SEO continues to grow and get more sophisticated by the month, let alone year-in-year-out. Shifts in the industry, such as mobile device focus and voice search continue to change the landscape when compared to previous years and we can only expect those changes to impact more and more in the coming months.
Digital Assistants & Voice Search
The increased popularity of voice search and digital assistants in the past couple of years has entirely changes the way people are searching online. A study carried out by Statista shows that the number of people who are using digital assistants to conduct search is projected to increase from 504 million in 2018 to 1.8 billion by 2021. According to Google, 1 out of 5 searches are a performed as voice queries already!
In order to adapt to this change in the way people search, SEO agencies like ourselves have to research and understand how voice search differs to traditional text queries – natural language, for example, may come into play in voice as opposed to how people use text search. You wouldn’t necessarily ask someone a question in person the same way you look for information on Google, would you?
Voice Search Statistics & Predictions
- 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, per comScore. (Is it even a post about voice search if you don’t lead with this stat??)
- About 30% of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020, per Gartner.
- 13% of all households in the United States owned a smart speaker in 2017, per OC&C Strategy Consultants. That number is predicted to rise to 55% by 2022.
Google continues to introduce and roll out new features to its organic SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) in a bid to enhance its user experience. From new rich snippets, knowledge panels and improved business listings, there are more and more opportunities to grab the attention of a searcher. But with those new opportunities also comes a new learning curve for each. Whilst it’s impossible to guarantee yourself a rich snippet, there are ways to optimise accordingly for answering specific queries and therefore give yourself the best chance of landing a ‘position zero’ feature.
According to a test carried out by Stone Temple Consulting, almost 30% of their test search queries yielded featured snippets. We can only expect to see this increase as more and more content creators tailor their experience for answering those most-asked questions. It’s important to keep an eye on what snippets are “up for grabs” as well as who of your competitors may be leapfrogging you in the organic results and snagging one for themselves.
Mobile First Index
Possibly one of the most impactful changes to the SEO landscape, the mobile first index finally addresses what we’ve all known for quite a while – more and more people are using their mobile devices to perform everyday tasks (such as Google searches) than desktop. It makes sense, really; just take a look around and you’ll see just how many people are glued to their phones at any given time. The Mobile First Index will now take your mobile site performance into consideration when dishing out those lucrative ranks, bringing new technologies such as Google’s AMP (accelerated mobile pages) right into the forefront of all SEOs’ minds.
We’ve all had back-links on our minds ever since Google created PageRank all the way back in 1996, and for the most part their fundamental operation hasn’t changed. Until now. Whilst you’ll still get the most effective results from high-quality backlinks, focus has also shifted to brand mentions as an off-page signal of almost equal weight. Search engines such as Google and Bing have evolved to now recognise and associate brands and products with mentions and use those as ranking signals to determine authority and quality.
How many of the above have you already included in your 2018 strategy? As the end of the year quickly approaches, it’s not too late to introduce some of these factors into your campaign and set yourself up for a successful New Year.