Search engine optimisation is most debated topic in the digital world, as search engines don’t reveal their ranking algorithms. Most of the knowledge is available in the industry are revealed through observations, trends and experiments.
And as you know Google or any other search engine algorithm is not a static thing, it keeps changing. So you have to keep tweaking your strategy.
In 2018 you have to start optimising for many new things, some are essential and some are future proofing.
#1. Voice search is new normal
Search is not limited to just typed keywords or phrases. Tech giants have put big weight behind digital assistance and it looks like it is paying them off very well.
If we see the growth of voice search data then it is eye opening. Business has to put their strategy in the place to get leverage from this new trend.
You are entering a new era of customer communication as more people will use mobile-only as a primary source of information delivery device. If you see voice assistant usage surges then it is an estimated 130% this year.
While the benefits of voice for consumers are immediate and obvious, implications for marketers are vast and still emerging. It’s critical to think broadly about how voice will impact the entire customer experience, from discovery to purchase.
Here look at the data and prediction
“50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020” according to comscore
“About 30% of searches will be done without a screen by 2020.” via Mediapos
“We estimate there will be 21.4 million smart speakers in the US by 2020” according to Activate
“Google voice search queries in 2016 are up 35x over 2008” according to Google trends via Search Engine Watch
“40% of adults now use voice search once per day” according to Location World
“Cortana now has 133 million monthly users” according to Microsoft/Tech Radar
“In May 2016, 1 in 5 searches on an Android app in the USA were through speech” according to KPCB
“25% of 16-24s use voice search on mobile” via Global Web Index
“41% of people using voice search have only started in the last 6 months” according to MindMeld
“60% of people using voice search have started in the last year” according to MindMeld
“11% of people using voice search started more than 3 years ago” according to MindMeld
“Only 11% of respondents who already own an Amazon Alexa or Google Home device will also buy a competing device.” via Voicelabs.
“Application growth for Amazon Alexa has been impressive – over 500% in the second half of 2016″ according to Voicelabs.
“Evercore estimates 500,000 Google Home units shipped in 2016” via Bloomberg
“65 percent of people who own an Amazon Echo or Google Home can’t imagine to going back to the days before they had a smart speaker.” via Geomarketing.com
“42 percent say voice-activated devices have quickly become “essential” to their lives. via Geomarketing.com
“The Echo Dot was the best-selling product on all of Amazon in the 2018 holiday season” via Techcrunch
“1 in 2 use voice technology on their smartphone, 1 in 3 voice technology users use voice technology daily.” via ComScore
“47% expect their voice technology usage to increase” via ComScore
” The number of households in the US with smart speakers has grown 49% in the last 5 months (Jun-Nov 2017)” via ComScore
“Amazon and Google account for 94% of all smart speakers in use” via Strategy Analytics
“Google Home has roughly a 25 percent share of the US smart speaker market.” via Search Engine Land
“56% of online grocery shoppers use or plan to use voice controlled smart assistant/speaker” via Global Web Index
“52% of people keep their voice activated speaker in their common room (e.g family or living room), 25% in bedroom and 22% in their kitchen” via Think with Google
“72% of people who own a voice-activated speaker say their devices are often used as part of teir daily routine.” via Think with Google
“41% say using their voice-activated speaker is like talking to a friend or another person.” via Think with Google
Collected Stat Source : Branded3
Google is trying to get better at understanding natural language and the meanings behind search queries, it’s still very early days for its machine learning and interpreting the queries perfectly.
It’s difficult for Google to claim that ’typed queries’ on mobile and desktop are subsiding but it is obvious that voice search is certainly becoming more and more important.
Consumers in the Age of Assistance are quicker in research and making the decision. So now the question is, how you can make your search engine strategy to cope up with this trend? here are some suggestions.
- Understand how user ask queries on search engine
- Optimise for long tail queries
- Create the content in a conversational manner
- Optimise on page structured data
Additional Read: How to Optimize for Voice Search: 4 Simple SEO Strategies
#2. Local search is getting prominence
Google is serious about relevancy and user satisfaction and gradually learning about local information queries.
95% of smartphone users performed local searches on their devices. Local searches are growing because of mobile devices. People are searching all kind of information on their smartphone device.
Google think tanks working around to optimise the result for those micro-moments.
How does Google determine local search rank?
Here Google is a bit transparent, you can learn it in Google’s exact language.
Local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence. These factors are combined to help find the best match for your search. For example, Google algorithms might decide that a business that’s farther away from your location is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a business that’s closer and therefore rank it higher in local results.
Relevance refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches.
Just like it sounds–how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search? If a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location.
Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands that are familiar to many people are also likely to be prominent in local search results.
Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimisation.
How to optimise for local search?
A local citation consists of any online mention of the name, address, and phone number for a local business. You can submit NAP (Company Name, Address and Phone Number) to various local online directories. It will help the user to find out about your business.
Since it helps the users then Google counts on it. You want to understand local citation in details then here I am linking an in-depth resource.
Google My Business Page
You may be seeing these kinds of the result in SERP. Your Google Business page helps to get these results which are shown on the right-hand side.
You need to verify your Google Business Page and rest Google will take care itself.
You need to keep your Google page updated will help you in search results as well as in engagement. Here is a detailed post about how to optimise Google Business listing, learn and excel.
Everyone loves to read reviews as they want confirmation of their decision to reduce risks. I often go through the Amazon reviews before making a purchase of selected products. The same thing you might be also doing and your prospects were looking for the same too.
Indeed, Moz attributes review signals 8.4% of its ranking factor pie.
BrightLocal’s local consumer review survey, reveals that 88% users read reviews to determine the quality of a local business.
Your strategy to get a positive reviews from your customers can dramatically improve your ranking.
Additional read: The importance of user reviews for local SEO
#3. Google Direct Answer
Since Google launched the hummingbird algo , it started throwing out better results through knowledge graph. Then started giving a result on position zero through a direct answer. There is four types of direct answer google is giving nowadays.
Paragraph-Style Answer Box
Table-Style Answer Box
List-Style Answer Box
Website loses the traffic which appears for results related to meaning, definition or another kind of short answers, but the subject which are listic or deep subjective topics are receiving huge traffic boost.
Here is video by Rand Fishkin Explaining, How to optimise for Direct Answer?
Additional Read: HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR CONTENT FOR GOOGLE ANSWER BOXES
#4. Mobile first Index
Just over a year ago, Google announced a major change to the way its search index will rank sites: it will go mobile-first. As the company explained at the time, Google’s algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a website’s content to rank its pages, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from the site in its search results. This week, Google said it has begun to make this shift – and has already transitioned a handful of sites to the mobile-first index, which are now being monitored by the search team.
The goal with the change to a mobile-first index has to do with how people access the web today – that is, they do so on their mobile devices, like their smartphone. In fact, the company said last November that “most people” today are searching Google from mobile.
But Google’s ranking systems for webpages are a holdover from the days of the desktop web. That is, they still typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content in order to determine how it should be ranked and its relevance to the user. : Tech Crunch
Ok. make this simple, if you are using m.yourwebsite.com for mobile and www.yourwebsite.com for desktop. Google usually index desktop version of your site and make the results accordingly, for better user experience you keep limited content on your mobile site. But now Google will index Mobile version and modify desktop results according to that. So now no more you can afford main domain site for desktop and sub domain site for mobile.
If you have responsive site, you do not need to panic.
#5. More Video results
Video has become most sought after content all over the web, so search engine can’t ignore the fact. Here is the data confirms it.
- 55% people watch videos online every single day.
- YouTube alone counts 1 billion hours of daily video content consumption worldwide. Think how many billions of more video hours are consumed at NetFlix, Vimeo and other video hosting sites.
- Facebook too generates a massive 8 billion video views on average per day.
Cisco suggests that video content is going to eat up a whopping 80% of all internet traffic by 2019, if not already. Mobile video consumption rate is also rising by 100% every year on YouTube.
Engines started pushing various type of videos in the SERP. You must have noticed that suggested clip which can be watched in SERP itself started showing up.
Popularity and growth of video content are pushing search engine to design the results around video content and the way Google is showing the Video results it confirms so too.
To tap this early opportunity, You should start working upon Video SEO.
How to do SEO of your Video Content?
- Create relevant metadata of the video
- Optimise with keywords
- Focus on the thumbnail (Use click bait Technique)
- Make “shareable” content
- Add a video transcript
- Create a video sitemap
- Allow embedding of your video
- Share on social media
Additional Read: 9 Facts That Show Videos Are Getting More Prominent in the SERPs
#6. Speed will be Important
Google had made official announcement that speed of your website will be a ranking factor for mobile search results.
The update goes live in July 2018, so you have time to prepare your webpages.
Google’s Zhiheng Wang and Doantam Phan wrote:
The “Speed Update,” as we’re calling it, will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.
Additional Read: 15 Tips to Speed Up Your Website
#7. Overall Experience will be key
Aforementioned points are limited to appearing on the first page of search engine against user’s query. Other-hand you have to keep the things in mind that your objective is not just appearing on the first page of search result, you are there to drive users on your site and satisfy their information need.
Google always love quality sites and usually rank them higher, so you should always design the experience which can delight your user, search engine will reward you with higher ranks.
Additional Read: Why is the User Experience one of the first SEO Ranking Factors
If you see overall trend then it is just reflection of changing behaviour of the user and search engine using those behavioural aspect to design best experience for user on the search engine. So the key is experience from queries to website usage.
So tweak your strategy around users need, optimisation job will be automatically done for search engine.