With a growing economy and consumer spending the race to deliver customer value will be more important than ever in 2018. The online marketplace will continue to evolve rapidly and there’s a strong argument that search engine optimization, or SEO, will remain the backbone of effective online promotion and a reliable pathway to increased revenue. In addition to regularly reevaluating business goals and whether your website is achieving them, site owners will need to remain agile and vigilant in partnering with SEO experts in spotting algorithmic and social trends and other data and performance metrics to maintain high search rankings and a competitive advantage.
Here’s a brief overview of the catalysts for 2018:
- Steer clear of markets that are too small or where competition is overpowering, especially if there’s little money to be made. Instead, hone in on your niche and excel at providing CTQ—critical to quality—valued content that will not only raise your Page One rankings but generate loyal customers and build brand trust along with shared content and word-of-mouth.
- According to a recent study, local organic search will continue to be among SEO’s best practices in 2018 with several key elements continuing to influence local rankings. Among the most effective will be targeted and organic keywords and longer phrases that make sense together.
- As always, link building and platforming rich content such as well-researched infographics, instructional videos or podcasts will continue to be valued assets and indispensable in securing Page One rankings. But here’s some helpful advice for 2018: Don’t underestimate Google Image Search. It represents about 25 percent of all Google searches and growing, making it even more important to incorporate visually-engaging images and photos in your site.
- Reviews will be critical. Popularity is essential to Google’s local business search rankings and having star reviews appear next to your website listings will bring you important validation and higher organic CTRs (click-through rates). As California-based Local SEO Guide noted, “If you aren’t focusing on a review program and working on testing how to get keywords, cities, etc., in reviews you are gonna be far behind.”
- Don’t forget to be mobile-friendly. Many experts are predicting that search rankings will eventually be determined by the “anytime-anywhere” mobile version of your website. And voice search, which mostly involves local queries, is also growing fast—nearly half of respondents to a recent HigherVisibility survey said they use voice search weekly or daily and 70 percent at least once a month. That means your content and SEO might need tweaking with more precise keywords and more natural and conversational language as consumers use voice-activated digital assistants to look for restaurants, get directions or shop for goods.
- Load times will have a major impact affecting user experience in 2018. A recent report noted that “53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.” Indeed, the report cites, Walmart customer conversions were up 2% for every second of improvement in load time. Continue to concentrate on quality and value, but make it fast.
The bottom line for 2018: Formulate smart, niche SEO campaigns that are well-researched and focused, with arresting images and locally-targeted with multi-star reviews and you’ll realize outsized benefits. And that will be a Happy New Year, indeed!