As defined by Webopedia, search engine optimization (SEO) is “a methodology of strategies, techniques, and tactics used to increase the number of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search engine results page of a search engine – including Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others.” The goal, therefore, is pretty straightforward: to strategically turn the algorithm in your website’s favor.
Unfortunately, the algorithm changes quite frequently, which is why it’s crucial to get abreast of the latest trends to keep your rankings up and maintain or elevate profits. This year’s trends seem to have taken a trip down memory lane and have improved upon their weaknesses. Here are the trends you should watch out for in 2018.
1. Never ignore mobile SEO
The trends in the last five years or so have placed heavy emphasis on mobile. A report by Search Engine Land points out that over half of search queries came from mobile devices. While the figure can be anywhere between 50 and 60 percent, the fact remains that even query strings were longer by two characters on mobile.
With the advent of voice search, you can almost see that the queries on mobile will only continue to go up. Pair this with the mobile-first index and the importance placed by search engines on mobile functionality, and you can understand why it will be in your best interests to invest in mobile SEO.
To take a crack at the competition, make sure that your pages are mobile-friendly. Use a website auditor and make sure you tick off any red flags. Once you have fixed the errors, rerun an audit to make sure that you’re not missing anything and you are in full compliance of what is expected from a mobile site.
2. Start optimizing for voice
“Voice” is something we hinted at the previous item. Google says that 40% of adults and 55% of teens use voice search. What’s the difference between keywords utilized on voice search and when typing search queries? Well, voice search is typically more conversational. Instead of just short keywords such as “weather Arizona,” you should also pay attention to more natural keywords such as “What is the weather in Arizona?”
What’s more, voice search also means that people are looking for quick answers. An example of this is how they would typically ask questions such as “Where is the nearest Chinese restaurant?” The response should be direct to the point and informative.
To take advantage of voice search, you can focus on conversational queries, questions, and long tail keywords. You can also consider writing additional pages that can serve as FAQs or address common voice queries on your social media pages and blog posts.
Finally, you can utilize tools such as Rank Tracker. Use its Keyword Research functionality to find suggested keywords, and from there, formulate your more conversational and practical keywords.
3. Befriend RankBrain
In 2015, Google expounded how RankBrain is going to play a significant role in how it ranks websites. Today, this role is even more pronounced as relevance and quality of the content are still driving forces when it comes to getting favorable ranking. In fact, sites can be penalized if their content is not up to par.
Google uses Latent Semantic Indexing to determine the relevance of content. The search engine giant looks at billions of pages and compares the terms in each page. This way, Google understands what is relevant and comprehensive. This knowledge is further strengthened with RankBrain as Google then sees the best-performing results based on user’s satisfaction. With RankBrain and Google’s algorithms, users can expect to see only relevant results once they run a search query.
Now, how do you optimize your pages to make it more RankBrain friendly? The answer is by looking at the top-ranking pages of your competitors and niche. Once you’ve determined the top players, compare your content with theirs. You can do so by using the WebSite Auditor and its term frequency-inverse document frequency (TF-IDF) tool.
The TF-IDF tool compares your page with the top 10 ranking pages of a similar kind. It computes the TF-IDF score on each keyword that is utilized by the pages, so you can see which terms are being used by your competitors. You can see which terms are the most relevant (i.e., the ones that everyone is using) versus the obscure ones that you can let go of. Once you know which keywords to target, you may then optimize your pages.
4. Turn up the speed
Not only does your website have to be optimized for mobile, but it also has to be fast. Your page should fully load in under three seconds. If you have a heavy script that is slowing your page down, do yourself a favor and remove it.
Why so? Well, if your page is taking way too long to load, then you can almost see the users closing the tab and browsing your competitor’s pages. You can avoid this scenario by using Google’s page speed test. If you spot anything that may be slowing your page, then rectify the error and rerun the test.
5. Take advantage of SERP features
Do you still remember the day when Google displayed only ten blue links on the first page? Today, your ranking is not only determined organically but also by harnessing SERP features.
These features include local packs, featured snippets, and Knowledge panel, among others. If you’ll run a search for your most targeted keyword, you will see that Google also displays social media results, and its SERP features also get prime real estate.
Boost Your Online Ranking Today!
To boost your placement in search results, invest in these features today. At PrimeView, we test varying features to determine which ones are in line with your business and can work to your advantage. We then monitor how each feature impacts your ranking, and ensure that you stay on top of search engine page results (SERPs). Call us at 480-970-4688 to request a free proposal over coffee — on us.