Consumers in 2018 are more aware of how their data is being tracked and some of them are quickly losing trust in companies. Meanwhile, the evolution of mobile, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and search presents new technological challenges for PR, marketing and communications professionals.
There’s an overload of online information right now, and it’s one of the reasons why Google’s aim is to rank the most relevant content first. Ranking first on a Google search engine results page (SERP) is considered an honorable achievement, but it’s not the only search engine optimization (SEO) campaign goal that matters.
Optimizing for Google is still vital, but if you don't rank first, there's a lot you can do to improve your organic search results.
Here are four worthwhile SEO trends that you need to embrace in 2018.
1. Combat Ad Block by Optimizing Organic Search Rankings
"Ranking without links is really really hard. Not impossible, but very hard."
— Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, October 2016
It's 2018 — Your data is being tracked on the majority of websites that you visit. Have you ever saved headphones to your Amazon shopping cart and then suddenly see them pop up on your Facebook feed? Research shows that 30 percent of all internet users will ad block by 2018. Although nearly every page you view, app you download, link you click, or product you buy is tracked, you have the ability to block cookies (tracking), utilize anti-spam software, skip ads and customize social media feeds.
Amazon is one of the largest internet retailers in the world, with traffic and revenue soaring in the billions. Last year, most of Amazon’s revenue was generated through internet retail sales of electronics and other products. Amazon invested heavily in SEO a few years ago, and it helped them become a master in SEO rank in the ad-blocking world.
Reaching top rank in an organic search is a great goal in an ad-blocking world. To optimize organic search rankings:
- Integrate a multichannel SEO strategy.
- Perform keyword research and target strong keywords that are relevant to each channel.
- Optimize content for searcher intent.
- Incorporate brand keywords.
- Provide high-quality content and keyword-rich links.
- Track and analyze your data.
- Engage your audience on social media.
- Optimize your website with a responsive web design to be mobile-friendly.
2. Build Trust And Avoid Spam
Social media platforms and search engines will continue to introduce new rules to prevent the spread of fake news, ensure data security and provide relevant information. In March, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, faced scrutiny from Congress over Facebook's data privacy and security issues. Customer, influencer and media trust directly influence your SEO campaigns and search engine ranking in 2018. An adaptive brand keeps up with current SEO trends and Google’s ranking factors to maintain trust with customers, influencers and media.
This year, Twitter updated its policies by introducing new anti-spam rules. Twitter now prohibits identical content — content like the duplicate tweets many businesses posted regularly on multiple Twitter handles. Your brand’s Twitter handle must follow Twitter’s new rules because violating them risks them shutting down some or all of your accounts.
This is nothing new to marketers who are familiar with Google’s algorithm updates, for instance, Google Panda. In 2011, Google began penalizing duplicate content in order to rid low-quality “content farms.” “Content farms” are web pages stuffed full of low-quality content from other sites to drive ranking on search engine results pages. Google’s aim is to provide searchers what they want, which is high-quality, relevant and valuable content.
To build trust online:
- Create well-written, authoritative content. Don’t be misleading.
- Promote brand awareness and value by telling your company's authentic story.
- Ensure that your audience’s expectations on your content meet reality.
- Send press releases consistently as an organic approach to telling your company’s story, building trust and engaging your audience.
3. Take Advantage of AI, Mobile And IoT
Demis Hassibis, co-founder and CEO of Google DeepMind defines AI simply as, “the science of making machines smart.” AI technology, like automated content scheduling, will lead to more productivity and less time spent on monotonous tasks. An expanding AI industry will also lead to an increase in customization technology that can track and analyze consumer data, including their behavior. Customer loyalty marketing programs are embracing word of mouth to develop more meaningful relationships with customers. As a marketing professional, you should be taking advantage of this access to new knowledge on data.
According to Doantam Phan, product manager, Google, Google’s “algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in (their) results.” For this reason, you need to ensure that you also optimize SEO for mobile.
IoT will also advance this year. As consumers begin using their network of internet-enabled devices in their cars and home appliances, like virtual assistants Siri and Amazon Alexa, you need to ensure your content is accessible on various devices. Content marketing for tablets, laptops, smartphones and watches requires similar SEO best practices for desktop and mobile.
To increase organic reach for AI, mobile and IoT:
- Build links.
- Lead with the most important information.
- Incorporate multimedia like photo, video or audio in your content to boost engagement.
- Add strong keywords in metadata descriptions.
- Use a mobile-friendly test.
- Write conversational content that's shareable and compatible on various devices.
- Use campaign tracking links to analyze engagement and click-throughs.
4. Cater to Search Engine Evolution
"70.4 percent of Google Home result pages are secured with HTTPS."
Google and other search engines continue to favor quality over quantity, regardless of whether the search is conducted via desktop or voice assistant. Voice-activated search is fast and convenient. Optimize your web pages and content precisely to serve search intent.
To cater to the search engine evolution:
- Encrypt your website with HTTPS. Don't get marked as "not secure."
- Create strong, authoritative URLs that contain keywords.
- Write rich content in natural language.
- Cater your content to answer voice-activated search queries precisely.
- Start early, be active and utilize Google Analytics.
- Pay attention to format.
- Add a call-to-action on web pages.
These SEO trends are timely and valuable topics worth investing in because they contribute to the bottom line. SEO is a powerful marketing tool that continues to impact consumer purchase decisions through the promotion of products and brand awareness.
Whether you’re part of a small-medium business, medium-sized business or large enterprise, your online visibility will continue to have a serious effect on digital ROI. SEO and content marketing go hand-in-hand. When you’re thinking about SEO, it’s important to focus on the long-term and remain patient, because SEO results do take time.
“On a broad scale, I see SEO becoming a normalized marketing tactic, the same way TV, radio, and print are traditionally thought of as marketing tactics.”
— Duane Forrester, Senior Product Manager, Bing
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