6 Trends that can affect search rankings for the keywords this year

Keywords were and still are one of the cornerstones in SEO, but the way they are used and the impact they make on rankings changes in time. This year, though, seems to bring some of the biggest changes yet, affecting numerous aspects of keyword usage. In case you’re worried your SEO strategy will be affected by all these changes, worry no more – we’re here to help you understand what’s changing, and how to make the most of it. Here are 6 trends that can affect search ranking for keywords this year.

  1. Mobile Becomes Relevant

Not so long ago, ensuring that your website was mobile-friendly was an advantage, but not a necessity. Mobile browsing was regarded as a fad, and people did not stress much over it, as they didn’t think it would stick. Fast forward to today, and more than 60% of all Google searches are made from mobile devices, so it’s becoming clear that mobile is here for the long run.

Google noticed the trend, and actually made an effort to encourage website owners to focus on mobile by supporting the Accelerated Mobile Pages protocol, or AMP. The protocol is focused on helping websites get super-fast mobile pages by caching them in the cloud directly for fast access, thus removing one of the most common burdens ofusing mobile devices for browsing: slow loading times.

As a result, AMP pages are highly optimized for SEO, so one well-placed keyword on an AMP-friendly page can do wonders for your rankings.

  1. Brand Visibility Evolved

Brand visibility used to be done with solid on-site SEO and eventually some paid AdWords campaigns. Nowadays, emphasis is put on organic traffic, and the sources for such traffic have greatly diversified. Your gold mines for organic traffic are social media sites. Facebook, Twitter or Instagram are valuable traffic sources, and can tremendously contribute to your brand’s visibility and perception.

Just as in the case of on-site optimization, keywords still play an important role in social media content, but it’s important to understand the difference between on-site content, which is one-way content (from the site, to the reader) and social media content, which can be two-way content (the reader can reply to posts), so it’s important to create the content with these aspects in mind, and optimize it accordingly.

  1. Link Building Evolved

Link building was always a strong SEO practice, and it still is today. An important change to it, though, is that recently it is predominantly focused on quality rather than quantity. While in the past posting keyword-stuffed articles on various sites and linking back to your side was considered a good SEO practice, doing so today will likely get your ranks down.

Efficient link building now relies on natural content, which incorporates keywords naturally, and is posted on sites that have been online for a while and have a solid structure. Link building with sites that contain outdated links and broken links are bound to get your rankings down.

  1. Co-citations

One fairly new SEO practice is the use of co-citations. Unlike link building, using co-citations implies not having direct links to your website, but natural mentions of it. “Natural” is the keyword here, and this cannot be stressed enough – same as in the case of link building, these mentions need to be on sites that have a positive track record, and not forced or posted on dodgy sites. Google’s algorithms are smart enough to detect when co-citations are forced, so do it right or don’t do at all.

  1. Voice Search & AI

One of the trends of this year is the increasing popularity of using voice searches. Virtual assistants such as Siri, Cortana or Google Now, along with home assistants such as the Amazon Echo have brought voice search into the spotlight, so if you are not already considering voice searches when optimizing, stop whatever you are doing now and get to it.

While there are no tips and tricks to optimize directly for voice search, you can still get good rankings in this field by perfecting your SEO strategy and targeting the most relevant and natural-sounding keywords. Most voice-activated devices make use of machine learning to translate a voice search that may or may not make any sense from a SEO standpoint into an actual search, and a properly optimized website will definitely pop up in the results higher than one that uses the hit or miss approach.

  1. Design is still important

SEO may be mostly about content and keywords, but design still plays an important role as well, even though that suffered some changes along the way as well. An emphasis is put on user experience nowadays, as that’s a factor that can make or break a site – you can have the best content out there, but if the user does not find your site easy to navigate, he will leave, simple as that.

Luckily, companies understood the importance of UX, and nowadays any serious web design company in London, Paris or New York has UX listed in its services portfolio.

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