One thing remains true about SEO: it is continuously changing. And 2018 is already proving to be a very big year for changes in both how users engage search, and how results are being presented.
Evaluate your SEO strategy and best practices for the year ahead with these 5 tips to help you future-proof your rankings.
SEO Tip #1: Get Ready for Voice Search.
“Tens of millions” of Echo products sold just over the holiday season (you probably got one!), according to Amazon. As digital assistants such as Siri, Alexa, and Cortana rapidly gain popularity, Voice will quickly grow its share of search.
Today, roughly one-third of the 3.5 billion Google searches performed each day are voice searches. ComScore predicts that figure will increase to at least half by 2020. Now is the time to start optimizing for voice.
How do I optimize my site for Voice Search?
Voice search enables users to find what they’re looking for by using natural language. For example, instead of typing “best CRM software” into a search box, voice searchers are more likely to phrase their query as a question: “What is the best CRM software?”
To increase your visibility in these searches, start incorporating more long-tail keywords in your content strategy. It also helps to incorporate text-hierarchy with markup structure that improves your chance of getting a featured snippet—which leads us to the next SEO tip….
SEO Tip #2: Aim for Featured Snippets.
Featured snippets display prominently at the top of Google search results. That’s great for visibility and driving traffic to your site. What’s more, ask Alexa “do elephants sleep standing up?” and she’ll respond by reading the featured snippet as the answer.
According to Ahrefs, 99.58% of featured pages rank in Google’s top 10 results. However, Getstat claims that 70% of snippets come from sites beyond the first organic position. So while grabbing this top spot is very tough to do, it’s worth trying because it can massively increase your organic search traffic, and improve voice search rankings.
How do I get a featured snippet?
Start by identifying common, simple questions that directly impact your market. Provide a concise and direct answer. Structure your content with headers that ask a question, and immediately follow with a one-paragraph answer, ideally 40 to 50 words (including short bullets if appropriate) that provides value-added information.
SEO Tip #3: Improve Your Mobile User Experience
If you still maintain two separate websites for mobile and desktop traffic, 2018 is the year you MUST transition to responsive design. (Shameless plug: we can help with that). Mobile traffic has already overtaken desktop traffic. In response, Google has begun shifting to mobile-first indexing.
That means Google will crawl your site and determine search ranking from the perspective of a mobile browser rather than a desktop browser. If your mobile website contains less content than your desktop site, you could see a negative impact on search rankings.
How do I prepare for mobile-first indexing?
- Make sure your site is responsive: Build a single site that adapts how content is displayed based on the screen size of your visitor.
- Adapt to mobile user needs: Make phone numbers prominent, buttons easier to “tap” instead of click.
- Focus on speed: Help data-weary users (but be judicious about bandwidth usage).
- Show it all: Don’t hide content! Rearrange content to display in a hierarchy.
SEO Tip #4: Create engaging video content.
Video content isn’t’ the future—it’s already here. This was one of our most impactful takeaways from HubSpot’s INBOUND17 conference. Video consumption skyrocketed in 2017, with Facebook seeing more active video views than even YouTube. Presenting content as video rather than text can make it more engaging, and increase the authenticity of your brand.
How do I start creating video content?
- No need to blow your budget on tech—you can start by using your phone or laptop camera.
- Keep it simple, short (ideally less than two minutes), and to the point.
- Think about lighting, background, and ambient audio to ensure clarity and visual interest.
- Use iMovie or a similar tool to drop in background audio and add visual effects such as text overlays and lower-thirds.
- Finally, increase engagement by encouraging people to comment, like, and share your content on social media.
SEO Tip #5: Prepare for visual search.
Google, Pinterest, and Bing already allow consumers to submit an image to search for similar content. This method of search, known as visual search, could present huge opportunities, especially for eCommerce marketers and online retailers. Imagine snapping a picture of a pair of shoes in a magazine or on your friend’s feet, so you can find the same shoe for sale?
Amazon, Walmart, and ASOS’ apps already allow users to turn their phones into discovery tools. While there’s no clear answer to how visual SEO will work, there are a few things you can start to do now to prepare:
How can I prepare my site for visual search?
Start by including high-quality (but web-optimized) images, along with detailed product markup information such as price, model, description, etc. Always include descriptive alt text and title tags with your images (something you should be doing anyway). Finally, load images with HTML (as opposed to CSS or scripts) to make sure search engines can load them.
Wrapping it all up
SEO is changing rapidly, adapting to how and where users are asking their questions. You have to build your site and content to get your visitors answers quickly, visually, and contextually so they can actually see you. Just getting listed in search results isn’t enough anymore.
If SEO is a race, it’s definitely a marathon, not a sprint. The best strategy is to focus at least some of your attention on the long game. That’s especially true when small changes to your content, design, and site development today can make a huge impact down the road.
Even if you’ve got your SEO totally dialed in, there’s probably much more your website can be doing for your business. Learn more: Download our free eBook, “10 Critical Questions You Should Ask About Your Website.”