SEO trends and algo changes

As we enter into 2018, let’s explore some of the trends that affect SEO: the growth of voice search, featured snippets and structured data, focus on AI in Search, unlinked brand mentions, limiting intrusive mobile ads and manipulative guest postings, mobile-first indexing, “fake news” algorithm changes, as well as speed.

Voice search and featured snippets are on the rise, as Google’s Assistant-enabled devices grow in popularity. This is presents an opportunity for ranking in position 0 (above the regular Google SERPs) through featured snippets of the page’s content that answers the given search query. From the structured data formats, is the most popular and a good first step when implementing markup and tracking rich snippets.

Another development to follow closely is Google’s deployment of AI to power Search. For instance, RankBrain, the machine-learning system, was launched two years ago to help process Google’s search results. Also, Cloud Vision API was developed to analyze the content of images, classify them into categories and derive insights to help build the next gen online publications. Remarkably too, as part of the Google Brain project, AutoML (artificial intelligence) built AI that outperformed same made by humans. Obviously, the applications of this go farther than image classification and object detection.

Other trends to watch: Google limits manipulative guest posting and intrusive mobile ads, as well as “fake news” algorithm updates. For many, that’s no news at all. Using article marketing for link-building and promoting fake ads have been against Google’s Guidelines for a while.

Next, mobile-first indexing is Google’s response to the shift from desktop to mobile search. As mobile now dominates, Google starts to rank search listings based on mobile content even for desktop searches. So, let’s get that mobile content updated now if you haven’t already done so.

It is also vital to briefly discuss “linkless” brand mentions here. With the advancement of AI into Search engine rankings, unlinked brand mentions will play a bigger role that before. Smaller brands can benefit from this too because the number of users who mention brands is higher than the number of links to them. So, starting up and engaging in conversations online is key.

Speed has always been important. It is not only a ranking signal but also a significant UX factor that also impacts rankings. If your website’s loading speed is not under 3 seconds, audit your on-page factors and fix any issues that slow it down, both on mobile and desktop.

Looking forward to 2018, the spotlight is on recent search engine trends related to AI applications, penalties on manipulative postings and ads and Google’s mobile-first indexing, voice search and more. But the focus is on the long-term strategies to sustain competitive advantage.

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