If you’re new to the world of SEO, it’s important to understand that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. There are few reasons for this being the case. First, Google makes updates to its search ranking algorithm multiple times throughout each year. These are often unannounced and can vary greatly in their importance. Second, emerging technologies, such as smart home devices, influence searcher behavior and can wind up having a dramatic affect on your rankings if you aren’t staying on top of the industry. Lastly, your competition will inevitably change their approach to SEO at some point. It’s no surprise then that consistency is key for SEO success.
Whether your continuing your SEO efforts or starting for the first time, there are several SEO factors that you should focus on in 2018.
1. Mobile-First Indexing
Over the past couple of years, more and more people have been completing searches on their mobile devices. As of today, people actually make more searches on mobile then they do on their desktop devices. In response to this trend, Google will be switching to a mobile-first indexing by the middle of 2018.
Why? One of Google’s main goals is providing the best user experience for searchers. Since more people are using mobile devices, they are placing a higher premium on the mobile device user experience.
If your website is not responsive or you do not have a mobile version of your website, you will notice a drop in organic search traffic at some point in 2018.
2. Page Speed
Closely related to mobile-first indexing and the mobile user experience is Page Speed. Page Speed refers to the length of time it takes your website to load. Studies have shown that the longer a web page takes to load, the more likely a searcher will leave that page and try an alternate website. In the world of analytics, this is also known as “bounce rate”. Meaning the percentage of visitors that view only 1 web page on your site.
Why does this matter? A slow loading site will not only deter visitors from interacting with your website, but it will also create a snowball of negative affects related to Google’s search algorithms. Remember, the name of the game with Google is answering the searchers question or specific need. If the searcher is unable to find the information they need or purchase the product they are looking for, Google may determine that your web page is not the correct one to rank for keyword terms related to your website.
3. Longer Meta Descriptions
The list of search results in a Google Search have 3 main components. The title, which is the first line of the search listing, the url, which shows the page the result is linking to, and the meta description, which gives a brief description of what is on that page. Towards the end of 2017, Google released an update that extended the recommended meta description length from 155 characters to closer to 320 characters.
Odds are, many of your competitors will be lagging behind in updating their meta descriptions. The advantage of having a longer meta description is having more real estate in the search result. We highly encourage being ahead of the curve in updating your descriptions. It could increase your click-thru-rate and prove to be positive for your rankings.
4. Schema – Especially for Reviews
Schema is a markup language that can be used to communicate with Google in an efficient manner. From your location and contact info, to reviews and prices, schema has the ability to deliver important information to Google. With that information, Google may then decide to trigger various search result or SERP features that might influence a searcher to visit your website.
One of the most important schema items you should take advantage of in 2018 is the reviews markup. With the reviews markup in place, you can aggregate reviews of your company or products from multiple sources. Think Google Reviews, Facebook, Yelp, etc. The total review count and rating can then show up beneath the url in a search result. With more and more customers and searchers valuing reviews in their decision making process, this can be an invaluable addition to your SEO efforts.
5. Mastering Local SEO
If you’re a local business, be it a restaurant, retail shop, or service based business, there is nothing more valuable than your Local SEO efforts. Imagine being a coffee shop or a plumber and someone says to their phone, “Siri, find me the nearest _____”. Siri then pulls up a list of results, and even though you’re nearby, you don’t show up!
Why? It could be a variety of reasons. You might not have a Google My Business page, positive reviews, a high ranking web page, or there could be inaccurate data about your business online. If that’s the case for your business, it’s time to get working on your Local SEO.