What you will learn
It’s that time of year again where Gael and Mark put their necks on the chopping block with some brave, bold and outright stupid SEO predictions for 2018.
However, before we get into the predictions for next year, let’s see how last year’s predictions turned out.
Review of Our SEO Predictions for 2017
Prediction – There will be a completely separate mobile index and desktop index. Neglecting responsiveness and mobile user experience will results in a rankings drop/
Outcome – According to Search Engine Land, the mobile first index will not be rolled out until 2018. This seems to be due to the fact that site owners were not ready for the change.
This is reflected by the news that a gradual rollout will take place, with a full mobile first index not expected to be in place for another 3-5 years.
Score – 0.0
Keyword Research Will Be Replaced By Topic Research
Prediction – SEOs will start to look at ways to write about broader topics which allows them to incorporate a number of longtail keywords into a single article rather than focus on a single keyword for a single page.
Outcome – An Ahrefs study suggests that ‘the average #1 ranking page will also rank in the top10 for nearly 1,000 other relevant keywords’.
This suggests there is a grain of truth to this prediction but it has probably yet to go mainstream.
Score – 0.5
Prediction – Because Google have such a focus on mobile, Gael surmised that it may be better to get to the point when covering a topic rather than writing 5,000 word in depth. This is because no one really likes reading these big, long posts on their mobiles.
Outcome – Wrong. We have seen no evidence of this and long content is doing really well. In fact, we tried shorter content and publishing more frequently on the Authority Hacker blog but soon found that longer content was doing better by almost every metric that mattered.
Score – 0.0
BS-O-Meter And The War on Fake News
Prediction – After the US election last year, all the talk was of fake news and Russian bots. Facebook were called out and we predicted Google would work quickly to get their house in order.
Outcome – This is now active on Google News results and we do expect it to roll out eventually to become a kind of truthfulness that means misleading reviews, incorrect facts and outright fake news will suffer.
Score – 0.5
On-Page Will Become Relevant
Prediction – The next two predictions follow similar logic. With new ranking factors constantly being introduced, it makes sense that the importance of old ranking factors will decrease somewhat.
In the case of on-page, there is the added shift to Google having a greater understanding of topics meaning that you do not have to work as hard to tell Google what your page is about.
Outcome – While lots of people do not bother too much with on page anymore, those that do, are still getting disproportionately good results.
However, it could be that the people that are doing on page are the people that are doing everything else it takes to rank and, in doing the on page, they are just creating more work for themselves.
We have seen AH Pro members actually de-optimize pages on their sites and see improvements but there could be a number of reasons for this. The verdict is that there is no proof whatsoever that onpage is less relevant.
Score – 0.0
Links Will Become Relevant
Prediction – As with the previous prediction, the logic was that if new factors (such as AI factors) were being introduced into the algorithm, the importance of the existing factors must be diluted.
Outcome – Again, there is no evidence that links are having any less impact than they have previously.
Score – 0.0
PBNs – Google Would Hard Reset Links When Domains Drop
Prediction – Most PBNs are built by buying old domains that have not been re-registered. They then use the old link juice to create links to their money page and rank for them. Gael predicted that Google would target this method by eliminating the value of the links pointing to a dropped domain.
Outcome – This has not happened and Google does not seem to have a strategy to target PBNs at the moment. Although we do not recommend PBNs, it now looks like they are a stable way to build links to your site that are not on Google’s radar for the time being.
Score – 0.0
Review Keyword Competition Will Become Bigger
Prediction – After The Wirecutter sold to the NY Times for $30 million (where have I heard that before?), we predicted there would be a gold rush to review style sites where larger media companies would begin to take this kind of content seriously.
Outcome – This has happened, we have seen a number of examples where big players have barged their way in to review keywords at the expense of the little guy. Don’t be disheartened, however. The example site we built for TASS is ranking in first for a bunch of keywords with almost no link building.
Score – 1.0
Final Score for 2017: 2/8 – Could Do Better
Content Truthfulness Will Matter More
If someone is sick, searches for their symptoms and gets the wrong information, they could die. This is life and death.
This is where the truth really matters and Mark predicts that checks Google place on this kind of information will roll out slightly wider to include misleading reviews and other false or misleading information.
There has already been legal proceedings resulting from reviews and Mark believes that Google will look to tighten things up.
Google Assistant Will Arrive on Chrome
Google Assistant is currently available on Android and Gael predicts it will be built into Chrome in the next year. How they do this is the big question.
If they just add a button to the interface, not much will change but if they tie it in with the tool bar this could be a massive change.
Instead of showing the search results, Google Assistant would open in a chat that would get its information from the knowledge graph. This would make it doubly important for site owners to get position zero.
Crypto Currency Will Become The New Fad
Crypto currency will become the new internet marketing with people flocking there to get rich. This should leave more opportunities for beginner site builders who are will face less competition from other new entrants.
Other market changes are at the other end of the spectrum. We are beginning to see the market mature with consolidation and VC involvement which could see major sites bought over within the next year.
Google News Feed Will Come to Desktop
The Google news feed on Android is incredible at pinpointing what you are interested in seeing based on your search history.
Example of a Google News feed on Android
Gael predicts this will come to Chrome (probably when you open a new tab), where you will be presented sites that are relevant to you.
This could leads to sponsored positions on this page that will rival Facebook ads and replicate the extremely targeted nature of them.
People Will Trust Voice Search to Make Decisions For Them
Mark’s next prediction is that people will begin to trust voice search in a way that they haven’t so far.
He predicts that people will move beyond basic searches, such as asking about the weather, to more complex queries that have real ramifications, e.g. ‘can my dog eat strawberries’, or purchasing decisions, such as ‘buy me a new mouse for my computer’ and just trusting the tool to get on with the job.
First AI Written Blog
Gael predicts that we will see the first AI written blog in 2018 that is indistinguishable from those written by humans. These will probably be in a simple format, such as a social media list curation post.
He also predicts that someone huge, like Buzzfeed, will snap up this technology to try and give themselves an edge.
Google Lens Will Become More Prominent
Google Lens allows you to take a picture and search Google with it.
This is usually in the form of something like a landmark (e.g. a picture Big Ben in London) and you will get basic search results.
However, Gael’s job application for Google continues when he predicts that this could be tied in with the knowledge graph so that, for example, when you take a photo of a plate of food it will tell you the ingredients and the calorie count.
Updating Content Will Become More Important
There are so many sites with so much content that there are becoming fewer and fewer new topics to cover every single day.
This means to rank amongst competition, your content will have to be up to date so that it is still relevant. The age of the content will no longer be an advantage if it isn’t updated.
We have actually found that updating our old content has been giving us much better results recently than launching new content.
Mark predicts that the net neutrality situation in the USA will not be the doomsday situation that it is being described as in many places.
While a net neutrality advocate, Mark doesn’t think someone like Google will allow the internet to change to such a degree that only a handful of websites (who can afford to pay the ISPs) is accessible at a usable speed.
This would make Google obsolete.
People like Netflix, who have in the past accounted for 37% of all internet traffic, may see themselves suffering a bit but in other cases there may be opportunities that work in the interests of the consumer.
So, there you have it, Gael and Mark’s SEO predictions for 2018. If you have any predictions yourself, let us know in the comments below.