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SEO Predictions for 2018

Here I have a think about some of the things that are going to have an impact on what’s happening in and around SEO in 2018.

What impact will voice technology have on SEO in 2018?

Digital assistants started to get big in 2017 in the form of Alex, Google, Siri and more. As these devices become more and more popular, the voice technology they’re reliant on must become more of a factor for SEO.

Over the years Google has been improving the way it understands our natural use of language in order to weed out optimisation. These voice technologies will all be contributing to the huge amount of data they have and this will naturally be applied to SEO. So if you’ve got content that’s not written in a human tone – ie it’s stuffed with keywords – you might want to review it sooner rather than later.

We’ve been banging on about semantic search and the use of natural language in content creation for SEO for a long time, but now it’s especially important that we start to move ourselves away from our search marketing orientations toward keywords. It’s not all about keywords guys!! And monitoring keywords are just indicators of performance. It’s important to consider them but it’s more important to produce content that in some ways reflects the way that people really speak.

What are the best ways to create content that targets SEO for voice search?

  • Create content that focuses on longtail keywords that answer known search queries
  • Focus on open questions when creating content. I always think of the first bit of the old Kipling poem when creating titles: “I keep six honest serving-men, (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When, And How and Where and Who.
  • Use conversational language when answering the questions. Conversational, because you are advising someone on something – it’s person to person.
  • To get more questions on your website try adding an FAQ section, you should be able to get these FAQs from your sales and services teams. The sales and services teams are always a great place to start mining questions because they overcome the objections and enquiries your clients have on a day to day basis.
  • Search has become increasingly local and voice technologies are moving us in this direction even faster, so remember to include a local focus on your SEO strategy.

Why does it matter that we optimise content for voice search?

Whilst the normal organic results display 10 results, voice technologies are only going to return one results. For the first time, we are going to have search technology where it really does matter that you get to position one for your content.

It’s also interesting that this technology leverages written content. Where there is a drive to feature content that is ‘rich’ – and that may mean incorporating video – in the main index, things like video and pictures can’t be used through a voice technology, so it would stand to reason to me that they are less important and possibly wouldn’t be counted in quite the same way.

Will HTTPS be more important for SEO in 2018?

It’s now essential that you have an SSL certificate installed on your site or server. If you’ve not got one and you’re still ranking highly congratulations but don’t rest on your laurels, you will drop in 2018 if you don’t implement this and if that happens it’s possible that you could lose your historical ranking bias and it could be tougher to outrank those competitors that have filled the gaps.

In addition to the actual ranking results, most servers are making it clearer that the website is unsecure. Why would you want your customers to think your site is not protected or their activity could in some way be compromised? What impact could that little trust indicator have on your conversion rate?

In 2018 we passed the mark than 50% of results on page 1 use HTTPS. I think we’ll see that top 65% in the first couple of months in 2018 and it will likely be more like over 80% by the end of 2018.

The remaining websites will be special cases. Can you wait to see if your site is a special case in Google’s eyes?

Why should you write more than simple blog content for SEO in 2018

There is so much content being created these days that Google needs helps. All pages are going to need additional markup to help Google work out what’s going on. This points out to Google what elements on the page are important. Some of this means that Google can pull out specific elements of the page to display in the SERPs but others simply give an indication of what the content is about.

I still believe we are heading towards a content crunch, the time where there is so much content on the internet that the value of creating it is more than the possible return. We may be there already. And this all adds to Google’s operational costs. More content mean more servers. That’s more buildings, more electricity etc. And Google likes to try to keep its costs down. Naturally! So help them out by giving them more information in terms of the markup you use for different elements of the page.

In a similar vein, Google has increased meta descriptions for the first time from 160-ish characters to more like 300 characters, so get making your meta descriptions longer.

It’s believed that web pages with decent Schema markup are several times more likely to be ranking in positions 1-3. Schema lets Google easily understand what your content is all about, not simply what it says.

Head over to to start looking at the different types of schema you can implement on your site. Create a spreadsheet and look at every page of your site to see how different types of schema can be implemented. And Schema is essential for local search, so make sure your contact details are all correctly annotated.

What impact will mobile traffic taking a higher percentage of traffic for SEO in 2018?

I remember the days when mobile traffic accounted for a few percent of a websites traffic. I remember easily awwaiting the day that mobile traffic would overtake desktop traffic. I was working on a consumer website which received millions of visits a month, I watched week after week as the percentage of traffic delivered by mobile slowly creeped up until it topped 50% for the first time. That was Chistmas 2012.It still scares me how many serious businesses there are out there that don’t have a mobile version of their site.

We talk about being mobile first. But people still design websites for desktops and then make them fit to mobiles. Many of us older folk are desktop natives despite the amount of time we spend on our mobile phones. My suggestion is to get someone younger involved. Who was a teenager when they got their first smartphone and who had a tablet before they got a laptop. This is bound to change their perception. Encourage them to explore it. Also, you need to think about the type of content you’re producing, what actions you want your users to take and when your users will be consuming your content.

Many people are now spending hours in commutes on their phones. Most are reading, some are also watching downloaded or streamed content. How can you get involved in that? How can you benefit from that trend? If you can start getting out what I refer to as ‘breakfast content’, you know, the type people read whilst they’re on the bus or train or when they first get into work before they open Outlook, then you’re creating content that they may share on their social media accounts. Make it really simple for them to do that. Every one of those shares can have a small impact on your SEO as well, so they all count. Plus, they may help encourage people to carry out brand searches which is a great user signal to Google. So what are you doing to make sure your brand stands out in the content you’re producing?

How is Social Media going to impact SEO in 2018?

Like it or not, SEO is threatened by a number of different factors and search queries are diminishing. One of the key things that are impacting this is social media. Social media has got really good at serving you the kind of content you want to see when you want to see it. These predictive algorithms are just going to get better as time goes on. This is having a big impact on search. I can’t remember the last time I went out of my way to search out news on Google. I always went to Google News in the past, but these days I very rarely do, because most of what’s happening in the world is already being presented to me through my Facebook news feed. Take a look at our social media predictions for 2018 to find out how you can get your content together for that.

Summing up

Google is under threat at the moment. In the early days, people didn’t know how to find content on the internet and Google taught the world how to find content. For years they were dominant, however, new players have entered the market and given consumers new ways to find content. Additionally, we consume content in a very different way than we used to. And whilst we don’t know what’s going to win out in the medium term, we do know that they are all chipping away at Google’s once unassailable search monopoly. In addition, there are so many people out there creating content that it’s completely saturated and we need to do all we can to help Google have any chance of understanding what we’re doing is different and that it’s quality.

My suggestions are – as always – do more quality work than your competitors, get more influential people involved to share your content and generate authoritative natural links, and mix up the type of content you’re producing so you’re not reliant on just one form of marketing. Be targeted, be creative, be natural and the SEO goodness should follow.

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