Betty White is dead. Again. No, actually she isn’t, but she has been reported dead so many times it’s becoming almost believable. And just as that juicy piece of info is “fake news,” so is the suggestion that SEO is dead. We’ve been hearing this one for years now, but it’s still not true and likely will never be. What is changing, however, is the way SEO is implemented, and going forward to 2018, agencies will find they need a wider level of expertise in the SEO writing services they offer clients. Here’s why:
The Rise and Rise of Voice Search
Just about every article you read on SEO these days has voice search listed as the #1 prediction. It’s not coming—it’s here. With the increasing popularity of digital assistants Siri, Alexa and Cortana (heck, even seniors are riding the Alexa bandwagon now), optimizing for voice-activated search is vital if you want to come up in those results.
The majority of voice searches are performed using mobile devices, and this changes everything. Local SEO has dropped somewhat in value, because mobile devices track the user’s location without any help. Users have learned over the years to use conversational language when typing their queries, and voice searches are now also usually longer than the average text query. This means optimization for voice search needs to focus on long-tail keyword phrases and natural language.
Speaking of Mobile..
The past few years have seen the major shift to mobile, and it’s now more important than ever for companies offering SEO writing services to ensure clients’ websites are responsive and fast to load on hand-held devices. The open source Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative makes it possible to load mobile pages four times faster, using ten times less data. Implementing the AMP format won’t improve your search ranking, but the faster loading times it allows certainly will.
Focusing on the UX
It has been Google’s aim for some years now to focus on the user’s experience (UX), rather than the advertiser’s interests. This has been a driving factor in numerous changes to SEO, and that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon. The better the UX provided by your clients’ content, the more certain visitors are to engage with them. This interaction tells the search engines which sites are more useful, and that helps algorithms determine the chances of a website being shown to future visitors. While site loading speed is important across all devices, content that engages the user and gets them to spend longer reading and clicking around on a website is first prize. Given that visitors are more likely to engage with content if it contains the information they want, it’s vital clients use SEO writing services that know their stuff.
We expect changes that started in backlink building to continue into 2018. Spammy, low quality backlinks have been out for some time, but mediocre-quality is now going the same way. This makes not only the actual choice of URL important, but the anchor text you use, too. It’s no longer a case of just having a link to show you’re connected. Your backlinks need to add value to the user experience to forge the impression that you have a trustworthy website. Backlinks to home pages of a company like Gartner aren’t going to cut it; you need to link directly to the qualified sources cited. This gets complicated when you’re dealing with gated studies and reports, so the quality of research is going to be a major factor in your SEO writing services for clients.
AI and Machine Learning
No article about content is complete without a mention of the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning currently taking the technology world by storm. AI enables website owners to track user activity and optimize exposure for their content – effectively showing the right content to the right people at the right time. This makes pay-per-click and other methods of advertising less important, and gives organic content more opportunity to convert visitors to leads based on relevance. The searchability of your client’s site, therefore, is critical to enable AI features like Google’s RankBrain to discover the content and match it to the key words and phrases used by searchers.
From a bird’s eye view, websites that can respond best to searchers’ intent will score the highest in both traditional search and voice. And that’s going to force agencies providing SEO writing services for clients to adapt their practices to suit. To learn more about SEO in 2018, check out our white paper, "What's the Future of SEO?"