It’s tough to keep up with Google, isn’t it?

The search engine is constantly evolving to create a better experience for their users, which means the strategies needed to position your site at the top of search results  are constantly change as well.

At the same time, you know that chasing organic traffic is well worth it.

After all, SEO delivers not only the most but also the highest quality visitors.

For example, according to this study by PMDigital and ClickZLive, SEO attracts about 30% of web traffic, and converts it at around 25%.

And so, in this post, I decided to show you what trends to focus on if you’re looking to boost your search visibility in 2018.

#1. High-Quality Content


What is it?

While other SEO strategies have come and gone, providing valuable content to your audience has remained the most effective way to attract more organic traffic.

And the reason for this is simple:

Search engines try to cater to high-quality content because that’s what they want their users to find.

According to John Bottom of Content Marketing Institute, great content should have these four qualities:

Compelling

This is the value that’s promised to the reader, often in the title and introduction. Convince the reader that your content will help solve their problem. For example, a “how to” article suggests that the reader will learn a new skill by the end of the piece.

Fulfilling

Once you’ve set up the reader’s expectation of what they’re going to read and how it’s going to help them, your content must deliver that promised value. Solve their problem, answer their question, teach them a skill, explain a difficult concept, etc.

Convenient

Deliver the content in a way that is most convenient and accessible for the user. Content doesn’t always have to be a written article; you can use videos, podcasts, ebooks, infographics, illustrations, and more to communicate your information. Which form is going to deliver the clearest, most convenient message?

Efficient

Great content is also recyclable. It takes a lot of time and effort to produce high-quality content. Wouldn’t it be nice to get more juice from each piece of content you create? Build content with efficiency in mind: Can it be reformatted into another medium? For example, a large asset like an ebook could be repurposed for a blog article, an infographic, and more.

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What does it mean to you?

These days the web is overflowing with content both exceptional and mundane. And the information flow is only going to increase as more companies launch their own content marketing strategies.

To stand out, you need exceptional content.

Luckily, you don’t have to be the world’s greatest writer to do this. It’s all about knowing your target audience and delivering the content that they want and need.

Get to know them and understand their questions and pain points. Research the terms and language they use to talk about these concerns. Think about how (and how often) your they might prefer to consume content.

Then do your best to deliver.

Want to learn more?

Here are some helpful resources if you want to brush up on how to create awesome content:

#2 Voice Search

What is it?

Voice search is the technology that allows users to search by speaking out loud instead of typing on a keyboard.

Virtual assistants on mobile devices like Siri or Cortana are the most common voice search tools, but smart home assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa are also popular.

While voice search still has a few technical and practical hurdles to overcome before it becomes the dominant mode of searching, it is certainly a trend to keep your eye on.

In 2015, voice searches with virtual assistants (Siri, Cortana, etc.) leaped from nearly zero to 10% of overall global search volume. In a single year. And the numbers have only continued to grow.

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What does it mean to you?

Given the differences between speaking and typing (humans speak at approximately 150 words per minute, but we type at only 40 words per minute), experts expect to see a shift in the format and style of how people search with this channel.

For example, instead of saying, “MSP provider,” a voice searcher might say, “Find an MSP provider near me.

We can pull a key ideas from this example:

  • People use longer search queries and keywords when they speak, and they often use natural phrasing. Instead of a typed query like “MSP provider New York,” a speaker phrases it in a question or statement form like the example above. Targeting these types of keywords and phrases may boost your performance in voice search results.
  • Often when people use voice search they are looking for local results. Just think back to the last time you asked Siri to find the nearest coffee shop. Optimize for local searches by targeting your city or region in your keywords instead of aiming only for general MSP keywords. This will help you win local traffic and ultimately local business.  

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  • We can learn a little more about user intent as well by examining the search query. If a business owner searches for “MSP provider near me” we understand that she needs MSP services and she is looking for a local solution.
    Moreover, she is relatively close to purchasing, as she isn’t searching for high-level information like “what can an MSP provider do for me.” Understanding user intent to such a deep level means you can tailor landing pages and content to meet the searchers needs and increase conversions.

Want to learn more?

Read up on voice search here:

#3 Mobile Optimization & Mobile-First Index


What is it?

Speaking of search channels on the rise, mobile is continuing to grow rapidly. According to BrightEdge, 57% of all online traffic is now on mobile devices or tablets. More people than ever are navigating the web on the go.


What does it mean to you?

Optimizing your website for mobile devices must be a priority (if it isn’t already). Be sure that your website is mobile responsive—in fact, some experts insist that now is the time to put mobile design first, ahead of desktop.

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Google does seem to be pushing companies in that direction, as they continue to experiment with a mobile-first index.

When Google implements a mobile-first index, that means they will use the mobile version of a site to rank pages, understand the site structure, and display search results. In other words, your mobile site will become the primary source for Google.

With increased mobile traffic, local search will also play a larger role. Many people who are using their phones to search are looking for local results, similar to voice search. Users will search for solutions and providers within their local area. And you want to make sure your company shows up at the top of the results.

Want to learn more?

Learn how to optimize your website for mobile searching here:

#4 Featured Snippets

What is it?

Featured snippets and quick answers are sometimes called “Position 0” on the list of search results because they appear at the top of the page, even before the top ranked website. You’ve probably seen quite a few examples of featured snippets like the one below during your own searches.

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What does it mean to you?

Landing a featured snippet in “position zero” could mean a dramatic uptick in CTR and even revenue. In one case study, after acquiring a featured snippet, the website’s CTR increased from 2% to 8%, and revenue from organic visitors improved by 677%!

The queries that generate featured snippets often follow a question format with “what is” or “how to”. Definitions and comparisons also frequently appear in featured snippets. Taking a look at the graph below, it’s easy to see the types of content that rank in featured snippets.

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You can optimize some of your content for “position zero” by answering these kinds of queries. Create a how-to guide for one of your clients’ most common problems; define an important term in your industry that readers may need to understand. Whatever you create, format your content in a question-answer style, with a focus on question-style queries.

Want to learn more?

Get more information on featured snippets here:

Conclusion

When it comes to conquering SEO, understanding the big picture is key. We often focus on the nitty-gritty of climbing the rank ladder. But it helps to remember what search engines are trying to accomplish in the first place: giving the user what he or she wants.

If you can be what the user wants—by providing valuable information and a delightful online experience—optimization becomes easy both today and in the future.

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