Google never explains exactly how its search algorithms work, but we all know it’s critical to stay up to date with known changes. If you want to optimize SEO campaigns for your clients, you should check out the trends that analysts expect will dominate the search field next year. Here are a few items from a comprehensive list compiled on SearchEngineLand.com last month.

Search Engine Results Pages, SERP, have grown a lot more sophisticated. Back in the day, marketers could tweak their keywords to manipulate where their pages showed up on a Google listing. But marketers now have the option to pay a little extra to display a featured snippet or a listing with other enhancements. Consumers who are searching aren’t just looking at a straightforward list anymore. If you want to help your clients stand out in the new world of SERP, you may need to invest in tools to help you track how well a featured snippet is working for them.

Google pays attention to how quickly your clients’ pages load. Three seconds is the magic number. When your clients insist on fancy page formatting that slows down loading, let them know that it’s impacting their search ranking. The further down the SERP list they are, the lower the likelihood that consumers will click. And, if they do convince someone to click, the slow-loading page will result in them moving on to another site. Google offers a free page speed test. Make sure you use it.

Google’s crawler pays attention when pages contain structured data. Using a specific set of HTML tags allows marketers to identify pieces of enhanced data, like images, reviews and videos, on their pages. When this information is picked up by search engines, your clients’ pages will display what is known as a rich snippet – a listing on the SERP that shows a picture and a link to reviews. Consumers are definitely drawn to search results that show images and links to something besides plain text. The availability of reviews , for example, is a huge plus.

Your clients’ competitors will be using every advantage to win the SEO battle in 2018, so make sure you are giving them work that’s optimized for the best outcome.

-Kathy Crosett