I am sure that by following our blog you have become accustomed to working on your website SEO, through traditional means of content keywords, links and SEO plugins. If you want your website SEO to be top-notch, you will have to follow emerging SEO trends and practices which we will discuss now.
Getting to know what are the latest trends in SEO will enable you to adjust accordingly, and be one step ahead of the competition. The best part is that SEO fundamentals tend not to change too much over time, so you won’t need to rebuild your marketing strategy from the ground up every time search engines get an update.
A bit of history on website SEO
Search engines consider many factors when determining where to show your website on results pages. What most savvy website owners do is learn about those factors, and then look for ways to rank higher by optimizing their content and structure. This content optimization technique evolved into what we now call SEO.
Search engine optimization became important when internet users became heavily reliant on search engines finding the websites they were looking for. Crawl spiders or bots are integral parts of a search engine, though to rely mostly on algorithms and by that time SEO became essential for the organic growth of just about any site.
Yes, the web keeps growing and search engines become more sophisticated, however, consequently the way we tackle SEO changes.
Modern SEO trends
These important SEO trends may have slipped under your radar, or you may know about them but did not prioritize because you are still focused on traditional SEO:
- Mobile optimization
- Voice search content optimization
- Structured data markup
- Google Answer Boxes (cards) optimization
Let’s talk about them, what they offer and how can you harness their benefits.
Fact is, mobile traffic has surpassed desktop internet browsing significantly. People use all kinds of mobile devices (smartphones, tablets … etc.) to browse the internet, watch videos or entertain themselves in another way.
A significant number of websites were built with a desktop-first approach, meaning they will be displayed badly on a mobile device. Today, this is a true issue because a negative user experience on mobiles will mean losing visitors, conversion, and profit.
Besides visual presentation, we must note website performance. Mobile devices connect wirelessly to their internet provider and these connections often receive interference, meaning these connections are not stable. Because of this your website must be optimized for performance. Page loading speed is an SEO hard-factor.
What can you do to make your website mobile optimized?
First, you will have to make your website fully responsive. WordPress website owners may be in luck because all it takes is a theme change to make it so. Bear in mind that your visitors will be coming from different mobile devices and you should test your website with several modern mobile platforms.
Second, optimize your website content, by resizing large images or video to improve your page loading speed. You can use caching plugins or CDN service but considering mobile devices operate on data-limited connections the best choice is to have less data for transfer, to begin with.
Voice search content optimization
Mobile and home devices offer assistants which take voice command input, and this changes the way we search quite substantially when compared to desktop. Searching from a desktop computer you will most likely type a two or three keyword search into a search engine and wait for the result.
Searching from a mobile device you would call-up your assistant (albeit Bixby, Alexa, Siri, Cortana or other) and voice-input a long-tailed keyword search as if you were talking to a person.
Yes, search engines rely heavily on keywords to determine when to show a website in the results. When it comes to voice searches, we’re more likely to use long-form keywords as if we were asking another person.
What can you do to make your website voice-search optimized?
It’s expected that by 2020, half of all online searches will be done through voice search. It can be smart to start including long-form keywords within your SEO strategy, to adjust for the coming change.
What you need to do is incorporate answers that would fit a voice-search, including synonym words and phrases into your website content.
Adapting your website content to long-tail keywords and voice-search is particularly important for brick-and-mortar businesses with a local presence since users are more likely to use mobile devices to look for nearby locations.
Structured data markup
It is very hard to fool a modern search engine, as they are very good at determining what is relevant content. Search engines rely on a complex system of keywords and other criteria to do this.
Still, it doesn’t hurt to give them as much information as possible about your site’s content, so they have a better understanding of it. Structured data markup is a “machine language” you can use to include more information for search engines about what your content involves.
How to add structured data?
The best way you can do this is by using relevant titles and subheadings, adding alt tags to your images, using tags, putting together informative meta descriptions, and more. If you want to go a step further, add structure to your content.
Additionally, WordPress website owners can use plugin tools to make adding structured markup easier.
Google Answer Boxes (cards) optimization
Search engines have their agenda, which is to provide the best “answer” to a “user search”, and the answer box (cards) came as a natural evolution. Asking Google a “simple question” you may find an exact answer in a “box format” on top of the search results.
Thing is, answer boxes increase traffic for the website which answer is in the box, while websites in the results will receive much less traffic than before. You want your answer to be in the box, but you cannot just go and as Google to feature your answer.
How can your answer be featured?
What you can do is optimize your content to increase the chances of being a featured answer for a specific question. Answer boxes only appear when Google is confident this is the right answer, which is certainly extrapolated from their user interaction statistics.
Somewhat complex searches will not have a featured answer, meaning you should strive to offer:
- Clear and conscious answer to a short, definitive questions
- If possible break down your response using a list
- Optimize your page meta description pointing clearly to providing an answer
Bear in mind that you are competing with hundreds or thousands of other websites for the same answer box.
Internet user habits are changing and search engines are the ones that keep their hand on the pulse while changing and adjusting their algorithms to offer better service while avoiding website owners abuse of the system.
Following our recommendations for these latest SEO trends, your website will remain a step ahead of the competition.