What are some SEO trends that will make an appearance in 2019?
If there is one thing that’s constant about SEO, it’s that it’s always changing. From HTTPs to mobile usability to RankBrain to mobile page speed, staying at the top of Google search requires continual effort.
And the best way to help your business in 2019, just like every other year, is to stay on top of the changing landscape of SEO.
Of course, when it comes to SEO trends to look out for in the new year, you may have noticed that a lot of them have to do with predictions. The strategies on this list, however, have already been tested and are proven to work.
With that in mind, here are 5 SEO trends that you may want to consider implementing in 2019.
1. Mobile First
Any discussion of 2019 SEO trends includes the topic of mobile first. This makes sense given that mobile searches now exceed desktop ones.
Chances are you already working toward a mobile-friendly experience with Google’s ‘Mobile-first Indexing’ announcement in 2018, but nevertheless, it’s a trend that’s going to continue its importance into 2019.
In the past, Google only used a site’s desktop version as the basis for ranking. Now, with the ‘mobile-first indexing update,’ Google will use the mobile version as the basis for ranking - even if someone is searching on their desktop.
Ideally, this means that you would have a mobile version of your site. This is what will ensure the most optimal results. If you just have a desktop version, however, you should at least make sure that your site loads quickly.
Keep in mind that mobile-friendliness can also affect how well you rank for other important elements, such as voice search. The point here is that being mobile-friendly is important in more ways than one.
Here are some other things to keep in mind when it comes to ensuring a mobile-friendly experience for your users:
- Have Same Content for Both Versions of Your Website. If you have both a desktop version and a mobile (m.dot) version of your site, ensure that have the same content on both versions, otherwise your Google ranking could be affected.
Additionally, you should ensure that content on the mobile version of your site isn’t hidden via things like expandable sections or tabs (also known as “hamburger menus” and “accordions”). Even though Google Webmasters have said that this isn’t true, a recent study found otherwise, particularly that content that’s hidden behind these tabs remains “devalued.”
- Responsive Design. Google recommends that for users who only have one version of a website that they switch to a responsive website design, meaning that your website accommodates all devices. However, those with two versions should not have a responsive design because this confuses crawlers as to which version is actually the mobile version of your site.
- Mobile Page Speed. Ensure a fast mobile loading speed, which you can check with Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Some businesses might want to consider using AMP.
- User Experience. You should also ensure that your website functions well when used on a mobile device. You can check how mobile-friendly your website is with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and/or with its’ Mobile Usability report in Google Search Console. Alternatively, WebSite Auditor is another option (check the ‘mobile performance’ section).
2. User Experience: Google RankBrain
Next to mobile optimization, user experience is at the top of everyone’s radar and will continue to do so into 2019.
The term ‘user experience’ is a fairly broad term and actually encompasses several different SEO trends in 2019 (with mobile page speed being one example). For the sake of this article, however, we’ve condensed ‘user experience’ into one primary 2019 SEO trend, which is Google RankBrain.
RankBrain has been an official ranking signal since 2016, so it’s an important one.
Google’s RankBrain algorithm, which measures how users interact with pages and ranks them accordingly, uses two criteria to assess how good a particular page is: dwell time and click-through rate (i.e. how many people actually click on the page).
So, what does this mean for you?
- Increase Dwell Time. As a reference point, a 2016 study by SearchMetrics found that the top search results have a dwell time of 3 minutes and 10 seconds.
Sure, there’s the classic suggestions like including images and video in your content, but also consider the APP formula - a formula for beginning blog posts that’s guaranteed to get people to stay on your page.
The APP formula stands for ‘Agree (this is all about showing readers you understand them), ‘Promise’ and then ‘Preview’ (tell them what your blog post is about).
- Increase Click-Through Rate (CTR). Arguably the best way to increase click- through rate? Featured snippets (in fact, this is so important that many consider this to be a 2019 SEO trend all on its own).
In order to actually have your content be a featured snippet, you need to rank on the first page of Google first (and, in particular, in the top five positions). We know this due to Ahref’s study of 2 million featured snippets.
But, there’s more:
You should also try to include question-based keywords into your content.
An even more comprehensive study of 6.9 million featured snippets by SEMrush and Ghergich Co found that 41.59% of featured snippets contained keywords with questions. In contrast, only 7% of featured snippets contained keywords with non-question based keywords.
So, not only do you need to rank on the first page, but you should also include question-based keywords in your content as well.
3. Voice Search
Considering that 41% of adults use voice search at least once a day (and this study goes all the way back to 2014), it makes sense that voice search is an SEO trend in 2019.
This trend can actually be traced back to Apple’s Siri. In a nutshell, it’s a lot easier to ask Siri a question than it is to type said question into your search bar. Combined with the rise of voice-based devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, it’s easy to see that this trend is here to stay.
So, taking cues from the biggest voice search SEO study, here are some actionable tips to optimize for voice search:
- Optimize for Local Search. Bright Local’s Voice Search for Local Businesses study found that 46% of daily voice searches are those looking for local businesses. When it comes to local search, one of the most important things you can do is optimize your Google My Business (GMB) listing given that this Moz study has shown that this has the biggest impact on local SEO.
Tips for optimizing your GMB listing? Ensure your NAP (name, address and phone number) is consistent across all directories, include a local phone number in your listing and choose a precise category and location. In addition to optimizing your GMB listing, you can also use geo-targeted keywords.
- Q&As. Voice searches are largely question based, so it’s beneficial to include a question and answer in your content by making your question one of your headlines. Additionally, you can make a FAQ page as well.
4. Search Intent
The concept of ‘search intent’ has been receiving a fair amount of attention in the past year because search engines are starting to understand the intent behind searches.
In fact, this topic was actually covered in many discussions of SEO trends in 2018, but it will continue to be on everyone’s radar in the new year as well.
This is what search intent is all about:
When people search for a given term, are they looking for information or they are looking to buy? If you are writing information-based content around a keyword that people usually search for when they’re looking to buy, the results aren’t going to be beneficial for your business.
In general, there are four types of search intent:
- transactional (buy and sell),
- commercial (directions, reviews, etc.)
- and navigational (branded and URL specific).
We know that keyword research is key component of any SEO strategy, but instead of focusing on keyword density, competition and so on, the most important is search intent.
So, how can you optimize for search intent? The problem, you will see, is that Google’s keyword planner doesn’t offer a lot of insight into the intent behind a search, but there are still some ways around this:
- Search Intent Analysis (Google Your Keyword). Start by googling your keyword and analyzing the results. What is the intent behind the first page results? (informational, transactional, etc.) For example, if you see a lot of reviews, this suggests that people are still in the information phase. In other words, you wouldn’t want to create content that’s specifically about your product or service because readers aren’t likely to convert (again, they are still looking for information).
You can also take this one step further and use your research to guide your content even more. If you find images at the top of the search results, you might want to consider producing an infographic (the same thing goes for video or content that’s a mixture of everything).
5. Quality Content and Links Are Still Important
Regardless of the changing landscape of SEO, quality content and backlinks still remain at the forefront.
As for content, it’s important to consider the intent behind searches. Additionally, video is another SEO trend that you should also consider. In fact, it has been estimated that 80% of all online traffic will be video by 2021. On top of that, video has been proven to convert much more rapidly.
Wrapping It Up
If you want to achieve the best results for your business, it’s important to stay on top of the changing landscape of SEO. And this means monitoring the trends.
While high-quality content and backlinks will continue to be the foundation of a solid SEO strategy, emerging trends will continue to change their shape. User-experience (RankBrain), voice search and search intent are examples of this.
Lastly, delivering users a strong mobile experience will continue to take priority in 2019.