And just like that, 2017 is almost behind us. It was an exciting year for advancements in the world of search and SEO. Before I get into what I think would be some important SEO factors for 2018, I think it would be fair to recap 2017.
What were the highlights of 2017 from an SEO standpoint?
Mobile – The year was more heavily focused on user experience on mobile. Google started off by introducing a penalty for intrusive interstitials A.K.A. those annoying pop-ups on your mobile browser asking you to sign up to a service, proving too hard to close meaning, eventually, you close the tab. Yeah, thanks, Google!
Many unconfirmed updates that got better at discounting link spam and further improvements on content, especially the ones focusing heavily on ad revenue rather than quality content – the ‘Fred’ Update.
The introduction to Progressive Web Apps, an app-like feel for your web content that can render locally cached content on your mobile even when you don’t have an internet connection.
The introduction of voice-enabled IoT devices and use of machine learning with big data for attribution and prediction
So, I can see a pattern emerging there… mobility and data across touchpoints. At the 2017 Google Masterclass Sydney, it was all about how the interaction of moving from clicks to touch to vision and then to voice has evolved, with a huge emphasis on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
All these interaction types naturally impact SEO and I say this because people are essentially looking for information and answers, it doesn’t matter if its on a screen or if you hear it. Both direct and indirect actions will lead to someone discovering a brand that provides answers to problems they are facing.
This brings me to think of SEO as not merely an optimizing tool for the web to make sure that the code is easily crawlable, indexed and then strategized to acquire domain authority, but it goes beyond just simple signals. SEO must consider the user journey and be able to answer those micro-moments in that journey.
So, what things won’t change in 2018:
Continued focus on content and quality of the content wherein both short/precise content pieces will continue to perform provided they are supported by substantiating long-form content. This would continue to be the holy grail to gaining authority for niches and attract natural links.
Ensuring that your website is mobile friendly (most preferably responsive) with a heavy focus on page loading speeds.
Implementation of structured data markup for your assets. Think of humans when writing descriptions where applicable.
Now, coming to what will change in 2018 for SEO and how we can gear up?
Think of customer experience – site engagement factors are more important than ever before. Are you providing value to your user? How do you fair with your competition? Bridge the gap between acquisition and conversion. I call it SCXO.
Implement AMP! Google’s caching and hosting of the internet is unimaginable for the sheer costs, but it’s happening. AMP HTML is the future of HTML. So, if you’re thinking of redesigning or rebuilding your website, AMP HTML might be something you want to consider. If you’re not thinking of AMP, you are already behind.
Answer questions your target audience are asking. Need I say a more?
Think long-tail and conversational semantics. SEO is not going to be sitting in front of your desk all day! You’ll need to be able to pick content ideas from conversations with your clients & customers. Get your SEO & content specialists be involved with a client where possible and visit your physical store to understand your buyer personas journey. 15% of searches on Google are new, never been used before.
Don’t discount paid and social marketing. How do they influence organic you ask? Refer to point 1 in this list for a hint.
Leverage your Content Delivery Network (CDN’s) and optimize them for speed.
Don’t be scared to include/target keywords that may not even show or have search volumes in your keyword research. Again, refer to point 4 for inspiration & ideas. Pro tip: order by opportunity over search volume in your keyword research.
Use data – Look at engagement metrics from your web analytics tool and try to uncover gaps in content and user flow. For example, onsite search terms are a gold mine for content ideas.
Maintain hygiene both on-page and off-page (including social). Don’t ignore the basics, be fresh and relevant with content and time. Make sure only relevant quality content is referencing you on the web – this could be links or citations.
Rethink, measure and understand conversion channels better – create content accordingly for your customer. Segment your personas by channel, map them to the journey stage for content.
So, in a nutshell, SEO got a whole lot interesting and even more complicated than before. But this doesn’t surprise me. If search is complicated and the tech giants are still at it, it’s kind of obvious. No matter what business type or size, to be able to sustainably be visible for your audience it is essential to have a sound SEO strategy that not only covers what’s already there but also be able to predict future questions your customers and clients will be searching.
Have you organized your SEO strategy for 2018?
If you need help doing so, feel free to give us a call on 02 8310 2393 or contact us here.
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