Top trends for SEO in 2018

Top trends for SEO in 2018

As we approach the end of 2017, it’s time to prepare your digital marketing team for the year ahead and look at the emerging trends that will rule the search world in 2018.

This is a summary I’ve created with bullet-proof strategies and tested practices that I’ve gathered from the gurus of the SEO industry after attending as a speaker at SMXL Milan 2017. If you, like me, want to make a real difference in 2018 with SEO, this blog post is for you.

What are the top trends for SEO in 2018?

There are a number of aspects in the world of content findability that we have successfully tested in 2017 and that will become even more prominent in 2018. Let’s have a close look at  the top 5:

1. Structured Data and Semantics
2. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
3. Mobile-first index, Accelerated Mobile Pages and Progressive Web Apps
4. Search is Everywhere
5. Voice search, chatbots and personal assistant search optimization

1. Structured Data and Semantics

This November at PubCom Gary Illyes from Google confirmed that semantic markup is used, way beyond the search snippets, to better index your website and to rank content in Google’s search result pages.

“add structure data to your pages because during indexing, we will be able to better understand what your site is about.”

More interestingly Gary suggested to go beyond the markup recommended by Google on their developers guides for semantic markup.

“and don’t just think about the structured data that we documented on developers.google.com. Think about any schema.org schema that you could use on your pages. It will help us understand your pages better, and indirectly, it leads to better ranks in some sense, because we can rank easier.”

Here is all you need to know about schema.org markup and how to use it to organically grow the traffic on your website. The talks from Richard Wallis, Martha van Berkel and… myself ?  are a great starting point to learn what is schema.org markup and how you can use it on your website to improve engagement metrics, CTR and a lot more (from semantic analytics to building your own chatbot).

As Google anticipated already, we also expect to see the implementation of schema.org markup in different areas of the content industry. The Trust Project is a clear example of news organizations and tech giants like Facebook, Google, Bing and Twitter converging on schema.org to markup high quality news and implement fact checking with semantic markup.

Another area of development for schema.org in 2018 is the implementation of Blockchain ID for schema:Person and Blockchain certificates that can enable innovative new ways to do SEO and to share value in the publishing sector.

You might have noticed that Bitcoin is continuing to grow in terms of adoption. What you might have missed, is that, most importantly, its underlying technology called blockchain (a digital ledger that transparently stores any value transactions in a peer-to-peer network) can have a huge impact on how value is re-distributed between search marketing agencies, content producers, website owners and advertisers.

New business models can arise by the implementation of smart contract agreements. In the publishing sector, we’ve seen already in 2017 platforms like Steem – a blockchain-based rewards social networks that monetizes content – using their own cryptocurrency (BitCoin compatible) and other initiatives that could greatly benefit from a broader adoption of Blockchain technologies.

While to this point there are only proposals to add Blockchain ID to schema.org, work has been in progress in the past months and this can really disrupt both the search engine marketing industry and digital advertising.

2. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

A lot of the discussion on how AI is transforming SEO really has to do with RankBrain and other machine learning algorithms that are impacting how content is prioritized over Google search results — but also on the Facebook news stream, as well as Twitter search results. All these changes boiled down to three aspects:

  1. UX is king. Machines tend to prioritize content that is considered more engaging for the end users. To do so, they need to better understand and disambiguate content (and we’re back to the importance of schema.org and semantic SEO techniques) and to analyze the user behaviours by looking at metrics such as the dwell time (this is really how much time the user is spending on your page). RankBrain is an example here. This newly introduced algorithm, now considered the third most important ranking factor, takes in great consideration the time a user spends on your page. Google Senior Fellow Jeff Dean recently explained that the dwell time is when:
    “someone clicks on a page and stays on that page, before going back to the search results page”
    There are also now interesting studies documenting the dwell time and the correlation with rankings (see for instance an industry report from Search Metrics). On average, for a top 10 Google result, the dwell time is 3 minutes and 10 seconds. This is quite a lot of time if you compare it with the average time spent on a page and it’s clear that if a reader engages on a piece of content for so long, it’s most likely that he or she likes the page and finds it informative enough for that specific search intent.
  2. Click-Through-Rate is Queen. Just like dwell time, CTR is one of those metrics that computers can use to prioritize your content. This is true for organic search results as well as for paid advertising. When a user clicks on a content it means that he or she thinks that this content is good. When many users click on a page, above-average CTR for that query (yes, CTR is very relative), the content gets boosted and will stick to the top. This is particularly true nowadays on Google when advertising, featured snippets and knowledge panels make it very hard for a user to land on a webpage and… in 2018 this is just going to get worst.The real interpreter of CTR is Larry Kim and his advice on creating Unicorn content. Larry has been analyzing the polarization of CTR in organic search as well as in social streams and his marketing strategies are a must read for every digital marketers in 2018. Read it up from this article on Medium.What's a good CTR for organic search?
  3. Data is the new oil in SEO. As machines get smarter (or dumber in some cases), marketers need to adjust and from traditional SEO techniques need to move into the realm of digital marketing. From analyzing the correlation between the indexing of your website from Google with your social activity to using machine-learning to prioritize backlinks opportunities the so called “Modern SEO” is all about data.

Michael KingI had the pleasure of meeting in real life, during SMXL Milan 2017, Michael King (iPullRank on Twitter) and his deck on Modern SEO is your definite guide to become a data ninja in the search engine world.

3. Mobile-first index, Accelerated Mobile Pages and Progressive Web Apps

Speed gets bigger and bigger. Having a super fast mobile website in 2018 is not going to be an option but a key technical requirement for SEO. With Google that is about to deploy worldwide its mobile-first index optimizing the user experience on mobile devices is becoming crucial.

Remember that already 57% of the web traffic is coming from mobile devices as a recent report from BrightEdge announced a few months ago.

In mobile search, few factors really affect search rankings: a) context of the search intent (here once again, structured data helps) and b) accessibility of the content (this really means the speed at which the user perceives your content).

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages has been, in 2017 one of the most debatable web technologies, but, again, in a lot of cases, you cannot live without it. Believe me. Users reading Google AMP pages are spending 35 percent more time on average than users accessing standard mobile web pages. We’ve celebrated two years since the launch of the AMP project and in 2018 AMP will definitely get bigger.

If you want to master AMP and if your website is not already blazing fast do yourself a favor and study the precious advices of Aleyda Solìs on when and how to implement AMP on your website.

Britney Muller

In the technical SEO space there is a lot going on and a good start is to focus on the three principles of positional SEO by Britney Muller SEO & Content Architect at MOZ:

Start learning about Progressive Web Applications and all the tactics that Britney shared in her latest keynote ?

Also read very carefully the slide deck of Nichola Stott (co-founder of Erudite): “Fast is the Only Speed” – on how to make the Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool follow in love with your website.

And remember – as Google points out – that 53% of your users will abandon your website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load!

4. Search is Everywhere

Think outside of the (search) box

Really the best way to find out how search marketing is evolving is to dedicate some time following the advices of Rand Fishkin who literally created this industry a long time ago. Meeting Rand at SMXL Milan 2017 has been truly inspirational.

In the year of the Russian Hacking and Influencing the US Election, Rand had the courage to start his talk on cultural biases and gender inequality.

Yes this is also SEO and it’s worth your attention.

As a pure AI-first approach moves forward and it gets harder and harder to gain organic visibility on search results, marketers need to revamp their digital strategies and look with new eyes to threats and opportunities.

Here is the deck on Cultural Conditioning by Rand Fishkin.

5. Voice search, chatbots and personal assistant search optimization

Last but not least we need to focus on voice ready content, voice search and personal assistant search optimization. Bing in 2017 has already introduced chatbots in their enriched organic search result as well as in paid results and will continue to make it easier for consumer to bypass websites and to hook directly to smart digital assistants and chatbots.

Few steps that you can follow can really help you build voice-ready content that engage your audience:

  1. optimize content for featured snippets,
  2. keep the focus on long tail conversational keywords,
  3. include question and answers in your content,
  4. use entities – structuring content using entity extraction can help search engines and chatbots designers effectively re-use your content within their conversational experiences.

Purna Virji, from Bing, is by far one of the most influential SEO experts in the emerging voice search arena and definitely there is so much to learn from her (including her views on marriage).

Chatbots in 2020

I have been happily coding and experimenting with both voice search and conversational UIs driven by semantically structured content and I foresee emerging techniques to do SEO in 2018 that specifically promotes ‘intents’ (what users ask to personal assistants) and help you analyze conversation metrics (a new area of analytics whose goal is to let you improve your own chatbot by reporting on previous interactions).

Here is an example of how I turned our website into a chatbot and how I plan to make your websites talk in 2018.

It’s been a real pleasure to spend these two days in Milan, learning and sharing knowledge with SEO world-class experts.

Adam Lynch, CMO from our close partner WooRank, was as excited as I was, and here is his final wrap-up for 2018:

It is clear that 2018 is going to be a seminal year for SEO.

The progression towards a customer centric approach and the focus on structured data as a way to achieve this will impact us all. We will have to be relentlessly focussed on the creation of user focussed, high-quality and semantically structured content to stand out from our competition.

I strongly believe the structuring and analysis of this data will become a day-to-day part of an SEO’s job…

Turning content into gold: how Remida is attracting leads in the American real estate market

Turning content into gold: how Remida is attracting leads in the American real estate market

Content marketing can be a winning strategy even in the real estate market, where success is measured by the number of highly profiled leads captured, and the case of Remida Holding is a bright example.

Remida is an American company guided by Italian professionals. In the industry of real estate investing, Remida focuses on house flipping in Florida, USA and – in a few months – it developed an efficient content marketing strategy, that allowed the company to get in touch with new investors through the website.

Investing in the American real estate market is an enticing idea, but to do it properly you need to be guided by real estate professionals, who can help each investor identifying the best opportunities and the best strategies.

This is the very mission of Remida Holding.

In a way, the partners of the company – Daniele, Massimo, Augusto, and Mirco – embody the well-known American dream, a dream that only realizes itself for those who work hard and are fully resolute. After an almost-casual beginning, the company saw a strong growth, that led them to structure, in a few years, a company that manages 100 estates at the same time and an internal organization of professionals who cooperate to offer an end-to-end service – from buying to sales, rehabs included.

Meet the founder, Daniele Zampa

«I’ve started in 2011, with a personal investment on some rentals. It was a positive moment for the Rental market, since buying prices were still quite low because of the famous subprime loans crisis. In some cases and areas, real estates lose  – 75% of their value.» That’s how Daniele Zampa, Founder and Operations Director of Remida Holding, tells the beginning of his real estate adventure in the USA: thanks to a personal investment in a positive moment, he – without knowing – laid the foundation of his own company.

«Meanwhile, the market went back to the normal values allowing other kinds of investments which produce much more profits. Every stage of the market has an ideal strategy. Experience and skills allowed us to be ready to fast-adaptation. Since 2011 we managed something like $15,000,000 real estate operations with our own local organization, employees, work facilities, one office in St. Petersburg and another in Rome.»

But… how do you build such a big company starting from a personal investment? We asked Daniele to unveil us how did they get so far.

«The first secret to success is perseverance. Out of the theoretic world, this is not a simple market: reality has many shades and variables. Only perseverance and hard work can help you overcome obstacles and barriers, together with the ability to learn from feedbacks.» Daniele says, and then adds: «One of the key building blocks of our success is the team we’ve hired. The very point is to put together good guidelines and great people who follow them and improve our business everyday. Recently we’ve started investing in our image and in the digital marketing operations to promote our services.»

And this brings us back to: why did you choose to redesign your website and to adopt content marketing? What are your goals?

«The reason why we decided to invest in content marketing is that we’ve realized that we’ve really built something big. Today we are one of the main players in the Real Estate market in Tampa Bay and now it’s time to show our potential to a broader audience. We know everything about the area where we work and we have contacts with all the key personalities who really move the real estate market in Tampa Bay. Shortly: we have grown a lot and with this growth came the need to use marketing to show our skills and describe our professional way of working to potential clients and investors

Real Estate Florida - Remida

Content marketing, a winning strategy

Remida uses its website as a channel to reach three goals:

  1. consolidate and structure the relationship with clients, who can find on the website updates and data about each operation they are following;
  2. support the relationships with new potential investors, who can find on the website all the general information  that they need;
  3. last, but not least, help the company to take the leap from casual word-of-mouth to digital marketing and meet a broader audience in Italy and in the world, getting in touch with new potential investors who daily look for real estate opportunities in the USA.

Talking about marketing, the work on the website’s content was crucial: it allowed the website to gain a dramatic increase in visits from the organic search with a consequential increase of contact requests by real estate investors.

What kind of strategy has been applied?

Back in august 2016, the website remidaholding.com was completely restyled and, then, their online presence was consolidated creating new content, to serve to their audience simple and clear explanations that can fit their knowledge needs.

At this point, Remida met Wordlift and decided to use this tool to improve its content strategy through artificial intelligence applied to SEO and the creation of a vocabulary of strategic entities in Remida’s industry.

Leveraging on the semantic organization of the content, Remida shares knowledge and interesting articles that could be useful for potential clients who are trying to get deeper into some topics related to real estate.

The real estate technical jargon is the basis of Remida’s vocabulary, and represents the knowledge that is needed as to understand this industry. The entities are truly useful to users that are first approaching the real estate markets, they have been connected to the articles, enriching them with learning opportunities.

To monitor competitors and analyze ranking improvements for the most important keywords and concepts, Remida chose the Editorial Subscription, that combines WordLift‘s AI and the technical SEO audit by WooRank.

What about results? Find out how traffic and leads grow

Google Analytics Remida

Organic traffic from march 2016, until today

Before august 2016, Remida’s website was essential and very simple. The organic traffic was quite fragmentary: you could observe few peaks and long periods without a single visit.

Thanks to the continuous work of content creation, management and organization and to the implementation of the entity-based content model through Wordlift, the organic traffic of the website grew considerably bringing new leads. In the screenshot below, you can how the traffic from organic search improved between January, when WordLift was first installed, and September of this year.

WordLift - Remida

WordLift effect on Remida

If you consider the last four months, 55% of leads come to the website from search engines. A result that was impossibile at first, without offering valuable content through a content strategy specifically designed for those who want to invest in the USA market from Italy.

Thanks to content and to its outreach strategy, Remida was contacted by several clients who were interested to make considerable investments on the project. To guess the value of a single lead in this specific market, just consider that investments start at $40.000 and can exceed $500.000.

Fonti Traffico Remida

The digital strategy of Remida Holding combines paid and organic traffic

An accurate content marketing strategy allowed Remida to gain more visibility: you can have a better idea, looking at the improvements to the rankings of some keywords which are strategic for the business. In less than one year, Remida reached the first positions for some research queries.

WooRank keyword analysis

This graph shows the improvements of the rankings for one of the main keywords. Source: WooRank.

Wrap up and key learnings

Just a few months after they started working on content, Remida and its team decided to use WordLift to boost its content marketing: for this reason, it has been possibile to observe the effects of every tactic and to spot the successful content which engaged potential clients most.

Here are three key learnings that can be useful for those who work in communication and marketing in the real estate industry and are thinking about designing a content marketing strategy.

  1. Valuable content are those that better respond to the specific needs of actual and potential customers: before writing a new article, think who can be interested in reading it.
  2. While thinking and writing a content, try imagine possible learning paths for your readers starting from the blog post. Basic concepts can become new entities and enrich the reading experience.
  3. Articles and entities written in these months form an accessible knowledge base that can be capitalized in terms of traffic even in those periods when you can’t publish new ones.

Are you thinking about using content marketing for your real estate business? Start using WordLift and let artificial intelligence help you!

Beyond voice search… let’s make your website talk ?

Beyond voice search… let’s make your website talk ?

Hi, hello everyone. We’re having an incredibly gratifying first year and I’ve already presented WordLift and our AI-driven SEO this year at the Data Driven Innovation Day in Rome, at The Next Web Conference and SEMANTiCS 2017 in Amsterdam.

Every time I accept to give a talk or participate to an event I get scared that I don’t have anything new to bring to the audience. In reality, we’ve been super productive, and it’s a great time to share how semantic SEO is progressing and what we’re learning as we grow our technology and improve the web metrics for our clients.

This is why I’m truly excited to participate at two international events this month: on the 14th, I will be at the SMXL Milan 2017 and on the 29th I will be at Menlo Park, California, for the IDW Conference. For these two upcoming events we are building a cool new companion plugin of WordLift to leave you speechless – and… to make your website talk ? ?

When you publish your content as structured data, there are many different ways to leverage on it and to improve its findability and the monetization of it. It is always a fairly wild ride when working with technology: we keep on bouncing between conceptual thinking, technical specifications and very practical examples — we’re starting to test here and now the power of linked data and how it can help publishers interact more effectively with their audience.

The simplest and most immediate benefit of semantic SEO is for sure to let your website unambiguously communicate with search engines, gain good rankings and increase CTR. With some work and a bit of luck, your content can also get featured on voice search and personal digital assistants (or as someone would call it PASO the new SEO).

At the same time, by reusing the same structured data that helps you boost your ranking on your favorite SERP, you can do a lot more.

Make your website talk

A few weeks ago, we’ve released Doctor Search Marketing, a trivia chatbot which tests your semantic SEO skills. We created it out of a template and it was pretty effective, we just had to figure out a bunch of questions that could be answered by the entities on our website and we brought both questions and their answers into a spreadsheet to make it work.

We have also tested other more engaging ways of pulling content out of WordPress into a conversational UIs and I am really excited to share our findings.

At the SMXL Milan, I will share the stage with Richard Wallis, a maverick of structured data, Martha van Berkel, co-founder of Schema App, and – of course – our guest Sante J. Achille, a rockstar in the Italian SEO market space.

I will describe how computers understand human language with the help of semantics and structured data, the entity-based content model and how it impacts voice search results and – finally – how it can help you build a chatbot ?

I hope to communicate in these next upcoming events some of the exciting things that we’re working on right now, and a few of the things that we see emerging in the search industry. See you soon! ?

Stand out on search in 2019. Get 50% off WordLift until January 7th Buy Now!