Google is constantly working to update their Search algorithms. As a result, digital marketing specialists have to adapt their SEO strategies to the changing playing field. Therefore it is crucial to forecast and incorporate future changes before launching a new product or marketing solution. In this article, we try to explore the key search optimisation trends in 2018.
Google RankBrain is a complex system that uses machine learning algorithms to help Google rank search results. The system works quite simply: first this measures how users interact with search results and then ranks the results according to the users’ behaviour.
For instance, let’s enter “how to learn German” in the search bar.
Let’s assume the top third search result looked more appealing to you (not least because of the rating stars in the snippet), and you visit the website. This turned out to be a quality website with a useful article. RankBrain makes a corresponding record, and this third top result gets a higher ranking.
If it turns out that the information on the website is not relevant to what you were looking for, RankBrain will also make a record, but vice versa. It will give the website a lower ranking, eventually removing it from the top search results.
Thus, the system monitors two indicators:
- Time on Page;
- Clickthrough Rate (CTR) — a percentage of users who clicked on the link in the search results to view the page.
A snippet is a small block displayed in the search results, right under the link to a webpage. It showcases the key information about the webpage and a short description that matches the search query. However, snippets may look different in the search results. Some snippets are more attractive than others, and a user is more likely to choose the snippet that stands out the most.
RankBrain may sometimes rank a page higher than it “should” be. If this influences on the increase of average CTR, the webpage will receive a higher ranking. If the webpage doesn’t get extra clicks, Google may even remove it from the top search results altogether. If you’re looking to improve the CTR of your web pages in organic search results, try to make your snippet (this includes the snippet’s markup) as attractive as possible.
For example, an “iPhone prices” search query snippet may look as follows:
However, the snippet may not be fully displayed on mobile devices:
Some web pages use so-called “clickbait” headlines to attract more users. Such headlines are intriguing and provocative, but when users take the bait and click, the article doesn’t deliver what was promised. Google has become smarter and started paying attention to clickbait content. Now, this is analysing not only the content but also the context of the article.
Google has already started ranking different blog posts for commercial search requests. The search engine tries to give users the most relevant results. Therefore, Google’s algorithms, in addition to the title and keywords of the article, also analyse how useful its content actually is. If a certain web page manages to provide better coverage for the subject in question, such content will get a higher ranking:
How do you make sure Google likes your content?
- Create better content. More than 2,000 words would be enough to cover almost any subject. Long-form content, detailed blog posts, guides and manuals get way higher rankings than short-form texts.
- Use LSI words. LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords are keywords directly related to your subject. If a search robot identifies these words on your website, it will understand that the subject is covered in depth, and give your webpage a higher ranking.
- Use search suggestions. These are the “People also search for” keywords at the bottom of the search results. Try monitoring these keywords and adding them to your texts.
Mobile-first indexing has been announced a while ago, and it finally looks like the launch will happen this year. Nearly 60% of Google searches originate from mobile devices, and this number will only increase in 2018. Tablet and smartphone users tend to spend less time online than desktop users. What’s even more important, mobile users prefer websites from the top search results. That’s why Google will treat mobile websites as main ones. This means that all content displayed in mobile versions will be indexed first.
This is how you get prepared for Mobile First:
- Make sure your content is displayed equally on both mobile and desktop sites.
- Use responsive design instead of maintaining a separate mobile website.
- Optimise your website for the most popular mobile devices.
This is especially important for the Ecommerce market. More people are buying more products using mobile devices. For example, Promodo’s Ecommerce report 2017, based on the data on large and medium-size ecommerce projects from Central & Eastern Europe, demonstrates the rapid growth in the amount of traffic and the revenue from mobile.
By 2021, video content is expected to account for up to 80% of all the internet traffic. Even now, YouTube is ranked second to Google among search networks. More and more people are looking for information on YouTube while ignoring Google. If you want to get more SEO traffic in 2018, consider creating and optimising content specifically for YouTube. If you don’t create video content, your competitors will beat you to the curve.
Why this matters:
- By publishing SEO-optimised videos on YouTube, you improve your Google visibility as a whole.
- Google is now adding links to video hosting websites, YouTube in particular, into mobile image search results.
The popularity of voice search is growing as quickly as the popularity of mobile search:
- 40% of adults use voice search at least once a day.
- To date, Google voice search is used 35 times more often than 10 years ago.
- 20% of all mobile searches are voice searches.
Many SEO professionals are already optimising their projects for voice search. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Make sure your webpage can be found on the first page of the Google search results.
- Use optimised featured snippets.
- Ask questions and give answers on the landing page.
Despite all the new trends, SEO is primarily about links. Without high-quality content, it can be hard to obtain organic links. Without backlinks on relevant resources, it’s difficult to get into the TOP 10 for Google search. Finally, without your pages ranked top in Google, RankBrain, voice search and Mobile-First indexing are a far way ahead. Therefore, referral links are still important at all stages of search optimisation. The first result in Google search is always based on the number of backlinks.
Search optimisation in 2018 is following these trends:
1. RankBrain and behavioural factors
2. Snippet CTR
3. High-quality content
5. Video content
6. Voice search.
The differences between commercial and informative search queries are gradually becoming smaller. As receiving direct conversions is getting more difficult, it’s more effective to give detailed descriptions of your products or services, and to get users sold on your text content. In Ecommerce, the competition will keep growing in 2018. Eventually, the advantage will go to the online stores providing the most complete and easy-to-read information on their landing pages.