Trying to stay on top of SEO trends is like trying to hit a moving target while on a speeding train. The landscape and perspective changes so quickly that it can feel impossible to keep up.
But you need to try.
The good news is that there are some new trends on Google that can help increase your visibility – if you know how to use them.
There’s a bit of a learning curve here, but we’re going to break it down for you and tell you how to take advantage of each one… so 2018 can be your best year yet.
Use Google’s New SERP Features
You’ve undoubtedly noticed that Google’s search results have changed in recent years. Where there used to be a list of ten links per page, now you’ve got all kinds of features, including:
- Knowledge Graphs
- The Local Three-Pack
- Featured Snippets
These things can all help you get more traffic. For example, strong local SEO that includes local keywords and links can help you earn a place in the three-pack. Having great instructional content can earn you the Featured Snippet position, which appears above organic search results.
Use Structured Markup to Enhance Your SERP Listing
Have you ever noticed that some businesses have pictures, review stars, and other relevant information alongside their link on the SERP? You can do that, too.
Structured markup allows you to use HTML to give Google instructions about what to display when one of your keywords is searched. For example, you might choose to display:
- A picture of your business
- Your business hours
- Your average review rating in stars
You can find a detailed explanation of how to do it here. It’s important to think about what the people searching your keywords are most likely to want. Then, you can use structured markup to include those things in your SERP listing.
As a bonus, including structured markup can increase the chances that you’ll end up with a Featured Snippet or Knowledge Graph spot on the page.
Increase the Relevance of Your Content
Every time Google updates its algorithm, it gets more difficult to appear near the top of the SERP.
Why? Because the increasing sophistication of Google’s ability to determine the relevance of a page – its new RankBrain features is a key example – means that you can’t get away with sub-par content
Of course, there are things you can do to increase your relevance. One of the main things is to use LSI – that’s Latent Semantic Indexing – to bolster your keywords.
LSI are terms that relate to your main keywords. You can find them by searching your keyword and scrolling to the bottom of the page. LSI terms appear beneath a headline that says, “Searches related to [your keyword]”.
Using LSI in an organic and informative way can improve your relevance and help Google index your site. It also reduces the chances that your site will be penalized for low-quality content.
Add Voice Search Keywords to Your Site
If you’ve ever said, “OK Google” to search for something on your phone, you know that voice search is here to stay. In fact, usage of voice search is very likely to increase in the coming year.
To make the most of it, try researching the questions and search terms people are most likely to use in voice search. One tool you can try is Rank Tracker (they have a free version.)
Some of the keywords you come up with may include misspellings. You’ll have to decide whether you want to try to rank for those. The addition of Google’s RankBrain has made it easier for Google to determine what searchers want, and it can hurt your credibility to include awkward phrases and misspelled words on your site.
Make Sure Your Site Loads in Three Seconds or Less
Three seconds isn’t much, but if your site takes longer than that to load, you may end up frustrating searchers and making them hit the dreaded back button.
Both mobile and desktop users are impatient. The first thing you need to do is test your page – and it’s essential to test each page of your site separately. Your home page might load quickly, but if even one of your landing pages is slow, you could be losing out.
Google has a free tool you can use to check your loading speed. If your site loads quickly, you’re good to go. If not, they’ll give you an explanation for the slowness and some tips to help you fix it.
Use Google Personalization to Your Advantage
Increasingly, Google (and other search engines) are tailoring the SERP to the searcher’s preferences and history. That means they use the searcher’s:
- Previous searches
- Demographic info (age, gender, etc.)
- Social media profile (think Google+)
If you want to get a look at your unbiased SERP, use an incognito window to do it. You’ll need to do your best to earn a spot near the top, but once a user clicks your listing, you’ll become a preferred listing for them.
One of the most important thing you can do to take advantage of personalization is to use local keywords and SEO to improve your rank.
Cultivate Linkless Mentions
Link building is a cornerstone of SEO – but what if you didn’t need someone to link to your page to reap some SEO benefits? That seems to be the way things are headed.
Bing has already confirmed that they’re using linkless mentions of brands to rank pages. There’s some reason to believe that Google may be headed the same way.
That means that anything you can do to encourage people to mention your brand by name can potentially help you build authority and improve your SERP.
SEO is always changing…
But you can keep up! The seven trends mentioned here are likely to make a big impact in 2018. By getting on top of them now, you can get a leg up on the competition – and grab the lion’s share of clicks and sales.