Important SEO Trends to Watch
SEO best practices change at break-neck speed. One way to help your company’s customized SEO strategy stay up with the times (so that your website can continue to add value to your business) is to make sure you know the changes and trends on the horizon.
Here are some of the top trends you’ll see dominating the marketplace in 2019.
1. Filtering all decisions through an audience-focused lens.
Search engines are becoming increasingly adept at understanding users’ intent behind their online behavior. That frees up companies to make SEO strategy decisions based on what’s best for the audience’s needs rather than serving an algorithm’s needs.
So when you face decisions about, choose what would be most helpful for your target audience. In the end, doing what’s best for your audience will help your SEO.
- What medium you should use to share content (video vs. image vs. written content)
- Whether you should have a short answer to a question or a long answer to a question
- What words to use to explain a certain topic
- How to structure your website
- And any other factor that affects the users’ experiences
2. Matching your online strategy with key entry points to your sales funnel to get the right traffic.
The number of potential customers online and the amount of customer touchpoints with online information increases all the time. But the competition is increasing too.
As a result, you need to base your online SEO strategy—from finding traffic to interacting with those leads—on your business model.
For example, a boutique furniture company that creates high-quality pieces based on lots of individual customer feedback should likely be focusing on finding leads who are at the research stage of buying new furniture (as opposed to the purchase phase). They wouldn’t be able to serve people who are trying to get a couch in their home in two days or even a week, so traffic looking for that type of product/service is not valuable to the company.
This furniture business also shouldn’t spend time and energy generating traffic from people who are not shopping in the budget range of their products. It brings no value to get traffic from this audience.
So in the world of increased competition, you can’t just focus on getting a lot of people to your online spaces, you need to get the right people who would be interested in your products and are entering the sales funnel at a place that your company can accommodate.
3. Thinking about all kinds of searches (not just Google).
The user experience introduced by Google has now permeated many different online spaces. People now regularly search in app stores, podcast apps, Amazon, YouTube, Yelp!, and the list goes on!
So when you’re thinking about optimizing the visibility of your online spaces in search results, consider all the types of search results that you could appear in.
A good way to approach this is to identify what spaces may work best for your business and your target audience. For example, if you run a restaurant, you would likely prioritize optimizing Yelp! and TripAdvisor rankings over Amazon rankings. In contrast, a company with tangible products may spend a lot of time optimizing Amazon rankings, but not spend any time creating and optimizing the ranking of a podcast.
In the world of increasing competition on Google, it can be helpful to think outside of the box about now to get your business in front of your target audience.
4. Strategizing how (and where) you want to be found on Google.
Gone are the days of a Google search turning up a simple list of links in response to a search query. There are now multiple places to strive for increased visibility: rich snippets (the insta-answers that appear in boxes in the top of the page), related question boxes (with snippets of their own), people also ask, local 3-pack (maps), business cards populating information from Google my business, jobs, and more.
While the competition for ranking in Google is higher than ever, you have the opportunity to gain eyeballs (and clicks) by seeking to strategically appear in different components of SERPs. Notice that the rich snippet isn’t always from the first article in the list. The related questions aren’t either. Local queries are very attuned to location, which provides a unique opportunity for many businesses.
As a result, it’s less important to get the first slot in the search result list, and more important to figure out how to get your business in a prominent place somewhere on the SERP.
5. Voice search.
Voice search is on the rise. Sure, the kinks are still being worked out, but Amazon Echoes and Google Homes are increasingly changing the game with online interactions.
Think about how your online presence can interact with people asking verbal questions in more casual language patterns from their kitchens (or living rooms, or cars). Whether it’s creating content that can easily respond to questions via voice or organizing your website to more clearly have answers to common questions, it will be important to think about how this change in the digital landscape affects your customers’ online interactions with your company.
6. Using structured data.
The way that you can address several of the trends that I’ve mentioned above (hint: matching user intent, voice search, and getting placed in rich snippets, etc) is through using structured data.
When you use structured data to communicate the relationship of information to other information, as well as meta information about the content, you can help search engines better understand your intent and better offer your content to users in a relevant space and format. Don’t let the techy sounding name scare you off, because structured data is a very tangible way to bolster the foundation of your SEO strategy for years to come.
7. Creating quality content. (And forgetting sub-par content.)
More than ever, search engines care about authority, back links, relevance, and the behavior of users interacting with the content. It may seem simple, but it’s true: the best way to come out on top in all of these areas is to provide high quality content that meets user’s needs.
Content is where you develop a relationship with your audience—you can show that you’re trustworthy, knowledgeable, and relevant.
No strategic planning or structured data in the world can make up for low-quality content. So do yourself a favor, and invest in your content.
8. Increasing expertise, authority, trustworthiness.
If you have a weird-looking rash, and you get advice both from your next door neighbor (a high school history teacher) and your doctor, who would you trust? Let’s hope you would trust the doctor!
That same filtering process is important online as well. Search engines (and search engine users) much prefer information from people who have education, experience, and proven success records than random people who have a blog. So when you invest in your content strategy, consider how you’ll source your information AND consider how you’ll communicate the source of that information.
Seek out voices of authority (if you’re at a manufacturing company, maybe you’d consult your product engineers or researchers) and then make sure the authority behind that information is conveyed to your audience and the search engines.
9. Using technical SEO to improve user experience.
These technical tools are often overlooked, but because they help provide a better user experience, it’s a way to get ahead of the competition.
10. Prioritizing on-page optimization.
This is an oldie, but it’s not going away in 2019. A labyrinth-like navigation of your website will always drag you down. Confusing forms will scare away leads as much in 2019 as they did in 2005. Providing an integrated and user-friendly website that answers questions and shares relevant information will do wonders for your SEO. No gimmicks necessary.
11. Being aware of what we’re learning from machine learning.
Right now, we’re in the exploratory stages of machine learning. But Google is learning more and more about how to deliver what people want through machine learning. Their findings will not only impact how Google interacts with and delivers your content, it will change how companies position behave online.
The point of all of this learning will be to optimize customer experience. Right now, the best thing to do is keep this on your radar, and keep learning along with the rest of us!