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2018 Predictions – Mobile SEO Trends, Challenges & Strategy

With the year nearing its end, it’s a perfect time to re-evaluate the state of mobile SEO.

2018 Mobile SEO Trends

Voice search is building its momentum, mobile apps and interactive content have become an ever-growing trend and brands are beginning to acknowledge search intent is different across devices. So, let’s go a bit deeper into this.

Mobile vs Desktop – Is it Worth Making the Distinction?

Yes. Absolutely. In 2017 and beyond, search intent has become a vital factor in any SEO strategy.

By making a distinction between devices, you can control the quality of the traffic as well as opportunities and threats affecting the same. SEO works best as a part of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy and if you are solely focusing on it, you won’t get far.

In the real world, SEO needs to be coordinated with PPC and UX in order to get quality traffic to the website. The difference in search intent of the potential conversion dictates content strategy and conversion goal. By enabling differentiation across devices, you can target your potential conversions more directly and engage in cross-device targeting.

2018 Mobile SEO Trends

On the other hand, mobile devices offer better user experience. In terms of discovery, mobile takes the first place as around 60% of users are performing their search on the go. Mobile devices are still limited in performance compared to desktop computers, so there’s a clear difference between them. Even though “traditional” SEO factors affect mobile as well (backlink portfolio, content, schema and OG markup), there are some that are mobile exclusive (voice search, local directory listings and AMP pages).

Mobile SEO – Bad Practices That are Still Present

Probably the biggest mistake we make when it comes to mobile SEO is that we look at our mobile devices as an extension of the desktop ones. We’re not using our phones enough when it comes to testing and making observations.

Most of the toolkits used by people in the niche are limited to desktop computers. We often use two displays on well-performing machines and test mobile environments with developer tools in a desktop browser. Resizing the viewport cannot give you the best insight as it doesn’t affect performance nor does it give you the “real feeling” of browsing your site on a mobile device.

2018 Mobile SEO Trends

Besides, these are purely technical insights you are getting from your developer tools and working toolkits. Design and visualization of the content are more important for mobile SEO as bad user experience directly causes bounce rate increase and downfall in mobile SERPs.

Mobile First Index is Dawning – What Should We Prioritize?

When it comes to mobile first indexing, you need to focus on mobile-optimized design and content in order to achieve the best user experience. Interactive content is performing well with the mobile-first audience. However, the biggest challenge your users and potential conversions face is website navigation, and resolving this should be a priority.

When handling mobile, you have a much smaller viewport to work with. This means that you also have a lot less space to work with. Since hidden content will be given full weight as a ranking factor on mobile, you need to carefully structure your site and content architecture and test everything. Use visual cues to help users navigate your website and always keep the primary visit motive above the fold!

Voice Search – Hype or Reality?

According to comScore, by the end of 2020, around 50% of search queries will be voice activated.

Structured data has improved conversational search and by applying “the less is more” approach in building page content, we are making way for voice search to be accepted more quickly. And the reason behind its adoption is that it’s closely linked to mobile and local search.

2018 Mobile SEO Trends

As of this year, around 43% of millennials have made a voice-device purchase which shows how strong this trend has become. In the end, only the adoption of technology/devices will affirm this trend. For now, voice-powered searches are mostly used on smart TVs and devices such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Word error rate that Google made in its voice search has halved in the past year – from 8% to 4%.

So, a hype or reality? Well, both. We can only see it from the technical side of the story but, as new tech appears, this trend can quickly grow on us.

Responsive Websites or Mobile Apps?

This is like asking is it better to travel by car or by bus?

It depends mostly on your needs and goals. But let’s get into some actionable details.

2018 Mobile SEO Trends

Responsive websites are a great thing when it comes to presenting your website on various devices, however, they have their limitations. The biggest advantage of a responsive website over mobile apps is time and money that you can save. Creating a responsive website includes only one development process and you don’t need to adhere to any OS guidelines and regulations. However, it’s a one-size-fits-all approach and that’s really bad for segmentation and targeting.

Not only that, but large websites and e-commerce stores that prioritize ranking in mobile SERPs often have to battle with:

  • complex site architecture and navigation
  • complex design elements
  • a huge base of products and/or pages

This cannot be resolved by making your website more responsive. Devices vary in screen size, performance and connectivity. This is why most brands and retailers opt for mobile app development. Native apps perform better and provide better user experience as you don’t need to include all of the elements and functionalities of your website, thus providing a more convenient experience for the users.

2018 Mobile SEO Trends

Summing up

In 2018, we should place more focus on mobile UX as a direct influential factor in mobile SEO.

This is becoming a mobile-first era. Brands today have to compete for users-retention with interactive and authenticate content such as live video and apps, and their discovery is much easier with mobile devices. It’s clear that mobile UX will become a valuable part of the mobile SEO strategy.

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Oscar Waterworth

Oscar Waterworth - digital nomad, huge web and tech enthusiast, blogger and senior editor at BizzmarkBlog. Has huge interests in digital technologies ranging from product development to interactive design and search engine algorithms. "I don't see the glass half-full nor half-empty; I see the glass twice as big as it needs to be."
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