Since its inception, search engine optimization (SEO) has proved to be an ever-changing field. This is largely due to the fact that it relies heavily on search engines. In the event that a search engine alters its algorithm or rules, SEO must adapt to remain optimally functional and relevant. Still, each year hundreds of people wrongly declare that the practice will become obsolete. Certainly, 2018 will be no exception; however, it is crucial to understand that SEO is a stronger practice because of its dependence on search engines, not in spite of it.
In the beginning, SEO formed with tactics that are now classified as black hat practices. Essentially, the goal was to beat the system through keyword stuffing and other methods that are now frowned on. As search engine creators became wise to these tricks, they altered their rules and algorithms to get rid of spam and other irrelevant results on the SERP. At this point, SEO underwent a major evolution. Instead of being a shady practice, it was reinvented and redesigned to work with search engines.
These new tactics were classified as white hat SEO. They required much more strategy and a better understanding of search engines. Slowly, results on the SERP became much more relevant and useful as spam and black hat methods were eliminated. In the last five years, SEO has continued to alter its practices to meet the demands of new technologies, updates and algorithms.
In 2018, SEO will continue on this path. As has been seen in recent years, there will be a greater focus placed on quality content over basic fluff that acts as a carrier for keywords. Likewise, subject matter, social media and local SEO will continue to play a large role in rankings on the SERP. Other factors that will influence SEO practices in 2018 include an increased focus on accelerated mobile pages (AMP) and optimized video content. Additionally, with the introduction of the "Quick Answers" feature on Google, as a result of the Penguin 4.0 update in 2016, lists and other short snippets will grow in popularity, in hopes of being featured.
Getting content in front of the right audience is becomming increasingly more chanllenging – there's new content occuring every second online! Without a focused piece of content that delivers based on keywords that your target audience uses, your missing out on better ranking opportunities.
While there will always be individuals who are skeptical about SEO, it has become clear that it is an invaluable tool for gaining exposure. As SEO has continually changed to find ways to remain at the forefront of Web marketing, the practice is expected to remain strong for many years to come. Regardless of new technologies that are expected to rise in popularity in the coming years, such as voice searches, artificial intelligence and virtual reality, SEO proves to be ready for whatever the future may hold.