If you run your own business and have an online presence, the chances are that search engine optimisation will play a role in your everyday marketing activities. Of course, the basics of SEO, like properly optimising your pages and producing high-quality content, are easy to master, but the world of SEO is ever-changing, and it can be hard to keep up.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of the biggest search engine optimisation changes we’re expecting to see in 2018.
Mobile-first indexing will become normal
It’s almost three years since Google revealed that more people were searching from smartphones than they were from desktops, and this year, we can expect the search engine giant take the growth in mobile browsing to the next level. It’s believed that Google will begin crawling and indexing websites based on their mobile versions later this year.
Sites that do not work well on mobile devices may, in the near future, become obsolete and drop down in the search engine ranks. Therefore, it’s essential that your website is mobile-friendly as soon as possible and that every touch-point, including blogs and landing pages, have been designed with mobile users in mind. This is one SEO investment you cannot afford to avoid.
“Manipulative” guest blogging will be penalised
By now, we all know the benefits of guest blogging. Doing so can help you increase brand awareness and authority, and help you secure valuable backlinks from reputable websites. But many marketers and SEO consultants still manipulate the guest blogging process by churning out low-quality content and stuffing keywords and links back to their clients’ websites.
Google warned in 2017 against ‘large-scale article campaigns’, and now some marketers are predicting an algorithm update to target manipulative and spammy guest blogging practices. If you want to avoid a penalty, then make sure you’re only guest blogging on reputable websites and linking to valuable resources; paying for posts or using exact-match keywords isn’t sensible.
Featured snippets will be even more lucrative
Featured snippets have exploded in popularity over recent years, now featuring on an estimated 30% of all search queries. Such snippets can be hard to rank for, and having the best content and highest organic rank doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll rank for a featured snippet.
To maximise your chances of appearing in a table, list or paragraph featured snippet, you can follow Google’s best practices by using Schema markup, answering questions concisely and organising your content in the simplest and most effective manner. Although some search data suggests that markup and featured snippets have no correlation, it still makes sense to follow Google’s standards, as algorithms can change and snippet competition will only increase.
Mentions will overtake backlinks
Microsoft’s Bing already confirmed back in 2016 that they were tracking brand mentions to help rank websites — even if those brand mentions weren’t linked. And chatter in the search engine world — as well as this patent from Google dating back to 2012 — suggests that Google may, too, be ranking websites based on brand mentions as well as links.
With link building manipulation and SEO spam an ongoing battle for search engines like Google, perhaps linkless links and brand mentions will become more prominent in the coming years?
The best way to increase the number of brand mentions for your business, and get an instant ranking boost on Bing, is to engage in more communications and conversations online. Social media and forums are a great way of receiving mentions, and ongoing public relations should also be part of your marketing strategy. Every press release published is another brand mention.
The complex and ever-changing world of search engine optimisation isn’t something that you can master overnight, nor can you sit still for long once you’ve invested in a campaign. Keeping up to date with the latest trends will help you to improve your chances of ranking for competitive terms, and increase your competitiveness in today’s increasingly digital marketplace. Good luck.
About the Author
Max Greene is the Managing Director of Muffin Marketing, a marketing agency specialising in content marketing, social media marketing, and search engine optimisation.
Originally published at colibridigitalmarketing.com on February 13, 2018.