Top 5 SEO Trends for 2018

Happy New Year!

Typically, ringing in the New Year involves an “out with the old, in with the new” attitude and approach. For search engine optimization, it’s a little more complicated.

The SEO trends you need to know and implement are not brand-new concepts or strategies; rather, they are ranking factors that have already been known or introduced—it’s just that their implementation takes on a new level of urgency to stay competitive in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Here are the top five SEO trends that will determine your website performance in 2018:

Voice Search

Since 2013 (maybe earlier), mobile search has been growing faster than desktop search (finally overtaking desktop search in 2015 or 2016…it depends on where you get your statistics). That trend is not changing—mobile search is going to continue to gain popularity. What is changing is how users use their mobile devices to perform Internet searches—more and more users are opting for voice-activated search.

Voice-activated technologies are continually improving, providing users with less frustration as they interpret spoken language more accurately and deliver relevant results. As a result, more people are going to search hands-free and let Siri, Alexa, Genie (and the host of other digital assistants) do the work.

How to Stay Trending:

The key to showing up in voice search results is relevant content. And to let search engines know your content is relevant, it needs to incorporate natural language and long-tail keywords (think: “where can I get a chip in my windshield fixed” not truncated search phrases like “windshield repair Albuquerque.”)


More website traffic (about 57%) is driven by mobile searches than desktop searches already. So, whether or not Google and other search engines decide to finally roll out a mobile-first index, effective search marketing requires a mobile-first mindset now.

A mobile-first SEO strategy must, at the least, ensure that your website has:

  • Responsive web design (or a mobile version of your website)
  • Web design (e.g. layout, navigation structure) sensitive to mobile users’ needs and experience
  • Content that demonstrates your relevance in local, contextual searches

Speed is crucial to mobile users’ experience, making AMP pages preferred by Google, even if AMP has not been confirmed as a ranking factor.

(FYI: AMP is a Google-backed global initiative to create web pages that deliver reliable performance and high-speed loading on all devices. For a page to be AMP’d, the page has to be built using three open-source (i.e. free) components: AMP HTML, AMP JS and Google AMP Cache. All three components are “back end,” technical things that takes care of for you.)

How to Stay Trending:

Staying competitive in a mobile-first search environment requires on-page and off-page “stuff” that keeps your website attractive and easy-to-use for searchers and search engines. That “stuff” is quite technical, so, really, the best way to ensure your website is mobile-first index-ready is to have it audited (and revamped if necessary) by experienced SEO professionals.

Speed (and other factors affecting user experience)

Although speed appears in our list of Top 5 SEO trends for 2018, it’s really nothing new. Page loading speed is an established ranking factor, in and of itself and because it affects user experience, another ranking factor.

There are tons of statistics showing how important page loading speed is to user experience, and they all say the same thing—the longer your page(s) take to load, the less time users spend on your site. The less time users spend on your site, the lower your page’s ranking potential.

In addition to speed, your web pages’ readability and navigability also impact users’ engagement with your pages. If your loading speed is good (3s or less) but users keep bouncing, then there’s an on-page problem—boring, irrelevant or uninformative content, for example—and it needs to get fixed fast!

How to Stay Trending:

Obviously, to stay competitive, your pages need to load AFAP—as fast as possible. There are a number of strategies that can help you reduce page loading speed, including AMP for mobile pages. While you can test page loading speed on your own, finding the best strategy to improve your speed scores is more technical. So, best leave that to the SEO professionals.

As far as content and navigation goes, fixing those may require website redesign and/or fresh content development.

Featured Snippets

Hopefully you’ve noticed, but today’s SERPs are not what they used to be—a list of blue links (with paid results highlighted in yellow or denoted with a red “Ad” box on the left). Today’s SERPs are sectioned to display different types of results, many of which are (or can/should be) enriched with images, ratings, social media links and related information.

The evolving SERP layout means that:

  1. There are more places for your website to be visible on relevant SERPs
  2. Getting to the #1 organic search result listing is not the only, maybe not even the best, place for you to get the visibility you need for increased traffic and conversions

As mobile SERPs evolve, featured snippets may be even more important as organic links will fall even lower on the page or disappear with the use of dynamic links (a mobile-first phenomenon that does not rely on URLs for ranking…it’s complicated).

How to Stay Trending:

Getting improved visibility on the new SERPs may require quite a bit of work, such as:

  • Implementing data structuring schema that enables your link(s) to appear with rich snippets, which (in addition to the URL and meta description) may include:
    • Featured thumbnail image
    • Rating (out of five stars)
    • Number and links to reviews
  • Creating content presented in a similar layout/format as Google’s Quick Answer/Answer Box (the “People also ask” section that appears with “how to…” or “what does…” searches).
  • Creating easy-to-consume information—i.e., tables, graphs, charts, infographics, FAQs
  • Optimizing your Google My Business listing

The work is worth it, though, considering rich snippets enjoy up to a 30% increase in click-through rates compared to links with standard snippets.

Links and Linkless Mentions

Backlinks—the links from other websites to yours—have always been a ranking factor, and they continue to be. Links from credible, authoritative sources to your website boost your ranking potential; links from spammy websites get yours penalized. What’s new(er) is that search engines are going to look more closely at guest blogs, a popular strategy used to build a link profile.

What’s also new is that mentions of your website—even without an outbound link to your site—on other credible websites is used as a trust signal that boosts ranking potential.

How to Stay Trending:

Continue to build relationships with professionals and brands relevant to your industry. Consider guest blogs from credible sources to build your link profile. You may also ask offline for credible sources to link or mention your brand/website for better search engine recognition.

Honorable Trend Mentions

Our top 5 list is not comprehensive. There are other SEO trends to be aware of and implement for better performance in 2018. Among those honorable mentions are:

  • Visual Search—the use of images to search for related products, services and information
  • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning—the use of data to better understand searchers’ intent and deliver more relevant results

Although more testing needs to be done with these SEO trends so that professionals have information about how to best implement them, chances are that some tried-and-true SEO strategies will help—optimizing trust-building images and creating quality content.

Is Your Website Trending? clients do not have to do anything to stay competitive in a voice-activated, mobile-first search environment. We already do the on-page and off-page “stuff” that keeps your website attractive and easy-to-use for searchers and search engines.

If you are not already a client, contact us. Much of what it takes to keep your website trending is very technical. It’s back-end work that our SEO professionals have the experience and skills to handle.