SEO in 2018: What to Look Out For

January 15, 2018 Phillip Long


Blue SEO flow chart
 

I know. The year changing doesn’t mean SEO strategies automatically change too. What worked in 2017 is still going to work in 2018. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead for some changes on the horizon.

Here are a few of the major things to pay attention to in 2018.
 

SERP Changes

When I ask clients what they want to get out of their SEO program, I still hear the same thing. “I want to be number one in Google.”

But what does that mean? Google used to display 10 organic listings and nothing more. Then, there were ads. Then maps. Then bigger maps. Top stories. More ads. Knowledge panels. Twitter panels. Image carousels. Featured snippets. Where will it stop?

We came from those 10 organic listings, to this. This is a screenshot of when I search for sandwich.
 

Search engine results page for sandwich
 

There is one organic listing on the page. Then there’s a bunch of other related stuff Google feels is more valuable to a searcher. They might be right, but that makes your SEO job even harder.

 

What Should You Do About It?

Learn about all the different ways to show up in Google. It’s not as easy as SEO-ing your website and expecting to show up at the top.

Insurance is so competitive, you can have four ads at the top of the page before the first listing. If you are locally-based, you will have a large map box with a handful of organic listings below. There might only be eight organic listings on the page at all.

Your SEO efforts should include optimizing for the SERPs. Write content that answers questions. Is your competitor showing up where you want to? Find out what they did and do it better.
 

Voice Search and Digital Assistants

Remember when information was at your fingertips? Now it’s at the tip of your tongue. Ask a question and you can get an answer. Digital assistants have been available on smart phones for awhile. They improved dramatically over the past year.

Then we got Alexa, Google Home and soon, Apple HomePod. Now we can talk to and use digital assistants like they are part of the family. I have a Google Home and two Minis at my house. We interact with all three of them on a daily basis, including my four-year-old daughter. (Google doesn’t seem to know What does a princess sounds like unfortunately).

Future generations will have information available to them immediately. That’s all they will know.
 

What Should You Do About It?

When you ask Google Home a question, it takes the featured snippet from the SERP and reads it out loud to you.
 

Featured snippet for car insurance
 

How do you get listed as the featured snippet? Be the best, most comprehensive answer to the question asked. Taking over a featured snippet is pretty difficult as an independent agent. Carriers and professional organizations dominate them.

If you optimize for local search, you could show up for near me searches, like auto insurance near me. If you show up for local results in Google, you could show up for the results Google reads aloud to you.

You can also optimize with FAQ-style questions and answers and long tail search queries. In general, people won’t say, “Auto insurance Dallas, TX”. Instead they might say, “Where can I get auto insurance in Dallas, Texas?” Creating content, through blogs or landing pages, can help give you a part of that search traffic.

 

Mobile First Index

What are the two things you always have on you? Your phone and your wallet. Soon, it could only be your phone as debit and credit cards integrate with smartphones. Over 75 percent of US adults have a smartphone and Google is always pushing toward the future.

The long-awaited mobile first index should launch sometime in 2018. It is hard to say when, but Google says it should happen. According to Search Engine Land, around 60 percent of all Google searches started on a mobile device. It makes sense Google would want to build toward it.
 

What Should You Do About It?

According to Gary Illyes from Google, if you have a responsive website you are in pretty good shape. A responsive website means both desktop and mobile devices use the same code and content.

It's also important to make sure your website is mobile-friendly, regardless if it’s responsive or not. Google created a mobile-friendly test tool. It analyzes your website and even gives recommendations on how to improve it.


Google makes many changes to its algorithm every day. But while it has ventured into all kinds of different fields, it still focuses on providing the best experience to searchers it can. Staying on top of Google’s vision will keep your website where it needs to be.

 

About the Author

Phillip Long

Phillip Long serves as the primary contact point for all of ITC's search engine optimization clients. As the internet marketing product manager, he coaches and guides insurance agents throughout the SEO program, ensuring they progress smoothly. Phillip's specialties include conceptualizing marketing campaigns, SEO, and customer service. He has a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Texas at Arlington with a focus in management and communication.

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