10 Trends That are changing SEO in 2018

- Updated July 17, 2019

SEO trends are an ever-changing phenomenon that keeps evolving just like all other areas in the digital world. With more than 200 factors that influence Google’s algorithm, SEO has certainly become a complex science. Even more, Google’s algorithm constantly changes and more often than not, SEO practices that once dominated the industry become irrelevant within few months. As search engines keep improving the SERPs quality, some ranking factors lose their influence, while others arise out of nowhere.

This article will help you improve your website SEO by understanding the most important changes and the newest trends that are changing SEO in 2018.


1. Personalized SERPs

In attempts to personalize the user experience, search engines nowadays are also using information about the user, such as browsing history, location, and interests. Google, Yahoo, and Bing all personalize their search results in many different ways. Additionally, getting at the top of search results today has larger implications than it once had.

Pages at the top not only get more traffic but once a user clicks their page, related articles from the same website will keep appearing in future searches by that same user. This means that SEO professionals should start looking beyond traditional ranking factors and keywords in order to understand which types of content search engines deem relevant for priority terms.

How should you react?

Personalization isn’t necessarily working against you. If you’re a smaller website, try using longtail keywords. By using these keywords, your content will probably be better suited for specific searchers’ interests. Do everything you can to make your content appear among the top results for these specific trending searches.

Once you get there and start getting traffic, you will start becoming a preferred entity for these users in the eyes of Google. This means that you will likely keep appearing at the top of their future searches.


2. The increasing importance of SERP features

The good old days when the only thing Google displayed on its first page were the 10 most relevant links related to the search are long gone. In attempts to improve and personalize user experience, search engines increasingly rely on SERP features, such as image packs, featured snippets, knowledge cards and panels, and even AdWords campaigns.

These SERP features oftentimes help users find the answer to their query in a simpler way but they also take the attention and clicks away from organic listings.

How should you react?

It’s very important that you keep tracking your rankings within these features and to monitor the features that might be potentially stealing traffic from you. Additionally, using longtail keywords and question keywords might help you get your blog posts and pages displayed as SERP features.


3. Mobile Search is Becoming Even More Important

trends that are changing SEO

Three years have already passed since Google announced that mobile searches surpassed desktop searches on its search engine. Additionally, the rise of the voice search (more about this below) is another factor that makes mobile searches even more important.

Subsequently, Google and other search engines respond to this shift in user behavior with mobile-first indexing. This means that 2018 might be the year in which signals that used to impact only mobile searches become signals that impact all searches, including desktop.

How should you react?

Make sure your pages are mobile-friendly. Google’s Website Auditor allows you to test the mobile version of your website and see all the issues that might damage your mobile rankings.


4. Survival of the fastest

Do you like waiting?

Neither do people that visit your site. Not only is page speed an important UX factor but since July 2018 Google makes it an important ranking factor. Google expects pages to load in less than three seconds. Everything that takes longer than that will probably negatively affect your rankings.

How should you react?

You should start by checking your website’s speed with Google’s Page-Speed Insight tool. Use this tool to test multiple pages and this tool will tell you which are the things that Google doesn’t like about your website. This includes unoptimized images, cache, CSS slowing down your website etc.


5. Secure Links (SSL) and SEO implications

Trends that are changing SEO

Back in 2014, Google announced that secured website certificates will start to impact the ranking of websites. Today, more than 60% of links that make it to the top of SERPs are websites that have SSL and Google Chrome even flags sites that don’t begin with https as potentially unsafe.

That’s not all. After July of 2018, users will be presented with a message that says “not secure” in front of the website’s URL when visiting non-SSL websites.

How should you react?

This is one of the least expensive and easiest fixes to boost your SEO ranking in 2018 and in the next few years. Simply purchase or get a free SSL certificate and upgrade your website to HTTPS. This shouldn’t cost more than $40 USD per year.


6. Relevance, relevance and more relevance

Today it’s harder than ever to convince Google that you have great content when you really don’t. Google uses a number of ways to assess the quality of the content. One of the most important core components is Rank Brain.

Google uses Rank Brain to analyze the best-performing search results and find the similarities between them. With time, these similarities, such as usage of similar terms or features may become ranking signals for specific search terms.

How should you react?

The best way to make sure your content is comprehensive is by researching the best-ranking pages from your niche and write down the features and terms they use or have in common. One great free tool that provides a simple framework for this purpose is the Website Auditor and its TF-IDF tool.


7. The Rise of Voice Search

According to Google’s most recent reports, more than 55% of teens and over 30% of young adults use voice search on a daily basis. This is a game-changer because voice searchers use conversational sentences instead of typical keyword searches.

The rise of voice search has caused tech giants to invest a lot of money into devices that come with digital assistants. Some examples are Amazon’s Echo products which were a massive success and Google’s digital assistant that’s now available on more than 400 million devices.

How should you react?

Use tools that can help you find out what kind of questions are voice searchers more likely to ask. The above-mentioned Website Auditor has a special rank tracker for voice search that’s included in the free version.


8. Video: The Future of Content Marketing

Trends that are changing SEO

According to a recent study by Cisco, by 2021, video should account for over 80% of all consumer internet traffic. This means that in the next few years, video content will dominate the internet and will surpass all other forms of content.

This is a game changer because video SEO is not the same as regular SEO and people searching for videos have different internet behavior. Additionally, video SEO has also changed significantly in the last few years but it has given marketers an opportunity to get their brand in front of their prospects by creating optimized video content.

How should you react?

If you haven’t developed a video marketing strategy, you should seriously start thinking about it.



9. You Should Be More Cautious with Guest Posting

Google recently warned webmasters that using guest posting as a large-scale link-building approach is against its guidelines. This is likely to trigger an algorithm update that’s targeting these manipulative article marketing approaches.

Until now, guest posts that didn’t send referral traffic or increased your brand awareness could still positively impact your domain authority and search rankings. In the next few years, it’s very likely that this might change, hence this shouldn’t be a core element of your long-term strategy.

How should you react?

If you’re not sure what counts as manipulative guest posting, ask yourself whether the guest posts that you were planning to publish are helping your users. Would you use that approach if search engines didn’t exist? If the answer is no, don’t make this a crucial part of your strategy but rather try to provide a maximum value for your readers when you’re considering guest posting.


10. ‘Link-less’ backlinks

Trends that are changing SEO

For a long time, links have been the ultimate trust signal for search engines and one of the most time-consuming activities of SEO professionals. However, times are changing and link-less mentions are starting to become an important off-page factor.

Search engines are starting to associate mentions with brands and use them in their rankings. Bing is already using unlinked mentions as a ranking factor and according to this patent, Google is probably doing the same. However, since the number of brand mentions is always higher than the number of people who link to it, this factor can provide a significant boost for smaller brands that fall below the threshold of earning press.

How should you react?

This factor highlights the importance of being involved in conversations on the internet. The tactics used to earn mentions for your brand are not very different from the ones used to earn backlinks. One of the best tools to keep a track of your brand’s mentions is Awario that lets you see the most authoritative mentions of your brand on the internet.


Bonus: Artificial Intelligence will Affect More Aspects of Search

Google has been using machine-learning AI systems, such as Rank Brain, that handles all search queries and Cloud Vision API that enables developers to understand the content of an image. Recently, Google built an AI system that’s even better at building AI than humans are.

Unfortunately, AI is still far from perfect as these systems have a tendency of confusing correlation with causation. Also, developers only program the machine learning algorithms and they don’t always understand how the final algorithm works. This oftentimes causes difficulties in predicting how the AI will behave in traditional programs.

How should you react?

As Google continues to develop AI and incorporate it into its search algorithms, you can expect search results to behave in not-so-predictable ways. Obviously, this isn’t a necessarily good thing but it’s something you should be prepared of.

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