13th December 2017 Claire Hawes

SEO and content marketing in 2018: What you need to know

Do you think SEO is about getting to #1 in the search results? Then you need to know SEO has moved on. Here’s what you need to know about SEO in 2018

Have you noticed a difference in the way Google presents answers to your search engine queries?

Not so long ago, if you asked a search engine a question, the search engine would present you with a list of 10 blue links.

Today it’s your intent that drives Google’s search engine results pages.

What do I mean by this?

It’s December. So type “How to make a Christmas pudding” into Google. Then take a good look at the search engine results page.

What do you notice?

Featured Snippets (AKA Answer Boxes)

Top of the page, you’ll see a ‘Featured Snippet.’ The snippet lists instructions for how to make a Christmas pudding.

Featured snippet: SEO in 2018. What you need to know

One of the advantages of featured snippets is they make your content stand out. One of the disadvantages is because they instantly answer searchers’ questions, they give searchers little reason to click through to your pages.

How can you get content ranked as a featured snippet?

There is no way you can guarantee a featured snippet. But you can structure your content to increase your chances of having content appearing in a featured snippet.

First off you need to do your keyword research. According to a recent study, the vast majority of featured snippets are triggered by long-tail keywords.

Dig deep and find out what questions your audience is asking. Think like a journalist. Create content around the questions: who, what, why, where, when and how.

Then structure your content in a way that’s easy for both readers and Google to digest and understand.

People also ask

Underneath the ‘Featured Snippet’, you’ll see a ‘People also ask’ box. Google is trying to cut to the nub of your search query. It is giving you ideas to help you get the answer you are looking for.

People also ask. SEO. What you need to know in 2018

How can ‘People also ask’ help you in your SEO efforts?

Google is telling you what real people are searching for. Take note of the queries listed in this box. You can use them for creating future content, such as blog posts and more.

Rich snippets

Next, Google presents you with search results in the form of Rich Snippets. These are more than just standard search results.

Look closely. Rich snippets include images and ratings. Better still a guide to how long it will take you to prepare your Christmas pudding. Plus, how many calories are in it.

Rich snippet. SEO in 2018, What you need to know

How to get content featured in a rich snippet?

You’ll need structured data markup. Sounds a bit technical? Fortunately, if you have a WordPress based site, there are plugins for that. In particular look at All-in-One Schema.org.

If you are not using WordPress, then I recommend you speak to your web developer.

Now type ‘Buy Christmas Pudding” into Google’s search engine. Google returns Google Shop at the top of its results. Google recognises your intent to buy something.

Shop Christmas Pudding: SEO in 2018. What you need to know.

Google ‘3’ Pack

Finally type: ‘Christmas dinner’ into Google. You’ll see that Google returns a map and a list of venues offering Christmas lunch in its search results. Better still with a description and reviews to help you quickly make your decision.

Google 3 Pack. SEO in 2018. What you need to know

How to appear in a Google 3 pack listing?

To do this, claim and fully complete your Google My Business profile listing. Then ask your customers to provide you with business reviews.

So you can see that search engine optimisation (SEO) today is not just about getting to number one in the search engine rankings.

SEO is about answering the questions your audience is asking.

Here’s what else you need to know about SEO and content marketing in 2018

Mobile

Today nearly 60% of web traffic comes from mobile devices. In 2018 it is expected that nearly 80% of Internet usage will be mobile.

How does mobile impact your SEO?

Mobile users of course are… well mobile. If you are on the move, you want fast loading pages. Also, questions answered with crystal clear content and ease of navigation.

Have a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load? Then there is a 40% probability that users will leave your site… Ouch!

What can you do to optimise your content for mobile?

First off, when you write website content, keep your content simple and your sentences and paragraphs short. Make use of bullet points. And of course include strong and clear calls to action.

As speed is of the essence, use Google Amp (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to strip your page content down to its bare essentials.

Voice search

Equally important in 2018 is optimising your pages for voice search.

Why? Because Google has reported that 55 percent of teens and 40 percent of adults use voice search… daily.

How can you SEO pages for voice search?

It’s easier than it seems.

People use everyday, conversational sentences when conducting voice searches.

So once again start off by conducting some key phrase research, You’re objective is to look for long-tail keywords (three to four word phrases). Then write content in a conversational tone. Your copy should speak the language your audience is using in its voice search.

Video

Want to know why popular platforms including Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram are encouraging you to live stream video content?

Not so long ago you needed a big budget to produce video content. Now all you need is a smartphone and a tripod.

Live streaming video content helps you to build relationships with your audience. Seeing a face behind a brand allows audiences to feel connected.

As a result, live streaming helps you to build trust and authority.

How can video help your SEO efforts?

Live streamed video content is fresh and new. Therefore it ticks all Google’s boxes.

Google is not so smart that it can hear your video. So first off, you need to pay attention to the keywords you use in your meta titles and descriptions.

Then think about transcribing your video, so Google can have some nice, easy text to crawl. You could turn your video transcript into a blog. Plus, post your video to YouTube.

To sum up

SEO used to be about getting to number one in the SERPs (search engine results pages.)

But today features such as feature snippets, local pack and rich snippets make up the SERPs. So it pays to keep on top of the new opportunities available to you.

Elsewhere, fast-moving digital and mobile technology is changing the way we use the Internet.

Voice search is changing the way we find information. Video is changing the way we consume the results.

Best get started on your 2018 SEO strategy then.

Good luck and let me know how you get on.

And finally

If you would like help writing persuasive communications, then do get in touch. You’ll be surprised at how straightforward writing can grab your audience’s attention.

Claire Hawes, copywriter and owner of The Content BoutiqueAbout Claire Hawes

Claire Hawes is a marketing communications copywriter. She enjoys writing engaging copy that helps businesses to get noticed and attract enquiries. Claire’s experience mainly lies in the business to business sector. Her clients include both businesses and digital marketing agencies.

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