While flying cars and teleportation technology may be years away, the future of SEO is now. Like many in the digital marketing community, we’ve already begun to sense the direction our industry is heading and observed trends that we believe will continue to heat up in 2018.
With 2018 quickly approaching, our account and production teams are strategizing the new year’s’ approach and attempting to capitalize upon some of the themes we’re seeing. Never short on opinions and perspective, our SEO team has provided their predictions for organic search success in 2018.
2018 Predictions from the SEO Team
Voice Search & Moving Beyond Text-Based Optimization
“For me, the two biggest things that jump out are voice search and how organic SEO will continue to go much deeper than just text-based optimizations. The rise of voice search by users will push us to focus more on long-tail keywords and natural language than we ever have before. Search engines such as Googlebot are able to understand longer, more conversational searches from users using voice search /digital assistants which makes this user intent and “natural language” queries a much bigger focus. Regarding text-based SEO optimizations, simply put, users are engaging more and more with visual content and not just text on web pages. So, optimizing images, video and other multimedia for SEO will be a focus as well.” – Ashley Peterson, Senior SEO Specialist, Team Lead
Personalized Results in SERPs
“I think users will be seeing more and more personalized results being served in SERPs. Given Google’s increased AI development and the amount of user data currently available, clickthrough rate will be more and more important.” – Joe Tiberio, Senior SEO Specialist
Shift Towards Conversational Language & Growing Importance of Page Engagement
“I think we’ll see an increase in more natural, conversational language to meet needs for showing up in voice search results, and to drive clickthrough rates in traditional search results. Traditional meta title styles of “primary keyword, “pipe” (|), brand name” will become more and more old fashioned as everything shifts towards a more natural and conversational style with growing technologies.
We’re also starting to see page engagement as an ever-growing SEO factor, leading to an increased need for continuous UX improvement, focusing on the user above everything else. Analytics will need to be used regularly to determine least engaged pages, and those pages with low time spent on page. These are signals of content faults that should be analyzed for improvement opportunities and updated accordingly.” – Hannah Westfield, Digital Marketing Specialist
Direct Answers in Search Results
“Google will continue to figure out new and increasingly clever ways to serve answers directly in search results, like the Knowledge Panel, Featured Snippets, Direct Answers, Answer Boxes, etc. Optimizing your pages (and GMB listing!) so they have the best chance of being found and included in these results seems like a very wise time investment.” – Holly Borchardt, SEO Specialist
Increased Emphasis on User Experience
“2018 will be the year of user experience. Google wants to serve the best experience possible to all searchers, so organic CTRs, dwell time and the enigma that is RankBrain will be all the rage for success.” – Brian Lich, SEO Specialist
2018 Predictions from the Account Managers
After our SEO production team gazed into their crystal balls, the Account Management team wanted to share insights into client concerns and questions they’ve been receiving. Staying on top of client pain points and anxieties is an omnipresent responsibility for AMs, so let’s tap into their minds as well.
Great Content & Relationships
“In my mind, SEO success in 2018 is going to be about 2 big things – great content & great relationships.” – Natalie Henley, CEO
Account-Based Marketing & Influencer Marketing
B2B Clients: “It seems like Account Based Marketing (ABM) is all the rage moving into the new year for B2B clients. To me, this is just “good marketing,” but B2B clients are increasingly feeling the need to personalize their messaging toward “individual campaigns” because it’s proven the ROI is significantly better with this approach. I mean, B2B decision makers are actual human beings and often start their buying cycle from an emotional place instead of a rational one. As a consequence, the savvy B2B organizations are also ratcheting up their marketing automation investments so they can do this on a mass scale. Because ABM is expensive!”
B2C Clients: “I’m hearing more requests for influencer marketing thought leadership: “How can we get influencers on board to build credibility for our brand?” The thinking here is that advertising is losing credibility and ROI because it’s paid for. But then again, so are influencers!” – Ben Waymire, Account Director
Small Brands Will Win & Optimization Goes In-Depth
“Small brands will win big – Sure, bots might be the next shiny object, but people will (more than ever) desire that human-like connection with their favorite brands. And small brands have the ability to connect more closely with their loyal followers, and they’ll apply their learnings more quickly. Additionally, basic optimization efforts won’t be the first go-to. We know it’s bigger than all of that, so instead, we’ll start with longer and more in-depth projects that put the customer needs at the forefront. Lastly, voice search. This needs to be included and considered in everything we do.” – Miranda Ryder, Senior Account Manager
Increase Importance of Amazon Optimization
“Specifically for B2C’s, I think Amazon optimization will be paramount, especially as Amazon continues to slowly but surely take over the world.” – Gitel Celnik, Account Manager
Voice Search & Local SEO
“With 2018 around the corner, I’ve been discussing optimizing for voice search (long-tail + natural voice), Local SEO, and rich media content.” – Sara Settle, Account Manager
So, after polling a hefty handful of our team, there are some recurring themes, most of which are centered around voice search, natural language, and RankBrain’s monitoring user experience. But as we’re all well aware, predicting the ever-changing direction of SEO can be tricky and often futile. Feel free to share your thoughts and predictions! We love to hear from the community.