6 SEO Trends to Watch in 2018

The constantly evolving landscape of SEO has entered into a new year. Experts at Google, Bing or Baidu are continuing to implement changes in indexing and ranking algorithms to better serve the growing internet user-base.

Increasing search engine sophistication is matched by attempts to optimize for it through various SEO strategies. Over the years, some strategies have managed to maintain their relevance, others saw an increase in prominence, while others yet became completely obsolete.

There is little indication that 2018 is going to be any different in this regard.

Some practices will doubtlessly continue to remain relevant (the focus on quality content, for example), others will probably see a decline (desktop-first optimization), and a host of new ones are already looming on the horizon.

The latter of these are probably the most interesting for SEO laymen and experts alike, as they present new opportunities for websites to get ahead in the search ranking game.

Being up to speed with what’s new and cutting edge in SEO is quintessential for building and maintaining a strong online presence, so the following list of search engine optimization trends in 2018 should prove to be useful to anyone looking to stay ahead of the curve.

Focus on Speed

Studies have shown that the attention span of a person today is about 8 seconds on average. This means that a webpage only has a few seconds to grab the user’s attention before he goes on browsing somewhere else.

And if a significant portion of this time is spent waiting for the page to load, the user will barely get a glance at the content before deciding to move on.

Teams at Google are keenly aware of this fact, which is why they stressing that load times below 3 seconds is the new standard. Pages with longer loading times will have significant reduction in their rankings, which means speed is likely to become the major factor of SEO in the coming year.

Featured Snippets

Search engine algorithms are starting to pay more attention to search query forms, showing results in new kinds of formats. Featured snippets is one such innovation.

When a search query is phrased as a question, a special block called a featured snippet is shown at the top of the results page with a summary of the answer.

Optimizing web page content for the featured snippet format increases the likelihood of websites being featured at the top of the results page, while their organic search rank might actually place them lower on the page. The Q&A format of content writing is likely to see an increase in 2018 as a result of this.

Linkless Backlinks

Backlinks are often taken as the gold standard factor of SEO. Investing in link building services and having numerous, quality inbound links from relevant websites is the foundation of having good search engine rankings. However, in 2018, things look like they are about to change.

Sophisticated search engine algorithms are getting better at content analysis day by day. They are starting to recognize particular brand names based on the textual content around them, giving them an indication of a brand’s online relevance without direct links to a website associated with it.

This trend is likely to have a significant impact on SEO content creation, and backlinks could potentially lose some importance due to this change.

Voice Search

With the rise of increasingly sophisticated voice-recognition software, more and more people are using their electronic devices hands-free through voice commands, and this goes for online searches as well.

However, the difference between how search queries are phrased in speech and in writing can be significant.

Search engine optimization now has to involve creating content with a greater focus on long-tail keywords and informal sentence structures associated with everyday speech. How one is asking the question is becoming as important as what is being asked.

Mobile-first Design

Google’s new mobile-first index has been in the news a lot lately, and for good reason. This new ranking factor has the potential to fundamentally reshape the search engine landscape.

Ever since their rise to prominence online, search engines ranked websites based on how optimized their content was for desktop users. With the new index, the optimization of content for mobile will become the new priority.

This shift comes in the wake of recent research which has shown that mobile browsing has, for the first time ever, surpassed its desktop counterpart. And while this piece of news was already around a year or two ago, search engines will continue to evolve their efforts around this method throughout 2018 and beyond.

SEO strategies focusing on mobile-friendly content are likely to become the standard as well.

Image and Video Search

AI-assisted pattern recognition in the medium of images and video is now becoming relevant search factors. Traditionally, search engines had to rely on descriptions, meta-data and references to image names in order to assess the relevance of images and video for a search query.

Advances in machine learning have made it possible to gauge this content independently, creating a new ranking factor in the process. This will make the appearance of non-textual SEO content creation strategies all but inevitable in the coming years.

Your Turn

Are you aware of other changes coming throughout 2018? Are you looking forward to any of these as an online publisher and business owner?