site via content that roughly relates to your product category can improve your primary ranks for a select group of searchers. This is because visits to your site increase the chance of your site becoming a personalised recommendation to those who have previously visited your site.
The founder of Search Engine Journal, Loren Baker, suggests that technical SEO mistakes will have even more detrimental effects on ranks in 2018 e.g. continuing to pollute Google with none SEO-friendly content such as WordPress media archives and cloned e-commerce product pages.
Stephen Kenwright makes the valid point that in some YMYL (your money, your life algorithm) sectors especially, “Google has made several changes increasing the overall importance of HTTPS” for ranks. The bottom line is that if you expect users to hand sensitive details over then you must host a secure website in order to rank higher in 2018.
Orphan pages, or pages that aren’t linked to from any other page on your website or anywhere else online are deemed (by Google) as an unimportant page says Aleh Barysevich of MarketingProfs. Adding links, especially within the page body itself ensures that visitors and search engines alike find the important pages fast.
Okay, now on with the glamourous SEO predictions!…
Search Hardware Wars
Andrew Girdwood of Econsultancy argues that tech brands are ramping up the existing war for the living room. This is manifesting through search hardware pushes such as connected TVs, personal assistants like Alexa, connected speakers and even VR.
Rank zero, or Google’s top search result, otherwise known as rich snippet search results are a key way to rank for voice searches. Content that answers questions is a vital component of voice search. Consider though the conversion of voice searches; would you buy a product by voice just yet?
Neil Patel recommends that if your site isn’t responsive to mobile devices and doesn’t show up properly on everyone’s mobile device then you will be taking a hit in 2018 Google ranks. This is because Google announced that it’s googlebot (Google’s website crawler) would continue to experiment in being mobile first, instead of desktop first.
If you have any other tips or want to learn more about our SEO & Outreach service and how it can work for you then do get in touch!