Top 5 SEO changes that will affect your business in 2018

A quick Google search for the latest SEO trends or tips for 2018 turns up a massive amount of data, there are top 50 lists, top 20 etc and it can be overwhelming for business owners to simply know where to start.  Here I wanted to give you just 5 core, actionable SEO changes that you need to make to your online strategy this year.  Just 5 of what we believe are the most important changes coming into play in 2018.  Master these and your site and digital marketing plans will put you ahead of the crowd.

 1) Structured data is a must now, even to simply stand out.

Structured data (aka Rich Snippets) is a way of formatting HTML that uses a specific code, telling search engines how to interpret content — and how to display it in the SERPs (search engine results page).

Google as of yet has never officially confirmed structured data is even a ranking signal, so why bother with its?

Structured data lets you enhance your search listings in several ways but mostly it gives you a way to stand out in the crowd and has been shown to greatly increase CTR’s (click through rates).  An increase in clicks has been shown to actually boost rankings as well as a good CTR is a signal to Google that your site is a good result for the query searched

Structured data is also especially effective for enhancing the search results in the SERPS for –

Products – Basically pulling the most important data from an existing product listing and telling the search engines that this is what you want users to see in the results.

Reviews – Showing stars ratings in the SERPS and other summary info from reviews or ratings.

Job Listings – data includes industry, salary, employer, date posted etc.  Often underused as of Jan 2018, so there is room here for Jobsites to get ahead of the pack

Events – Highlight event data such as type, location, ticket costs right in the SERPS

Restaurants – Reviews, ratings, price range, cuisine type.  Rich data is probably the most useful for the Restaurant trade.

There are a few structured data marks ups out there, but the most popular for SEO is Schema, further details can be found at

While it may seem like a lot of work to implement structured data markup for all of your pages, products, and services, it’s becoming increasingly necessary. In 2018 it is now simply a way to remain competitive. Do a search for something related to your industry and you’ll see rich snippets.

Don’t fight the tide get on board with them now.

2) Speed, speed and more speed!

Website speed is huge now in 2018, not only as a ranking factor confirmed by Google but also simply from a usability point of few.  If your site is slow, or pages are not loading or timing out, you are heading into 2018 with one hand tied behind your back.

Not only is it bad for potential customers to experience a slow site, Google will now give your site a good spanking in the SERPS.

Google now expects pages to load within 3 seconds.  If you have a slow site, here is what to do about it.

1) Get yourself over to Google’s own Page Speed Test –

The feedback from the tests here can give you a list of tasks that you or indeed your web developer can address.  For any problematic factor, click on it for an explanation and how-to-fix advice.

I can tell you from years of experience, the main issues you will need to handle are mostly likely, optimising images, availing of website caching and using GZIP compression.

If your site is built on the WordPress CMS, then there are lots of plugins that can help with this, however you may find that you need a combination of plugins and some manual coding edits/updates to achieve optimum page load speeds.

For other CMS’s like Joomla, Drupal etc please consult the many developer forums for the best practice suited to your site.

3) Mobile is HUGE and the new norm in 2018.

Over 55% of Google searches now come from mobile devices and with the rise of Google’s Mobile-First Index, a responsive site that adapts to all devices is now essential.

Historically, Google has indexed your site based on your desktop experience and the content that exists upon it, this is set to change sometime in 2018 (Google has not yet released firm data on the ‘when’) and Google will now switch to using the mobile version of your site as the main version it evaluates and will place your site in the SERPS according to this.

If your site is horrible on mobile devices and doesn’t work well, you are almost out of time to get things up to code.  Don’t delay, get a ‘responsive design’ for your site, this will ensure the same content is served to the mobile version of your as the desktop version and will keep things simple for you while also making sure your site is mobile compliant.

Check your site with Google’s mobile friendly test tool

For further details, get the info from Google’s very own Webmaster blog here

4) Mentions of your brand, without any backlinks.

No, you didn’t read that wrong.  For years backlinks to your site have been the absolute backbone and trust signals for search engines.  SEO’s have spent years optimising them and some would say manipulating them.  However, times are changing and off-site mentions are becoming an ‘off-page’ ranking signal of some considerable weight.

Search engines can associate mentions of your brand and use them to determine a site’s authority or indeed trust. Duane Forrester, formerly senior product manager at Bing, confirmed that Bing is already using unlinked mentions for ranking. This very admission and other industry observations may be reason enough to believe that Google is as well

In fact, the shift towards unlinked mentions as a trust signal was most clearly spelled out by Google’s Gary Illyes, in a keynote at Brighton SEO in September 2017. Talking about SEO best practices that webmasters should stick to, Illyes said:

 “Basically, if you publish high quality content that is highly cited on the internet – and I’m not talking about just links, but also mentions on social networks and people talking about your branding, crap like that. Then you are doing great.”

So, it couldn’t be spelled out more plainly: Google considers all mentions of your brand on the internet, not just links, to be akin to a trust signal, and is taking them into account.

Source: Why linkless mentions are the future of link-building

5) Voice Search is not some fad, it’s here to stay.

“Alexa this”, ” Google that”, who really uses voice search properly anyway?

Tons of people now and you need to get ahead of the trend, now.

Consider this: Google reports that 55 percent of teens and 40 percent of adults use voice search daily; and, according to Google’s Behshad Behzadi, the ratio of voice search is growing faster than type search.

When I say voice search, I mean people using Amazon Alexa, Google Home or indeed just the voice search functionally on smart phones like the native Google App or indeed Apple’s Siri.

With massive Christmas 2017 sales of both Google Home and Amazon Echo. Smart speakers are almost exclusively reliant on voice commands to operate, conditioning people to resolve their questions and accomplish tasks using voice-based queries.

So, what does this mean for your website?  First, we need to realise that voice search is conversational search where people use more natural sentences instead of the odd-sounding regular search query.

For example, I may type into Google: “Weather Dublin”

Whereas, I would ask via voice search: ” What’s the weather like in Dublin today?”

For SEOs, that conversational search is getting even bigger than before and its now important to understand the intentions of a person searching via voice.  Just optimising for exact match keywords in certain industries may become reductant very soon in 2018.

We now need to optimize for long-tail keyword phrase,  context, topics, and conversational phrases. We need to offer quick answers that anticipate questions posed by voice search.

Think about what questions your customers are asking, and address those on your site as well as on your social platforms.  This may be early days in voice search now, but if you optimise well you will get ahead of the pack in 2018.

So, if you get all of the above 5 main changes implemented on your site, you have a solid digital marketing base for 2018 and beyond.

Here at Gekkoshot we handle all of the above with ease and offer web design and leading SEO services to business throughout the UK and Ireland.  Feel free to contact us for a quick chat on how we can help you with your online efforts in 2018.

To your future success!

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