Search and SEO in 2018

2018 is coming soon and people are starting to ask: what’s new? What should we do to keep up with changes in search and specifically in SEO in 2018? In this post, I’ll sum up the biggest changes in our world, and what you should be working on.

The search landscape is changing

Over the last decade(s), our computers have become faster and faster, and our phones have been catching up. The iPhone X is faster than many computers people have at home. The power of the small machines we have in our hands is slowly being utilized by apps and search engines alike.

Building on that growing power of the devices in our hands, the reliability of voice recognition has been steadily increasing. It’s now at the point where, in languages like English, voice commands can be reliably used to instruct our devices to do something. One of those things we can do, is search.

Voice search changes everything

We cannot tell you how many people search with voice. Most people, for now, will not use voice search as their primary mode of searching. But: the search engines are optimizing for voice search results and have been doing that for a while now. Because the search engines are optimizing for voice results, all of search has already changed because of voice search.

The featured snippets that SEOs have been striving to get are a prime example of how voice search has changed SEO. Optimizing for these snippets requires old school SEO tactics combined with something new. You see, a featured snippet is meant to be read out loud. That’s the context in which Google’s Gary Illyes told people to read their copy out loud, early this year.

Listen to this result from Google Home for the search [what is a meta description?]:

If you’ve listened to the above answer, you’ll know why readability is so important. Answers this long become very hard to listen to if they’re not well written. And even then, we still have to solve things like figure out how we can get Google to pronounce SEO as S-E-O instead of “Seeoo”.

Google changes

Besides voice search and Google’s focus on that, more is changing in and for Google. Specifically: a few new technologies and a profound new way of looking at the web.

Mobile first indexing

We’ve written about mobile first indexing before, but the basic idea is simple: Google is changing how it looks at your site. From ‘judging’ your site as though it’s a desktop site, it’ll switch to judging your site as a mobile site. Every bit of content that can’t be reached on your mobile site, will not count for your ranking.

It’s still unclear when this will roll out and how fast this will roll out. Google says they’re already testing it, but they also say that sites that aren’t ready for it shouldn’t be hurt, for now. Regardless of that, your site should be working well and fast on mobile, so if it isn’t, that’s going to be your priority for SEO in 2018.

Read more: 5 things you need to know about mobile-first indexing »


If you haven’t heard about AMP, you’ve missed quite a few posts on this site. I’d suggest you start reading here to learn what AMP is and why it’s important.

Google is focusing a lot of time and effort on AMP. So much that one of the projects we’ve got planned at Yoast for 2018 is to see if we can recreate our single post pages entirely in AMP, completely leaving the non-AMP version. Yes, that’s how important we think AMP will become in the long run. I don’t expect normal sites have to do anything that drastic in 2018, but do make sure you keep up to date with the latest news on AMP.

Structured data: JSON+LD &

Alongside AMP, Google is pushing more and more structured data ‘profiles’. By asking webmasters and SEOs to mark up their content in structured data, according to data structures, Google is trying to understand the web better.

Yoast SEO does a good chunk of work for websites adding structured data to sites already. For most small business websites and blogs, what it does should be enough.

But if you have a site that has a lot of content that fits one of the data types (think of recipes, reviews, products, etc.), I’d highly suggest following our Structured Data course. After that you’ll know how to set up a properly structured data strategy for your site.

Content is still king

While all of the technical changes above are important to SEO in 2018, and you should definitely keep an eye on them, content is still the thing that’s going to make you rank. Our recent ultimate guide to content SEO should get you started on the right path there. Good luck optimizing your site in 2018!

Keep reading: Structured data with the ultimate guide »

Coming up next!

22 Responses to Search and SEO in 2018

  1. Mikael Pierre
    Mikael Pierre  • 6 years ago

    Great Blog! This is the first time I visited this page and I’ll mostly read your other blogs. Keep it up.

  2. Andy Kuiper
    Andy Kuiper  • 6 years ago

    Nice seeing you at PUBCON this year :-)

  3. gstarseo
    gstarseo  • 6 years ago

    Great Piece of Content! However I do believe we still very far away from both Voice Search and Mobile First Index. Voice search is growing and will continue to, but we have to be realistic, users still typing questions! Regarding MFI, does anyone know when it will be officially rolled out for everyone?

  4. download
    download  • 6 years ago

    Great post Joost.

    For a website that sell digital product (in my case a WordPress plugin), do you advice I activate AMP on the site?

  5. Maya
    Maya  • 6 years ago

    Rightly pointed out about AMP, structured data and voice searches. Structured data based results are already in flow of Google search results but AMP is not yet developed and lot to work in this area.

  6. Sergio Guillén
    Sergio Guillén  • 6 years ago

    Thank you for your viewpoint on how SEO will evolve in 2018!

    I agree with your most of your points; in fact, AMP and structured data are among my priorities for next year.

    It’d interesting to know how you and your team will be adapting the Yoast SEO plugin to this new landscape.

  7. Subhasish Adhikary
    Subhasish Adhikary  • 6 years ago

    I always prefer yoast seo plugin over other and also follow yoast blog articles because of the insights and seo trends it provides!
    Already hinting at seo changes in 2018!
    Thanks Joost for this post!

  8. Collins Agbonghama
    Collins Agbonghama  • 6 years ago

    Great post Joost.

    For a website that sell product (in my case a WordPress plugin), do you advice I activate AMP on the site?

    Mind you, traffic to those blog post are aimed at bringing awareness of our product to visitors and converting them to customers.

  9. SEO Republik
    SEO Republik  • 6 years ago

    Yes. I strongly agree that content is still an important factor in ranking. Only, the content does not mean anything when loading the website too long, then the AMP has a role here.

  10. Curt Johnson
    Curt Johnson  • 6 years ago

    I’m wondering if the Voice Search is going to wind up killing off affiliate sites.
    Amazon recently changed their commission structure making it less profitable, and the more Google pushes for Voice Search, the more people will just be ordering directly from sites like Amazon directly which will definitely lead to even more dropping in people making money off of affiliate style sites.

    With the structured data section, what can a site do if it falls into more than one category on the Google Markup setup? I’m assuming go for he category it mainly uses, but for those that cover a wide variety; will there be a solution for those?

    Thanks for another great update and prep for 2018. I changed over to HTTPS 2 years ago when you mentioned it, and it saved me a lot of time rushing to catch up.

  11. seogreen
    seogreen  • 6 years ago

    I think it should focus more than ever on improving user experience (UX).
    Best regards.

  12. aziz haida
    aziz haida  • 6 years ago

    Hi Joost,

    Very good analysis for 2018 SEO. I agree with all points but still not sure how voice search can move into SEO. It will be difficult part for any SEO guy to implement the necessary steps in getting on search results trough voice.

    SEO is ever-changing I suppose so we also have to adapt. I’m pleased that I already adopt most of these methods but one thing I may have to address is post length.

    Most of my posts are between 1000 to 1800 words

    • Curt Johnson
      Curt Johnson  • 6 years ago

      There’s nothing wrong with a post length in that area as it shows search engines you actually have some depth to your content. As a news site, our average article length is 900-1000 words.

  13. Anil Agarwal
    Anil Agarwal  • 6 years ago

    Great share.

    I’m a HUGE fan of SEO blog and your Yoast plugin. I know there are millions of people and fans out there who are loving your stuff.

    SEO is one thing that changes every year (or week!). What works now won’t work tomorrow (or in a year).

    Voice search is something I’m noticing recently. Focus on it and learn how to optimize for voice search for better rewards in 2018 and beyond.

    Thanks for the tips.

  14. Sant Lal
    Sant Lal  • 6 years ago

    I am using free theme. Is it important to buy a theme for best SEO rank

    • Joost de Valk

      Nope, I don’t know of any paid themes that are much better :)

  15. VS Chaitanya
    VS Chaitanya  • 6 years ago

    I have recently removed AMP form my Blog as I Don’t like the Design of the AMP pages. Also, Tables and other custom CSS are not working on the AMP pages. I also can not use the beautiful Tabs, Boxes from the shortcodes ultimate Plugin. The Conversion rates are going down. After I removed the AMP, there is no much change in the site traffic.

    • Joost de Valk

      Yeah there’s a lot left to be worked out :)

  16. Sohel
    Sohel  • 6 years ago

    All of these factors are very clear for every blogger, Please add option to fix the data Structure error on wordpress site. Its very importent for yoast seo. We want to do all seo things with the yoast seo. The main error come with hentry (

    • Joost de Valk

      hentry is actually embedded into WordPress core and changing it is non-trivial, as much as I’d like to remove it…

  17. Adrian Lesan
    Adrian Lesan  • 6 years ago

    Hey Joost,
    I’ve been working with AMP on some sites but I finally decided not to implement it yet mainly because reduced conversions. The same issue has also been published by Kinsta and others.
    How is yoast dealing with the issue? I notice that in the AMP version of this post there are no links to your plugin or structured data training, as you have them in the non-AMP version. Just curious.

    • Joost de Valk

      The AMP version of this post is just the default AMP plugin, nothing really special there yet. I want to remake the design of this page, including those internal ads, in AMPHTML. I think we can.