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2018 SEO Predictions: Mobile First Index, Voice Search and More Game-Changers

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22nd December 2017 in

There are only a handful of days left in 2017, that means now is the time to prepare for the search developments that await us in the new year.

As Bonfire’s SEO Manager, I’ve shortlisted my seven key predictions for 2018 to help you develop the most effective SEO strategy.

1. Google’s Mobile First Index Will Launch
Following on from beta testing this year, Google’s mobile first index will be rolled out. This new method of indexing and ranking search listings will cause rankings to be based on the mobile version of a website’s content.

Businesses that use a separate mobile website or one that is not mobile-friendly, need to act now to avoid being left behind. As seen in the example below, the right (mobile device, not responsive and not mobile-friendly) is missing content that is visible on the left (desktop device).

Updating your current site to a responsive one is the best way to ensure your site continues to rank well in 2018 and beyond.

Learn more here or in my previous blog post here.

2. Voice Search Will Have Minimal Impact
While the volume of voice searches will increase, it won’t have any dramatic impact on SEO in 2018. Adoption is still very much in its infancy, especially in Australia, and the technology is not at the point where it can produce reliable, accurate results which will limit its adoption in the new year.

3. Google Will Erode Organic Search Opportunities

The SERP layout will be altered to create more opportunities for Google to increase its advertising revenue. Consequently, organic real estate will be eroded. We’ve already seen a number of changes to support this, including:
a. Expanded Text Ads
b. New Ad Extensions
c. Reduced Ad Labelling
d. Ads in the Map Pack

I expect to see this trend continue in 2018, along with the expansion of programs like Local Services by Google to Australia. This app will allow essential businesses (e.g. locksmiths, plumbers etc.) located nearby to advertise their services, as well as manage appointments and campaigns directly, on both desktop and mobile.

Discover more about Local Services by Google here.

4. Google Will Crack Down On “Map Spam”
Google “map spam” has been impacting local SERPs for the last six months. As seen in the example below, companies are cramming keywords into their business name to appear in local map results despite not being situated in those areas. To restore the integrity of the Maps service and local SERPs, Google will implement additional verification processes and penalise abusive listings.

5. Positive User Site Experience Will Dictate Google Algorithm Changes
Google’s trend towards “quality updates” will continue and sites that provide an overall positive user experience will continue to climb in search rankings. As a result, I expect these factors to gradually increase in importance in the algorithm perspective.

6. Google Will Introduce New SERP Feature
In order to provide the most qualified answer to your query on the search results page, Google will increase its use of structured data. Google will also use structured data to introduce new SERP features.

7. Improved Agency Transparency
As the digital landscape evolves in Australia, I expect to see a push towards increased transparency from agencies. This will result in smarter attribution modelling and more in-depth data to enables businesses to accurately calculate their return on investment.

What SEO changes are you looking forward to the most in 2018?

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