2018 SEO and SEM Trends (According to the Experts at LF)

Welcome to 2018. With many people already well on their way to breaking those New Year’s resolutions, we’re resolving to keep you up to date on all the latest, most exciting news in digital marketing.

 

So, what’s going to be big in 2018? You can find plenty of predictions all across the world wide web, but the experts here at Lessing-Flynn have filtered through the nonsense and the legitimate to summarize it right here for you. But we’re not stopping there. We’re also giving you some specific calls to action on how you can leverage these breakthrough trends into your marketing plans.

 

Without further ado, here’s what we think will be big in 2018 + how you can benefit:

 

SEO

Overall, 2018 promises to be a big year in search engine optimization. Between the rise in smart speakers and Google promising the roll-out of mobile-first indexing, there could be some dramatic shifts in rankings if people aren’t paying attention. So to avoid ending up in the SEO slums, here’s what to watch for.

 

Voice Search

Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana — names that are quickly becoming all too recognizable. From cellphones to smartwatches to smart speakers, most people are constantly surrounded by technology — including technology with microphones.

 

Enter AI assistants — the handy digital personal assistants that can help you with anything from naming a song, to controlling your lights to ordering a pizza. If 2017 was the year of adoption for this new tech, 2018 will be the year it begins to break into the mainstream.

 

As users get more comfortable speaking to their devices, they’ll begin asking more questions and assistants will serve them the best answers via a quick search. To be one of those select answers, websites will not only have to have the best answer, but also formatted in a conversational tone.

 

Action Item: Add or reformat content on your site to answer your audience’s questions and write it in a conversational tone. Structure it to be easily digestible by both users and search engines.

 

Featured Snippets

Between paid ads and featured snippets, search engine results pages are getting cluttered. Sometimes the first organic search result even ends up below the fold. So how do you end up on the most valuable SERP real estate without having to place an ad? Earn a featured snippet.

 

Featured snippets come in many forms. They’re the quick answers at the top of the results page that aims to give you the answer to your question without even clicking into a website. Sometimes it’s text, sometimes a data table, other times a sports score. Whatever the case, having your information end up in a featured snippets gets your content, brand, and link to the top of the SERP and garnering more click-throughs.

 

Action Item: Similar to the above, provide the best answers to your user’s questions. Structure it in a way that is clear, concise, and makes sense. Research what your audience is asking and write content that answers their questions. Lastly, aim to appear in the top 10 search results — most featured snippets are chosen from those pages.

 

Mobile-First Indexing

Experts have been talking about mobilegeddon for years. You’ve probably heard about the importance of having a website optimized for mobile devices more times than you can count. The warnings have been stern: optimize for mobile or have your search rankings penalized. Well, it appears the moment of truth has finally arrived.

 

Officials at Google are indicating 2018 is the year for the company’s mobile-first indexing roll out. That means Google will begin showing a preference for mobile optimized websites in search results and sites without mobile versions will take a hit in the rankings.

 

Action Item: So if you haven’t already, quickly consider creating a mobile-friendly website. Whether that’s a mobile version or responsive design, you need a site that works well on smaller devices. Also consider using AMP to serve users mobile content more quickly.

 

SEM

It’s no surprise 2018 is also bringing new changes to the realm of paid search. Here are the top trends to be on the lookout for in the other side of the search equation.

 

Interface

The new AdWords interface has even experienced users lost and perplexed — quickly scrambling to adjust before the old interface is discontinued. While Google boasts a sleek design and an increase in overall productivity, many are left scratching their heads. Unfortunately, any custom views or reports were not included in the transition, requiring PPC managers to rebuild from scratch.

 

The new interface isn’t all bleak, with it comes some new and exciting features only accessible through the new design. Be on the lookout for targeting methods that could take your paid search strategy to the next level.

 

Action Item: While it may be painful, try to embrace the new look. With time, Google will likely work out the kinks and you’ll have access to all the latest features. If you can’t stand the new interface, locate the wrench icon and use the old version before it slips away.

 

Targeting

One of the main SEM trends we’ll experience throughout 2018 is advanced audience targeting. Rumor has it that the world of search will continue to shift its focus from keyword targeting to a more personal approach.

 

Google’s In-Market audiences utilize predictive intelligence that pinpoint users with the intent to purchase a product or service. Rather than waiting around for your remarketing list and similar audience targeting to grow, campaigns built with in-market targeting are ready to launch when you are. As an added bonus, they’re fully customizable.

 

Action Item: Take advantage of new targeting methods and test the waters. Work in a difficult-to-reach industry? Use this as an opportunity to reach new potential customers.

 

Voice Search

With the rapid increase in voice search devices many are left to wonder what this means for SEM. Although the technology is still evolving, it’s crucial to consider a new strategy that works with the voice user. It’s likely we’ll begin to see fresh ideas on marketing to the voice search audience sooner than you think.

 

Action Item: Don’t jump ship on your traditional search network ads just yet, but be aware voice search ads are sure to be on the horizon. Begin considering long-tailed and conversational keywords that integrate easily into the new technology.

 

Putting It All Together

Clearly 2018 is going to be a big year in the world of search — both organic and paid — especially when it comes to the emergence of voice search technology. We’ve given you some helpful tips on how to get rolling with some of these trends, but here’s one more: if you really want to boost your search game, merge both SEO and SEM into a combine strategy for maximum effect. As Global Marketing Adviser and Consultant Andy Betts puts it:

 

“Having experience that spans multiple channels with an integrated mindset — especially on SEO and PPC synergy, combined with a performance mentality — sets up people who are new to the market for success.”

 

New or old to the market, companies and brands can definitely benefit from a combined effort. If you’re not already, perhaps 2018 is the year to take the plunge and go all-in on your search efforts.

 

So will 2018 be the year of voice search? Will mobile-first indexing live up to all the worry and hype? Are search engines going to advance enough to know what you want before you do? We’ll just have to wait an see. But in the meantime, get a leg up on the competition and start thinking about these trends before it’s too late.

 

Have something to add? Did we miss any trends that you think will be bigger than what we mentioned? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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