The year 2018 is going to be a dramatic year, especially for the search engines. On one side, Google is answering almost every question and on the other hand, it keeps updating the search algorithm. The objective of Google is to provide useful and relevant results to the world. The website operators are uptight with the fact that they might have to significantly change their optimization strategies. From the second half of 2017 to the very beginning of this year, we have seen the search engine ranking has changed quite a lot. SERP looks entirely different with links, videos, social mentions, widgets and many more. Search engines started ranking keywords that are device focused, intent-based, Artificial Intelligence and have incorporated many SERP features like local packs, reviews, tweets, videos, news blocks, shopping results, site links, people also ask, etc. These changes could significantly affect the way we have been optimizing our content for search engines over time. But, these are the ones which are going to have their predominance in the coming days. The people are also aware of the technological changes which are happening around. The insights about the Google search trends need to be carefully monitored.
Google Search Trends 2018
If your business isn’t taking advantage of using SEO strategies on its website, blogs, and social media pages, you’re missing the boat in terms of ranking your business in internet searches. It is the most effective way to ensure your customers find your business online. Here are some Google Search Trends to watch in 2018.
- Google SERP update
- Voice Search
- AI & Machine learning
- AMP & Mobile First
- Focus on Content
- Visual search
1. Google SERP update
As we all aware, Google has changed a lot from the time we started using it to date. SERPs used to just contain link after link without much variation. Sites had to compete in the same ways to rank for a multitude of keywords without much to help distinguish themselves in the results. Now they can optimize their web pages for a few bells and whistles to increase their visibility in the SERPs.
Here are 16 Google SERP features that every SEO should consider.
|SERP Feature Type||How to Get In (SERP Optimization)|
|Video Units||Create & optimize on YouTube (or, rarely, Vimeo)|
|“People Also Ask”||Branding – get searched for with/after the query|
|Featured Snippet||Phrasing & position of a short answer in content|
|Maps Box||Claim GMB, get links, earn citations, be nearby|
|Knowledge Panel||Earn brand association, use structured markup|
|Top Stories (News)||Get in Google News, earn links, title w/ KWs|
|Images||Relevant images, alt attributes, & direct embeds|
|Apps||KWs in title/description, get popular in app stores|
|Books||Write a book, use KWs in the title, have an ISBN|
|Related Searches||Be searched+found commonly w/ the KWs|
|Tweets||Verified accounts help, use KWs in tweets|
|Search Suggest||As w/ related searches, also geo-sensitive|
|Sitelinks||Get links & visits to several pop pgs; use markup|
|Section Sitelinks||Grow popular subsections w/ popular subpages|
|In-Depth Articles||Author longer pieces that receive attention/links|
|Carousels/List Results||Be listed alongside common sets on the web|
To give you a clear idea on some of the above mentioned SERP updates, I’m coming with a couple of examples.
Google SERP preview: Featured snippets
When looking at some of the organic keywords today, it is very much obvious that there is a lot of competition. The commercial search queries, adverts from Google take up a lot of space. Depending upon the search query, shopping adverts with images or text boxes with the information displaying the location of the stores is often shown in the SERP’s.
Along with these additions, undoubtedly the featured snippets will play a huge role in 2018. This feature is used to satisfy the user’s needs for a simple answer to a question and the displayed contents is taken from the web pages that Google interprets as the most suitable answer for the user’s query. However, it is not evident how the Google deals with the trustworthiness of the pages. The featured snippet is one of the most under-utilized Google Search Trends.
Google SERP preview: Knowledge Graphs
In addition to the featured snippets, Google also uses the knowledge graphs in many search questions by using the data from Wikipedia. In the rarest case search, Google will display both the knowledge graph and featured snippets. An example of Knowledge graph is shown below,
Google SERP preview: Rich Results
There are 2 kinds of snippets that are usually seen in Google SERP’s. They are the rich and the regular ones. Google allows you to differentiate and highlight your web page in SERP’s using methods called rich snippets, rich cards, or enriched results. Google can utilize the snippets in the form of Rating stars, Calories, Opening time, event details. The package collectively called as “Rich Results” include improved handling for Structured Data found on dynamically loaded content. Both include Title, URL and a Meta description. Structuring of data is very much important for the search engines to display pages. Rich snippets and the regular snippets are not much significantly differentiated in the search engines but there is always a different crowd gathering for the rich snippets which is multiple times than that of regular ones.
With the advents of SERP’s, Google is giving importance to more and more structured and organized data. Search engines will be able to create more meaningful meta-descriptions from existing content. No matter how well you use keywords, unless it is structured & formatted, getting organic traffic today would be just a dream.
2. Voice search
The voice search is always a fantastic feature and this feature will continue to pick up in 2018. It is very much evident that many people like to speak rather than type. When the feature was introduced, it had a huge crowd gathering, in future, there will be enormous people using this feature. The major feature is that it is not just the speed but the query can be well mentioned while speaking rather than typing. As a result of which more precise search result will be available. It is, in fact, a great opportunity of changing the way of using the web browser. The growth and advancement of the technology have given a new and unique method for searching the content. As per the records of Google, almost 1 out of every 5 searches comes from voice searches. People have started using this feature, now it is up to the webmasters to process and make the necessary changes in their content which is easy for search engines to read and identify. The natural languages and users tone needs to be kept in mind by the SEO’s to offer a perfect solution. It is always essential to research on the users voice-intent in order to provide accurate results. Globally the feature of voice search has gained a lot of attention. The digital expertise goes beyond smart-phones. So, there is a great scope for SEO and the content to take advantage of the growing market and make the most out of it by connecting the brands with desired users in most unique ways.
3. Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence has always been a subject which has stunned the world. This concept is unique and many people Globally are awaiting eagerly to incorporate into their life. AI & Machine learning is changing the way of pages are ranked in the search engines. Not only search engines, there are social media platforms which have jumped into the game and seeing the better outcome from machine learning framework. As a result of Google utilizing AI for search engine ranking, more personalized searches can be attained while people search for anything in Google search engine.
Artificial intelligence already accounts for about 15% of the daily searches in Google. We can expect the search engines to become even better and reliable at understanding the user and the targeted groups. So there can be a better and precise output. The searches will be even more relevant and unnecessary information can be well curtailed. The artificial intelligence is in its stage of growth and we can expect it in near future as a mature and fully grown one. This is very good news for all the users. As we proceed through this year we can expect more and healthier changes in terms of AI and search engines. There are more innovations which are in-store and are ready to be a part of this world.
4. AMP & Mobile-first Index
The mobile first design approach is something which will turn the SEO altogether. Nowadays the smart-phones are said to be ruling everywhere. This year is likely to be the year that the brands actually understand the potential of putting the mobile first rather than catering behind the mobile. A recent survey stated that 57% of the web traffic comes from mobile devices. So, this is for sure said to have the impact on the Google search trends.
The number of people opting to browse the internet using mobile phones is more than that of people using the desktops or laptops. Apart from all these, there is a surplus difference in the ranking of the keywords on the mobile and the ranking of keywords on the desktop. Now the mobile friendliness is also a major search engine ranking factor. The mobile searches are about the contexts, the brands should be prioritizing on first place to optimize. The localization of the SEO is going to get more and more popular, it is a boon for the mobile search users, as they can get more content on the go. This also helps in branding the business to users at even more ease. So, it’s high time SEO’s need to focus on mobility first.
5. Power of Backlinks
As every year pass-by people claim that “SEO is dead”, “Link Building is dead” and many other stories. But, do you think, companies could stay long in the market if they only target the SERP’s with Rich results or Paid Ads alone? No, it will not work that way. At one point, you need to give complete details to make people 100% satisfied with your content.
So why do people say SEO is dead? It’s because search engines like Google change their algorithms they use to rank pages in search results often. ‘SEO’ has changed over the years, and perhaps the old SEO is dead. Google is trying to boost the search engine ranking of Quality content that is well optimized and gets natural backlinks. So, if you are trying to any kind of spamming through crappy, one-dimensional link building tactics, then it’s time for you to stop competing with others, as Google is going to penalize you. If you already have done with your link building through PBN, Web 2.0 backlinks or other spammy backlink sources, then it’s time to do a complete backlink audit and take action. It’s good from SEO perspective to conduct a weekly or monthly backlink campaign and do backlink check to identify bad backlinks.
Remember backlinks will again play an important role in 2018. The so-called “Linkless backlinks” or “Linkless Mentions” might significantly play an important role this year. In fact, Google may also include references to web pages or trademarks on other web pages even though there is no direct link which refers to them.
Always keep in mind that link building via third and fourth class articles, portals, buying links or guest contributions are what you called as part of SEO, then, you can say your SEO is dead. It is no longer encouraged by Google. Instead, focus and invest in content which is unique and which the user likes to read and share. There are many ways of doing this. You should be doing guest contribution with caution in 2018. A simple rule that you can follow in this year to build links is by considering whether the link actually adds the value to the reader or not.
6. Focus on Content
In spite of all the changes circulating around the search engines, the one thing which has not shaken is the content. It just stands as a tall pillar. Nothing can actually replace quality content. The methodology of searching can change but without content, you cannot search anything; neither the search engine will be able to display the results. It should always be remembered that the content plays a major role in searching for the particulars. The algorithm of search engine can change, it still needs the text form of content to determine the relevance of the web pages. In recent times, Google has used the latest technology of Rank-brain to understand the textual content as a result of which it will be able to understand and know about the content in a better way. The content should not be taken for a ride. The SEO and other things are entirely dependent on the textual information. Whatever be the changes which takes place, the content will have its own significance in the market for finding out the web pages.
7. Visual Search
There is always some changes which cannot be avoided. In the same way, the search is also done using an image and video-based methodologies. Google has upgraded its image search in recent times. There were many websites which needed to cope with the loss of traffic as the users do not have to leave the site to view images rather can click up the images and can see it like a picture gallery. The fact of the matter is that many people do want to use this image as a filtering option. And for this, there needs to be the best picture in store than your competitors it is very much similar to content. The video-based searches are also getting its stream in recent times. In forthcoming years we can see that there will significant increase in terms of the searches which are being done using these kinds of searches. The visual search is always a key point. The technological innovation and user experience is a deadly combination which can take search to an extreme level. As the internet is becoming more visually, major tech giants like Pinterest, Google and many have invested so much in the booming technology. How the search engines go beyond the text is something which needs to be thought in a predominant manner.
With the spread of messengers, virtual chatterbots that imitate human conversations for solving various tasks are becoming increasingly in demand. Online chatbots save time and efforts by automating customer support. Gartner forecasts that by 2020, over 85% of customer interactions will be handled without a human. Google in it’s 2018 I/O conference has showcased it’s AI-powered chatbot Virtual Assistant. Coming to the SEO part, the more time you engage the customers on the page, Google will see this as a positive signal and boosts the page rank.
User Experience proportional to ranking
Anyone today, who speaks about “Search Engine Optimization” is an anachronistic person. We are not optimizing for the search engines but for the users of the search engine. This is the reason why user experience plays an important role.
Page loading speed: In today’s time, everyone wants everything at a stroke. Even they want to have the information immediately. As the ambiance changes, we also have to adapt to it. The page speed is also one of the crucial factors which are determined by the search engines. You can always check the speed of your page using the page speed tool offered by Google. If there are any shortcomings, you can make the required changes and can boost the speed of the page. It is always awful to wait for a particular website to open to check the required details. At times, it is even more frustrating. In this fast-paced life, if any website does not open within few seconds, then you will move to a different website to get the result. If there is slowness in loading of the website then the traffic of the site is been taken for a ride. Page speed is a user experience feature that is needed for all websites.
Mobile optimization: As we have already seen, more than half of the search queries are now carried out with smart-phones or tablets, therefore in 2018, it should be ensured that your website is well optimized for mobile devices. Google is now working on AMP projects to improve the page loading speed of web pages on Mobile devices.
When there is a change in the environment then ultimately there will be an opportunity for growth as well. We have to understand that there will always be changes, which is inevitable one, we have to adapt and change our approach towards achieving our goal.
With all these competing elements in the SERP’s, this year it is going to be a changeling year to remain in the top position. Having said that, when optimizing your content, it is important to know what are the goals you would want to achieve.
If you want your content is to be displayed on the featured snippets, you can use question-answer sequence on the page, more importantly when it comes to the knowledge questions. Tables with structured information can also be listed above the organic snippets. Unique, rich content will add value for the user, which will ultimately lead to higher search engine ranking. The more you meet the needs of the target groups with your content, the better are your chances of ranking highly in SERP’s. As many corporate have emerged in recent days for digital marketing support, marketing your business according to the Google search trends will be a great burden. So to overcome this, there is a need to implement complex techniques to make it function in an effective and efficient manner.
We should therefore be prepared for search engines to become even better and reliable at understanding us and our target groups. This is a good news for all the users. We can expect more changes to unfurl in 2018 in terms of AI and machine learning are concerned. Google’s strong determination to improve this area, makes us to understand that there are lot many innovations which are about to come in coming days.