January 5, 2018
More than any other digital discipline, SEO is subject to constant new predictions, exhaustive analysis and often-wild speculation.
In 2018 the Blueclaw view is that while factors like Google’s mobile-first index have scope to cause some big changes, the success or failure of your SEO strategy will ultimately come down to how systematic and how quality-focused it is.
There are three big areas to prioritise in 2018 for on-site SEO success, whatever your industry:
Google is in the business of delivering the right answers to users, wherever they are and whatever device they use.
In order to be ranked, first your site must be understood, without inconsistencies or gaps.
For that reason, it’s vital that text, images and videos are all crawlable on by mobile and desktop GoogleBots, and that the site displays the same key content across all devices.
Structured data should be replicated across mobile and desktop versions of the site; if separate pages are used for mobile and desktop users then ensure that any included structured data matches the content that has been modified for ease of use by mobile visitors.
Finally, given that we’re now so thoroughly in the mobile era, that page titles and meta descriptions must be of a length that works for mobile – not just desktop devices.
Consistency, trust and a coherent experience matters for site visitors, but in 2018 it’ll be just as if not more important for search engines.
In 2018 SEO, speed will be even more crucial. We advise clients to seriously consider implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) on appropriate page types – those that fit the model of an article or news story.
Once again, it comes down to what works for search engines, and for users who want a fast and effective experience on your site.
Get page load times as low as possible – compress resources such as JS, CSS and HTML. Optimise images and ensure that browser caching is levered as much as possible.
Although speed is going to grow in importance, the steps to take to optimise aren’t so different to best practice from 2017 or earlier:
3 – Quality content will separates leaders from followers
Much of what we do at Blueclaw focuses on content marketing for PR and link-earning as part of an off-site SEO strategy, but on-site content has a major role to play.
In 2018, the watchword for on-site content will be quality.
The ability of search engines to recognise – and dismiss – thin content, artificial content and content that is written to try and game the system is at best pointless and at worst almost asking for a penalty.
The user experience is paramount, and there’s a balance to strike between content that is outstanding, and content that is competitive in SEO. So –
Structured data markup will be a key differentiating factor in 2018, not least because it takes a level of discipline that few brands are currently able to maintain.
Voice and digital assistants are growing in popularity and accuracy and as users become more habitual users, the nature of search will change.
The ability of search engines to interpret natural language content and understand semantics is a big shift that will catch out a lot of companies who have a relentless focus on a set of core keywords – quite simply the market is moving on.
Similarly, search engines are increasingly showing answers to user queries directly on the search engine results page in Featured Snippets – meaning that users won’t even click through to your site. The key to being ‘the answer’ is to ensure content is structured in such a way to answer the most commercial questions.
Consider the questions you wish to rank for, and how to use the brand visibility you have when being featured directly in the SERPs, or in Google News or as an answer to a voice search to encourage customers to go further to engage and buy from you.
To optimize for these, think about the questions you want your website to surface for, and search them to see how well you rank. Can you produce Q&A-style content that will answer these types of queries? Consider also producing content with a slightly more conversational tone that will match the way that people are phrasing their queries.
On-site SEO in 2018 will so thoroughly be related to content strategy, user experience strategy and ability to adapt to the increasing sophistication and semantic calculations of search engines that it requires a rethink for many brands.
However, for the companies that get it right, SEO remains just as big an opportunity as ever – but it takes discipline and a relentless focus on quality, backed up by technical insight.
As ever, the Blueclaw team is here to help you navigate these change – contact us to start a conversation 😊