SEO in 2018 (Advanced Guide + Proven Tips)

Wondering how will SEO in 2018 shape up?

Looking for 2018 Google SEO trends and techniques to get to the first page of Google SERP?

Turns out: 

You can easily dominate Google’s search results in 2018 (and beyond).

Wondering how?

Follow this simple guide to SEO in 2018.

And don’t worry:

I’m not going to play fortune teller in this post and predict some lame search engine marketing trends 2018.

Instead, I’ll reveal some tried and true SEO techniques that experts are already using to dominate Google Search Results now…

…and I can bet that Search Engine Optimization tips, advice and strategies in this SEO guide will work wonders for you in 2018 (and beyond).

Here’s what I’m going to discuss in this post.

Chapter

 Table of Content

1

Look for Trustworthy, Credible & Legit Links

2

Optimize Your Content For Better Ranking

3

Know the Nuances of RankBrain Optimization

4

Understand the Art of Keyword Research 

5

Get Set to  Improve Organic Click Through Rates

6

Go All-In With  Personalized, Feature Rich Snippet

7

Prepare for Google’s Mobile First Index

8

Tap into the Immense Potential of Videos

9

Gear Up to Optimize for Visual Search Engines

10

Brace for Voice Search Results

TOS Bonus

Quick SEO Trends Predictions for 2018

But Basics First

Before exploring through the advanced stuff, it only makes sense to get our basics straight.

This section of SEO guide for 2018 is especially important for beginners in the industry.

So, let’s dive right in!

What is SEO?

SEO is an acronym of Search Engine Optimization, which is a process to reverse-engineer the working of Search Engines to rank higher on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

With good Search engine optimization techniques, a website can draw in torrents of organic traffic and generate an ocean of sales ready leads.

How SEO Works?

Google uses complex algorithms to score to every website on different ranking parameters. You can influence your search ranking by scoring the highest on ranking parameters such as quality, authority, trust flow and much more.

In simple terms, optimizing your site to rank higher on SERPs (search engine result pages) really means getting the highest score in as many of these ranking parameters as possible.

What factors affect SEO?

As discussed above, Search Engine Optimization or SEO is influenced by many different factors including Domain authority, your URL structure, your content and much more.

But that’s not all:

Google carefully analyses a thousand other ranking signals such as Dwell Time (time on site), Bounce Rate, Social Signals and more to rank a website on its SERPs.

Basically, SEO ranking factors can be divided into two different categories:

  1. On-page SEO
  2. Off-page SEO

On-page SEO – Also called Onsite SEO, On-page SEO denotes any optimization activity that is done on your own website. Here are just some of the many On-Page SEO techniques include:

  1. Optimizing META TAGS.
  2. Optimizing URL Structure.
  3. Optimizing Site Speed.
  4. Optimizing Keywords
  5. Optimizing Images

Off-page SEO – Also referred to as Offsite SEO, Off-page SEO activities refer to activities that is done outside of your own website. Here are just some of the many Off-Page SEO techniques are:

  1. Link Building
  2. Social Media Marketing
  3. Social bookmarking
  4. Blog Submission
  5. Image Submission

Now let’s get started with the advanced section of this comprehensive SEO guide for 2018 (and beyond).

1. Look for Trustworthy, Credible & Legit Links

In March 2014, Google’s Search Quality Senior Strategist, Andrey Lipattsev revealed that Links are the first and the most important ranking signal in Google’s search algorithm.

Turns out:

SEO is still all about links.

Yeah! That’s true:

Backlinks hugely impact your SERP ranking.

Backlinks Impact on Ranking

You’ll be surprised:

A Moz study reveals that there is a very strong correlation between the number of websites linking to a page and Google SERP rankings. In fact, this is stronger correlation than more than any other ranking signal.

Correlation Between Ranking & Backlinks

This means:

Without credible, trustworthy links, you’ll never rank anywhere on the first page of Google SERPs. And all your time and efforts, honing those SEO trends, techniques and tips will go down the drain.

The correlation between higher SERP ranking and the total number of root domains (linking websites) is positioned at .30.

I’m sure you’re wondering:

Why should I care about just .30?

Here’s your answer:

Remember, Google ensures that one ranking factor does not dominate any other ranking factor. Also, this smaller correlation between links and root domains is actually one of the highest correlations for the 200+ ranking signals.

correlation between higher SERP ranking and the total number of root domains

99.2% of all websites (in top 50 search results) have at least one external link. And 77.8% of top results have at least one external link pointing at an individual page.

But here’s the deal:

The BIG G carefully analyses the link quality before ranking websites on its SERPs. And to Google some links are more valuable than others.

Confused? Let me explain:

Inbound links from highly credible and authority websites tend to have a stronger effect on your website’s SERP ranking.

Remember:

TrustRank of referring web page is a crucial factor for better SERP ranking. TrustRank is a crucial ranking factor that Google uses to determine rankings of a particular web page.

Concept of Trust Rank

For example:

Getting a single no-follow link from high TrustRank sites such as NeilPatel.com, Backlinko.com, SEMrush.com or JeffBullas.com is better than 5 –7 do-follow links from low authority sites.

Here’s how TrustRank Works:

How TrustRank Works

That’s why:

Only get involved in legit link building techniques. Remember, it is better to have just a few credible and legit links from high authority websites rather than having a dozens of links from low-authority websites.

Similarly:

Pitch in guest posts at high Domain Authority Sites for high-quality type of link building opportunities.

Why?

This is because Google gives 23.87% weightage to domain authority amongst other ranking factors. Obviously, getting a link from a high domain authority site is counted as a good link.

Components of Google Ranking Algorithm

Stay away from bad, spammy links.

What are bad links

Here’s how to do link building and differentiate good links from bad links:

Whenever you pitch in for a guest post at a site, do well to run a comprehensive backlink analysis of the site from where you wish to get links.

Backlink analysis means a detailed examination of both internal and external links of your intended website. The Internet bursts at its seams with plethora of link building tools. Use a popular link building tool for backlink analysis.

Backlink Analysis

Now that you have finally analysed your intended site, check if this site has a topical relevancy to your site. Remember, the objective is not just to obtain any backlink, but relevant backlinks pointing to your site.

Wait there’s more:

You’ll be surprised to know that the positioning of a link on a web page also impacts its SERP ranking.

Let me explain:

Contextual links carry more weightage as compared to those in footers, sidebars or even banners.

But don’t target just one Anchor Text for contextual links. And when you do that use anchor texts that are natural.

Speaking of anchor text of external links…

SEOMoz’s Biennial Search Ranking Factors Report reveals that the weightage of ‘Anchor Text of external link to individual pages’ on a site is 20.26%, which is considerably higher than many other ranking factors.

Components of Google Search Ranking Algo

Google considers ‘Anchor texts’ as description of one website by another. That’s why it makes sense to focus on opportunities to influence anchor texts order to optimize your site’s SEO.

But remember, too much exact match anchor texts can result in Google’s Penguin penalty. So steer clear of over-optimized anchor texts. Instead, distribute your anchor texts between exact match, phrase, brand name and branded keywords, etc.

Category Anchor Text Distribution

Lastly:

Don’t get into link building activity for the heck of it. Link building is both science and arts and you’ll need to be very careful when building links. Be vigilant of not getting a link from a penalized site.

Stay away from getting links from a low-quality or thin content page, even if it’s a do follow link. It will not only destroy your site’s reputation, but also will drive away your visitors to competitor sites.

Here’s what most people think:

Only do-follow links impact SERP rankings.

But here’s the truth:

A no-follow link can create awareness for your site, drive targeted traffic, engage your visitors and get your better CTR. So it makes sense to acquire both no-follow links and do-follow links whenever possible.

In short, don’t waste your time hunting SEO predictions for 2018. Instead, explore the link worthy opportunities on the web because link building will help you dominate Google SERPs in 2018 (and beyond).

Now let’s move on to other SEO trends and techniques that I’ve charted out in this guide to SEO in 2018.

2. Optimize Your Content for Better Ranking

Content is still the king and is likely to rule the world of SEO in 2018 and beyond too.

Why?

Because without amazing content, you’ll can never expect to dominate Google’s SERP in 2018!

Remember:

Content is the second most important ranking factor, according to Google. And Google’s Panda algorithm update confirms the importance of content in SEO.

Introduced in February 2011, Google’s Panda Update filters sites with poor quality content and stops them from obtaining higher SERP ranks. Panda algorithm is updated from time-to-time and sites with low-quality, irrelevant and keyword stuffed content are penalized.

Qualitative content has a substantial impact on Google SERP rankings.

Weightage of Thematic Clusters in Search Ranking Factors

In fact:

Content carries a weightage of 14.94% amongst Google’s major search ranking signals.

What does this mean for you?

That means that you’ll need to mine Google Analytics data, devise a thoughtful content optimization strategy and consistently build “high-quality” SEO content.

Here’s how you can do it:

Consistently create long-form content because content length strongly correlates to Google’s SERP ranking.

In short:

Pages with longer content (over 1800 words) rank significantly better than pages with shorter content!

Content Length Correlation with Google Ranking

You may be wondering why?

This is because longer content generates significantly more social shares and carries more topical relevancy.

Speaking of topical relevancy…

Build content that’s topically relevant.

Here’s a quick and dirty definition of topically relevant content:

Topically relevant content is an in-depth piece of content that covers a subject and closely related subjects in exhaustive details.

Wondering why should you build topically relevant SEO content?

Here’s why?

Topical relevancy hugely impacts Google rankings, thanks to Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm update. It has been noticed that topically relevant content outperforms that content lacking in-depth details of the subject.

Correlation of Topical Relevancy and Google Ranking

But here’s the deal:

When planning your SEO content strategy to build topically relevant, comprehensive content, it is easy to end up complicating the structure of the content.

However:

You must employ foolproof content optimization techniques to make sure that your content is easy to be consumed by your target audience.

Remember:

Google estimates the reading level of all the webpages.

Results by Reading Level for Reading Level

Experts believe that Google assigns better SERP ranks to webpages with highest Basic reading level as it is easier to be consumed by searchers.

PS: It is not-confirmed and is debatable.

And that’s just a part of the story:

Introduced in June 2010, Google’s Caffeine update (freshness factor) made it clear that recently updated content will rank better on Google SERPs. If you will look closely at search snippet, you’ll find that Google shows the date of a page’s last update.

Google’s Caffeine update (freshness factor)

One of the easiest SEO content optimization tips to rank better on Google SERPs is to consistently revamp your evergreen content into different formats such infographics, slide decks or videos.

Don’t forget to use images, videos or other multimedia elements. These elements are considered as content quality signal. There are plenty of content optimization tools available on the Internet that can help you add media elements to your otherwise boring, static content.

Remember:

Having at least one multimedia element such as image can help you improve your web page’s Google SERP ranking.

Adding One multimedia element increases Ranking

Though Schema mark-up doesn’t really correlate with higher SERP rankings on Google, it tends to obtain higher SERP CTR. So, it makes sense to build content that supports Schema Micro-formats.

Schema Markup Example

Let’s move on to the next strategy in this easy-to-follow SEO guide to 2018.

3. Know the Nuances of RankBrain Optimization

You probably already know:

RankBrain is one of the most important Google ranking factors.

In fact:

Google’s Andrey Lipattsev revealed in a Q&A session that RankBrain is the third most important ranking signal (after content and links).

Last year, RankBrain was the major component of almost all SEO guides for 2017 and made it almost all lists of SEO tips and trends predictions for 2017.

But what is RankBrain?

RankBrain is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that Google uses to ensure more meaningful and relevant search results for its search queries, including the 15% new and unique search queries that Google processes every day.

What is Google RankBrain

It is vital component of Google’s Hummingbird Update that embeds huge amount of written language into mathematical entities called vectors.

What does RankBrain do?

The answer is simple! Rankbrain ensures more relevant and more targeted search results for queries by bringing forth the exact meaning of the entire search phrase instead of individual words.

In short, this algorithm is focused on returning complex long-tail search queries on the basis of how they are related to particular topics.

What does RankBrain Do

Google’s Artificial Intelligence algorithm, RankBrain continuously keeps learning and updating itself by heeding to metrics such as bounce rate and dwell time.  This means if a user finds the search results irrelevant to their query, the next time, RankBrain ensures showing more targeted and relevant results.

Let’s understand RankBrain with an example:

I ran a search query for three terms:

1. Best Amazon Prime ShowsBest Amazon Prime Shows

2. Best Shows on Amazon Prime

Best Shows on Amazon Prime3. What to watch on Amazon Prime

What to watch on Amazon Prime

Did you notice a pattern here? All these three search queries are essentially asking for the very same thing.

But I’m sure you’ve noticed that these all these search queries returned the same results.

Why?

RankBrain helps Google understand that each of these three search queries are the same, irrespective of the fact that they use different words and phrases with an exception of Amazon Prime. It determines the intent of Google searcher and shows search results accordingly.

This means:

RankBrain carefully considers topical relevancy when returning search results.

RankBrain carefully considers topical relevancy

But here’s the deal:

At SMX Advanced, Gary Illyes of Google revealed:

“You cannot optimize or do SEO for RankBrain. He added there are no “scores” for RankBrain — although he did say he will continue saying what Google as said in the past, that RankBrain is a ranking factor, even though it has no score like page speed, Panda, Penguin and other ranking signals may have.”

Now, here’s the BIG QUESTION?

Is it possible to optimize your website for Google RankBrain?

The answer is a resounding YES!

Start by doing what experts are doing. Write in-depth, long-form content that address the pain points of your target audiences and provides a comprehensive solution to their problems.

Long-form content tends get better ranking on SERPs.

Average Content Length

And that’s not all:

Most searchers love to engage with and share long form content.

long form content Social Share

In fact:

The dwell time for longer content is usually higher than that of shorter content, both on desktop and on mobile.

dwell time for longer content

Cell phone users tend to stick with longer content than shorter content.

longer content than shorter content on Mobile

I’m sure you’re wondering:

What’s the correlation between dwell time and RankBrain?

Here’s your answer:

For RankBrain, dwell time is one of the vital ranking signals that it uses to rank websites.

This means:

The more is the dwell time of your page; the better will be your search ranking.

Let me explain it with an example:

Let’s assume you’re searching for “Tomato Soup.

Tomato Soup Search Query

Let’s say you found result number #3 to be good and clicked on it. Now, you found the recipe to be good and spent considerable time reading it. RankBrain will take a note of it and will boost the SERP ranking for result number 3.

Focus on publishing in-depth content, from data-backed case studies to detailed, explanatory guides. This will not only help your site become a go-to destination your target audience, but also for other websites that will visit your site for your research data making it easy for you to earn backlinks.

But here’s the deal:

Don’t try to cover each and every subject possible under the sun. Instead, try to be an expert on one subject. In short, try imitating authoritative sites in your niche.

Here’s why:

Google ranks Backlinko.com as a reputable site in the SEO domain. And any site that looks similar publishes similar in-depth content and follows the structure of Backlinko.com is recognized as a “good” site by Google.

Don’t forget to make sure that your content is fresh. Remember, freshness is a major ranking signal.

Make sure that your content contains natural language and is conversational. Ensure that your content is east to understand for your target audiences. By doing this, you are helping RankBrain to present your content to the right people, i.e., your target audience.

The next step?

Try improving your SERP snippets in order to boost your CTR.

Why?

CTR has significant correlation with ranking.

CTR has significant correlation with ranking.

In fact:

RankBrain tends to rank sites with better CTR.

Let’s take an example:

Now, let’s say you again searched for keyword ‘Tomato Soup.

Tomato Soup Search Query

You found the first result on Google SERP to be relevant and clicked on it.

But:

Upon visiting the site, you found it doesn’t feature good information on what you’re looking for and you quickly bounce back from the site and click on third SERP result and spent considerable time there.

RankBrain will understand that result number #3 is better than result number #1 for your search query giving it a ranking boost.

Tomato Soup Search Query

As it turns out:

RankBrain focuses on the Click Through Rate for search results.

This means the better your average CTR is, the better will your SERP rankings.

Here’s how to use RankBrain to improve your CTR:

Ensure that your page titles and META descriptions address your target audiences’ needs enticing them to click through to get a solution for their pain points.

Another way to increase your CTR is by using keywords, that your target audience is searching for, in your META descriptions and Titles.

Remember, Google ranking is strongly correlated with keywords.

Google ranking is strongly correlated with keywords.

Talking of Keywords…

4. Understand the Art of Keyword Research

Everyone and their grannies know how important keywords are for SEO.

Experts like Brian Dean believe that Keyword is the essential fuel that runs SEO machines.

In fact:

Keywords carry a weightage of 15% in the list Google Ranking Factors.

 Keywords carry a weightage of 15%

But here’s the deal:

Despite the ever-increasing significance of keywords, most marketers fail to pick the right keywords for their business that searchers are actually looking for.

But there’s a catch:

Using keyword research and analysis to stay ahead of the curve in 2018 (and beyond) is no mean feat.

As it turns out:

You’re in luck today because I’m going to pull the curtains and reveal a keyword research process that almost guarantees better ranking and floods of visitors in 2018 (and beyond).

Start by finding out who your customers are and what they’re looking for when searching online for your products or services.

How would you do this?

By building BUYER PERSONAS!

Creating buyer personas will help you identify Niche Topics that your buyers are interested in.

After identifying these Niche Topics, it will be easier for you to discover keywords your buyers use to run search queries.

When building a buyer persona for your keyword research, include your target buyer’s:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Job
  • Income
  • Niche Industry
  • Interests
  • Pain Points
  • A possible solution for their pain areas

Here’s how Buyer Persona framework looks like:

Buyer Persona Framework

Once you develop this buyer persona framework, you’ll be able to get into the head of your target buyers and discover niche topics and probable seed keywords that they actually search for in all the three stages of their buyer journey.

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Decision

The Next Step?

Head to forums! Why? Because chances are your target audience loves to hang out there.

Now, how will you search forum keywords?

Simply use these search strings in Google:

Let’s say your keyword is SEO, this is how you’ll need to use this string:

“Keyword” + “Forums”

“keyword” + “forums”

“Keyword” + “Forum”

“keyword” + “forum”

“Keyword” + “Board”

“keyword” + “board”

Now that you have found a forum for your keyword, start looking for Niche Topic by following a popular discussion thread. Once you identify a few Niche Topics for your site, add them to your to-do list.

Use one of the free keyword suggestion tools such as Ahrefs’ Site Explorer tool to find out what keywords your competitors are ranking for. Simply, pick the best keywords that your competitors are ranking for.

Now add LSI keywords to your list.

What are LSI keywords?

LSI keywords or Latent semantic indexing keywords are the synonyms or related words and phrases for your target keyword.

Let me explain it with an example:

Let’s say you’re building an article optimized for the keyword “CRO Tips.

LSI Keyword - CRO Tips

You’ll find some BOLD and HIGHLIGHTED phrases on the SERP that you didn’t really look up for.

LSI Keyword Example

These are the terms (in other words LSI keywords) that Google thinks are related to the keyword for which the search query was run.

But don’t just stop here:

You’ll find a lot of LSI keywords at the bottom of the page too.

Search Related to Keywords

Use this free LSI keyword suggestion tool called LSI Graph Tool to find LSI keywords without having to run from pillar to post.

 

LSI Graph Tool

Simply feed in your target keyword and the tool will show you the LSI keywords related with your keyword:

LSI Keyword Generator

Use these LSI keywords in your content.

So now you have created a list of keywords using Niche Topics and LSI keywords. What next?

Target long tail keywords!

long tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are specific and longer keyword phrases that searchers are more likely to use when closer to the point-of-purchase.

Search Demand Curve

Experts may argue that long tail keywords have lesser search volume. However, these long tail keywords have as much as 70% higher conversion value.Long tail keywords have as much as 70% higher conversion value.

But here’s the brutal truth about long tail keywords:

There are WAY too many marketers and brands that rely on “long tail keywords.

They claim to get great search engine optimization results using long tail keywords.

This means:

You too will great results if you use long tail keywords.

If only it were that easy…

If you’re serious about using long tail keywords to your advantage, you’ll need to be very systematic with how you use long tail keywords.

Wait! I’m going to reveal a secret technique that guarantees that you better rankings and better conversions with very long tail keyword you use.

The Pyramidic Push Technique:

The Pyramidic Push Technique

There are 3 simple steps that make up The Pyramidic Push Technique:

Step 1: Find long tail keywords relevant to your business.

Step 2: Use the long tail keywords in your guest posts (for link building), social media posts and forum activities.

In short, use your target long tail keywords in all off-page content activity that you’re doing.

For every on-page article that you create targeting a specific long tail keyword, build at least three off-page articles to give your targeted long tail keywords, the maximum push possible.

Step 3: Use the long tail keywords in your on-page content. Embed your target long tail keyword in your articles, META description, Title tags, and in H1 & H2 tags.

Use your keywords in the beginning of your META description and Title Tag to improve your CTR.

That’s it! The more you push your long tail keyword with onpage and offpage activities, the better will be your SERP ranking.

PS: The Pyramidic Push Technique is one of many strategies that I use to push my targeted long tail keywords to get a spot on the first page of Google SERP.

Let’s move on to the next chapter of this SEO guide for 2018.

5. Get Set to Improve Organic Click Through Rates

If you’re looking to stay ahead of your competition in 2018, you’ll need to improve your Click Through Rates.

Here’s why:

Click through rates is strongly correlated with Google rankings. Typically, web pages that rank higher get the maximum Click through rates.

Click through rates is strongly correlated with Google rankings

You’ll be surprised:

Webpages ranking on number one position of Google SERP gets a click through rates of 20.5%, whereas that on number two gets 13.32% CTR.

Based on this data, it’s no rocket science to understand why you need to improve your CTR for better ranking positions in Google in 2018 (and beyond).

But here’s the deal:

Google’s Answer Boxes, Ads, Carousels, “People also ask” sections, etc. occupy a large space on SERPs making it difficult to ensure a high CTR.

In fact:

Wordstream reveals that organic CTR has gone down by 37% between May 2015 and March 2017.

CTR has gone down by 37%

The BIG QUESTION?

How to improve your Organic CTR?

The Answer:

By organic search click-through rate (CTR) optimization!

Here’s how you can optimize and improve organic CTR:

Build a solid sales funnel by smartly mixing short tail and long tail keywords to map your buyer’s journey.

sales funnel

Now that your sales funnel is keyword proof, get on to writing go-getter META descriptions. An effective META tag can help you improve your organic Click through rates dramatically. Smartly use your target keywords in your META tags to make it more relevant for searchers.

SCHEMA MARKUP or ANSWER BOX is yet another brilliant way to improve your Google click through rates.  Google prefers rich content and ranks them well on SERPs; thereby increasing the Organic Click Through Results.

For example:

Search “Best SEO TIPS” and you’ll find an Answer BOX for an article that Google feels is relevant to your search query.

Best SEO TIPS - Search query

Typically, the ANSWER BOX appears above all search results and can boost your Organic Click Through Rates manifolds.

Now that you’ve prepared an effective piece that aligns with the right schema Google’s algorithms are looking for, it’s time to move on to something a little more advanced.

Use Long Tail keywords in your Title Tags and make it more descriptive.

Why?

Because using descriptive Title Tags with long tail keywords can help you improve your organic CTR.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to simplify your URLs.

Here’s an example:

Cost Effective SEO Tips - Search Query

Did you notice how descriptive the title tag for this search result is and how simple is the URL structure. Naturally, Google ranks this content at the top of the Search Results on its SERPs.

Lastly, do not forget to optimize rich snippets to boost your organic CTR. Mark up your web pages with structured data.

Now that we have been taking of Rich Snippets, let’s move on the next chapter in this SEO guide for 2018 that will reveal everything about Personalized Rich Snippets and lengthier Meta Tags.

6. Go All-In With Personalized, Feature Rich Snippet

I’m sure you’ll agree:

Creating META description snippets in just 165 characters has long been a challenge for even the most seasoned of souls…

Sadly:

Anything over 165 character limit was truncated by Google.

Here’s some good news for you:

Recently, Google doubled the character limit for the snippet in their search results.

Now, you’re allowed to use 320 characters in your META Description.

Here’s an example:

320 characters in META Description

This means:

You’ve a lot of extra room to insert targeted long tail keywords and make your descriptions more relevant and personalized for your target audiences.

Remember:

Search personalization can reduce boost conversions by 5-15%, and improve CTR.

I’m sure you’re wondering:

Does lengthier META Description affects search rankings?

In my experience:

Longer META description boosts your Google SERP ranking (it did for us).

Here’s why:

Longer Meta description allows for more information and more targeted keywords in the snippet.

This means:

There will be more chances of better CTR, eventually boosting your SERP rankings.

Okay, now that you know about lengthier and personalized META Snippets, it’s time to introduce Featured Snippet.

Here’s a featured snippet example:

featured snippet example

Yeah! You guessed it right!

Featured snippets are nothing but SCHEMA MARKUPS.

You must aim at creating content that features structured data to be found on the top spot of Google’s SERPs.

For example:

When you search for “Tiger Zinda Hai,” you’ll be presented with a carousel/infobox (types of Featured Snippet) with the show timings for this latest Bollywood movie.

Tiger Zinda Hai Showtime Infobox

You’ll also find another infobox (featured snippet box ) that says “Top Stories.

Tiger Zinda Hai - Infobox (Top Story)

Search for the review of this movie and you get another list.

Tiger Zinda Hai Review - Infobox

Not only that, if you will search for ‘Tiger Zinda Hai Synopsis’, you’ll find another SCHEMA MARKUP:

tiger zinda hai synopsis - Schema Markup

You’ll also see Twitter results for this movie as Schema Markup.

Tiger Zinda Hai - Social Media Schema Markup

This is because Social media sites and Information Banks like Wikipedia have always used schema markup.

Such Structured Data often appears at the top of the SERP.

I’m sure you must have witnessed:

More often, such interactive infoboxes appear at the top of search results, eventually blotting out the organic results.

This means:

Content that shows up as Structured Data gets more CTR and eventually ranks better on Google SERPs!

People also ask” is yet another Schema Markup Content that ranks higher on SERPs for most search results.

People Also Ask - Schema Markup

Look:

If you aren’t optimizing your content to align with Google’s SCHEMA MARKUP structure, you’re leaving money on the table.

As if that’s not enough:

If you aren’t prepared to embrace SCHEMA MARKUP in 2018 (and beyond) in order to make your search snippets more personalized, on both desktop and mobile, there is no way you can stay ahead of the curve.

But here’s the deal:

Things get tougher on mobile!

Talking of mobile, let’s skim through our next Chapter that will reveal why it is important for you to optimize for mobile.

7. Prepare for Google’s Mobile-first Index

You probably already know:

Google revealed its plan to roll out its Mobile First Index.

Here are some probable reasons why you must be concerned about mobile optimization mobile now:

Mobile devices capture 65% of the total digital time.

Mobile devices capture 65% of the total digital time

A report by Statista.com forecasted that the total number of mobile users will reach 5.07 billion by 2019.

total number of mobile users will reach 5.07 billion by 2019

Forrester predicts that total value of mobile payment transactions will be 434,480 million by 2021.

total value of mobile payment transactions will be 434,480 million by 2021

And that’s not all:

According to the study by Google, there has been a 91% growth in the usage of mobile devices throughout buying journey.

91% growth in the usage of mobile devices

But here’s the shocker:

The average load time for U.S. retail mobile sites is 6.9 seconds. But 40% mobile users abandon a mobile site if it loads in more than 3 seconds.

This means:

If your mobile site loads in more than 3 seconds, you’re leaving money on the table.

Here’s the BIG QUESTION?

Does Mobile Site’s Speed Impact your Search Rankings?

The answer:

A resounding YES!

Site speed, for both desktop and mobile, is a crucial ranking factor.  Less than 1% search queries are affected by the site speed signal.

In addition:

53% of mobile visitors abandon if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Also:

Page speed has a strong correlation with Google rankings.

Page speed has a strong correlation with Google rankings. The BIG QUESTION?

How would you decrease your mobile site’s load time?

The answer is easier than you’ve imagined:

Use responsive templates for your site and embed site resources in HTML.

Start by optimizing the caches. Downsize the JavaScript Parsing and optimize the CSS script.

Don’t forget to remove all redirects and optimize the images. Display 100% of your desktop content to mobile visitors too. Use an effective CDN for this.

Lastly:

Don’t forget to check if your site is mobile-friendly using this Flagship tool from Google.

Now:

You’re all set to take Google Mobile First Index head on, let’s move on to the next chapter on this SEO guide for 2018.

8. Tap into the Immense Potential of Videos

One-third of online activity is spent watching video and 85% of US internet audience watches videos online.

I’m sure you’re wondering:

How are videos related to SERP rankings?

Here’s the deal:

Video drives a 157% increase in organic traffic from SERPs.

And:

A HubSpot survey revealed that 43% consumers want to see more video content.

43% consumers want to see more video content

That’s not all:

52% marketers believe that video content offers the ROI.

52% marketers believe that video content offers the ROI

And that’s not all:

According to Cisco’s 2014 Visual Networking Index, videos are forecasted to grow to 80 percent of all traffic by 2019.

videos are forecasted to grow to 80 percent of all traffic by 2019

What’s the bottom line?

More and more people now look for and essentially demand video content from brands and marketers.

Here’s how you can do it:

Tap into YouTube.

Why?

YouTube is world’s 2nd largest search engine and gets almost 30 million visitors every day.

YouTube gets almost 30 million visitors every day

The Best Part:

It is easy to create a channel and upload videos to YouTube.

But here’s what you must keep in mind:

Create at least 5 minutes long videos.

Why?

The average length of videos ranking on first page of YouTube is 14 minutes, 50 seconds.

average length of videos ranking on first page of YouTube is 14 minutes, 50 seconds

Bottom Line:

Longer videos outdo shorter videos on YouTube.

Next:

Carefully select your video keywords. Be smart to select the ones that get at least 300 searches per month.

Ensure Keyword-optimized titles and video filename to rank higher on YouTube SERPs. It makes sense to use exact-match keywords in your Video Titles as there is a strong correlation between exact-match keyword-optimized titles and YouTube rankings.

there is a strong correlation between exact-match keyword-optimized titles and YouTube rankings

Now that you’re adding keywords to your file name, don’t forget to keyword optimize your Meta tags too.

Using descriptive tags with target keywords can help you rank better on YouTube SERPs. Brian Dean of Backlinko found a correlation between keyword-rich tags and YouTube rankings.

correlation between keyword-rich tags and YouTube rankings

Lastly:

Use closed caption and subtitles. It will help you make your video content accessible to more and more people.

And don’t just stop there:

Upload high quality HD videos on YouTube.

Here’s why?

Because 68.2% of all videos on first page of YouTube are HD!

68.2% of all videos on first page of YouTube are HD

Now that you are done with your SEO strategy, it’s time to Share your YouTube videos on social media channels.

Remember, getting your videos shared socially will also help you boost your SERP rankings and will increase the chances of driving more and more traffic to your site.

Now that you know enough video optimization strategies, let’s now jump to the next chapter in our SEO guide to 2018…

9. Gear Up to Optimize for Visual Search Results

I’m sure you’re wondering:

What the heck is visual search engine?

The answer is pretty straightforward:

A Visual Search Engine returns search results in the form of an image, graphics or visual displays.

You’ll be surprised:

Creating visual assets is the top priority for 55% of B2C marketers.

Creating visual assets is the top priority for 55% of B2C marketers

In fact:

37% marketers believe visual content is the most important type of content, second only to blogging.

37% marketers believe visual content is the most important type of content, second only to blogging.

BIG QUESTION?

Why should you care about visual search engines?

Here’s the deal:

The attention span of today’s visitor is less than 8 seconds, which is lesser than that of a Gold Fish.

attention span of today’s visitor is less than 8 seconds

But that’s just part of the story…

90% of all the information transmitted to the brain is visual and human brain can process images 60,000 times faster than text.

90% of all the information transmitted to the brain is visual

As if that wasn’t enough…

A 2017 report by Moz reveals that around 27 percent of all searches are for images.

27 percent of all searches are for images

Bottom Line?

If you’re actually looking to get more traffic from SEO in 2018, you need to optimize for visual search results.

It’s too big an opportunity to be missed.

The best part?

Nearly half of the entire marketing clan is too lazy to optimize for visual search results. So it’s pretty easy to drive torrents of traffic, and generate tons of leads.

I’m sure you’re wondering:

How do I optimize my SEO efforts for visual search results?

Here’s how:

Implement SCEHMA MARKUP. Optimize your images and description to get image badges from Google. If you’re trying to make your product images rank higher, use product mark-up.

Optimize for Similar Items and Related Items sections by adding product markup on your web page with the meta-data including the following information:

  • Name
  • Image
  • Price
  • Currency
  • Availability

As it turns out:

The more detailed your META data is the better will be your visual search ranking.

Here’s how the visual search result with Product badge SCHEMA MARKUP looks like:

Product badge SCHEMA MARKUP

Once you’ve your SCHEMA MARKUP ready, run it’s URL through Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool

Scan for errors. If you find one, fix it before moving on. Don’t forget to ensure that your structured data is user-friendly.

Don’t just give up if your image doesn’t show up in search result in a day or two. It may take up to one week for your site’s images to be crawled by Google’s spiders.

Use a schema markup tool to create a structured data for your content. There are plenty of free schema markup generators available online at your disposal.

But here’s something you must know:

There is no guarantee that your structured data will show up as SCHEMA MARKUP. It is purely at Google’s discretion. However, quality markups increase the chances of your images showing up in the search results.

Meanwhile:

Run an image search on mobile web or Android Search app to confirm your images have been indexed using a schema markup tester tool.

If you are unable to find image results badges, there is most likely an implementation issue. Fix it.

I’m sure now you understand the power of visual search and are all set to optimize your SEO efforts to make your brand more visually appealing in 2018 (and beyond).

10. Brace for Voice Search Results

Try asking any marketer about one significant Google algorithm update that will rule the search ecosystem in the future:

I’m sure the unanimous answer will be:

Google Voice search

Wait, What’s Google Voice Search?

Google Voice Search online is a functionality that makes it easier for users to search the Web conveniently and on the go with voice commands.

Except for how users actually use voice search, there’s very little difference between voice search and regular typed search query.

In fact:

Comscore  predicts that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.

Comscore predicts that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020

Nearly 50% of people are now using voice search when researching products

No wonder:

Google voice search queries are up by over 35X Since 2008.

Google voice search queries are up by over 35X Since 2008

Meanwhile:

20% of mobile searches on Google are made via voice.

20% of mobile searches on Google are made via voice

What does this mean for you?

If you’re smart enough to optimize for voice search results, there is no stopping you from becoming the superpower of SEO in 2018 and beyond.

But how will you optimize for voice search:

Start by optimizing your local business listings. Add detailed information about your business and choose relevant categories.

Why?

Because “near me” feature of voice search pulls up user’s physical location and returns search results accordingly.  Being detailed and specific will broaden your chances of showing up in voice search results.

Use long-tail keywords because most voice search queries are more personal, descriptive and specific. Ensure that your content is conversational as voice search queries are usually long tail than typical text search queries.

voice search queries are usually long tail

Most voice search queries are question based. In fact, a study reveals 61% year on year growth in question phrases for voice searches.

61% year on year growth in question phrases for voice searches

And that’s why it makes sense to create Q&A-style content.

Update your microdata markups for Googlebots to crawl your site and understand what your page is all about. In order to effectively update your microdata, submit a sitemap to Google including information such as:

  • Your Business address
  • Business Phone number
  • Working hours
  • Product Prices
  • Directions from major highways

Lastly:

Improve your site speed.

Why?

Because 43% people use voice search because it is quicker!

Also:

There is a strong correlation between site speed and Google rankings and this is true for both text based search results and voice search results.

strong correlation between site speed and Google rankings

Bottom line?

Optimize your site speed if you’re looking to rank well for voice search results.

Okay, let’s now move to our Bonus Chapter where I’ll reveal some quick SEO trends predictions for 2018 to help you stay ahead of the curve.

BONUS CHAPTER: Quick SEO Trends Predictions for 2018

Let’s take a quick look at top SEO trends 2018.

SEO Trend #1: AMP May Become A Prominent Ranking Factor

You already know:

Mobile usage has outpaced desktop usage and Google too is all set to roll out its mobile first update.

Given all this:

I’m sure that Accelerated Mobile Pages project will become important than ever in 2018 and beyond.

But here’s the shocker:

A large number of industry experts and webmasters still believe the only goal of Google’s AMP Project is to make the web faster.

However:

Looking at Google’s inclination towards mobile, I believe sooner (maybe sometime in 2019) Google will declare AMP to be an important ranking signal.

Why?

AMP already has a great impact on search performance

This is because AMP already has a great impact on search performance. In fact, Wired witnessed a 25% increase in click through rates from search results, with CTR on ads in AMP stories up by 63%.

SEO Trend #2: Popularity of SCHEMA MARKUP will Know No Bounds

It’s really difficult not to talk about Schema, when talking of SEO trends for 2018.

I believe SCHEMA MARKUPs will ranked alongside SEO trends and techniques for 2018.

Before you jump to conclusions:

I’m not trying to make you believe that Schema will become a direct ranking factor.

But here’s the deal:

It can improve your CTR’s dramatically.

Look:

Schema.org markup ensures that Google pulls up rich snippets and rich data including images, reviews and opening hours listed at your website, making it more accessible to your target audiences; thereby increasing your click-through rates.

Good news!

A survey revealed that 40% marketers are doing schema markup for small companies with less than 5 employees.

40% marketers are doing schema markup for small companies

38.7% businesses and marketers update their schema markup every month.

38.7% businesses and marketers update their schema markup every month

With the ever-increasing demand for more accurate and helpful resources, I’m sure Schema Markups will gain more solid grounds in 2018 (and beyond).

SEO Trend #3: Blog Comments Will Play A Major Role in SERP Rankings

Believe it or not:

Blog Comments help you improve your SERP rankings.

How?

Comments make for a great source of user-generated content containing from long-tail keyword queries. And long tail keywords account for about 85% of search engine traffic.

Comments are great source of long-tail keywords

But wait that’s just one part of the story:

In April 2016, Google’s Gary Illyes revealed that a thriving community helps with SERP rankings.

Here is the set of tweets in context:

Comments help with SERP rankings

Here’s what I believe:

One of my top bets amongst SEO trends 2018, blog commenting will not only emerge as one of the best ways to rise on the search engines but also to build relationships with peers and credibility in the eyes of Google.

Over to You!

So there you have it – all the SEO tips, tricks, suggestion, advice and best practices to help you stay ahead in 2018 (and beyond).

Have you noticed search engines giving prominence to any other elements? Let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.

4 thoughts on “SEO in 2018 (Advanced Guide + Proven Tips)

  • February 8, 2018 at 11:54 pm
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    Very Informative Post and very use full topic. Thank You Keep Writing

    Reply
    • March 3, 2018 at 10:16 pm
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      We are glad you liked the post. Thank you for your time.

      Reply
  • January 17, 2018 at 4:37 pm
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    Great article. Your CTR infographic as well as article is awesome. I found something new which I never take in mind before. But after reading your article, I found these are also ranking factor.

    Reply
    • March 3, 2018 at 10:17 pm
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      Good to know we could add value Shaheen! Thanks for reading the post.

      Reply

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