SEO is changing a lot. Google has been evolving its algorithm to provide searchers with the best result first and ignore all the scammers who are trying to game the system.
Engineers are changing the algorithms every day to accommodate users and help provide them with the best possible experience.
That’s why if you are not evolving your game, you’ll get left behind. And if you are trying by any means to game the system, then you will be caught sooner rather than later.
In this post, we are going to discuss the trends that you need to focus on to make sure that you are still in the game and that you can still get visitors from Google.
1. Mobile Optimized
Did you know this?
60% of Google searches are now on mobile. Yes, more than half the searches are on mobile. Can you believe that?
As more people are using their tablets and mobiles as their main connection to the Internet and due to the huge improvement in the software and hardware, mobile has taken over PCs and laptops for Google searches.
That’s why having a mobile-responsive design is non-negotiable. You may have heard about this before, but it’s more important than ever nowadays.
As more people are using voice search, this figure will only rise, giving you no option but to prioritize mobile solutions.
It has been predicted that there will at some point be a separate mobile search engine that has results that are different from the main Google search engine.
What should you do now?
Check if your site is mobile friendly or not. Most of the designs nowadays are mobile-friendly. To make sure that your site is mobile friendly, check out the mobile test in Google’s WebSite Auditor under Content Analysis.
After you enter the URL, click on Technical Factors and scroll to the bottom where you can see Page Usability (mobile).
If there are any problems, click on the “how-to fix” and hire someone to help you fix it, if you can’t do it yourself.
2. Increased Search Engine Features
In the past, if you wanted to get the most traffic from Google, your goal was to reach the top spot for the keyword you were targeting. That would guarantee you a lot of visitors to your site every month.
Well, that’s not enough nowadays.
Gone are the days where you type a word on Google and just see 10 blue links that may solve your problems. Nowadays, you see images, videos, in-depth articles, and various things where Google is trying to provide you with the most value possible.
You don’t just need to reach to the top spot, you need to benefit from those other features and prevent other sites from benefiting from them.
What can you do?
You need to know which features are appearing for the keywords you’re targeting and track your rankings with those features.
A good tool you can use is the RankWatch. Start by simply creating a project for your website. The tool will track Google’s features and your ranking.
You can then see the data in the Google SERP features columns and see the features enabled for your keywords and which ones you rank for and which ones you don’t rank for.
After you see the data, analyze the opportunities you can tackle.
3. More Emphasis on Speed
We live in a fast-paced era. People want information immediately.
Nothing frustrates searchers more than having a page that loads slowly. If it takes 5 seconds, you click back and go to another website.
If your page takes a lot of time to load, that reflects a bad user experience, and that’s why Google has started to care so much about speed that it has become a very important ranking factor in their algorithm.
Google now demands that sites load in under 3 seconds!!!
You’re probably wondering what to do now.
First of all, take Google’s page speed test. Does your website take more than 5 seconds to load? If yes, then you need to identify the problems and start improving your site speed. Maybe optimize your design, optimize images, decrease the number of plugins, change your host, and so on.
Check out this post for more suggestions, 15 Easy Ways To Speed Up WordPress.
4. Relevance Has Become More Important
Gone are the days where you can convince Google that you have the best content for a topic and try to scam them when you actually don’t… you will get penalized if you try to do that.
With their deep index of millions of keywords, Google can now understand your content more than before. They don’t just depend on the keyword density of the keyword in your post. They can understand your post from other related words you use. This is something called “Latent Semantic Indexing.”
For example, when you search for the phrase “guest posting” the 2nd, 3rd and 4th positions contain the phrase “guest blogging” instead but they still rank higher for this keyword than many other posts.
Why? Because Google can now understand that guest posting is the same thing as guest blogging.
Now Google is taking it one step further, with RankBrain.
Remember when I told you that Google cares about user experience so much?
If your post rank in the first page and no one clicks on it, the ranking will decrease.
If your post ranks in the first page, people click on it, but then they bounce directly, your ranking will decrease.
What that means is that the page that provides the maximum value for the reader and that is the most relevant to the reader will get the top Google rank. All you need is to push it a little to appear on the first page.
What can you do?
When you’re creating content, put visitors first. How can you provide them with the best experience possible? It’s not just about delivering high-quality content, it’s about other things also like the design, page layout, site formatting, use of visuals, and even your writing style.
So, for example, you could pay more for writers who write highly engaging content, not just any writer with a low rate.
Care about the whole experience of your visitor when they click on your site after their search on Google. Make sure to visit other sites that rank on the first page for your keyword and see what they’re doing right, and try to copy that.
5. Google Can Understand If You Don’t Link to a Site
Links have been one of the main ranking factors in Google’s algorithms for years. If you get high-quality links, then your site likely to rank higher.
Actually, Ahrefs has the most accurate Keyword Difficulty tool and they focus mainly on the links linking to a page and don’t take other factors into account as much as other sites.
Things have changed a little.
In the old days, if people mentioned you but they didn’t link to you, that would be a lost opportunity to rank higher on Google.
Now Google can understand if someone mentions your brand but didn’t link you. They can associate brand mentions with the brand and thus increase its domain authority.
So don’t worry too much if someone mentioned your brand but didn’t link to it. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to get the link, but if you don’t, don’t worry about it too much.
6. Voice Search Is Taking Over Faster Than You Can Imagine
I mentioned above that Mobile is taking over. Well, Voice search has become more important than text and more people are using voice search over text nowadays.
It’s only a matter of time until text search will be insignificant. 40 percent of adults are using voice search over text and 55 percent of teens are using voice over search and the numbers are increasing very fast, as reported by Google.
What does that mean?
Keyword research is changing dramatically. People ask questions using a more conversational, normal tone than they would do when using text searches.
That means that you should again put yourself in readers’ shoes and figure out how they would ask questions. You can also check for questions asked in your topic that have increased in the past few months in your keyword research tool.
Don’t Get Left Behind
The game is changing based on user experience. Google is always trying to provide the best user experience for their users and that’s how they have been on top for many years now.
You need to think about things from your readers’ perspective and try to provide them with the best experience possible. That’s how you can rank higher on Google.
In this article, we mentioned some trends that are going to take over in 2018. All you need to do is to adapt to these trends and try to conform to them. This will help you not only rank higher but stay there and get more traffic from Google for a long time to come.