I'm researching about these trends and trying to apply to my project.
Trends are really tough, especially for SEO.
Although Rand puts out his predictions every year which are entertaining, none of these are actually that helpful this year to helping you actually rank - https://moz.com/blog/9-predictions-for-seo-in-2018
Here's what I think will be new this year:
1. Google will continue to shift their algorithm to be more specific to the industry.
What this means is what works for a local printing company isn't going to work for Buzzfeed. What works for an ecommerce site is going to be different from a news site.
Search results have exploded in diversity of types of results over the last 5 years, and we're a long way past just 10 blue links.
This isn't new - Google's algorithm has been heading this way for awhile, but I don't think it's appreciated enough, and it will only get more accurate this year.
2. Featured Snippets are still up for grabs, but will get more accurate.
Featured Snippets inform voice search, and are actually really powerful if you earn it. Right now there's some logic to them - make sure you answer succinctly, use tables and bullet points, markup your content, etc - but Google is still experimenting widely on them.
This is an opportunity now to take advantage of, but keep an eye on how these things are changing.
3. Image and video recognition will improve and impact the algorithm more.
On my Moz post, item #6 here discussing how to use text in images - https://moz.com/blog/how-to-fix-14-technical-seo-problems - and it references an interesting study by Cognitive SEO on the subject, https://cognitiveseo.com/blog/5909/did-google-read-text-image-can-affect-my-rankings/.
But the result from the test is that image-to-text extraction technology is not being used for ranking search queries.
I think that will change this year. Google's machine learning is just too good to not use it. Right now image search is a joke and very simple. They're going to understand image and videos even more this year.
Humans want rich content, and Google recognizes that.
Already Google can extract answers from YouTube videos and display the exact time sequence where that question is answered. That's kind of creepy. I think they're able to recognize this based on their voice algorithms, not so much video, as that's tougher to crack. But images will be next, and they'll play a bigger part in informing the content of the page and therefore contribute to ranking.
4. Sites will realize the power of their homepage and optimize it for search in some cases.
This is a random trend, but I've noticed a few sites doing this recently.
Naturally, a website gets most of their links to their home page, but most sites just generically target their home page, or make it just a portal to the rest of the site. This makes sense if you're Nike or Apple, but smaller companies need to be more tactical.
This is an opportunity to optimize for your best keyword. I detailed out how some home pages are targeting here - https://www.greenflagdigital.com/homepage-seo/ - and when it makes sense.
That's it for these quick predicted SEO trends. Happy to chat more if you're interested!