How SEO Trends Have Changed Over Time (And What It Means for Your Site)

Anyone who’s not a snake oil salesman will tell you there’s no magic bullet when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) If you want to get to the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and more importantly, stay there, you have to be on board with the latest SEO trends and best practices.

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So how do we do this for our clients?

Simply put, knowing what the latest trends in SEO are enables us to adjust the way we do things, which helps us keep our clients a step ahead of the competition. The good news is that SEO fundamentals tend not to change too much (despite what many SEO companies say), so we don’t need to continually rebuild the strategies we use from the ground up every time Google puts out an update.

In this article, we’ll give you a brief crash course on SEO and its history, and then we’ll move onto four of the most recent trends in SEO, and discuss how they can be used to get your site more traffic.

A Short History of SEO

The search engines (like Google) take a lot of factors into consideration to determine when and where to show your website on their results pages. However, not all are known and in anycase, their effect and value is bound to change over time, so you cannot just concentrate on one or two, you have to cover as many as you can, and then look for ways to rank more highly by optimizing their content and structure (hence the term ‘SEO’).

SEO has been around since the search engines started up

At the start, the Search Engines were quite easy to manipulate, but over time they have become more sophisticated and that has had a huge impact on the way you have to do SEO.

Simply put, if your website relies on search engines for its traffic, then you just have to take SEO into account.  The problem is that search engine algorithms are constantly changing, which means that even thought the basics (High Value Content and Links) remain the same, it means there isn’t a magic set of rules that will guarantee you high ranks and traffic.

4 Recent SEO Trends (And How to Harness Them)

Before you start to implement any of the issues we cover below, we would recommend that you first check on how well your site is optimised and whether you need to fix any basic issues (you will be surprised how many sites we see that simply don’t even have these right). The good news here is that we offer a FREE SEO check, so please contact us if you would like a report on your site.

Prioritize Mobile Optimization

You may not know it, but mobile traffic has long since overtaken that of desktop traffic. In other words, most of the people who visit your website will probably do so from their phones or other mobile device/

This is a problem for lots of sites as they were built with the idea that they would be looked on by people using a desktop or a laptop PC. This means they may not be optimized to provide a good mobile experience, and that’s a big problem, because a poor user experience on mobiles will more than likely lead to people leaving very quickly.

With all that potential traffic in danger of being lost, you just have to take mobile optimization seriously, this being even more vital now that Google is rating sites on the basis of them being viewed from a mobile device, whether or not the user is using a desktop PC or not.

There are a lot of things you can do to make your website more mobile-friendly, including:

  • Make sure your site is fully responsive
  • Test your website using multiple mobile devices, to ensure that it works perfectly across them all
  • Optimize your website’s construction to ensure it loads quickly

Optimize Your Content for Voice Searches

The way people search for things on mobile devices are often quite different from how people do on desktops or laptops. For example, say you got a craving for a Chinese meal and  decide to look up what’s nearby

If you’re on a PC, you’ll probably jump over to Google and type in something like “best Chinese restaurants” However, if you’re on a phone, you’re more likely to use a voice search and ask something along the lines of “what are the best Chinese restaurants near me?”:

Whatever the search method is used, the search engines rely heavily on the keywords in the content to determine when to show what page, but when it comes to voice searches, people are more likely to use long-form keywords and ask full questions. This means that if you only optimize your content for “Chinese restaurant” you may be missing out on some traffic.

The experts are predicting that by 2020, half of all online searches will be voice-based, so it looks to be a smart move to start including long-form keywords within your SEO strategy. However, whilst the format might be a little different, at Serendipity we have always used / recommended the use of long tail keywords, something that will benefit businesses with a local presence, since users are more likely to use mobile devices to look for nearby resources.

Add Structured Data Markup to Your Site

These days, search engines do a pretty good job of determining what is relevant content and what isn’t, relying on an increasingly complex system of content analysis. However, it is still a good idea to give then a little help.

There are many ways you can do this, such as by using relevant Meta Titles, descriptions and Header and subheading tags, adding alt tags to your images, and more.

However, if you want to go a step further, you can also add structured data to your content.

Structured data markup is a language you can use to include more information for search engines about what your content involves.

Search engines, in turn, can use this data to display ‘rich snippets’ , which are search results that contain all that extra information:

There are many types of structured data that you can add to your content, ranging from articles to recipes, online products, and more, but it is easy to get this wrong and so you have to approach this with caution, not to mention a little knowledge.

Optimize Your Content for Google Answer Boxes

Sometimes, when people ask Google a simple question, they will see the answer right within the SERPs in an ‘answer box’ format:

Answer boxes tell searchers: “Hey, here’s what you were looking for, so you don’t need to check out any other sources” In fact, having one of your pages show up within a Google answer box can increase click-through rates by up to 32%. The problem is that you can’t just ask Google to feature your content within its answer boxes .

What you can do is to optimize your content to increase your chances. First, it’s important to understand that not all types of content work with answer boxes and also they will only show up when it’s a question Google is ‘confident’ it can answer.

That means most complex queries are out of the question, but if you’re confident that your content is a good fit for answer boxes, you can increase your chances of it showing up that way by following three simple steps:

  • Ensure that you clearly and concisely answer the question.
  • Break down your response using bullet point lists (search engines just love lists)
  • Optimize the meta descriptions , so that it is clear that you’ll provide an answer within the content

Do bear in mind that, you’re probably competing with a lot of other websites for the same answer boxes, so you will need to do your very best to beat out the competition

Conclusion

Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms, this being done to stop people from ‘gaming’ the system. This means that apart from doing the obvious (Great content and good quality links), understanding the latest trends can give you an advantage on the competition, and enable you to overtake them in the SERPs

 

About the author

Graham Baylis was born in 1957 and has therefore seen the birth of the Internet and experienced at first hand, just how it has changed the World we live in. He has been involved with computers since 1983 and helped set up the first electronic mail system used by the Civil Service in 1986. He has gained several qualifications in Computing and Marketing and has written hundreds of blogs which you can find around the web, many being on customer’s websites. He has over 19 years of experience with Pay Per Click and SEO and has an answer for most Search Marketing questions, and, for those that he hasn’t is quick to find one. Continually coming up with solutions, Graham is one person it is worth having a chat with.