While it's hard to believe, 2017 will soon be coming to a close. Although we still have a few months left of the year, prudent business owners are already planning how they will tackle digital marketing in 2018.
Getting a grip on search engine optimization still continues to be a challenge for many business owners, especially since consumers are changing the way that they're performing online searches. As you plan ahead for the new year, here are several search trends that will come into greater prominence in 2018:
1. Voice search technology
Voice search technology is making a significant impact on the way that online searches are performed today. Smartphones, tablets, and computers now all come equipped with voice technology that allows consumers to dictate online searches by using their voice. According to Google, one in five searches is performed via voice search. By 2020, it's estimated that 30 percent of online searches will be performed using voice search.
Voice technology assistants such as Amazon's Echo and Google's Home are gaining traction in the market. At the end of the fourth quarter of 2016, approximately 12 percent of American households owned a voice technology assistant. We can assume that the number of households currently using a voice technology assistant has since grown, especially since these devices are becoming more affordable.
You can strengthen your search engine optimization strategy to appeal to voice search by incorporating long tail keywords and conversational phrases into your content.
2. Quality link building
Link building has been a search engine optimization strategy that has been around for a while. However, quality link building is now more important than ever, and it's critical that the links you include add value and are relevant to your business. Your priority with link building in 2018 needs to be strengthening relationships, and you'll accomplish this by offering links that will be beneficial to your audience.
3. User experience
Google has made it clear that it gives preference in rankings to websites that offer a positive user experience.
Ensuring that your website is mobile-friendly is the first step in creating a user-friendly website. Responsive website design delivers a smooth user experience, regardless of the type of device used to access the website. Take Google's mobile-friendly website test to see if the search engine giant considers your website to be mobile-friendly.
The speed of how quickly the pages on your website load is also critical to providing a positive user experience. If a page takes longer than three seconds to load, most consumers will abandon your website. Use Pingdom's free website speed test tool to find out how quickly the pages on your website load.
Use Google Analytics to find out how long visitors are staying on your website. If visitors are leaving within 30 seconds, that's generally an indication of a poor user experience.
4. Featured snippets
Google displays featured snippets in search results that provide a brief answer to a question that a consumer types into a search query. Snippets are taken directly from content on a webpage and include the page's title and URL. Because featured snippets are displayed at the top of Google's search results, businesses are trying to find ways to optimize content to meet Google's standards for featured snippets.
Creating content that provides a quick answer to a question that someone would type into a search query is one strategy to earn a featured snippet spot. When creating this type of content, you should follow a "how" or "what" structure. Featured snippets will get your business to the top of search results, increase your website's authority, and earn your business more conversions.
5. Mobile-first indexing
Currently, Google is in the testing phase of mobile-first indexing, which takes into account the content on the mobile version of a website first when determining search rankings. As we dive in 2018, businesses must transition their mindset to putting mobile first. You will need to pay attention to the way that targeted keywords and phrases rank on mobile to have a successful search engine optimization strategy in 2018.
While many of the search engine optimizations trends that we've seen in 2017 will continue into the new year, it's important for your business to take the steps now to increase visibility in search results in the new year.