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Ever since Google vowed to bring all information to everybody’s fingertips, the way we handle our matters has changed. From simple recipes to complex mathematical problems, we all rely on Google to tell us what to do. Today, Google gets more than 3.8 billion searches every day.

Google’s mission coupled with the proliferation of Internet has increased the importance of SEO. From a simple mechanism to rank websites, SEO has become a complex structure that only works when companies provide real value to their customers. Today, SEO is an essential element in most of the companies’ inbound marketing strategy because it is cost effective and it has high returns on investment.

SEO is as dynamic as the marketing field itself; hence, it is vital for marketers to keep up-to-date with the changes and trends. Here is what is new in SEO in 2018:

Voice Search

According to Gartner, 30% of the web browsing by the year 2020 will be done without a screen. This is due to the increase in voice assistants and smart speakers. In 2017, Google launched Home, its voice-activated smart speaker powered by Google Assistant, while in 2016 Amazon’s Echo products gained a lot of traction. A research study by Voicebot.ai showed that one in five US adults have smart speakers, which translates into an adoption rate of 20% in two years. Also, Google is working on making its assistant tech savvy by enhancing its local search capability. According to Google, you can ask the assistant to find you a plumber, and it will return with some options for you to choose from.

SEO needs to adapt to this new trend of voice search since it differs from physical search. Voice search is more like a conversation, and it is usually longer than what we type. Hence, marketers need to rethink how people converse and develop long-tail keywords accordingly. Moreover, people usually use voice search for immediate results and are not willing to visit websites. For quick searches, Google returns rich snippets of businesses. Hence, if you want to be featured as a snippet, you need to optimize your business listings and make sure that you have a lot of positive reviews.

Local SEO

Local SEO has been growing in importance since 2016, and the trend is expected to continue throughout 2018. An SEO campaign allows your business to appear on the first page of Google’s Map Pack and Organic Listings. According to Britney Muller, SEO & content architect at Moz, direct-to-website traffic is going to decline as Google wants people to find local data on Google directly.

The starting point of Local SEO is Google My Business that was initially known as Google Places. Without Google My Business, you won’t appear on local map listings and search engines for local queries. All you require is to set up an account and add your business info; however, you need to optimize it as well, add compelling pictures and make sure that you save images with keywords.

To increase your chances of appearing for local search you need to add local schema tags in your website code. Local schema tags allow Google to understand your business local relevance and it shows your website along with a rich snippet that has your phone, address and other information.

Creating local content will also help Google in understanding your website context. You can also add a local map widget along with a blog that covers local stories to increase your relevance.

Mobile first indexing

Mobile search is increasing at an exponential rate. In the first quarter of 2017, half of the organic searches were done on mobile. This number I expected to grow to 221 million by 2021. To cater to most of the users, Google announced that it would roll out mobile-first indexing, which means that Google will rank its search listings based on mobile content rather than desktop content.

Initially, desktop sites were considered as primary version for indexing and mobile sites were an alternative. Hence, marketers paid a lot of attention on desktop site with regards to content, backlinking, markup and structure.  However, with Google’s update, mobile sites would be given more importance.

Adopting to mobile first indexing does not only mean that you make your site responsive; you need to understand how people use the device for searches. Google anticipates what a user wants through micro-moments and marketers should know how these micro-moments differ on mobile and desktop. For example, a person searching to contact a business on mobile is more likely to click on a phone number than on an email address.

Hence, you need to start differentiating between phone and desktop keywords. Identify what keywords mobile searchers are likely to use, what is their intent and then develop the brand content accordingly.

Mobile optimization also includes paying attention to the page loading speed. Google pays a lot of attention to speed, and hence you might consider using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP is an open source project that has been started to make web experience better. It allows developers to create ads and websites that are aesthetically appealing and fast.

According to Chartbeat, implementation of AMP increases engagement by 35%. Studies also show that readers engage with AMP content for 48 seconds while standard mobile content manages to retain attention for only 38 seconds.

Last word:

It is impossible to ignore the relevance of SEO in today’s digital age. In fact, it is the heart and soul of digital marketing. However, with its evolution, SEO has become increasingly complex and sophisticated. The introduction of new technology such as digital assistants, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality has changed the rules of the game.

Google does not delay a second in adapting to the ever-changing needs of its customers. It continuously modifies its algorithms to make sure that its users get the best experience. Hence, it is imperative for marketers to remain updated with the trends and anticipate the needs of users beforehand.

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