The world of digital marketing rarely stands still.
Ask anyone who’s worked in the industry for over five years if their job is the same now as it was when they started, and you’re likely to be told "no", or if you’re speaking to someone in search, "hell no".
Our role in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is one that is becoming increasingly fast-paced, and what accounts for good practice now is rather different to five years ago. At its core, SEO is the tool that helps consumers find the right information through a medium that is constantly evolving, and effectively utilising this medium is the difference between success and failure.
With this in mind, here are the latest SEO trends that we should be paying close attention to in 2018.
Making your voice heard
The biggest threat to the status quo of search in recent years has been the rise of digital home assistants. Thanks to the proliferation of voice recognition technology, more of us are incorporating voice search into our daily lives. Products like the Amazon Echo, the Sonos One and Google Home are becoming massively popular, with 55% of US households expected to have some form of an assistant inside the next four years.
As such, it is our duty to identify how brands fit into this landscape. Searching for information through voice is by no means a new development, but when the information is fed back to the user via sound and not a visual page of search results, it’s time to sit up and pay attention. This has potentially huge implications and SEOs should be looking to create content that is properly optimised for voice search to ensure customer access to useful and relevant information.
Are you cut out for featured snippets?
With digital home assistants becoming ever more ubiquitous, we need to be thinking about what information is pulled into the results that Alexa, Google et al., feedback to their users and the answer lies within featured snippets. These little nuggets of information have been appearing in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) since 2014, though Google has been pulling information in the form of the knowledge graph and the answer box from 2012.
With all signs showing that Google is moving to present more information within the SERPs, we need to look at developing content that is optimised to appear as featured snippets. Having information from your website appear directly at the top of the results page is not to be sniffed at, and we should be investigating the research that has been carried out to find what type of content is most likely to be pulled into this format by Google.
Keeping users content with content
Content is the bread and butter of any SEO campaign, and how we present information has changed over the years. Yes, product-focussed landing pages still have their place, but increasingly we have been required to do more to satisfy the search intent of users who are still very much in the ‘research’ stage of the buying funnel.
The types of content we can use to give information are broad-ranging, but video remains the most intriguing medium in the modern environment. With expanded capacity of live streaming the potential uses for video marketing have grown (some brands such as SpaceX have turned this into an art form of itself), but giving your audience something of value doesn’t need to be, ahem, rocket science. Platforms like Periscope and Facebook Live give companies an opportunity to interact with their customers in real-time and provide positive feedback in front of a live audience. To discount live video as a medium for communication would be to close the doors on a lot of opportunities for interaction.
These two main developments are a sign of how sophisticated the field of SEO is becoming, and also how necessary it is to be on top of the changes to search. The main principle still holds true though; giving useful information in answer to users’ queries. The best we can do to keep messaging effective and relevant and make ourselves known in the spaces where our customers interact.