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This is a guest post by Alex Levin. Read more about how you can guest post on Christian Web Trends here.
The first month of 2018 is about to end and we have been on the lookout for big surprises when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). There’s not much excitement in the air, but for now, here are 8 SEO trends that you should keep an eye on this year:
- Voice Search
The integration of voice recognition and search functionality into a nifty feature called voice search has been around for a while. However, studies show that less than half of users utilize voice search. There’s also less than 30% of users who believe that voice search is accurate. There’s so much growth that voice search could have and we believe that 2018 is a good year to expect that growth.
This year, we see that it’s a good idea to gear your site to voice search. Don’t just focus on what users might type as they do searches on your website, but what they might voice out. Make sure as well that your voice recognition can capture multiple languages especially if your site has a long reach.
A hallmark characteristic of voice search is using the phrase “near me” in the search term. People use voice search for searching and asking for directions. We’ve seen some examples of these trends through Google Trends:
Source: Google Trends
If you can target those searches and the relevant keywords associated with that search, you will surely target those searches within your vicinity. Why? Google’s Possum affected more than half of local search engine results, targeting these three factors: Proximity, Reviews, and Accuracy.
Once you’ve optimized your site properly (accuracy), voice searches will prefer to show your church more than the others that aren’t deemed relevant.
- Relevance 2.0
Google has been strengthening its ability to tell which sites have quality content. One of the ways they do it now is using Latent Semantic Indexing, a process of studying which words usually go together by looking at billions of pages and checking how often they appear together.
RankBrain, part of Google’s algorithm help decide which pages to feature depending on the inquiry made by the users. What RankBrain pulls up are those that contain words that are usually together with what’s in the search box. So make sure that you’re content are well-strategized. You will also have to make sure to include keywords that will foster relevance of your content to the topic you’re talking about.
Let’s take OurChurch’s blog. While their core service is SEO, they stick to their target market’s interest; making them more relevant to their potential clients as well.
Stick to your church. You can post everything and anything related to your church. Church activities, events, announcements – all these are relevant to your church. If you’re running out of topics, you can always refer to this list of 25 blog topics for your church blog.
- Responsive Web Pages
Higher and higher number of visitors are seen to be coming from mobile devices. Although there are still lots of desktop users, it is really evident that browsing on handheld devices is almost preferable, especially that handhelds are becoming more capable year by year. This being the case, websites that are looking forward to ranking this year must pay huge attention in ensuring that their pages are responsive across different platforms. From aesthetics to performance, your site and its pages must be able to adapt to be at their best when opened from wherever and whenever.
Check this Chicago church. A quick search on “churches in chicago” will show you that this church is ranking on the top of the page, only below Yelp searches.
- SERP Features
The search engine results pages are expected to gain developing features over time. We have seen SERPs contains links in blue, and results that stand out with ads. SERP grew to contain photos, videos, and more. It will be very difficult to gain and keep the top spot nowadays without truly expending effort to stand out.
There is a number of tools out there which can show your rank and can also determine what is holding you back from achieving better. Also, always be up-to-date on which features matter most for SERPs now.
The first step you can do is to jump into this schema generator and select “Catholic Church” from the dropdown list. Once you fill up your details, copy the code and implement it on your homepage.
While Google has made secure connections a contributing factor to a site’s ranking, it’s a surprise how there are still a big number of websites that do not move to HTTPS. If you are one of those sites, then this is one of the reasons why you are not performing that well. This year, we expect Google will give more weight to security through HTTPS so sites should do their part in helping keep users away from harm.
It’s also not that difficult nor is it that costly to invest in security tools but this is essential not only for the company but also more for the customers that need to transact via credit card.
- Accelerated Mobile Pages
Again, the huge number of mobile users who do searches is recognized by Google and actually makes it a point for websites to ensure measures that will have their loading speed faster. Web pages visited via mobile devices should be as quickly and beautifully as those that are visited through a desktop computer. Google gives points to sites with great page rendering speeds. At the end of the day, there is no reason why pages should ignore their site’s usability in every device. But those who do take the effort of strategizing their sites to be compatible and of commendable performance on any device deserve a high ranking.
- Linkless backlinks
One of the biggest stars of SEO in the past is backlinks. Backlink optimization was very huge as links are some of the key trust signals back then. This might just not be the case anymore sometime soon. Bing is said to already be using linkless mentions as a ranking factor. Google is expected to follow sooner or later.
- Local SEO
A lot of searches nowadays revolve around places and items within a close distance from the user. This includes users looking for nearby restaurants and shops. Local SEO then is seen to be huge this year. Businesses would try to immediately capture clients who are looking for providers that are just nearby; thus, the need for local SEO. This is especially great for churches with a short reach.
However for those who have to reach bigger markets, what you can do in order to tap a wider reach, is to do local SEO everywhere your business goes too. Local SEO is seen to be a very effective method to rank so treat it seriously. Again, we pointed out that searches are more personalized and “near me” searches are promising searches for your church. Optimize your website with OurChurch’s great guide to local SEO for new church ministries.
Let the 2018 Trends Behold
With all the intricacies of SEO, including the ones that surprised us in the past, we believe that there are still a lot more that are just about to surface. We believe 2018 has a lot more to offer but for now, dwell on these 8 initial trends that we prepared for you.
Always remember that surprising trends will be out there in due time. Always be on the lookout for trends on the horizon so that you won’t get left behind. So keep your eyes open for trends and jump on it at the right time!