The landscape for social media, the use of images and most of all search engine optimisation (SEO) is likely to continue changing and morphing as new developments occur in real-time. For businesses that need to understand what they should be focusing on with their online marketing efforts and to protect their digital assets in 2018, it’s worth looking at what’s working with SEO today and why it’s a good idea to still use it.
Below are our thoughts about the future of SEO and how things may change in 2018.
Prospecting in the Digital Age
Using SEO outreach to contact a collection of people who may be interested in a guest post or partnering up with a new venture is a strategy that’s been working for several years and continues to do well. Finding the correct email address for every contact on your list isn’t easy, so we’d suggest using a service like theemailfinder.co to make that part of it a bit simpler and less time-consuming.
With a more personalised contact, you’re likely to get a significantly higher response rate. Making contact first and building up an initial relationship on Facebook or on their website through blog commenting often gets you noticed.
Focusing More on Visual Assets
Large blocks of unbroken text with few images, infographics, videos or slideshows fails to capture the reader’s attention. People using the web don’t so much read as they do scan down the page for interesting snippets to read. Because of this, many people don’t read whole articles, but select sections of interest and only consume those parts. By adding better-quality photographs – that are relevant to the topic – visitors stay engaged for longer.
Google also likes seeing rich media mixed in with textual content and tends to favour it in search results too. The likes of Instagram and Pinterest should have also made it clear by now that searchers have a voracious appetite for images because they’re instantly consumable.
Google likes to use structured content information to fill out their search engine results pages (SERPs). When using structured mark-up to clarify important aspects of a product, such as its customer rating, price and other useful information, the search engine can selectively use these in the search results when it determines that it adds value.
Companies have got nothing to lose by taking the time to add proper schematic mark-up to every page and post because they may get featured in a rich snippet or as part of a Knowledge Graph that Google uses to present information clearer.
With smartphones now able to be always connected to the internet while on the go, consumers are using digital assistants to ask questions vocally. Whether it’s Google or Apple or Microsoft or another company receiving the query, millions of questions are being asked every day hoping for an intelligible answer to be received.
Companies would do well to consider the implication of this when structuring their content and titling their pages. For local searches, people are often appending “near me” to the end of searches to pull results for a location that’s based on their current GPS coordinates or their home base. Working these types of search terms into a Q&A page can capture these fast-moving souls who need answers quickly.
Loading Time Matters More Than It Used To
With faster internet access being more widely available, it may surprise you to learn that web page loading time matters more than ever. You can call it a knock-on effect that home users enjoy fast broadband and don’t suffer slow web sites gladly; they usually hit the back button within a couple of seconds if a page is stalling out. Many people don’t attempt to reload a page to get around a stuck web server process either; they just bail.
Google also uses loading time as factor in ranking a site, with especially slow-loading sites suffering a drop in their rankings if the problem isn’t fixed. Consider getting the web hosting upgraded to a virtual private server, cloud server or a dedicated server with a mid-tier host like Siteground or a top-tier host like WPEngine to resolve bottlenecks. Alternatively, if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, optimise the site to load faster even on slower hosting and connections.
Don’t Forget Mobile
For many sites, they find that up to 50 percent of their visitors use a mobile device like a tablet or a smartphone. The viewing and interactive experience varies tremendously depending on the device used. Certainly, sites must be responsive, which means they adjust the design based on the screen size of the device accessing their site. However, site designers must do more to make sites accessible to people using smaller screens.
One fundamental difference for sites is that the right-hand sidebar is often shoved down to the bottom of the page on smaller screen devices, making the page effectively a single-column one. Depending on how the website was originally designed, navigational elements, search boxes and other important features disappear for most mobile users who don’t scroll down far enough to spot them at the bottom of the page. For this reason, companies need to reconsider their original designs.
Google and Facebook with Mobile-optimisation Strategies
Both Google and Facebook are leading the way with initiatives that suggest how to create separate or adjusted websites that load up to 90 percent faster. Google’s AMP initiative is less than two years old but is continuing to gain steam; their own search results show far less on a smartphone than they do on a tablet or desktop.
It’s not possible to predict everything that will happen with SEO in 2018. The best we can do is carry over strategies that have been working in the closing months of 2017 and adapt quickly to changes as they happen. However, avoiding cutting-edge ideas that look or sound sketchy is a sensible policy because those kinds of ideas never stick and can result in a penalty action from Google. It’s always best to play it safe with your digital assets.