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Top SEO & SEM TRENDS TO LOOK FOR IN 2018 | Google SERPs Agenda | Digital Marketing TRENDS

It’s hard to believe that there are just a few weeks left in 2017. How effective were your SEO strategies and initiatives? Were they better or worse than expected?
SEO trends in 2018

Similar to other areas in the tech industry, SEO is constantly changing. The once fail-proof method of consistently landing atop SERPs (search engine results pages) became irrelevant within a few months. SEO practices that once dominated the industry quickly fell out of favor.

The Google algorithm itself changes constantly, sometimes with multiple changes happening within months. On top of that, the technology available to SEO professionals also constantly evolves, allowing us to stay abreast the seemingly daily changes of what it takes to dominate search.

While 2017 has brought about the dominance of Google AMP (accelerated mobile pages), the rise of HTTPS, the importance of backlinks, the precaution of the overuse of 301 redirects and reformatting of rich snippets to accommodate the increasing popularity of voice search, some of these trends will continue into 2018 and some will fall away.

On the other hand, we expect many new trends to emerge in 2018.

While Google makes it near impossible to completely crack its page ranking algorithm code, constantly adjusting to accommodate a thousand different nuances will be the challenge for SEOers in 2018 and many years to come.

Whether you want to do away with 2017 and start anew or you want to build on the success of your 2017 SEO campaigns, here are some SEO trends to be on the lookout for in 2018:

1. Increased Search Engine Results Page Features

It is the goal of any SEO professional to achieve and maintain a high volume of traffic to a given website. Ideally, this would be the result of reaching the top spot on a search engine results page. Not only is it important to achieve this coveted position, but to also maintain it as long as possible.

However, with the latest developments in the search engines, achieving this #1 ranking may no longer be enough to get the traffic you desire.

Gone are the days of the ten search results listings, highlighted in blue hypertext, and a couple of clearly marked ads. Now, when you look at a SERP, it is cluttered with images, videos, links, social media mentions, in-depth article listings, various widgets, and ads. It has become easy for a #1 result to get lost in the busy jumble of other page features.

While keyword and key phrase optimization are still important, you now have other offsite elements to consider.

Popular search engine results page features include AdWords, news block, featured snippets, local packs, reviews, tweets, video, image pack, shopping results and site links.

How can you rank and monitor your rankings for all of these? There are tools such as Rank Tracker that allow you to track your ranking and to show you possible keywords that are holding back potential traffic.

2. Rich Snippet Will Need Careful Structuring

There are rich snippets and regular snippets. Both include a clickable title, a URL, and a meta description. Rich snippets have more condensed titles that include “|” instead of a dash (-), reviews and an image. How you structure the data, however is important in how search engines will display the information.

While the difference may seem insignificant, it has been shown that search results with properly formatted rich snippets receive more clicks and have a higher click through rate, which in turn increases potential sales.

If you’re not sure what properly structured rich snippet structure looks like, you can check out which features a step-by-step data structure guide.

3. Page Speed

In today’s fast-paced, on-demand society, people want things, including information, immediately.

Nothing is more frustrating than clicking on a website that appears to answer your question exactly, only to have to wait for the page to load. If the page doesn’t load in 5 seconds, you’re off onto another website that can hopefully give you the answers you need.

People don’t like slow webpages. If your page is slow, your site traffic will suffer. Page speed is a user experience feature that is expected for all websites.

If you’re wondering how fast is fast enough, take Google’s recommendation of 3 seconds or less.

To see how the speed of your website stacks up, you can take Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

Speed has been a critical component for years, but moving into 2018, we’re going to see even more emphasis on it in the future.

4. Increased Page Relevance

Google continues in its quest to provide the best web browsing experience to users. Besides offering users websites that are safe, Google searches for sites that best match the user’s search intent – even if that’s a little different from their actual query.
This means that search engines will evaluate the relevancy of the content on your website. One of the ways that Google assess the relevance of a website’s content is with Latent Semantic Indexing. Through Latent Semantic Indexing Google can gather content from billions of websites and parse through the content, scanning for related terms and words.

Latent Semantic Indexing also enables Google to determine whether the content on a website is “comprehensive” and flows well.

Google also has the ability to analyze top ranking pages as identify similarities and shared features among them.

How can you make your content relevant and comprehensive throughout 2018? You can start by researching the content of the top websites in your industry and look for commonalities among them. This, however, can take a long time, especially if you’re looking for particular terms or words. To speed up the process, you can make use of some of the free trials available with different website auditors.

5. Voice Search is More Real Than Ever

Just like in 2017, voice search will continue to pick up steam. Many consumers prefer the convenience of speaking over typing. Not only is it faster, but the queries can also be more detailed.

More importantly, voice recognition software has reached the point where users are comfortable trusting it to understand their normal speech.

The increased detail of search queries means you’ll need to go beyond the simple keyword and phrases to rank and focus more on terms and phrases people are naturally going to say out loud. People speak differently than they type, so your SEO strategy should try using conversational terms and sentences.

6. Mobile Will be Even More Important

Smartphones dominate the landscape and more and more web browsing is occurring on mobile devices. In fact, the amount of people using their smartphones to browse the Internet is higher than the number who browse on a traditional desktop computer. It is no longer optional to have a mobile-friendly website. It is now required and expected by the search engines and the users.

In fact, mobile friendliness is now a search ranking factor.

This is nothing new, and something you’ve probably heard about in many other years, but as each new device comes out and includes some kind of voice search function, you are going to have to really think about it going into 2018.

7. The Rise of “Linkless” Backlinks

Backlinks have been the bread and butter of SEO for many years. In the past, this linking from another source to bolster a webpage’s authority in the eyes of Google was abused, prompting Google come up with the Penguin algorithm in 2012.

Since then, it has become the best (and most ethical) practice for websites to try and get links from more reputable, outside sources.

While links from authoritative, outside sources gave websites some search ranking juice, the further sophistication of Google search robots are slowly taking away the coveted power of backlinks.

It’s not just about who and where your links come from, anymore. A simple link just isn’t going to stand out of the crowd.

Search engines now have the ability to associate mentions of brands, institutions, organizations and people without the need of linking to their corresponding webpages. While links are going to still carry some weight, the other content around the hyperlinked text is going to also be very important.

8. SERPs Will Continue Getting Personal

Besides the traditional search ranking factors, such as page speed, content relevancy and page authority, search engines are also using information about the user, such as interests, browsing history and location, to provide a personalized search results list.

Google, along with some other search engines, have been utilizing personalized SERPs for many years.

An SEOer’s goal of getting to the top of search results will have larger implications. Pages that succeed in dominating search will not only get more initial traffic, but when a user clicks to their page, that business’s page will subsequently appear in future searches by that user.

This will give you a greater opportunity to dominate that user’s SERPs in the future.

There is nothing one can do to land on the top of a user’s personalized SERP except making sure your traffic data is accurate and testing your page’s rankings in private or incognito mode for unbiased results.

Optimize Your Strategies in 2018

SEO is an ever-changing industry. In 2018, Google will continue to enhance the web user’s experience by scanning the relevancy of a page’s content, using personalized search engine results and faster page speeds, and include additional results page features. It will also want to ensure that websites are mobile-friendly and full of normal, conversational terms and words.

It takes a lot of time and effort to stay up on all the updates. It also takes time and long-term care. If your company is small or new and it doesn’t have a designated internet marketing professional, can help.

Content Source:
Our trained and knowledgeable SEO professionals can set up and monitor a customized SEO campaign specialized just for your business’ website. Contact us now for more information.

Latest Google SEO Ranking Factors in 2017: What’s Important and What’s Not

SEO Ranking Factors 2017
What are the most crucial search engine ranking factors these days? Panelists at SMX East discussed their findings and provided practical advice for putting this data into action.

As technology advances, search engines can refine their ranking algorithms to better determine relevance and return results that better align with searcher intent.

Because these ranking algorithms are constantly being improved and refined, search engine ranking factors are always evolving. Factors that might once have had a huge impact on search rankings may no longer matter all that much, and new ranking factors (such as mobile-friendliness or HTTPS) can emerge to reflect changing technologies and user behaviors.

So, what are the most important ranking factors today, in 2017? A panel at SMX East, “SEO Ranking Factors in 2017: What’s Important and What’s Not,” sought to answer that question. This panel featured data from large-scale studies performed by SEMrush and Searchmetrics, as well as case studies and practical advice for adapting your SEO strategies to current realities.

SEMrush Ranking Factors 2.0

The first panelist was Olga Andrienko from SEMrush, who shared the results of a large-scale study on ranking factors that examined the top 100 positions for 600,000 keywords. Keywords were grouped by search volume into the following categories:
  • Very High: 10,001 monthly searches and up
  • High: 1,001 to 10,000 monthly searches
  • Medium: 101 to 1,000 monthly searches
  • Low: 1 to 100 monthly searches
SEMrush looked at on-page factors, referring domains and traffic data, then compiled their findings to see which ranking factors appeared to be the most important. Here were some of their findings:

Website security (HTTPS)

SEMrush found that 65 percent of domains in the top three positions for Very High volume keywords are already secure. Although it’s not a huge ranking factor, Andrienko recommended switching to HTTPS to help with conversions and building trust.

Content length

SEMrush found that content length generally had a positive correlation with search rankings; content for pages in the top three positions is 45 percent longer, on average, than content in the 20th position.

Even so, Andrienko did not recommend simply writing a ton of content in order to rank better — the key is to write sufficiently long content that is relevant and matches user intent. Look at what your competitors are doing, and figure out how you can create content that provides more value to users.


SEMrush had some interesting findings with relation to keywords. They found that:

  • 35 percent of domains ranking for high-volume keywords don’t have the keyword in the title. This suggests that Google’s algorithms are getting better at understanding context/synonyms, and/or that keywords in the page title are becoming a less important ranking factor.
  • Very few links contain a keyword in the anchor text — in fact, even among Very High volume keywords, only 8 percent of link anchors included a keyword. This may suggest that keywords in anchor text are not a major ranking factor, but it also might be a reflection of SEOs adhering more strictly to link-building best practices that see anchor text links as spammy.

Website traffic

SEMrush exclusively studied website traffic’s impact on rankings. They found that the number of visits matters for high-volume keywords.

Interestingly, search traffic specifically did not appear have any impact on rankings; however, direct traffic does.

User signals

The SEMrush study also looked at various user signals, including:

  • bounce rate. Overall, bounce rate is low for the top three positions but gets higher as you go down — this could suggest that top-ranking sites have more relevant content, better site speed, higher user trust and so forth.
  • pages per session. Higher pages per session correlates with rankings, too. Andrienko suggested that Google does not directly take user signals into account, but that if they’re low, that means users aren’t engaging with your site as they should be.


High-quality link building is still super-important, both in terms of referring domains and “followed” backlinks. Andrienko noted that backlinks matter, especially for sites targeting keywords with fewer than 10,000 monthly searches.

What factor is most important?

Interestingly, SEMrush found that user signals and (direct) website traffic were actually the highest predictors of top rankings. Andrienko theorized that this was because top-ranking sites (i.e., those on page 1) are all doing on-page optimization well, meaning that Google needs new criteria to differentiate among these sites.

See Olga Andrienko’s full presentation here:

Top SEO Ranking Factors in 2017: SEMrush Ranking Factors 2.0: SEMrush 2017 Study With Unreleased Updates from Vikram Singh

Why General Ranking Factors Are Dead!

Next up was Marcus Tober from Searchmetrics. His company also analyzed ranking factors, but rather than look at factors by keyword search volume, he looked at factors by general trends versus individual industry/niche trends.

Tober noted that, while there are broad, general trends in terms of overall ranking factors, specific industries and niches seem to weight certain ranking factors more heavily. Here are some of Searchmetrics’ findings:

General trends

Everyone is improving their page load time across the board. While this isn’t a massive ranking factor, it’s important to see how you compare to your competitors so you don’t get left behind.

Like Andrienko, Tober found that keywords in titles are not that important. Indeed, only 48 percent of top-ranking (position #1) websites have their keywords in the title tag, suggesting that Google is getting better at judging relevance without this factor.

Searchmetrics also found that word count for top-ranking pages is increasing. Both Tober and Andrienko note that word count correlates with rankings, but they also advise to not just “go big” on content and hope for an increase in rankings.

Industry-specific trends

Tober found that different ranking factors seemed to be weighted differently depending on the query itself, so Searchmetrics broke out ranking factors by industry in their study (specifically looking at e-commerce, finance, health media and travel).

The study looked at how ranking factors within each of these industries were weighted against the average — this provided some insight into which ranking factors are most relevant for each of these industries.

For example, HTTPS is a bigger deal for finance sites, as those require more user trust; however, it does not seem to be as heavily weighted for travel sites. Usage of images, on the other hand, was not so important for finance websites but had a larger impact for travel sites.

The point here is user intent: What does the user want? That is naturally going to be different for different industries.

Niche-specific trends

It isn’t just different industries that have different ranking factors, and Searchmetrics also looked at more niche types of websites to see what trends they could fine. This included dating sites, SEO services sites and recipe sites.

Again, Tober found that certain ranking factors were weighted differently based on niche. For example, HTTPS usage is high among SEO sites but not among dating and recipe sites. On the other hand, use of structured data and markup was highest among recipe sites — likely because recipes have valuable rich snippets associated with them in SERPs.

Overall, Tober’s message was that ranking signals are relative to your industry and niche, so consider what your users need when considering how you structure your site and create content for your pages. He echoed Andrienko’s call to look at your competition and see what they’re doing.

See Marcus Tober’s full presentation here:

Why General Ranking Factors Are Dead! SEO Ranking Factors in 2017 from Vikram Singh

How to put these findings into action

The final speaker was Herndon Hasty, digital marketing manager for The Container Store. His presentation was more focused on taking the data and findings from previous speakers and providing practical applications. He used case studies to illustrate his own findings, too.

Site speed

Site speed is a longstanding ranking factor, and it’s becoming more important as mobile usage continues to rise. Here are Hasty’s main recommendations for improving site speed:

  • Caching. Find more elements on your site that you aren’t currently caching or that you should be caching for a longer time period. (Basically, this ensures that the page can load faster for anyone who’s been to your site before.)
  • Combining your external files. Reducing your page size by hosting your JavaScript and CSS on external files can be a great idea, but not if you have 30 to 40 external resources that need to be called. Try to consolidate your external files where possible.
  • Managing your tags. Remove vendor tags you’re not using, and be sure to have the latest versions of the tags you are using.
  • Image optimization. Hasty believed that image size is the biggest factor impacting site speed. Any time you can shrink an image, it’s going to improve your page speed. Don’t use images that are too big — load large versions only when customers want it! Whether it’s product images, repeated elements or logos, make sure you fit images to their exact space.


SEOs have been working on securing their sites ever since Google announced back in 2014 that HTTPS would provide a slight ranking boost.

When switching to HTTPS, you do need to consider site speed, as it will slow down the site a bit — but many still believe the switch is worth it, as there may come a day when Google makes HTTPS a requirement, similar to the mobile-friendly update.

The unfortunate part about switching to HTTPS is that it carries all the risks and challenges of a site redesign but without any of the fun.

Because you’ll need to implement HTTP to HTTPS redirects throughout your entire site, this does at least present a great opportunity to take care of any URL changes that you want to make.

The biggest element that often gets missed in an HTTP to HTTPS migration is canonical tags. Updating your canonical tags is critical, as your site can experience a loss of traffic and site performance due to out-of-date canonicals.

Meta data

Somewhat contrary to the findings above by SEMrush and Searchmetrics, Hasty has found that titles can have an impact and do make a difference, especially for lower ranking pages.

Meta descriptions are, of course, not a ranking factor, but they can improve click-through rates. What works in meta descriptions? It’s different for all niches and industries, but Hasty has found that including the following in your meta descriptions tends to increase performance:
  • Keywords.
  • Free shipping/returns.
  • Brand names people know.
  • “Official site” (a trust signal).
  • Promotions and sales.
  • SERP changes

Changes to search engine results pages (SERPs) can really drive down click-through rates — featured answers, more/larger rich snippets, product listing ads and the addition of a fourth text ad to some SERPs have all led to less above-the-fold page real estate for organic results.

These are things you largely can’t control, but you can still adapt your strategies to this changing reality. For example, Hasty recommended seeking “instant answer boxes,” also known as featured snippets. These are showing up for more generic terms and take up 15 to 90 percent of above-the-fold SERP space — plus, your digital assistants will read these in response to voice search.

To obtain a featured snippet, you need to be on the first page, but you don’t even need to be in the top five. Hasty suggests using structured data where possible, too — this will help you capture the correct search intent as Google gets smarter and better at understanding query intent.

See Hasty’s full presentation here:

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Here is the wonderful list of 600+ top free advertising sites online with Location, domain authority and PR.

Also Know: Free Classified Sites List Without Registration 2016

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Also Know: Latest Do follow Free Social Bookmarking Sites List 2016

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