SEO is constantly evolving. Search engines are becoming more and more intelligent and answering user questions right on the SERPs. Google especially, is trying to be the best and launching new algorithms and layouts to stay ahead. SEO experts are trying to identify and adapt to these changes which is how trends are born.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a marketing strategy that is imperative to being successful online, but if you are not reviewing your strategy regularly, and still just uploading the same old content to your blog and adding a few keywords or links to your site, you are no longer ‘optimising’ anything. Some big changes have already happened in 2018, and now it’s time to review what is forecast for 2019.
How will SEO change in 2019?
1. Voice search is the new talk of the town:
“Ok Google, tell me some statistics about voice search”
- According to Google, voice searching is up to three times faster than typing.
- Voice search has grown by 35% since its introduction in 2008.
- By 2020, 50% of all searches are predicted to be voice searches.
- Also by 2020, 30% of all searches are expected to be carried out without a screen.
- 72% of people who own a voice-activated speaker use it as part of their daily routine, and want to hear from brands about information that is relevant to their lifestyle.
“Ok Google, how does the evolution of voice search affect my business?”
Voice search and Google’s Hummingbird update a few years ago, has meant that emphasis on search intent is seriously important. This is called semantic search which seeks to improve search results by understanding the searcher’s intent and context. It’s important to keep this in mind when structuring your website and to preemptively answer your potential customers’ questions. Local searches are one of the most often performed voice searches, so include all of your company information, such as opening times and address, in plain old html, not hidden in pictures.
Google hopes to change SERPs as we know them, remove a step for users and provide answers to their questions as soon as possible. To keep up with this, your site needs to be as ‘crawlable’ as possible. One powerful way to do this is through the use of schema markup, which is a form of microdata that explains what your data means, not just what it says. This marked-up information will then usually appear in the SERP as a rich snippet, which Google will likely use to answer voice search questions if it is one of the top 3 results.
2. Video optimisation is another rising star
It is predicted that by 2020, videos will be the magnet for 75% of all internet traffic. Whether it be brand films, explainer videos, vlogs, or company culture reels, it’s becoming a necessity to incorporate video into your SEO strategy to avoid being left behind. YouTube is an important platform, especially now that keywords can also be strategically utilised here, but to rank well, your video quality needs to be excellent; so it’s advisable to invest in outsourcing your video content if the right skills are not available in-house.
3. Mobile phones will be taking over
2018 saw the rollout of Google’s mobile-first index, which means that websites are now ranked based on the UX quality of their mobile site, as opposed to their traditional desktop one. This comes as no surprise since mobile phone penetration is expected to be over 63% in 2019.
For this point, what you need to do is clear. Master your mobile SEO; ensure you have a mobile friendly version of your site and focus all of your attention here first. Make sure your user journey is seamless and your load times fast.
4. (Quality) Content is King
Content marketing has long been a staple SEO method amongst marketers; but gone are the days when you could churn out quick, repetitive articles with stuffed keywords and little regard for who the audience may be.
Research shows that 84% of people expect brands to create relevant, educational and engaging content, and the future of SEO reflects this. Your content should be inspiring, creative, educating, problem solving and entertaining. When you look back to the earlier points about taking a user’s search intent into account, creating this perfect, thought-provoking content should be a lot easier. As a result, not only will your audience be more engaged and consider your brand to be more caring and thoughtful, but your pages per session stats should increase too, which is a great trigger in Google’s SEO algorithm.
5. Customers don’t want to feel insecure anymore
In life, sometimes we meet good people, and sometimes we meet bad people. The same can be said about the internet; some websites are good and some are bad, some accounts are fake, and some are unsecure, letting hackers right into your personal life and data.
Since the EU enacted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), people are becoming more aware of the need to protect their data online, and only associate themselves and their data with trusted sites. A recent survey revealed that a staggering 82% of respondents said they would leave a website if it was not secure. The number one thing you should do is ensure that you get an SSL certificate with https to become a credible website.
It is more than likely that 2019 will see further online data protection regulations, so make sure that you keep yourself up-to-date with the rules.
6. Your SEO efforts will be wasted without a clear user journey
The user journey on your website can make or break your business. If you are serious about increasing sales in 2019, focus should be put on ensuring your website has been refreshed with a seamless UX design. This means easy to navigate, intuitive design, low page load times and absolutely no down time or technical issues.
Your website is your biggest tool and representation of your brand. 70% of customers have said that they learn about companies from their websites and not their adverts, so you should not let your most powerful asset negatively impact your business.
7. Blockchain is the new SEO kid on the block
Blockchain has become an increasingly popular buzzword in 2018 since the boom of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. If you are unfamiliar with the term, the clearest definition would be that “blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” A bit like a Google Doc, blockchains are completely tamper-proof, yet easy to share with the public.
So, how do blockchains impact SEO?
Currently, search engines act as the middleman between websites, advertisers and customers; taking a cut of the profits in the process. This is usually done because each of the parties do not trust each other so they use Google to act as the moderator. Blockchain could remove the middleman because it is able to verify whether users or clicks are real and whether or not they can be trusted. Removing the middleman concept and reducing the number of fraudulent actions online will add a new dimension to SEO. The worldwide blockchain technology market was forecasted to increase by 61.5% from 2018 to 2019 and it’s thought that this is only just the beginning, so it is certainly a technological area to watch.
8. Artificial Intelligence is no longer a thing of the future
Artificial intelligence, or AI, has become present-day technology, and is being used by the likes of search engines to become increasingly more intelligent; even human-like. As we’ve already discussed, the focus is currently on understanding the intent behind internet searches and preempting the information required. AI also means that search engine algorithms are becoming much smarter and can detect black hat SEO techniques which will negatively affect your SEO; so it is best to ditch these now if you are using any.
9. Influencer marketing is stealing the limelight
In a highly competitive market, having a well-known name in your industry vouch for you can be an indispensable asset. Influencer marketing is a growing trend in this digital age of social media and 67% of marketers claim that influencer marketing has helped them reach their target audience. Their reach can often be much larger and much more authoritative than your own.
Influencers have worked hard to hold a good status in their industry, and connecting with the right ones should earn you great recognition.
In addition to the publicity, it is particularly important to encourage influencers to give you backlinks and recommendations. Backlinks will remain an important SEO tool in 2019, and there is even talk of the possibly that ‘mentions’ of your business will also count, even if they do not have a link; but only if the content adds value to the user.
Where can I find influencers for my business?
New studies show that in 2018, 99% of all influencers spent their time on Instagram, so that is probably the best place to start.
10. You should be educating your audience with long, in-depth content
We’ve already mentioned it, but we’ll say it again: the longer a user stays on your website, the better. Longer content takes longer to read, which in-turn keeps a user on your site for longer – bonus. But a user won’t stay if they are not satisfied, they won’t return, and they probably won’t continue to delve deeper through your other web pages to find more content.
It has been noticed that the best ranking websites on Google tend to have over 2,000 words, but we know that their secret isn’t purely the length of their content; search engines are far too clever for that. The next logical explanation for this, would be the depth and quality of the content, and as we’ve already said, quality content is king in 2019.
Conclusion: Your SEO checklist for 2019
Successful SEO will always require the implementation of the latest best practises while establishing authority with Google. That’s not going to change.
With this is mind, to prepare for 2019, you should aim to work these points into your new strategy so that you’re not only keeping up with current techniques, but also staying ahead of your competition.
- Add schema markups to your website so that Google can utilise structured data for rich snippets and improve click-through rates (CTR) in SERPs.
- Embrace video and upload high-quality content to YouTube.
- Prioritise optimising your website for mobile devices.
- Always think of the user’s needs and optimise your content accordingly.
- Make sure your website is technically perfect, easy to navigate and completely secure.
- Make sure your website is a fast as possible.
- Include influencer marketing in your strategy and encourage quality backlinks.
- Know your customer, understand what their needs are, and design a content-rich website for them.
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