Sometimes in the SEO industry, it feels like the rules are changing almost every day.
Ask anyone that works in the search industry if their job has changed over the last few years, and I’m confident the vast majority will give you a resounding ‘yes’.
It’s understandable to a point when you stop and think about it. Google is continually striving to present the world’s information in an organised and relevant way – something that has to evolve and adapt as society moves forward – so what was relevant five years ago probably isn’t nowadays (depending on the topic in question). As a result, the way in which search engines organise and rank their results pages has to move with the times.
At its base level, SEO is an ongoing practice using a platform that itself is undergoing constant change – it sounds like the impossible task, but utilising the medium effectively can be the difference between success and failure.
So what are the top search engine optimisation trends you should already be focusing on this year?
Voice Is Here To Stay… We Think
One of the biggest threats to ‘traditional’ SEO in recent times has been the growing popularity of voice search.
Digital assistants like Siri and Alexa are now common in many homes and the way these devices use search engines is moving the goalposts for SEO marketers once again. This trend is only expected to grow, with 55% of UK homes expected to have some sort of digital assistant within the next four years.
55% of UK homes are expected to utilise some sort of digital assistant within the next four years.Tweet this now
The implications for the SEO industry could be huge. The way content is collated and delivered through as results for voice searches needs to be optimised for, but potentially in a different way to the more traditional typed search. Searches that are typed generally stay shorter and form less coherent sentences, whereas voice searches are often longer and use more conversational terms.
Personally, I think now is the right time to take voice as seriously, if not more, as your standard typed searches.
Prepare For Featured Snippets
Following on from the growth of voice search, holding that top spot on Google results pages has never been more important. Why? Two words – featured snippets.
Throw in any popular search term and take a look at the structure of the results page Google presents you with. In most cases, the first result will be included within a featured snippet – a highlighted section of information that Google pushes into a knowledge graph.
These snippets have been around since 2014, but have a hit a new level of importance with SEO thanks to digital assistants. Ask Siri or Alexa a question, they’ll search the web for the most suitable answer – and guess what? Chances are the featured snippet will be what they read back to you.
Google views this as the most relevant answer to your search query and the digital assistants don’t argue with that analysis, so optimising your site to secure as many of these featured snippets as possible is a game-changer in terms of driving traffic to your site.
For typed searches, featured snippets generally attract a higher click-through rate compared to your more standard Google search result, so there is still value if your audience doesn’t use voice to search all that much at the moment.
Are You Content With Your Content?
SEO is fundamentally based on the quality of content. The ways in which that content is presented however is changing with every passing year.
Years ago, a text-based copy was king and to some extent it still is – but the rise of imagery, video and more recently live streamed content has blown the marketplace wide open. Pages focused entirely on a single product still have their place of course, but SEO marketers are now striving to satisfy the customer that is in the ‘research’ phase of the buying cycle.
It’s fair to say a video is the most intriguing content medium at the moment. Originally popularised by sites like YouTube, captive audiences have now followed their favourite celebrities and brands onto live-stream platforms like Periscope and Twitch in their thousands. Elon Musk and his SpaceX program have made it into a stylish art form.
From an audience engagement perspective, you need to give value and a reason to stick around on your site. Ignore video at your peril.
It’s Time To Obsess Over UX
If you aren’t already, you need to take a long hard look at your customer journey.
One of the biggest reasons customers choose to take their business elsewhere is a clunky or frustrating user experience. An SEO campaign can often focus on the ‘bots’ ahead of the human aspect of a site which is the right thing to do in principle, but a smooth and enjoyable route to purchase can bring in new customers simply through word-of-mouth alone.
If you currently use a typical SEO approach, chances are UX is some way down your list of priorities. The route to success here is to build your store around how a normal ordinary person would use it – then work around this base to optimise content, keywords, page speed and metadata.
Building your SEO campaign around your target audience will pay much bigger dividends than trying to shoehorn your existing customer base into a mould they simply don’t fit.
Add UX into your SEO strategy from day one and you’re much more likely to see better customer-led results.Tweet this now
These four key elements of search engine optimisation give you a flavour of just how sophisticated the marketplace is becoming.
With that said, it’s fair to say that the main principles of SEO still ring true and whatever content you choose to distribute, it needs to be high quality. There’s no reward for simply flooding your audience with dull, unimaginative content that pushes them away instead of luring them closer.
Here’s the best advice we can give you at this point – make sure your site provides useful information in a way that answers your user’s queries and you’ll be well on your way to success with SEO this year.
Still not sure how to do this? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and our team will happily discuss the way forward for your store.