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SEO Trends in 2018 – An Expert Round-up of Ranking Factors

With constantly changing Google algorithms and innovative techniques, the world of SEO is forever developing.

Ideas that were once considered effective are now seen as grey or black hat, having a detrimental effect, if any, on websites.

Google's HQ: SEO trends 2018

There’s no “one size fits all” strategy when it comes to search engine optimisation, so it’s important to get a good understanding of the individual needs of each business/brand in order to tailor an SEO campaign that works for them.

That being said, there’s a few key SEO techniques which look set to take over in 2018, including:

  • Voice search
  • Video content
  • Increased use of long-tail keywords
  • A bigger focus on responsive mobile sites
  • Emphasis on creating a flawless user experience

To get a clear idea of what we can expect to see happen in the search world in the very near future, we contacted a number of experts and agencies from around the UK & Ireland (and one in Australia!) to get their opinions.

We asked them to answer the following questions:

1. What SEO techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Here’s what they had to say…

Dan HoltBoss Digital

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

With the increased role of machine learning, I believe SEO will continue to become less about tactics and more about building real brands. Artificial Intelligence will mean that what works in one market will not necessarily work in another, and consequently we will need to understand the motivations and interests of our specific audience rather than attempting to shoehorn them all into the generic SEO strategies. In one market your presence on a particular social platform might be really important while in another Google may not consider it significant at all. Likewise with devices, we always assume Google is placing an ever growing emphasis on mobile, but what if a particular market is still dominated by desktop? With machine learning we will need to stop applying these crude universal rules across the board and start thinking more individually about our brands and our audiences.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

I think all the tactics that were destined to die out (aggressive link building, spammy/duplicate content, etc) have already done so. I think those techniques we are using today (content marketing, social media, PR, influencer marketing, UX design, technical SEO and rich landing pages) will all continue to be important but the way that we think about them will change as we evolve our philosophy to be less about these individual tactics and more about holistic brand and content strategies, with SEO as just one (albeit very important) channel.

That’s the paradox with SEO now; those organisations that focus on their brands will perform far better in the search engines (in my opinion) than those that merely obsess over rankings!


Bowler HatMarcus MillerBowler Hat

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

I think 2018 is really just going to continue the gradual evolution of search – nothing new as such, just gradual, incremental improvements and progress.

Mobile will be hugely important. Businesses will start to understand that there is more to creating a well optimised mobile experience than simply having a responsive website. We really have to consider what tasks a user is willing to do on mobile versus desktop, and optimise not just the layout, but the entire mobile experience. Responsive web design will form part of this. In a recent Search Engine Land column, I detailed 25 factors beyond basic on-page optimisation that can be used to create a mobile website experience that really focuses on the wants and needs of that mobile user. So mobile. Which is all kinds of obvious, but, if we really consider user experience across technical optimisation, page speed, navigation, search and commerce there is way more that most sites can do to fine-tune the mobile experience. As Google gets cleverer at understanding sites and looks at mobile user experience more and more then focusing on what the user wants will only help your SEO (and users.)

Advanced SERP features are interesting as well. We have results now where we may see four ads, a featured snippet answer box in position #0 and four ‘People-also-ask results’. These results are super interesting as a click will expose the answer and add a few more related questions to the bottom of the list. In theory, a user may never actually get to the traditional organic results which themselves start at around position 10 if we account for ads (and if the ads have site links a user can see 20 or so options before they see an organic listing). Learning how to target these advanced SERP features for your specific industry is hugely important (and something I covered in another SEL column).

And of course, content is still the backbone of most large scale SEO. That is not going to change anytime soon.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Google has stated that it would like to be able to understand content without structured data markup. Now, I can’t see that going away in 2018, but certainly, that is a stated goal which would make life a little easier for many smaller sites.

I would also hope that with the continued evolution of Penguin and Panda, spammy techniques will finally die. For larger clients, this is less of a problem, but in the small business space, link and local spam is still prevalent. There are still SEO companies selling the likes of manufactured sites hosted on renewed domains. The mind boggles on this front and I have watched this war on SEO spam since 2003 when the Florida update dropped so I expect the struggle to continue in certain corners of the web – but I would certainly like this to go away.


Tom Lacey - Brothers DigitalTom LaceyBrothers Digital

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

We’re predicting SEO strategies to become increasingly localised and tailored for individual users instead of groups of users. We know so much about our users but only a small amount of that information usually goes into an SEO strategy. In 2018, we’ll see search engines use that data to serve tailored digital experiences to individual users and SEOs will seek to find a way to manipulate that algorithm to find an advantage for their clients.

With the explosion of mobile search, we’ll continue to see SEOs look narrower than regions, counties or even suburbs. SEOs will start to optimise content for extremely defined user locations, like around one of their shops or in a cafe district, to guarantee they capture every potential qualified lead. Walk into any department store and you are almost certain to see at least a few customers walking around phone in hand. Consumers are slowly preferring to turn to their devices for advice on products or services instead of a salesperson or shop and it will be the job of the SEO to ensure the content they see is what we want them to see.

Recently I was in a store looking for advice on a smartwatch to replace my old faithful. I’m an Android user and was looking specifically for Android devices. The shop assistant confessed he was ‘an Apple man’ and that he knew very little about Android devices. He offered to check the computer but I had already been searching the devices for specifications, reviews and price. One of the top results was a competitor who showed they had the device I wanted in stock in their nearby outlet. They won my business. There would have been an SEO working on that website which meant that in 2017, that business earned my money. In 2007, I would have stayed and heard what the shop assistant had the say and likely, would have bought from there.

Hyper-localisation offers consumers a new way to search for and compare products and services and in 2018, SEOs will look to serve those searches with hyper-localised SEO strategies.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

We’re predicting traditional link-building strategies to head towards extinction in 2018. We’re predicting search engines to begin to prioritise linkless mentions instead of links as a sign of authority for a website. We believe that eventually, linkless mentions will be a more important off-site ranking factor than links and I expect old-hat link-building to become a thing of past when it does.

SEO Analytics

Marvin MagusaraBubble Local

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

I’m a strong believer that there is no one-fits-all solution in the SEO world. Every company should really experiment with different strategies to see which one works best for them and stick with it.

However, a lot of proven SEO techniques seem to deliver positive outcomes for most companies. I think creating in-depth content will certainly keep being a prominent technique in 2018 because it is a great way to expand your organic SERPs – especially if your existing site is already ranking well, as adding extra content and updated information will help it rank for even more terms.

In addition, I’ve noticed that there is one trend that’s dominating the market and will probably get even more traction in the coming year: Youtube videos. By optimizing Youtube videos, your site will get traffic from Google as well as the video publishing platform, so make sure your video titles and descriptions are SEO friendly to make them rank on search.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

As I said, there are no right or wrong techniques in white hat SEO. Black hat SEO techniques, on the other hand, will likely be one-step closer to extinction by the next year. Buying links, private blog networks, relying on press releases or even using low-quality links are just a few examples of the things no company should be using right now as they could be subject to the new Penguin algorithm and see an immediate drop in rankings.


Jonathon ForshawDigipeak

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

I believe that backlinks will have the same factor they have now in 2018, backlinks account to over 50% as a ranking factor. I see them counting more next year rather than less. As its hard to build backlinks, this will always be ranking factor.

Keywords. I see the use of voice for Google search being bigger and long tail keywords like “where is the nearest dentist to me” local companies need to have a local SEO presence and need to appear at first position in the local SERP’s.

Articles and Voice Search in 2018. I also see more articles next year being less informational like “top 6 reasons to x” more about where they are located to boost the voice searches. For instance, when people search using their voice on their mobile device, which a lot do now in 2017, this will increase in 2018.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

I believe long articles that are 1,500+ words will not be as popular and or will be extinct. I have done research and have seen that article length has a small ranking increase in Google. People do not want to read over 1,500-word articles, people get bored. They want to get straight to the point. Small bite-size information I find works best. We know that bounce rate is a ranking factor, so long articles that people lose interest and will bounce off will, therefore, lower the ranking in Google.

Not only that, but a lot of businesses don’t have time or money to create such long articles. Building backlinks to the article I find help’s the article get ranking, not the length.


Ducard - Annie Constable & Chloe WoodhouseAnnie Constable & Chloe WoodhouseDucard

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

We both agree that 2018 we see a continuation of featured snippets being pushed for all types of content, lists, answers, recipes and more. These snippets also form the basis of the voice search features in Google home so we think their importance will carry on growing next year as this platform expands (we are sure a lot of people will be opening Google, Alexa and other home voice units in their stockings this Christmas!). and a quick note for serving content using AMP – this will be massive in 2018 for retail and travel clients especially!

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Annie – I think the traditional keyword stuffing of Title tags will finally die out next year. Its moved much more towards serving the right types of content not just the content itself so we think you will see far more emoji’s, descriptive and well written 70 character snippets than keyword | keyword | keyword | keyword (hopefully!)

Chloe – I agree on the title tags point, but would also add a wish for the extinction of full page splash ads that drop down over the content and are a nightmare to get rid of. Bounce rates and user interaction should hopefully start pushing these webpages down and giving advertisers a message to start serving the content we want and not forcing unsolicited, unrelated ads on us (if you are going to do it, use subtlety and related search!)


Marc HeighwayFIMA Digital

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

From what we are already seeing, more and more of the Google SERPs are being taken over. Whether that’s with ad space, or rich snippets, I can see us scrolling even further now to get to those much in-demand top organic positions.

So, it would make perfect sense to me to see SEO consultants focus more on rich snippets and mark-up data – if they aren’t already of course! If you aren’t now, then you should be.

I would also imagine that in 2018 we will need to react due to the increased use of Google’s AI Technology to rank content. Just have a look at some of the thoughts being published regarding Google’s purchase of the DeepMind organisation to see what could be coming in the near future.

At the most basic level, SEOs need to think about the fact Google will be able to far closely imitate what a human user can do.

So that means a larger shift towards user-experience. Think about how you can focus on that as well as learning how your real users are actually interacting with your content and ways in which you can improve upon it.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

I am sure some people will say link-building, but I don’t agree. Broadly speaking though, even things that reputable SEO consultants figured out didn’t work 5 years ago are still going to be done by some people.

This is an unfortunate by-product of what I see to be web design companies and digital agencies selling SEO services, but not having the expertise to fulfill it properly.

I am sure there will still be companies selling SEO, and doing everything that they shouldn’t do. So, for people like us this is good as hopefully it will mean more clients looking for specialist SEO support that actually works.

Google iPad

 Gary McGeownNi SEO

In the same way that for many years, the Google motto was well-known as “Don’t be Evil” the best advice for websites in the coming year must be “Don’t Be Non-Relevant!”

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

The Big Guy doesn’t always win!

In the search world where Google values users over websites, there will always be an opportunity to compete and what we’re seeing is an increasing move toward “relevance” all the way down the line. As the Google algorithm fluctuates and evolves, at different times they give more credit or weight to different factors, and right now (from the information at our disposal) it seems to us that they like “exact match.”

The opportunity that we see is to be very relevant at a local level for high volume keywords (long-tail first) and the relevance assessment begins with domain name, title, inner pages and content. Then, in linking you must value relevance over volume, and so local/ geographic and niche relevant citations, and other “extremely relevant” inbound links are the way forward.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Death of Amateur SEO

We predict the death of the amateur SEO, using high-volume links with little relevance or value. As the search marketing environment, and Google in particular becomes more intelligent, a much more intelligent approach to search engine optimisation is absolutely essential. Anything else is just wasting money!


Grant McArthur – Grant McArthur

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

I know a lot of people are thinking and talking that voice search will be a massive part of 2018, with the rise of home devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home but honestly I think this is a novelty that will take a long time to catch on properly and make any significant changes to the SERPs, and even then it will be dominated by very basic searches like ‘what is the weather to be like tomorrow?’ and ‘what time does the local shop close tonight’. Users are still always going to turn to a computer or their phone to find that pair of shoes they want to buy or find a plumber to fix the leak in the bathroom.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

I don’t think anything really will be heading towards extinction next year, just everything will be to be tightened up and implemented better with the rise of AI and machine learning.


Graham Tester - Omni SearchGraham TesterOmni Search

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

Mobile-first SEO is something that will be a huge focus this coming year. If you thought 2017 was a big year for mobile web browsing, 2018 is going to be even bigger. Google are specifically placing emphasis on the importance of mobile responsive sites by introducing mobile-first indexing. Previously, sites have been ranked on the content and experience of their desktop site, including site speed, security and so on. Now Google are going to start ranking sites based on their mobile content and experience. If your site isn’t mobile responsive, you need to act quick, or you’re going to drop rankings. If Google can’t see your content on your mobile site, then they can’t rank you for it.

In the same vein, AMPs will also become more prominent. These super lightweight, super-fast loading HTML pages are great for publishers. The streamlined articles mean less readers will abandon the page due to rapid load times. Content is still a main focus for 2018, so keep writing pieces that will allow you to rank! You also need to make sure content has a conversational tone so that it is optimised for voice search.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Site speed is more important than ever, so slow loading full screen videos are going to have to go. Another thing that will start to change is the way content is viewed. It should be quality over quantity, and keyword stuffed posts are becoming less and less acceptable. Existing content on websites should be re-read and assessed for their value and then either edited to be kept up to date, or removed completely. Sites with topical quick-hit content will be replaced in the long-run by those with a solid content strategy.

 

SEO Whitehat Strategies

Oskar Nowik – Oskar SEO

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

Each year, SEO gets more advanced which is actually a great thing for someone who’s dedicated to doing it full-time. This means that a lot of your competition will have to either adapt quickly or give up SEO completely. One of the forms of adaptions that you’re going to see more and more in 2018 is ranking for long-tail keywords.

A few years ago, you could create a spammy website with duplicate content and rank it within a few weeks. Your domain age or amount of content-rich pages didn’t play any significant role. However, as a result of AI development, Google is now smarter than ever before.

What’s the consequence of that? It’s going to take a lot more time and authority to show up on the first page for major short-tail keywords. And new businesses won’t be able to recreate that sort of authority or afford to wait so long for their website to rank. This doesn’t mean, however, that SEO won’t be one of their customer generation methods. In fact, you’re going to see more and more people investing in SEO as paid traffic channels will get expensive.

What new website owners will focus on will be long-tail traffic. Through publishing long pieces of content optimised for small keywords, they’ll be able to get a lot of traffic while they’re still nowhere to be found for their short-tail terms. At the end of the day, 20% of searches are new and have never been asked before. This is something that people will take advantage of in 2018, myself included.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

In 2018, big keywords will be dominated by huge and old authority sites. This is nothing new and has been happening for a while now. However, it will become even more visible next year. As a result, trying to get traffic through short-tail keywords will become almost impossible to achieve (without a huge budget) and old-school.

Back in the day, you could just pick a few huge terms relevant for your niche and focus entirely on ranking for them and would most likely get results. You can still give this a try in 2018 but I promise, it will be extremely frustrating as you’re unlikely to rank anywhere on the first page any time soon. Short-tail keywords are sexy. Whether you do client SEO, affiliate SEO or any other form of SEO, it’s always exciting to rank for the big terms. But again, people will realise how hard it is and abandon them completely in favour or long-tail keywords. Ranking for short-tail will become more popular on alternative search engines like YouTube or Amazon.


Jean PaldanRare Form New Media

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

I’ve always said to my clients ‘content is king, but clarity is the emperor’. This is never going to be more true than moving into 2018. Google released RankBrain in 2016 and it has been learning ever since. (Rankbrain is an AI machine learning that understands what people are searching for and provides the most accurate information). What this means for SEOers is that we are going to need to up our content game. Here are my top 3 tips:  

  1. Create ORIGINAL, focused content only, that passes copyspace. Spinning your text is something you can’t do safely anymore.  
  2. Integrate LSI (latent semantic index) keywords and long tail keywords into your copy and on your core web pages.
  3. Focus on one search term per page. Also keep your content focused as a whole, if you have a product/service on one page, just talk about that and not dilute it by talking about similar products.  

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Backlinks have always been a necessity in SEO. Something that I have predicted for years is that quality of links will outweigh quantity.  And the concept of ‘I have the most backlinks, therefore I am the best’ is going to go away completely, and 2018 is the year.  You would rather have 5 high quality links with high domain authority than say,100 links from low domain authority sites. This will mean that a lot of SEOers are going to have do a lot of link cleaning and quality link building to stay on top.


Rob BaileySEO Article Heroes

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

Content creation and user experience (UX) are going to become more prominent. Whilst backlinks are going to remain highly important, Google is starting to place a lot more emphasis on on-site content. Attempts to create content purely for the sake of getting linked to will be replaced by high quality useful content which will be customers/clients or anyone working in a particular industry. There’s also going to be a lot more emphasis on User Experience, having good content isn’t going to be enough anymore. Website’s will need to be easy to navigate for example; on-site blogs are more likely to be categorised into sections rather than having to scroll through “older” and “newer” to find the post you want.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

PBN’s have being dying a slow death for quite some time now but I think 2018 will be the year they die. Some SEO companies still think it’s okay to use them despite knowing that they violate Google’s Guidelines. Google have talked extensively about clamping down on them for years but they do sometimes still work. So I’m not sure if it will be the search engines that strike the final blow on them or if it will be more of case of risk/reward. The few agencies still using them will stop using them because their clients are more likely to be aware that it is a black hat technique and because PBN’s are becoming more expensive than White Hat SEO to produce the same results.

 

Search Engine Optimization 1

SEO+ - Hazel JarrettHazel Jarrett – SEO+

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

Going into 2018, there are a number of SEO techniques that I would expect to become more prominent. One that has already seen a big upturn is voice search.

Google was recently reported as saying that 55% of teens and 40% of adults use voice search daily. According to Google’s Behshad Behzadi, the ratio of voice search is growing faster than type search.

Beyond mobile phones, we’ve seen a big rise in the number of voice-enabled home devices resulting in voice search becoming a primary search interface.

Yext VP of Industry Insights Duane Forrester, recently discussed the landscape of voice search stating:

“Voice engagement is the most likely scenario that will challenge the biggest players in search for supremacy.”

For marketers to capitalise on the voice-first market place here’s three specific tactics to employ, in addition to SEO best practices:

  1.   Humanise your content – review your copy to check that the tone sounds natural and conversational rather than keyword-focused.
  2.   Answer the questions that your audience are likely to have – answering questions related to your products and services will give Google valuable content to return in response to voice queries.
  3.   Implement Schema to mark up your content – by applying Schema Markup to your pages where relevant, you can help to give Google a deeper context to the information provided.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

In 2018, we’ll see a huge reduction in websites that don’t put users first.

One of the main factors that Google uses to judge the quality of a website is user experience and websites that fail in this are unlikely to perform well.

Google has been telling us for years that we need to focus more on users and less on search engine optimisation (SEO)

I predict a major shift away from anything that creates a poor user experience, this includes slow load times, low quality content, poor design and hard to navigate sites.

While the main foundation elements of SEO such as keywords, metadata and optimised images will remain an important part of an SEO strategy, this will no longer be the main priority. It’s becoming less about SEO and more about user experience.

Going forwards, visually appealing sites that are mobile-friendly, quick to load and easy-to-navigate with a well-defined unique value proposition and high-quality content that genuinely provides value will fair far better at driving engagement and achieving higher conversion rates.


Kevin PurchaseSiruss

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

It’s no secret that Google is rolling out its mobile-first index, and while the process will take a while, much of the web is still behind on mobile usability. Just because your content resizes and your menu changes, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you deliver a positive mobile experience. Many people’s responsive websites are designed with desktop-first in mind, which often results in a slow-loading mobile experience. There will be a big need for mobile optimisation in 2018, and a real focus on putting mobile users first.

User Experience on both mobile and desktop is more important than ever. UX is much more than a fast-loading website. Delivering positive user journeys that allow for content discovery and ease-of-use on your website should be a big focus. Always look for opportunities to drive a user around your website whilst offering best-in-class, rich content.

In 2018, Google are likely to continue to include more information directly in their SERPs, in the form of local packs, Knowledge panels, featured snippets, etc. Your content will need to be well-structured and optimised not just to deliver one-dimensional information, but to solve a user’s needs and problems.

In a similar vein, you can’t visit an SEO blog at the moment without seeing a feature on Voice Search. Voice searchers typically use conversational sentences to search – targeting this kind of query will require adjustments to your content. A tool like Answer The Public is a great way to see questions relating to your topics and keywords.

Finally, let’s not forget that quality, contextual backlinks from a range of authoritative sources will still be the factor that influences your rankings the most. Bloggers are becoming more and more bored of standard guest post pitches (they’ve been receiving mediocre pitches for years at this point), so think outside of the box, build relationships and get creative.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

I don’t see much being killed that isn’t already ineffective. I think you’ll hear less about Private Blog Networks (PBNs) as the search engines target them more aggressively. Not that these won’t be effective when built well, but more knowledge is required to avoid footprints and build a successful network, increasing the overall cost of entry which will deter less experienced SEOs.


Michael Brennan - SMB Clix Michael BrennanSMBclix

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

A clip of Gary Vaynerchuck was floating around Facebook in the past couple of days, where he was saying voice search on devices like Amazon Alexa is going to be the next big thing and while I do think he is on the right path, I definitely don’t think it’s going to be something to focus on in 2018. I don’t believe the technology is there yet. Sure Bill from California will have a great experience with devices like Alexa because of his extremely clear tone and dialect, but ask Wee Mental Davey from Glasgow about his experience with devices like this and he’ll tell you a very different story. Google works for anyone who can type, voice search works for anyone who can do a good American accent.

At the end of the day I think good content marketing will always win. So creating good content and promoting it ethically and within Google’s guidelines is the way forward. White Hat methods promoted by the likes of Brian Dean and Rand Fishkin will still remain strong in 2018 and beyond.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Thin content for long tail keywords. Back in the day you found a keyword, decided it was too hard to rank for, then found similar long tail keywords and wrote a multitude of articles on pretty much the same subject which all ranked because they were optimized for the one single long tail keyword.

The changes in Google’s algorithms now mean that this strategy won’t work any more in the long term, because the posts will cannibalize each other. Strong, informative content on a subject can now rank for multiple keywords so the days of thin content are numbered.

 

SEO Analytics Graph

Aaron Rudman-HawkinsThe Evergreen Agency

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

I foresee self-learning becoming much more mainstream in 2018, especially among small business owners who increasingly realise they cannot afford to pay marketing agencies to manage their online campaigns. Businesses across all industries are having to diversify their marketing activity across more channels than ever with the increasing rise of social media advertising and the sophisticated remarketing tactics being employed so paying agencies and marketers to do this is becoming unobtainable to many.

I believe the only option that will be left is the route of self-learning. Fortunately there are a wealth of excellent resources online including my SEO course online, which has been set up to help small business owners start the journey to learning how to grow their business online. For those just looking to get started, I have also created a ‘how to do SEO’ guide, which has 40+ free training videos as well.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Spammy link building and manipulative techniques will continue to be pushed further out of the way for mainstream businesses. I still see agencies and businesses alike deploying manipulative techniques in the desperate hope that will provide quick wins, it doesn’t happen and just like we have seen in 2017, I think that reality will continue to creep into the mind of those who up to now have persisted in the hope it ‘might’ work.

To succeed online, simply focus on quality content marketing and explore (test) all avenues, especially social media, email marketing and sales funnels. I have a mantra in my SEO agency that I instill in all my clients and that is ‘if you want your business top of Google, it must DESERVE to rank top of Google’. It really is as simple as that, if you can make that happen, your business is set today, tomorrow and indefinitely.


Alex Castle - ZEST DigitalAlex CastleZEST Digital

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

As Google’s machine learning becomes more and more intuitive and intelligent, user experience is coming to the fore as a real influencer on a site’s rank. Google’s algorithm  keeps a track of pages and sites that satisfy the user so this needs to be a primary concern for SEOs going forwards. By all means keep creating content, generating links and accelerating those mobile pages, but at all times think “How does this benefit the user?” If your answer is it doesn’t, move onto something that will.

Another huge consideration that people are probably sick to death of hearing about is making your site work well and look great on mobile. With most Google searches coming from mobile devices, the ever-impending mobile-first index and mobile-friendliness being a ranking factor, it would be criminal if anyone involved in digital marketing wasn’t asking “But does this work on mobile?” at least 6 times a day.

Featured snippets and knowledge panels are also being constantly refined by Google, which suggests this is something they care about, which means you should too. There seems to be a bit of experimentation going on recently so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Backlinks have long been a cornerstone of good SEO, but it is becoming more and more apparent that quality over quantity is the way to go. In fact, John Mueller of Google tweeted the other day that most sites are able to rank without a single backlink. There’s a ton of research that shows a very strong correlation between the highest ranking sites and having a lot of backlinks but, with Google’s increasingly intelligent Artificial Intelligence, we will start to see a devaluation and possible punishments for having a large number of unrelated and/or spammy backlinks. There’s lots of tools available that can show you where a backlink came from and how spammy it is so it would be worth brushing up on your link disavowing skills over the holidays to keep those links high quality and industry relevant.

Keyword Rankings

What does the Pixel Kicks Digital Marketing team think?

Pixel Kicks - Emma Clure Emma Clure – Pixel Kicks

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

With the majority of Google searches happening on mobile, it makes sense that a mobile-friendly experience should be at the forefront of any SEO strategy for 2018. This is a lot more than just a condensed version of your desktop site, it’s time to focus on mobile-optimised content to really get you ahead of the game.

With the introduction of Google’s mobile-first index, we need to be focusing on the complete user experience from start to finish: ‘What content do they want to see?’ ‘Where do they want to see it?’ ‘How easy can they access it?’ And most importantly, ‘does it work?’

This by no means that the desktop use is dying out. However, with more and more users opting to use mobile devices, if you don’t have a mobile site yet you need to act quick.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

It’s a very common theme each year that most SEOs predict the extinction of spammy backlink techniques. The truth is, these methods have been dying out for years but they’re still yet to be deemed extinct, and they probably won’t for a long while. Some people will continue to seek out 100’s of low quality backlinks over a few high quality ones year after year, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be effective in certain circumstances.


Pixel Kicks - Jamie SwainJamie SwainPixel Kicks

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

For the past few years, a focus on mobile-friendly user experiences has become more and more prominent, and although it is already a key aspect in SEO, it will hit its peak in 2018. With the majority of Google search users accessing websites from a mobile, it’s obvious that the search engine needs to tailor its algorithms towards its users. ‘Mobile first indexing’ was previously announced by Google, meaning your mobile site will be seen as the real thing. A good responsive website that runs perfectly for users on all devices is the priority, but if this isn’t something you have, ensure your mobile site provides a flawless UX.

Video content is something that’s also on the rise. With Google owning YouTube, there are clear benefits to getting behind video content. Not only is it a way of generating traffic, but including the video in your website content can help increase your dwell time – another ranking factor. YouTube results are starting to appear in Google Search & Image results, so if you create some great, relevant content, you’ll be increasing your visibility.

These are two things that are going to become more prominent than they currently are in 2018, but neither of them will overtake the most important aspect of all – content. If you create good content, better than most other competitors in the field, you’ll be rubbing your hands together. You’ll be showing Google that you’re an authority on the topic you’re writing about, and that’s exactly what they’re looking for.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Content that is clearly designed for SEO purposes is something that Google is already cutting down on – extinction is the only way it can go. Dropping obvious keywords into a piece of content as many times as possible, while not focusing on the quality and relevance of the content will get a site nowhere (apart from down!).

Sites that see having a huge number of backlinks as a big benefit will start to die down too. Link building is an ever-relevant technique, but it’s only going to have any good effect when the links are good quality. The old cliché “quality over quantity” is at home with this one.


Pixel Kicks - Andrew FlynnAndrew FlynnPixel Kicks

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

Overall, website content will become more tailored to the consumer’s direct wants and needs, as opposed to the overall aim of the website. There will be a greater acceptance of user experience having a direct impact on how RankBrain perceives a webpage. Combining the hard work of web-development teams with hyper-relevant publications will ensure a positive and engaged user experience, giving the audience the information they desire both thoroughly and efficiently.

Produce pages that overwhelmingly satisfy the needs of the audience. Provide in-depth answers to their most searching questions.

Speaking for myself, the audience will be at the forefront of every decision and detail. I’ll be doing my best to learn how they interact with our content to make sure we’re picking up on their actions.

Online resources such as answerthepublic.com and the LSI Keyword Generator will play a huge role in achieving this. Firstly to discover the most frequently asked questions surrounding the topics we’re writing about. Secondly, we can pinpoint the strongest keywords in terms of relevance to the topic.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

I’m not entirely sure about the extinction of any of the key techniques as we go into the next year. However, with the above in mind, I do strongly believe in the growing emphasis on quality over quantity. We’re already seeing content strategies transition away from keyword-stuffing, and I’d expect to see lots of SEOs going through their content to reevaluate just how much value it actually holds for the user.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our article, with valuable and differing views on what we can expect to see. Let’s see where the world of SEO takes us in 2018…


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