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SEO Predictions Driving Digital Transformation in 2018
Pankaj 28 Nov 2017

The SEO world is developing fast and digital marketers have to consistently adapt to this evolution. There are multiple factors present in Google’s algorithm making SEO a very complex science. Likewise, search engines have come a long way to enhance the search results’ quality so that users find the most relevant information quickly and easily. Because of this, a few ranking factors are shifting shapes while others are falling into oblivion and a completely fresh set is cropping up out of nowhere.

The rising importance of SEO has led to a curated, not complicated, journey of SEO that is engineered to bring qualified leads and traffic to a brand’s web presence. So here is a look at how SEO has seamlessly evolved into a formidable digital marketing force of the future.

Tracking The Evolution Of SEO

A decade ago, SEO was in its infancy and was dominated by a very heavy layer of keywords. SEO, further, was consistently tossing in a number of backlinks to let a website’s ranking rise on search engine result pages. But by 2018, all these rudimentary approaches will become a completely distant memory because Google, Bing, and other search engines are developing sophisticated algorithms to let users find the right information at the right time every time.

These search engines are tirelessly working to outwit all the businesses that follow black-hat techniques. And these freshly formed algorithms, which are influencing SEO, will change in the coming years considering the pressure on different search engine providers to weed out low-quality content.

But before diving into the nitty-gritty of developing and deploying different SEO strategies, an enterprise needs to understand how this search-engine science has become so important in the recent years. The evolution of SEO is no less than a full-fledged revolution that has taken the digital world by storm.

On analyzing the most popular trends that have reshaped the SEO landscape for the better, the first and most important one was Google’s accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) that were introduced by the end of 2015; this specific trend gave rise to the ever-important optimization for creating web content that was specifically consumed by mobile users.

Similarly, top brands such as Facebook took the role of content to the next level by introducing video content to the fore. 2016 saw the rise of digital assistants such as Cortana, Amazon Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant, which were just a few of them that started permeating inside the search landscape.

In 2017, long-form content is revolutionizing the way content is consumed and the role of SEO in it; now, ideally, blog posts should have close to 1,000 and 2,000 words and the word limit can go up till 10,000 words as well. So these were the top previous trends that have outlasted other fads and have changed the way SEO moves traffic around the web.

Now, here are the top predictions for 2018 that can surely transform the SEO world.

Voice Search Is Getting Louder And Clearer

In 2016, voice searches evolved; this newly found search format is now successfully moving beyond the traditional Google searches as voice is creating deep links within apps and app development. Voice search is a hands-free and quicker option whenever the searcher uses regular spoken English to put a question. As per a research firm, nearly 55 percent of teenagers and close to 41 percent of adults use voice search every day.

Besides, AI (Google Assistant and Siri, for example) and other advances have easily and literally brought down the speech recognition word error from 20 percent to just 8 percent. For instance, now, Amazon Echo and Google Home can let us shop nearly hands free.

All these facts and figures state that voice search is becoming more and more credible with each passing day. Along with this, voice searches are even replacing short-tail keywords with other conversational long-tail ones that are used in everyday conversations.

Top Takeaways For SEOs

  • Incorporate heavily searched long-tail keywords within the content for bringing precise results.
  • Use conversational tone and natural language within the content.
  • Take care of the local SEO as many voice searches have a local intent.
  • Add a specific FAQ page where every question is written in such a way as real people would ask them.

Google Knowledge Graph, Rich Snippets, And Answer Boxes

Google has its Knowledge Graph in place to improve user experience by giving the most relevant information that searchers need on time. Put simply, the Knowledge Graph produces relevant results because the search engine easily understands all the entities present in the graph; this, further, makes search engines to think more like users. The Knowledge Graph along with Semantic Web will rethink the way structured snippets and featured ones become more compelling and interesting for digital marketers and advertisers.

The Knowledge Graph is evolving rapidly to collect and make sense of a fresh stream of data; this evolution improves the end-user experience. Generally, the use of non-standard SERP features and rich snippets is rising for a few years now. So content marketers and SEO professionals will be busy creating highly useful, compelling, well-formatted content in rich snippets and answer boxes.

Giving relevant, properly formatted content is done through tools such as Knowledge Graph and Semantic Web. So SEO marketing companies and digital advertisers should use these ever-evolving, always-on knowledge bases that help businesses in getting found by the right traffic.

Top Takeaways For SEOs

  • Getting the site registered with Google My Business and Google Search Console.
  • Making structured data present as Schema.org because it is becoming more and more relevant and important.
  • Developing a fully mobile-optimized website.
  • Creating the best content that is connected, shared, and correlated through authority accounts on the web and different social media sites.

AI And Machine Learning For A Smarter SEO

Artificial Intelligence is present in three categories.

  • Artificial Narrow Intelligence that means just a solitary thing.
  • Artificial General Intelligence where the AI is capable enough to do everything just like a human.
  • Artificial Super Intelligence where AI can perform way beyond a normal human’s capabilities.

Search engines embed fresh varieties of AI so that searches can be smarter and more efficient all the time. For this, leading search engines are using AI-empowered user engagement metrics to let users experience the best results for different search queries. Google RankBrain algorithm, for instance, has completely shook up the entire SEO landscape.

With RankBrain, machine learning and AI are successfully influencing the ranking process for the better. This AI-enabled algorithm has seamlessly built lasting connections between data and info for providing improved results that are relevant to the search query.

Top Takeaways For SEOs

  • In 2018, it will become all the more important for creating only useful content and checking its contextual relevance.
  • The webpage and related content need to be developed on rock-solid semantic foundations and will require incorporating a very broad sense of different keywords.
  • The keywords need to be researched using the intent and need of targeted users.
  • Plus, the tone of the content and the choice of words should be delightful.

Empowering SEO Via Heatmaps And Content Analytics

2018 will be about content analytics, heatmaps, and user matrices. It will be about understand how the company should maximize the content quality on its website. It will even be about tracking down the prospect’s journey to becoming a loyal customer and frequent business-site visitor.

SEOs and digital marketers today need to understand this entire journey. So it will certainly be about noting every individual webpage’s conversion rates. For this, SEO marketers should take the help of the best conversion-tracking tools and attach specific UTM tracking codes to important links.

By using heatmaps and content analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, digital marketers and SEOs get the bigger picture of what all is required for driving the sales through SEO to the next level. The rise in the use of these tools will help digital marketers make the most informed decisions.

Top Takeaways For SEOs

  • It is about time to invest in website video recordings, scrollmaps, and heatmaps for providing an instant look on how users are getting engaged on a web property.
  • For example, with the help of scrollmaps, it is easier for an enterprise’s digital marketing team to analyze the ideal length of web content.
  • It is apt to use heatmaps for improving a website’s internal links.
  • Scrollmaps are even used for optimizing image placements on a webpage.

Mobile-First Index Is Arriving

Enriching mobile experience will be among the top priorities for leading SEO service providers and marketers. Great mobile experience will surely improve the ranking of a website. In 2016, Google stated that there will be a complete switch to a mobile-first index. This thing is yet to happen, but it will arrive in the coming time.

It is true that Google judges a site by analyzing its desktop version, and the search engine giant does analyze the mobile factors as well. By the end of 2018, it is predicted that Google will rank the website completely on the basis of its mobile version no matter what.

That is, a mobile website becomes very important for ensuring that a business’s web properties rank high. The prominence of mobile-optimized websites is hard to ignore. So here are the top strategies that should be implemented for developing a mobile-friendly user experience.

Top Takeaways For SEOs

  • Introduce RWD without hampering the content’s quality. Google is valuing relevant quality content, so the mobile-optimized website should have as much content as it is there on its desktop variant.
  • The UX style of the website should be ideal for all the users using small-sized devices. The style includes focusing on big tap targets and section headings as well as texts that should respond properly to a new browser size.
  • Implementing RWD should not come with compromising on the load times. Ideally, the users will leave the website if the load time exceeds four seconds.

Structured Data And Schema Markup Are Big Things Of Tomorrow

Nearly 30 percent websites are implementing schema. So for the unfamiliar lot, structured data is a form of business-specific information added via a code on the site. This data describes a business or its products/services, and it even lets search engines make sense of the site.

Search engines rely on complex algorithms for making intelligent guesses about a business’s content. These schema markups and structured data tell engines exactly what a website is about. Now, Schema.org markup happens to be a specific variant of structured data that is developed by Yahoo, Google, Bing, and Yandex.

The Schema.org creates a markup standard that provides fluid experience to search engines and web users. Google, too, has stated that it values structured data because it helps the search engine clearly know the web’s content for providing accurate results.

Top Takeaways For SEOs

  • Understand and use user engagement metrics as they are becoming a big part of Google’s entire ranking system.
  • Focus on the website’s rich snippets and related structure data.
  • Strategize to improve the experience while visitors view the SERPs.

Links Will Still Matter

Regardless of what anyone says, links will still be a big thing in the core of a formidable SEO strategy. However, the links will not be just any other links; instead, they will be related, legitimate, and real ones. So in 2018, building valuable backlinks will be one of the deciding factors for ranking in leading SERPs.

By developing the best backlinks for content, SEO specialists know top major ways of creating a web presence that Google can trust. However, quality should always take over quantity when it comes to developing backlinks. So it is better to develop high-quality data to attract high-quality links.

Further, a business’s SEO specialists can even resort to podcasts and guest posts for creating high-quality backlinks as well. Always remember that the best backlinks will enrich consumer experience. Now, here are the topmost takeaways for all the SEOs and search-engine marketers.

Top Takeaways For SEOs

  • Do not consider getting backlinks from any unassociated site.
  • Disavow poor backlinks of the website so that its ranking does not drop.

Factor In Search Intent

In 2018, search intent will be one of the key factors that will influence SEO strategies. Search intent happens to be one of the vectors of semantic searches of Google. (The other three vectors are context, relevance, and meaning.) These vectors are used for analyzing why someone typed a specific keyword.

So by analyzing a specific way a user searches and the different terms she/he uses for conducting a search, it is possible for all the marketers to know the stages of a buyer’s journey. The analysis of these vectors will even let digital marketers create better content that can deliver the best conversion rates.

SEOs identify three specific keyword types that will affect search engine marketing; these three keyword types include informational, navigational, and transactional. A few SEO marketers believe that there is a fourth keyword type as well; the last one being the investigational keywords.

Top Takeaways For SEOs

  • Add a column within the editorial calendar for search intent for keeping tabs on whether the content is aligning well with the defined intent.
  • Develop a full-fledged SEO marketing strategy that can use search intent to appeal the prospects at each stage of the existing sales funnel.

Content Is The Undisputed King Again

Today’s internet users have become much savvier with the ways through which they consume content. So delivering them poor content is not an option ever. In terms of likability and authority, the content should be useful, well written, and more targeted than before.

Google’s goal has forever been to offer its users the most relevant and the best content. However, the quality of the content was judged in a number of different ways in the past. But, now, the future is all about delivering the most engaging content that is liked and shared.

So, to put simply, content is still an undisputed king of the digital marketing landscape; it is all about delivering business-specific content that is readable by all the search engines. Furthermore, the content needs to be fully optimized so that it is easily searched; content optimization should never come at the cost of making the content boring.

Top Takeaways For SEOs

  • When it is about content, it is about putting 100 percent efforts in on-page SEO endeavors.
  • It is inappropriate to share spam content; publishing the content should not be done for the sake of posting something.
  • The content should only carry high-quality links to authoritative websites.

Get Innovative With SEO

The only thing that will become more challenging is being innovative with SEO. Businesses have to think different with regard to SEO because that is what matters the most now. An enterprise’s technique should be all about introducing freshness to the already-established SEO techniques.

So whether it is link building, on-site SEO, or the off-site one, SEO executives have to consistently up their game to make sure they are ahead of the competition every time. Each and every single SEO strategy should sit well with the way a business’s web presence is attracting and holding visitors.

With SEO, never forget implementing SEO best practices. It is advisable to never overlook the basics of SEO. The recipe of building result-driven SEO strategies remains the same: sharing high-quality content that has the most relevant links without spamming.

Top Takeaways For SEOs

  • Use an innovative SEO mix that includes remarketing, YouTube channel subscription, podcasts, newsletters, content syndication, and push notifications.
  • Factor in voice-search capabilities to improve a website’s visibility.

So keep an eye on these trends and other latest tweaks that Google does in its algorithms. With these trends in mind, a business can sure grab the exciting opportunity to present itself in front of its audiences in the most professional and engaging way. Also, the trends will enable businesses to stay on the top of featured listings and organic results of the SERPs of leading search engines.

Pankaj
He has over 10 years of experience working on various Digital Marketing projects. As the lead Digital Marketing Strategist, he has developed expertise in handling most challenging SEO, PPC and Online Brand Reputation management projects.
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