SEO is constantly evolving, making it difficult to keep up with what’s in and what’s out, what still works and what doesn’t work anymore, what you should be doing today and what you can stop doing. We’re here to help. Here’s some SEO trends we see that you should know about.
With the introduction of RankBrain, Google can not only read your content, it can interpret its meaning. Your prospect’s search query goes through RankBrain’s interpretation model where it applies factors, such as the searcher’s location and the words of the query, to determine the searcher’s intent and then deliver appropriate results.
Your content should be relevant to your target keywords. To find relevant keywords, you can use any one of the keyword research tools located on this list. You can even monitor your competitors’ keywords by using a tool like the one offered by Spyfu that lets you see the keywords your competitors are ranking for. Using that knowledge, you can target them and try to out-rank them.
After you find your keywords, they should be naturally integrated into the content – don’t “stuff” keywords into copy that doesn’t make sense in context. And remember that you’re writing for your readers – real people -- not for the search engines.
2. MOBILE RESEARCH
Mobile searches accounted for 59% of all organic searches in the US in 2019’s first quarter. If you look at the graph here, mobile search has increased every quarter from when it was first introduced in 2013.
It’s no longer optional to have a mobile-responsive website. Your website must be responsive and fully functional on mobile.
In addition, your page loading speed must be optimized for mobiles to get any kind of ranking position in search. Google announced in 2018 that they were penalizing sites that load slow in mobile search because a slow-loading website causes a bad user experience.
You don’t have to guess what your site’s page load speed is. Google provides a tool: Google PageSpeed Insights that analyzes your page loading speed and even shows suggestions to improve it.
The internet has generated lots of acronyms. We have NAP, SERP, AI and now E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness. To give you an idea of what Google is looking for, they mention E-A-T in their search quality guidelines.
All content needs to possess a high level of E-A-T in order to be viewed favorably by Google.
E-A-T has a direct effect on both the page’s quality level as well as its reputation on the web at large. In order to be deemed high-quality, Google states that “websites need enough expertise to be authoritative and trustworthy on their topic.” Google says that a page or site found lacking in E-A-T is a “sufficient reason to give a page a low-quality rating.”
Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness are things that every business should be looking to build both online and offline.
How can you prove that your site qualifies within the guidelines of E-A-T? It all starts with the quality aspect of your content. You cannot become an authority in a particular subject unless you have written quality content on it.
Expertise – Your site can demonstrate expertise if the content is truthful and useful for users
Authority –Show that you are an authority by providing your credentials, your personal experiences, and product / service reviews.
Trustworthiness – Everything about your site should make users feel safe while they’re visiting, especially important for eCommerce sites that ask users for their credit card information.
4. VOICE SEARCH
Voice search has taken over online search. From finding local businesses, to getting the weather report, to making restaurant reservations – it’s all voice search, all the time, and the numbers continue to grow. AI assistants have become more accurate and are able to personalize the results they provide.
What does this explosive growth in voice search mean for SEO? Your digital content must be optimized for long-tail keywords and exact search terms.
And how do you do that? Think like your customers. Answer the questions they might ask Google. And keep your answers short. Google prefers short answers for voice searches – the average result is only about 29 words long.
5. MACHINE LEARNING
Machine learning, a sub-set of Artificial Intelligence, can be broadly defined as the scientific study of algorithms and statistics used by computers to perform tasks using patterns and inference, rather than explicit instructions. Google uses machine learning to determine search results.
Machine learning is useful for SEO. Machine learning concepts and web analytics tools can be used to help you figure out your users’ behavior. Your SEO efforts in 2019 and going forward must fulfil the intent of your targeted audience.
Machines will help us understand what your site visitors want so you can figure out ways to provide it.
When one of your prospects is searching for something, anything, online, what Google considers the “best” result will depend on many factors relating to the prospect’s previously noted personal search habits, such as where they are physically located, the type of device they are using, what they have searched for in the past, etc. A human cannot have this information, but a machine can. A human cannot tailor a personal experience for your prospect or dedicate the resources to understanding what your prospect likes. But a machine can.
Machine learning keeps track of your prospects’ activities and learns over time what results they like and what types of results fulfill their intent.
6. OPTIMIZE FOR AMAZON
Google may be the biggest driver of traffic today, but Amazon and Apple are big players too on the internet stage. Your SEO efforts must work so that you show up wherever people are searching for you, not just on Google.
Though you can’t search Amazon for how-to content, it’s still a major competitor for Google because of how many products you can find there. Many SEO experts believe we’ll see considerable growth in Amazon SEO over the next year. If you have a product page on Amazon, you need to optimize to get it seen.
The majority of consumers search on Amazon before they even search other sites, including Google. They use it to do more than find things that they would otherwise use Google for, including similar product suggestions, other products they may be interested in, and reviews. They don’t need another search engine to help them find what they want or need to buy or to do some research before making a buying decision.
There’s more: if you have an app, you will want to rank in the app stores, as well as on Google. Your videos need to rank on YouTube and Vimeo and on Google.
A multi-pronged SEO approach is needed to rank in all possible places.
7. ON-PAGE OPTIMIZATION
On-page optimization continues as a key piece that goes into the overall SEO puzzle; simple on-page SEO will help you can rank higher in search results. And on-page SEO is an on-going process, not a once-and-done thing.
Some factors you should take care of include:
- Authoritative, relevant content that answers users’ questions
- Content written for readers, not robots
- Fast page load speed
- Short, descriptive URLs
- Easy site navigation
- Keywords in title, meta description and H1 tags
- Descriptive alt tags and file names that make sense for images
8. OPTIMIZE FOR FEATURED SNIPPET
In 2019 your organic search traffic may take a hit, thanks to features like the Paragraph Featured Snippet, List Featured Snippet and Table Featured Snippet. There’s also “People Also Ask”, “Quick Answer/Tools”, Carousel and Knowledge Card.
Here’s a quick list of SEO tactics to use to try to optimize for “position zero”, a.k.a. featured snippets:
- Check to see if a snippet exists already on the SERP for your keyword and whether it’s a Paragraph or List
- Keep your paragraph to less than 50 words
- Keep your lists to short sentences
- Include the query within the answer if possible
- Don’t copy existing snippet
Optimizing for the featured snippet and its associated brethren is complex and beyond the scope of this overview article. It’s definitely a topic for further investigation.
Search engine optimization in 2019 has changed from the early days of the internet. SEO trends like voice searches and mobile-friendliness may soon surpass traditional desktop searches. Additionally, it is more important than ever to create relevant high-quality content which offers value to the readers.