Search is a field in constant flux. What was considered best practice just a few years ago may in fact now be doing more harm than good to your search engine efforts. With the latest major search engine algorithm just behind us (nicknamed E-A-T), we thought it would be worthwhile to dive into the 5 most important SEO trends of 2018. Buckle up!
Earlier this year, Google announced that after conducting tests for almost 2 years, the search engine has begun a switch to a "mobile first index".
So what does this mean for your website? Well,Google crawls the web daily and are always adding and updating their index of web pages. However, this change means Google will be using the mobile version of your site as the starting point of what they crawl. Your mobile site and its performance will play a larger role in how Google determines where you rank on the SERP (search engine results pages).
If you do not have a mobile friendly or responsive website, your SEO will be starting out on the back foot in 2018 and things are likely to get even harder for you further down the line.
If your business has access to Google Analytics, why not have a look in there to see how many mobile visitors your website has? You may be surprised.
2. HTTPs and SSL certificates
It always surprises me how many websites do not have a SSL certificate.This can be recognised by the padlock (or the absence of it) next to the address bar in your browser. Secured websites also show up as HTTPs rather than HTTP in the address bar.
Browsers such as Google Chrome are now in fact warning users that they are about to access an insecure websites. If you run an e-commerce website, this is of course less than ideal as this may be impacting your conversion rates directly as well as the trust in your brand.
Having worked with Blue Lead myself, I know that they have helped several local businesses in Stirling to obtain their SSL certificates so if you are ever in need of assistance with this, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
3. Meta descriptions
In January this year, SEO’ers started noticing that the text snippets on search were getting longer. From occupying just 2 lines of text, the description below your URL almost overnight started showing up as much longer, with up to 4 lines of text.
Google often automatically populates this description by pulling what it deems to be the most relevant text from your website. However, sometimes the search engine uses the “meta description” of a page directly for the text snippet description, which is why meta descriptions are an important on-page SEO element to consider.
Many SEO’s (and myself included) started experimenting with writing longer meta descriptions to accommodate for this change. However, later on in the Spring, Google ended up swapping back to a shorter version of text snippets. In conclusion: It was all just another experiment.
This change in particular shows the importance of staying up to date with the latest SEO trends!
My recommendation regarding meta description is to keep them descriptive without being spammy and that they should highlight your unique selling points. Using a free preview tool like http://www.seomofo.com/snippet-optimizer.html can help you preview what your text snippets may look like on Search and ensure you stay within the boundaries. Just bear in mind Google is using “pixel width” these days for a limit on how long the meta descriptions can be and not character count.
I have already mentioned that Google often automatically pulls text from your website to appear in the text snippet. However, it is a wortwhile exercise to optimse your meta descriptions as this may increase how many people click through to your website from the SERP’s (search engine results pages).
4. Voice Search
An often quoted piece of stats in the SEO industry is that according to Comscore, by 2020 over 50% of searches will be voice searches. The last few years has seen a tremendous growth in the area of voice assistants, smart speakers and virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant.
If you are a local restaurant or café, it is crucial that you get your basic local business information set up and make sure it is accurate. In particular…
- Opening hours
- Phone numbers
As voice assistants are now also increasingly living in phones (think of Siri, Cortana, or even Alexa and Google Assistant), a lot of searches that take place are done “on the run” or “on the go”.
You don’t want to be missing out on these local searches just because your Google my business profile has not been set up with accurate information.
5. Page speed
In Google’s mobile first index, page speed is an increasingly important factor that Google weigh in when they decide how to rank your website.
Using a free tool such as Pingdom’s Speed Test https://tools.pingdom.com to audit your sites page speed will reveal any issues. A common problem I see is that image files that have been uploaded on to the website have massive data file sizes. This slows down the loading of your page and also wastes a lot of data for your mobile users.
If you need any assistance with improving your page speed, or sorting out that SSL certificate, Blue Lead is here to help.
SEO is a field of marketing that changes quickly but it is my hope that these 5 points will help your business stay up to date with this fast moving industry. See you on page 1!