2017 is an interesting year. This year, we witnessed Donald Trump become president, Verizon bought Yahoo, ransomware attacks and biggest mass shooting in US history. Now in its final stretch, 2017 is ushering in 2018. What are the powerful and valuable SEO facts in 2017 and how can this help Digital Marketing Services grow in 2018?
These are things we learned this year that have great influence in the coming years in SEO. Understanding these facts will give us a better perspective of changes and improvements that we must start to realize and put into our strategies moving forward.
1. Google is still the undisputed king of search engine in 2017
There are more than 200 existing search engines in the world. In 2017, Google still remains to be the undisputed king of search engines. Between December 2016 to November 2017, 74% of searchers went to Google. According to the latest Google Statistics, they process over 40,000 queries per second or equal to 3.5 billion searches per day. During actual testing, the number of queries reached 63,989 per second or 5.5 billion searches a day. When Google started in 1998, they only had over 10,000 queries per day. Today, companies can spend up to US$50 million in Google Adwords Ad Services. The graph above shows search distribution.
2. Many are searching but more are watching
Every day, Google processes over 5.5 billion queries worldwide. This is equal to 63,989 searches per second. Surprisingly, YouTube trumps this with 71,794 videos watched per second or a whopping 6.2 billion videos watched per day.
3. Long-tail Keywords whips Short-Tail Keywords
Long tail keywords consist of 3 or more than word strings in a query. Searches using long tail phrases indicates searchers are looking for very specific results. In 2017, 50% of queries involve long tail keywords. People who used long tail phrases during searches tend to buy more. This will definitely affect SEO Campaigns for years to come.
4. People from 10 countries are now searching the internet on the fly
The smartphone ushered the dawn of the mobile and wireless internet era. At any given time, 3.2 billion people are online worldwide. What is more surprising is there are 7 billion smartphone subscriptions. This means people have more than one mobile device to access the internet. Every year mobile devices become smaller and more powerful. Hence, more people search the internet in mobile devices than in desktop computers.
5. Links and content are top 2 of 3 biggest factors in Google’s search algorithm
Google’s search algorithm is such a well-guarded secret it will give Fort Knox a run for its money. It’s by good fortune that Google’s Andrey Lipattsev revealed links, content, and RankBrain are the major 3 ranking signals in Google’s algorithm. Last year, they mentioned RankBrain as one of the trifectas but refused to budge on the other two. Unbelievable you say? Click on the video to find out yourself.
6. Long-form contents rank better in SERP
Based on SEMRush SERP data, long-form content rank higher in Google search results. Contents with an average of 1,890 words tend to rank higher. There have been endless debates about long versus short form content. There was a period when 500 words were the sweet spot but that is not the case anymore. Today, 2 million blog posts get published daily. Readers appetite for good content is on the rise and writing from the gut doesn’t cut it anymore. People are looking for new knowledge and they deserve contents that are well researched and well written. You can’t squeeze that in 500 words.
7. Long form content gets more links and shares
Moz.com studied and analyzed 1 million articles. One of their findings shows 85% of content published has less than 1,000 words. However, content with more than 1,000 words consistently gets more links and more shares.
8. 82% of marketers see SEO as becoming more effective
A recent study reveals 82% of marketers believe SEO is becoming more effective. In the same study, results show traffic generation as the top goal while search ranking was cited the biggest challenge to SEO success.
9. 61% of marketers say improving organic presence and internal SEO is the top priority
In 2017, a study about the top challenges and priorities facing digital marketers revealed 61% of marketers believe generating traffic and leads is their top priority.
10. “Near Me” searches doubled (local SEO)
The past few years saw the rise in the use of mobile devices in Google searches. When it comes to searches, mobile users are very active and do not prefer a particular brand. In 2017, we observed a double in “Near Me” searches. This is a great opportunity for local SEO.
11. “Near Me” searchers visited the stores nearest them
72% of consumers who did local search visited stores within 5 miles. One advantage of brick and mortar stores over e-commerce stores is the ability of customers to see, test and feel the merchandise right away. As we read more Amazon’s delivery horror stories in news and blogs, going to shops near us is a very good idea.
12. 30% of mobile searches are related to a location
Google determined 30% of searches are related to the location of the searcher. This actually makes sense as consumers look for stores nearest to their location first. Again, this is a signal that local SEO is on the rise.
Content is king now more than ever and one of Google’s ranking trifecta. If you have accumulated relevant content over the years, you have a gold mine waiting to be tapped. Updating old content can increase traffic by 111%.
14. Social Media and SEO: Correlation not Causation
Does social media help SEO or not? Yes, social media helps SEO but not in the way you think. Google already said social media signals are not part of their ranking algorithms. Hence, your popularity in social media does not help SEO. However, Matt Cutt revealed that social media are treated just like any web page. So, if you put anything on your social media page that Google is able to crawl, it can return them in their search results. It is safe to assume social media signals have a correlation with SEO. If you have great content, your followers are going to like it and link to it more. Good links and good content, 2 of 3 in Google Ranking Factor Trifecta.
15. In 2018 the average firm is expected to allocate 41% of marketing budget on digital marketing
How much should you set your budget on digital marketing? American firms for the last 8 years allocate an average of 11.4% of their total budget to Marketing (traditional and digital). In 2018, 41% of marketing budget will be allocated to online SEO. In comparison, only 29% of marketing budget was allocated to SEO in 2014.
Many expert marketers believe the following SEO trends will dominate 2018. These are what we already learned in 2017 that have major implications in SEO services worldwide and will continue to gain dominance and drive the industry in the coming years.
16. Voice search on the rise
Did you know that in 2017, 20% of searches from mobile devices are voice searches? The creation of Siri, Cortana, and Google Now made searching easier and more convenient. Voice searches naturally use long tail keywords thus getting more accurate search returns. This makes voice search a viable search method moving towards the future.
17. Accelerated Mobile Page: AMPify your webpage
Accelerated Mobile Pages is a Google-backed open source platform to have pages load quickly on mobile devices. AMP allows pages to load 4x faster but to consume 10x less bandwidth. Faster loading times means better user experience. Google research also reveals e-commerce sites with AMP experienced an average 20% increase in sales conversions compared to normal web pages. Web pages that used the plugin and spent the time to actually implement it experienced significant improvements in engagements and lower bounce rates. It’s no surprise more websites will use AMP in 2018 for the undeniable and powerful benefits it delivers.
18. Content, content, content and more content
Now that Google has officially stated that good links and contents make up the top 2 factors for ranking in searches, it goes without saying content is still king. 89% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers say they use content marketing to increase traffic and generate leads to drive their brand forward. However, text content is not enough anymore. As cited in fact #2, more users are now watching more videos than searching Google. Now is the right time to start generating video contents. More marketers are keen on adding YouTube and Facebook Video to their marketing plans. You no longer need expensive media equipment and editing software to create professional-level videos. All you need is a smartphone with great camera features, a tripod or smartphone stabilizer, mobile video editing applications and creativity.
19. Page Optimization for Mobile Devices
As cited in #4, more users are searching the internet using their mobile devices. As more mobile devices become more powerful, more users will search the internet and read or watch contents on the go. Google also began to index and rank mobile experience. That said, your webpage should be optimized for mobile user experience in 2018.
20. UX Optimization
Google search algorithm has become more complicated. Aside from good links, content, and RankBrain, Google also considers user experience when ranking. Create great content in a responsive and fast loading page that will keep users coming back again and again.
21. More Searches Using Long Tail Keywords
50% of queries are long tail phrases. Searches using more than 3-word phrases are looking for specific items to buy and are ready to purchase it. Long tail keywords are also used in voice and semantic searches. All trends point towards using long tail keywords to make searches more specific and results more accurate. Time to get back to Google’s Keyword Planner.
22. More focus on local SEO
“Near Me” searches doubled in 2017 and 72% of consumers visited the store within the 5-kilometer radius of their location. This is a great signal for local SEO being on the rise as more consumers tend to search from their location first. This is great for local small and medium enterprises wanting to break through the local market. Is your business in Google My Business?
23. Google Quick Answer Box
Google Quick Answer Box are search returns intended to provide immediate answers to your query. This encourages users to search conversationally rather than searching with specific keywords. It goes without saying, long tail keywords are key factors.
24. Microformats aka Structured Data Markups
Microformats are markup HTML/XHTML tags that add additional metadata and attributes that are not captured by regular HTML like contact information, location, events, etc. This helps search engine crawl your website by providing them additional information to more accurately rank your site.
25. Rise of Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence or AI is no longer a thing of science fiction. It is already here working silently in the background influencing the way we make choices and decisions. Its name is RankBrain and its one of the top ranking factors in Google Search’s algorithm.
We just learned what worked and what was very effective in SEO in 2017. Now we look at the opportunities and trends that we believe will drive SEO strategies in 2018.
26. “Good Link” Building
Some marketers say link-building is dead. On the contrary, Google revealed “good” link building is one of the top 2 ranking factors in searches. That said, link building is very much alive if you haven’t started accumulating good links in 2017, now is the opportune time to start. Word of caution, the majority of marketers admits link building is effective but also the most difficult.
27. Go Mobile
It’s now undeniable mobile device usage is on the rise and will continue to do so as more powerful mobile devices come out on the market. While others are still contemplating whether to go mobile or not, start optimizing your website for mobile devices as now.
28. Voice Searches Becoming More CommonThe race for voice-activated mobile personal assistants already started. Siri, Google Now and Cortana are continuously improving to deliver better user experience. Unlike text searches, voice searches are longer and are more contextual. This is the opportune time to incorporate long-tail keyword searches that are more contextual and focus on user intent.
29. More Businesses Using Progressive Web Apps
Progressive Web Apps are pages that combine the technology of the web and mobile applications. They are designed to be accessed through the web and across all mobile devices without installation. One of the best examples of PWAs is Twitter Mobile. You can’t access it via regular twitter.com URL, instead, go to mobile.twitter.com and voila, you get mobile experience without installing the app on your mobile devices. More businesses are now adopting PWAs and saves them from additional costs of developing mobile apps.
30. Structured Data Markup (Microformat)
Structured Data Markup also known as microformat helps Google crawl your websites by using additional HTML/XML tags providing explicit clues about the meaning of your page. Microformats helps specify the content of your webpage which helps Google understand your website better. This allows you to add markers to easily identify information like operating hours, contact details, and ratings, etc. Google is moving towards the direction of looking for structured data. With the right markup, your website can be optimized to rank number 0.
31. Crawl Budget Optimization
What is Crawl Budget Optimization? Does this involve money? Crawl Budget is the number of pages Google’s spiders will crawl on your website any day. The number of pages Googles may change from day-to-day. Your “budget” depends on the health of your site and the number of links to your site. Make sure your web pages are easily “crawlable” for Google’s spiders and block unwanted pages with robots.txt or .htaccess. Make sure there are no broken links and keep your sitemap clean.
32. More Topically Relevant Context in Contents (Intent Rather on Keywords)
It’s very clear content is one of the most important ranking factors in Google search. Meanwhile, Google is evolving and it is getting better at understanding user search intent. This means, Google is going beyond just keywords but also user intent. It signals the dawn of long-form contents that are well researched, very specific, target user intent, and with topically-relevant context.
2018 SEO Strategies
Armed with the knowledge of what is to come in 2018, we can now formulate and focus our SEO strategies.
Who doesn’t love a fast site? Google likes fast loading sites that it prompted them to initiate Mobile First Index in 2017. AMPify your mobile page with Accelerated Mobile Page plugins or use Progressive Web Apps. Both techs will speed up your website and improve UX.
A corollary to #33, Google already initiated Mobile First Index in 2017 and will continue to do so in the coming years. As more users are using their mobile device to search the internet, it goes without saying that for this year, you should start making your website mobile friendly.
35. Use long tail keywords
Google is constantly evolving and improving the way it understands user searches. 50% of searches have 4 keywords in 2017 and voice searches are also on the rise influencing the way we phrase our searches. Moving towards semantic searches, use long tail keywords and focus on user intent.
36. In-depth high-quality content
The days of keyword stuffing are long gone. We now see more users tend to favor well researched long-form content that provides more specific and relevant information. Great content is in the top 2 ranking factors Google uses in its search algorithm. Produce high-quality content at least once a week.
37. Update and repurpose old blog posts
If you already have a number of blog articles in your archives, you are sitting on a gold mine. Content is still king and as long as you can show Google that your old articles are updated, they can still help you rank in Google searches.
38. Link building: Quality over quantity
As previously mentioned, good links is on the top 2 of Google’s ranking factors. Start building high-quality backlinks from high-PR related sites. Avoid creating links anywhere because you will be deemed a spammer.
39. Optimize for Voice SearchesThe race is on with voice-activated mobile personal assistants like Siri, Google Now and Cortana. The way we search with voice is very different with text searches. Voice searches are longer, semantic and contextual. Review your contents and start shifting from short-tail keywords to long-tail keywords that focus on user search intents.
Keywords are still important but gone are the days where you have to stuff it in every paragraph verbatim. Use keywords semantically and naturally.
40. Switch from HTTP to HTTPS
Make your site more secure right now. Switch from HTTP to HTTPS especially if you happen to hold confidential customer information. Google also gives ranking boosts to websites with secure hyperlink transfer protocols.
41. Increase Social Media Presence
There is a correlation between strong social media signals and Google ranking. Social Media is a great platform to not only promote great content but build your brand, authority and credibility as well.
42. Google is king but don’t forget Bing and Yahoo
Just because Google has the biggest share of searches doesn’t mean we forget about Bing and Yahoo. Remember it’s called Search Engine Optimization, so it is not exclusive to Google only.
43. UX is the New SEO
In a nutshell, user experience equals SEO. If you noticed, the majority of the facts, trends, and strategies that will help you succeed in SEO is centered on user experience. How fast your website loads, if you have a responsive mobile version and if contents give value; These are all factors the centers around the users’ overall experience of the web.
So there you are 43 facts that will help you break through digital marketing challenges in 2018.
The biggest take away of them all: If you want your SEO campaigns to succeed in 2018, keep users happy and engaged. Provide them valuable content they can quickly access on a PC or on their mobile devices. Use every tool in your arsenal like emails, newsletters, social media accounts to deliver great contents to your existing and future customers.
You may write your comments or additional information in the comment section provided below. Happy 2018.
Author: Vic Waje
Vicente Waje is a co-founder of Leads Digital Marketing Services. He was also an asset manager for more than 10 years and a former banker specializing in retail and commercial loans. He writes about credit, real estate, productivity, and technology.