We are just at the end of the first week of 2018 and it has struck me that 2018 is going to be a little different for SEO and the web world. So let's take a quick look at what is on the horizon for your online business and what you need to watch out for this year.
1) SERPs Keep Changing
It will be no different to other years, search engine results pages will keep on changing. Google will keep fiddling with it's knowledge graph and structure data will keep on being used as micro formats from the likes of schema.com becomes more important - but the important change this year will be SERPs on mobile devices will get a kick in the teeth as we reduce the use of serps for mobile and continue the move to voice activated search.
2) SSL / HTTPS will NOT be optional
Google is making no secret that it prefers SSL these days. But other browsers will follow and recently in the UK in particular we've seen banks put out TV adverts at Christmas to say look out for the padlock for safe buying and banking. The Padlock is a must for any form these days, even just a contact form, if you transfer data get SSL - its free with lets encrypt so there isn't an excuse! and your SEO results will thank you.
3) FAST remains important, but even faster!
Last year was the year of speed for SEO, many sites moved to CDN's to ensure they were fast and for stability but if you've not already now is the time. SEO's if they aren't already should be advising this as a requirement on larger sites, and in particular more complex sites - the faster and more stable a site the better the user experience and more likely you are to rank (with a bit of luck). Search engines always have and always love speed, it always gets coupled with smaller download sizes and compressed pages - whats not to love for them and your users.
4) Ranking through mention Authority NOT just Links
Random as it may sounds when a few years back SEO's scrapped for links, the world of SEO has changed and search has finally (hopefully) moved towards true authority rather than cheating authority via link buying - which was horrible.
Bing has already admitted it does this, and Google has a patent and if it isn't already doing so is likely to implement it soon (see patent here).
In essence put simply, instead of passing value through a link only, your brand or site is passed value via a mention on a website which gives you credibility and authority proportionately. How this works in practice is a little bit of a mixed bag looking at the patent and of course there will be more search factors involved, but it seems a little better than just thinking of links as value.
5) Mobile CanNOT be ignored!
If you are a small business you can not ignore business any longer. We are far past the point of it being acceptable to have a non-mobile friendly website. If you are in this situation you rankings will already be suffering and your customers too. Please please spend some time updating your site, its money well spent and you won't regret it.