The year 2017 has been a wild ride in the SEO area, and right now, at the very beginning of 2018, it might be a good idea to recap all the major points, as they might prove useful for predicting what the following year might be bring.
Firefox Quantum Offers Google as the Default Search Engine
Ever since 2014, Mozilla’s flagship browser Firefox stopped offering Google as the default search engine, instead offering Yahoo, and later on Bing. However, since the launch of Firefox Quantum, the latest version of Firefox, Google is back in action and can be used as the default search engine. Seeing as a pretty significant percentage of the Internet traffic goes through Firefox (mostly because it’s the default browser on Linux systems), this news made many white label seo audit experts happy, especially if they cater to Google and its algorithms exclusively.
Updated Knowledge Panels for Publishers
When using the name of a publisher that’s been releasing high-quality content for some time in the search query, a knowledge panel will appear at the top of the search results, with additional information about the publisher, the relevant topics the publisher writes about, as well as showing any possible awards that the publisher has received. In addition, if the publisher was approved by a third party that is affirmed by Google and is considered “authoritative”, another tab will appear, named “Reviewed Claims”. This tab will provide the information about the third party that reviewed the searched publisher’s content, as well as the content itself that was reviewed. If, for whatever reason, you don’t want to appear on this knowledge panel, unfortunately, there is currently no way to opt-out of having your brand appear on the knowledge panels. However, it’s a great way to increase the popularity of a publisher, as well as a show if it provides credible information, and has been, and surely will be the focus of many white label link building experts, as it carries a lot of marketing potential.
First Click Free Feature Has Been Removed
There are many websites that require you to register or login before you can view their content in its entirety. However, some of those websites allowed for something called “first click free”. As the name implies, based on the IP of your device, if you’re visiting the website for the first time, you are still allowed to access the content that would otherwise be locked until you register or sign up.
Google removed that feature in October, and replaced it with something called “flexing sampling”. Basically, you choose a sampling method of your choice that only provides the viewer with part or parts of your content that is supposed to interest them enough so that they register on your website. Google mentioned two recommended types of sampling when addressing this change – the metering and lead-in types. The metering sampling method allows the user to read a predefined number of articles that don’t require a subscription, and, after that, any further content will become unavailable until the viewer creates an account. The lead-in method is fairly similar to this one.
It allows the user to read only the first several sentences of an article, which are supposed to interest him/her into reading more, after which they won’t be able to read any further without creating an account. Kind of like providing the reader with a demo of your content, or a trial version, after which they have to register or log in. This change made quite an impact when it was first announced because it forced every white label seo expert to start paying more attention to the quality of either the first couple of sentences of their articles or of the articles that are provided for free with the metering method. This change didn’t only affect the SEO scene, but also the writers and other content creators that now needed to adapt to the new format.
Involvement of Social Media
If you don’t have an account on several social media platforms, you’re missing more than half of your marketing potential – this is something pretty much everyone has learned over the past few years and the intensive development of social media marketing. However, Facebook and Instagram took it up a notch with a few new features geared towards helping the advertisers analyze several aspects of their audience. The “dwell time” option allows for advertisers to see a list of people that have visited and spent some time viewing their advertisements on either Facebook or Instagram. The “link sharing” algorithm was designed to create a custom audience for the advertiser based on the users of Facebook that have visited and shared the content of the advertiser. Finally, the business profile option for Instagram allows the advertiser to see the entire list of users that have interacted with his/her Instagram profile.
Voice Search Hype
The world of SEO is constantly evolving and showcasing new features and algorithms, so it’s sometimes easy to overlook something that has a lot of SEO potential because it’s not so obvious. A similar scenario happened to voice search optimization, which was largely overlooked during the first few months of 2017 before the SEO community finally recognized its potential. As time goes on, people want to spend less time and effort in order to get the information they want, and, with the voice search option, you don’t even have to look at your phone.
If you’re wearing headphones or earphones, you don’t even have to take the phone out of your pocket. This is why more and more people resort to using voice search and voice commands, and also why Google implemented a few neat features for these types of searches. For example, Google’s rich, or direct answer, as it’s called, will appear at the top of the search results and will contain a fragment of a certain website that contains the information that was searched for. It’s a neat way to provide quick information and show the viewer that the featured website contains the information he/she is looking for, and it also increases the number of views of the website itself.
However, when you use voice search, Google’s AI will also read that rich answer. And not only will it read the information that is provided in the rich answer, it will also begin the sentence by referring to the name of the website that information was taken from. This means that, even though people usually don’t look at the screens of their mobile phones while using voice search, they will still hear about your website and will learn how to access it for more relevant information.
The fact that Google’s AI starts the sentence with “According to [Your Website Name],…” is just something that can’t be overlooked and it’s such an amazing way to increase the popularity of your website that everyone started implementing it in their SEO strategies. It’s definitely something to still keep an eye on in 2018, as well as pay close attention to any similar features that Google might still release that could have a similar impact as the voice search did.
Mobile Optimization Became More Relevant than Desktop Optimization
November really was a news-packed month in the world of SEO. Google announced that it will start implementing its “mobile-first indexing” strategy – a strategy built to prioritize mobile content over desktop content. This was mainly because a dominant portion of people using Google as their search engine perform most of their searches on a mobile device.
This made mobile search optimization more important than ever. This was, and still is, the big news that had a huge impact in the SEO world, because it completely changed how people approach optimization. If you compare the mobile search results page, and the desktop counterpart, you will see an enormous difference. This is something that had to be addressed immediately and was big news at the time, still making the SEO world shake a little even 3 months afterward.
“Related Questions” Gained in Popularity
When they first appeared as a new feature on the Google search results page, nobody paid a lot of mind to them. However, they carry immense SEO potential in them. Namely, after searching for an answer to a question that Google’s algorithm recognizes, it will provide you with expandable panels with answers to several similar questions.
This opened new windows and opportunities for SEO experts that could use these related questions panels in order to increase the popularity of their websites and rank them higher. This feature was there for some time but wasn’t noticed because Google’s algorithm hadn’t adapted to recognize all of the questions that you might ask. However, nearing the end of 2017, it evolved enough to be able to provide you with related questions to almost any question you might ask, and it will be continuously tweaked in the future, making it something to definitely pay attention to as we go further in 2018.