Cemre Yildiz explained top five hot-topics to react in 2018.
(Read Time: 12 minutes)
As in all marketing fields, hot topics in Search Engine Optimisation change every year. Even though Google keeps changing its unique algorithm to serve its users a better search experience day-by-day, some changes are too drastic to keep up for some of us in the digital industry. Most of the times, Google comes up with an explanation and notifies webmasters to adjust their websites accordingly with a specific deadline, which is great!
Cliché but fact: January is already gone and we’re left with 11 months to react. These 5 hot-topics are substantial to react upon if not vital! – Then again please let us remind that SEO is not all about these five parameters and it will certainly not be in 2018. This article is for to highlight only, not to cancel out all the other parameters such dwell time, page speed, etc.
1. Mobile-First Index
As StatCounter shared, mobile market share in Asia is more than 65% as of December, 2017.
With mobile-first index update has already started to show its face nowadays, it’s obvious to set your website’s mobile version accordingly. Because what mobile-first index means is that Google will pay attention to your mobile content even if the search is made from desktop.
Actions to be taken summarized;
- If you have a responsive site or a dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to change anything.
- If you have a site configuration where the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, you should consider making some changes to your site.
Do you need help to figure out if your website is mobile-friendly or not? Check out what Google says about your website.
Do you wonder if your website is already mobile-first indexed by Google?
This is a question which you can answer yourself, you just need to monitor crawlbot traffic to your site, you may see an increase in traffic from Smartphone Googlebot, and the cached versions of pages will usually be the mobile version of the page. We can do that for you by analyzing your server log files.
The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is also a nice structure to have in order to perform and rank better in mobile devices. An AMP page is a light version of your original webpage. It’s formed in HTML5 which may arise concerns about your page design. But the main purpose is to serve fast pages hosted right on Google CDN. Don’t try to get that little AMP logo on your search result page from desktop. It only appears in mobile search results.
This would be a long article if we dig deep in AMP, if interested you can visit https://www.ampproject.org/ for more details.
Click-through rate was and still is a special parameter for us to follow and be better at. Every industry should be aware that different CTR is applicable for each and every subject. Not all first 3 organic search results gets the most clicks, not anymore for some searches.
Google suggests movies, music albums, games now. Therefore, the potential of clicks coming from Google organic search results are threatened. For example, many blogs which list movies is now facing a CTR reduction since users can find the movie they seek from Google directly.
You can search your flights on Google and even get to the booking page of the airways you selected, with all your flight details entered, ready to book.
Trickiest of all: For some queries, there are snippets where user does not need to click on any result to be satisfied.
“kuala lumpur weather” query.
Is there anything to be done to improve CTR at this point? If your content is on answer card, it either has less clicks or had a CTR boost and that landing page started to receive more clicks than ever! It depends on the topic and the query of featured snippet result.
For example, if user intend is to learn how to do something, than related featured snippets gets more clicks which leads to a CTR boost!
“roti canai recipe” query
However, if the user simply want to get a short-answered result, no clicks are wasted and organic traffic for the #1 ranked webpage on that query drops significantly.
“how old arnold schwarzenegger” query
(same with “ arnold schwarzenegger birthday” query)
Also Google still cares about the following bullets, if they have your targeted keywords, that’s still a huge plus. It seems it will still be a must for you in 2018 to make your title and description more clicky.
- Title tag
- Description tag
- Image ALT text
- H1 tag
Try to include your target keywords, but don’t stuff them in there like there is no tomorrow. If users don’t click on them, even if you rank well in the beginning, your webpage will drop from the search results.
If you are keen to do more about CTR for your website, here’s more actions suggested:
- Page Title A/B Testing – SEER has a great case study explained here. To summarize, they recognized a lower than average CTR based on position and focused on URLs with an average ranked on the first page in order to maximize effects of increased CTR. Since their primary goal was conversion, they focused on service-related URLs with a clear path to conversion.
- Featured Snippets – Getting your page into a featured snippet is a great opportunity to increase its visibility, CTR and traffic, since it’s the first page that a user will see in Google search results. If you’d like to know more, Semrush, one of the tools we use at Converged, has highlighted some information on how to get to featured snippets.
- Meta description limit increased upto 300 characters. It used to be limited upto 156 characters approximately. This serves a bigger SERP real estate. If your result’s description is more detailed than your competitors, you probably get more clicks leading to a higher CTR.
- Use social media accounts more often. – If you post frequently on social media, you can conquer more SERP real estate by your website, posts, social account channels and so on. Try not to share unimportant stuff though. It may work for SEO at first, but no trash can rank in the long run on Google search results.
- Youtube SEO – Gain rankings with your videos.
- Partnership with websites that already gained position. This is a great opportunity to get some valuable backlinks for your website. There is a correlation between backlinks and rankings. If your business and already well ranked websites have topics relevant, you may contact those site owners and work together in order to be linked. Better rankings lead to higher CTR and vice versa.
Content is still the king when it comes to SEO. It hasn’t changed in 2018. However, the way we all should approach to content on our webpages should change.
People used to write very long content, more than 2000 words and stuff targeted keywords within the content to rank well. That worked for a period of time. Than things change with RankBrain, image results, video results, news results, maps results, so on!
For example fashion and finance are two very different industries. One of them, you know which one, is more visual topic than the other. If you’d like to rank in fashion related terms, you wouldn’t need content with 4.000 words, but you’d need more images or even better more videos! What is more important than word count is that the addition of LSI keywords in your content.
LSI keywords are Latent Semantic Indexing keywords. And there is a free tool to gather all LSI keywords for your topic specifically. That tool’s called LSI Graph.
For example, “wedding gown” query on LSI Graph, we receive some of LSI keywords right below.
This is just a glance at the related LSI keywords about “wedding gown”.
It is always a good idea to feed from Google search results to see what people also searched.
Related searches for “wedding gown”
Finally and obviously, keep Google Keyword Planner right under your hand to get Google’s keyword suggestions. You can use it freely, but you need to have an account to gather your suggested keywords.
You can also feed from the following keywords:
- Question keywords
- Comparison keywords
- YouTube Search Terms
- Google Adwords SQR keywords
4. Voice Search
Popularity of voice search grows like topsy and most probably it will increase a lot more with the next generation coming up.
Here are some substantial data for your information:
- 40% of adults perform at least one voice search every day.
- Voice searches performed in Google are up 35x since 2008.
- 20% of all searches on mobile are voice searches.
Data above are sourced and limited for USA only. It’s foreseen that it will spread globally with the help of destruction of language barriers. So should you wait for it and than react or get prepared to shine when the right time comes? It’s up to your business call.
Optimize for Voice Search
In a nutshell, optimizing for voice search is really simple. However, it takes time and effort, so it’s not easy. Especially if your business is in a very competitive area.
Get on first page organic search results and get to position zero. Simple but not easy.
This text will be the answer for “optimize for voice search” voice query. Just one answer and it’s the featured snippet as seen above.
How to react to increasing voice search?
As stated on WordStream Blog, there are three major steps you can take or make sure they are already taken.
- Google MyBusiness Optimisation – 40% of adults use voice search to ask for directions. To be sure that your business is well defined on Google MyBusiness will help you out on that. “Near me” searches are already crucially important for local businesses. Google said that “near me” searches doubled in 2015 alone – the vast majority of which are conducted from mobile devices.
- Schema – Schema is what’s known as a markup language that allows webmasters and site owners to provide search engines with additional information about the information on their site – think of it like metadata, or data about data. Schema allows you to more comprehensively “describe” what the data on your website means. This, in turn, makes it much easier for Google to “understand,” which can boost visibility.
- Focus on long tail terms and user questions – Pretty much self explanatory. Since 70% search traffic is coming from long tail keywords, it’s wise to focus on long tail terms and create unique content where you can fullfill to answer user questions on your website.
If you are not creating video content, you’re doing something wrong, no matter what your business is about.
According to Cisco 80% of all internet traffic will be videoby 2021. The popularity of video is already a major force in our world today, where it accounted for 73% of all consumer internet traffic in 2016.
Not convinced enough?
According to news shared by Hubspot ;
- Adding a video to marketing emails can boost click-through rates by 200-300%.
- Embedding videos in landing pages can increase conversion rates by 80%.
- 90% of customers report that product videos help them make purchasing decisions.
- According to YouTube, mobile video consumption grows by 100% every year.
- 64% of customers are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video about it.
- 87% of online marketers are currently using video content in their digital marketing strategies.
- A third of all the time people spend online is dedicated to watching videos.
- Video ads now account for more than 35% of all ad spending online.
- 59% of company decision makers would rather watch a video than read an article or blog post.
- It is estimated that a single minute of video content is the equivalent of 1.8 million words.
What to do?
After you pointed out your video content plan, upload them on YouTube which is the second biggest search engine. There are more and more people searching stuff on YouTube directly, skipping Google. Your business should definitely be on YouTube if you don’t want to miss out your visibility opportunities.
On the other hand, if your video gets to rank on Google search results, you get a bigger SERP real estate. As Searchmetrics Universal Search Study indicates, more than half of the Google search results are videos, mostly from YouTube. (Since YouTube is a company under Google umbrella, this is no surprise.)
After you uploaded your video content on YouTube, it would be wise to embed the video on your related webpage in order to increase dwell time which is another parameter considered for ranking.
How to react to increasing video search results?
- Make a video content plan. If possible make a yearly plan and stick to it.
- Find video ideas from your target keywords. What is people searching about your business area which you can answer via video.
- If you have a social marketing plan, consider it while deciding on your video content. It’s not all about people asking questions. Can you put together a creative video that can revoke emotions within people and be shared? By the way, be sure that your video content is embedded in the related page in your website.
- Upload all your video content to YouTube – as planned – with a very detailed video description right below your video.
To wrap up :
In a nutshell, try to react on these five hot-stuff if you haven’t already.
- Mobile First Index
- Voice Search
Do you have a digital marketing team that you can share these 5 hot-topics on SEO? If yes, it’d be great to get whole team to work towards the reaction on same specific topics since every branch of digital marketing can and should work integrated.
What are your opinions or predictions on SEO in 2018? Feel free to comment below to let us know.