As marketers proceed with their digital strategies in 2018, it’s easy to be overconfident in their brand’s online searchability however search engine optimization in 2018 is more challenging than it’s ever been. The main reason is the ever-increasing battle for space on Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).

Paid search results can push down organic results by taking up space on the results page. Another common feature is the rich snippet, which adds extra information to existing results, like star reviews for business ratings. Image and category results or breaking news updates appearing at the top of the search page occupying valuable space. More keywords and phrases return search results that have ads, maps, images, answer boxes, local listings and products every year.

According to Google, mobile searches surpassed desktop searches in 2015 and one in five mobile searches were voice-based in 2016. Paired with the explosion of smart speakers, these advances suggest optimization for voice search will be an imperative for marketers in the near future. So clearly, the keywords of optimization need to be based on user behaviors for mobile devices.

Another curveball from the gatekeepers is Google’s RankBrain, an artificial intelligence-powered tool that helps the company evaluate the relevance of search results. It is said to be closer to a detective than a traffic guard. Google first confirmed the existence of RankBrain in 2015, but it wasn’t until last year that the company said it was among the three most influential factors in its ranking algorithm. Unfortunately, there’s no template for pleasing RankBrain because Google keeps its exact inputs a closely guarded secret. But a good start is to ensure authenticity and quality of a site’s content as it’s not one-size-fits-all.

Optimizing for RankBrain is actually super easy, the only thing to do is trying to write content that sounds human. If it sounds conversational, like natural language that we would use in your day-to-day life, then you must be optimized for RankBrain.