The finish line is close. We’re almost there. And thank goodness for that.

Many of us are prepared to leave 2017 in the dust. With being inundated on a daily basis with political shenanigans as the world falls around our ears, it’s time for a new start. A fresh start. And that’s the promise that 2018 brings to us. Oh, the possibilities!

Last year around this time, I predicted the major shakeups that were coming to SEO next year. And much like last year, 2018 promises a few surprises, including the long-anticipated mobile-first index that Google has been promising for a few years now.

So what should we be watching out for next year? Well, here are three things that are definitely in store for us.

The Rise of the Rich Snippet — You may have heard of these guys before. It is a behind-the-scenes code that allows the search engines to figure out what the page topic is about so it can rank it accordingly. Unlike a regular snippet, which shows a sentence or two about the page topic, a rich snippet can include a longer description of the page topic, as well as a photo or ratings. Check out the difference below:

rich snippet ENX2 Marketing

Rich snippets have been around for a long time and this is not the first time that Google has used them in search results. But Google has recently fooled around with its algorithm and has radically changed the appearance of its search engine results pages (SERPs). Now, when you search for something on Google, you don’t see just a list of results. Now rich snippets dominate.

This is Google’s way of presenting information to its users as quickly as possible. Now, instead of a list of websites that you need to click to find out information, the rich snippet will answer your question without you even clicking a link!

Great for users, bad for the rest of us. With the rise of the rich snippet, this means there will be less and less room on that front page to show results. So instead of a race to be on page one, it’s going to be a race to be a featured snippet. Start working on your structured data, people!

Go, Speedy Website, Go! – We’ve known for some time that a fast website will help you keep your users happy. And now it’s a survival of the fastest. According to Search Engine Journal, Google now expects that your web page will load under three seconds. And if your site is above that three-second mark, don’t expect to be on the front page of Google.

Remember, Google is slowly putting much of its emphasis on mobile search and people on the go want a website that can keep up with them. And if you’re slow by Google standards, then you’re going to get left behind. But don’t worry, there are ways to fix a slow website. And don’t forget your AMP!

Voice Search is the Real Deal – I know I mentioned it a couple of times now, and I’m not backing down from my claim. Voice search is here and if you’re not ready for it, you’re in trouble. AI devices such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home have dominated in 2017. So much so that “South Park” did an episode this past season making fun of the devices (and triggering many viewers’ devices, including mine). They are here to stay.

So here’s my question: Are you using phrases in your content yet? Well then, you’re going to be left behind.

Any digital marketing expert will tell clients that content needs to be written for the user and not the search engines. And with voice search, this proves the point. Searchers now ask specific questions and if your content doesn’t hold the answer, just random keywords are thrown together, you will soon suffer.

And like I say every year, it all comes down to the user experience. You need to stop thinking about rankings and beating out the competition and start thinking about how you are going to help your customer. And by keeping this in mind, you will see tremendous growth in your business.

If you need help with your SEO for the new year, then you need ENX2 Marketing. Contact our SEO experts today to schedule an audit.