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Top 7 SEO trends that Dominated 2018

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top seo trends

The mere mention of “Google algorithm update” is enough to send SEOs into a flurry of research, tweaking, and head scratching to keep their content relevant and effective. It’s no secret that SEO trends are an ever-evolving landscape, but changing as fast and as often as these trends, isn’t easily accomplished.

Now that 2018 is almost over, which SEO trends made the biggest splash?

Our list uncovers some of the trends that made their legacy this year so you can plan for the year ahead.

#1 Add More Features to SERP Results

Today’s search engine result pages look nothing like they did 20 years ago. The formerly cluttered and disarrayed pages are now displayed in a clean and organized list format, but the evolution here is far from done.

This year, we’ve seen a rise in added features to accompany search results, such as rich snippets, AdWords, images, star ratings and reviews, and more.

Any website can add this rich data, called schema markup, to their content. If you haven’t already taken advantage of these rich features, you’ll want to do sooner than later. It’s becoming increasingly popular to implement schema features, but right now it’s an easy way to stand out on search results and tip the rankings scales in your favour.

#2 Take Advantage of Mobile-First Indexing

Google itself has spoken on the value of mobile-first indexing, and the message couldn’t be more precise. The search engine giant rolled out mobile-first indexing at the end of 2016, and this SEO trend is still going strong. Essentially, this means the Big G will favour websites that offer a mobile-optimized experience.

Truth be told, mobile SEO is no longer an option it’s a necessity. The rise of smartphone usage and voice searches have led to more internet searches being performed on mobile devices. One study shows that more than half of mobile users who perform searches on their devices visit a business location the very same day.

So, it is necessary that you optimize your website for mobile first indexing as soon as possible.

#3 Take a Conversational Approach to SEO

Speaking of voice search, SEO is taking more of a conversational approach to capturing all the voice searches people make on mobile devices.

Search Engine Land states that about a fifth of all searches is voice search. Because of this shift, companies should focus more on conversational keywords that users would likely speak rather than type. It’s highly desirable that this type of content appear in a Featured Snippet.

#4 Put Searches into Context

As the web space becomes more crowded every day, it’s increasingly important for Google to deliver the best results, hence it’s emphasising the most on user intent. For example, someone searching for “apple” could be referring to the company or the fruit.

This goes well beyond the “tried and true” SEO method of focusing only on keywords. It’s obvious now that keywords alone are not enough to signal to search engines what your content is about. Instead, you must use other signals within your content to put your words into the right context.

top seo trends

Here’s a hint: Google already expects the types of words it’s most likely to find on a given subject. It uses Latent Semantic Indexing to scan billions of pages and terms to gauge if the content relates to the words within. As a result, Google has a general idea of whether or not a piece is truly “comprehensive” and will give favour to those pieces that will do the best job.

To successfully pull this off, you may want to consider creating more long-form content that gives you enough room to be thorough and includes all the right keywords and related terms to help you move up in the SERPs.

#5 Optimize Your Video Content

A Cisco study predicted that video will dominate about 82% of all consumer web traffic by 2021 – just over two years from now. The video is already proving itself to be the chosen type of content, with more than 500 million hours of YouTube videos watched each day.

Or, to put in another way, more video content has been uploaded to the internet in the past 30 days than major television stations have created in the past 30 years.

top seo trends

A video is a force to be reckoned with, so optimizing your videos for SEO can only work to your advantage. It’s not just a matter of creating video content, but knowing how to employ SEO practices that, until recently, have only been used for text-based content.

Optimize your video descriptions, add a transcript, embed video into text-based content, share your videos, and create videos on content that best belongs in a video as opposed to a blog article. For more tips, you can check out this guide on video SEO.

#6 Invest in ‘Linkless’ Backlinks

Is a linkless backlink an oxymoron?

It might sound crazy, but your linkless mentions are becoming just as important as the all-ruling backlink. Links have been a dominate trust signal for years, but this year we’ve seen yet another curveball in SEO trends.

In fact, former Bing senior product manager Duane Forrester has already admitted that Bing is using off-page mentions to help determine authority. This knowledge was actually made known a couple of years ago, but the effects are now starting to be felt.

#7 Mobile Page Speed

It’s official: Google announced that the speed of your mobile website pages is now a ranking factor. This update was enacted in July 2018, but it’s been a long time coming.

Google data shows that the average mobile landing page used to take a whopping 22 seconds to load – that’s 18 seconds longer than users expect! Last year, that number dropped to just 15 seconds, but users and Google all agree that’s far too long.

The statistics on the impact of page speed on conversion rates are somewhat alarming:

A page that takes longer than three seconds to load could lose more than half its visitors.

64% of mobile users expect a web page to load within four seconds.

47% of customers expect a page to load in two seconds or less.

A one-second improvement in website page load speed could bring an extra 7% in daily revenue.

The mobile users have spoken, but don’t think of this move as a bad thing. It gives you plenty of incentive to improve your website and create a better UX. You can use Google’s Lighthouse tool to measure and improve your website’s speed and put you in the good graces of search engines.

Conclusion

Yes, we realize it sounds like we’re harping on hindsight, but there’s still plenty of action you can take, starting right now.

Knowing the top SEO trends of the past year gives you a strong starting point in preparation for 2019. If you haven’t already taken advantage of these trends, it’s better to start now than never. Your competitors may catch up to you at some point, plus it’s always better to boost your SEO late than never.

Some of these trends may remain strong in the years to come, while others may die when the New Year’s Eve clock strikes midnight. Only time will tell, but wouldn’t you rather be prepared just in case?

What are your predictions for 2019? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Benjamin Shepardson on FacebookBenjamin Shepardson on Twitter
Benjamin Shepardson
Benjamin Shepardson founder of NoStop Writing Service. As the company's leader, Ben brings to the table an innate ability to help small businesses compete with larger competitors through content strategies and SEO.
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