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How is SEO set to change in 2019?

Google updates its search algorithm around 600 times every year. As a result the SEO goal posts are constantly changing and digital marketers have got to move fast to keep up.

Keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of SEO can be tricky. But it’s absolutely necessary for driving traffic to your site.

As we move into 2019 there are big changes in store for SEO. To help you stay ahead of the curve we’ve highlighted 8 important SEO trends every digital marketer needs to know about. Read on in order to ace your strategy and gain more traffic.

Voice Search – the next big thing

 

2 out of 5 adults use voice search every single day. What’s more, it is predicted that by 2020 50% of all searches will be voice searches. You’d be right for thinking that in the world of SEO, voice search is set to be the next big thing.

Think about the likes of Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home and Apple’s Siri. These devices mean that the web is no longer at our fingertips, it’s on the tips of our tongues. With voice search so readily available in homes and on our phones 2019 is the perfect time to optimise for voice search.

But how exactly can you rank for voice search?

  • Rank highly in search results. A study by Backlinko found that Google typically sources voice search answers from content that is already ranked in the top 3 search results.
  • The same study found that it helps significantly if your content appears in a Featured Snippet, with 4 out of 10 voice search results coming from a Featured Snippet. We’ll explain how you can optimise your content for this later on.
  • Ensure your content includes a question and an answer. Think about questions that your audience will be asking when carrying out a voice search – answer them in short sentences avoiding long paragraphs.
  • Write as people speak. When searchers use mobile or desktop to search they tend to write in short phrases, for example, ‘top digital marketing agency UK.’ But think about how we search when speaking to a device – we’re more likely to ask ‘who are the top digital marketing agencies in the UK?’ When optimising for voice search make sure you include long-tail keywords that reflect a conversational tone.
  • If applicable, focus on local searches: with 22% of voice search queries looking for location-based information, you’ll have better chances of ranking in voice search by producing local content, using phrases such as ‘near me’ and setting up your business on Google My Business. Check out our tips on optimising for local SEO here.

Blogging is still effective– but the way you’re doing it might not be

 

Every digital marketer knows that blogging drives tons of traffic to a site. After all, Google loves content. What’s more, companies and brands with blogs receive 97% more backlinks to their site.

But with over 1 billion live blogs on the web you can no longer get away with writing tons of blog posts because your competitors rank for those terms – that won’t cut it in 2019.

Recycling the same information again and again won’t produce results. Content needs to be new and unique – something that users haven’t seen before. Brand new content will attract tons of backlinks, shares on social media, engagement and traffic. After all, everyone’s looking for fresh new content and information.

If you don’t have the resources to produce brand-spanking new content every single week, aim for once or twice a month.

Blogging Graphic

For some inspiration on how to set your content apart from the crowd, start by brainstorming around the following points:

  • How can you help people? What changes are taking place in your industry or niche and what questions will your audience have around these?
  • Publish Unique Data: people love unique data and it will soon attract tons of shares and visits – plus it’s not as hard as it sounds. Chances are you’ve probably got tons of data at your fingertips from your company. What can you take from this data? Can you draw up strategies from this that have worked for you? If you don’t have data readily available, carry out a survey instead.
  • Make sure your content is comprehensive and in-depth. Studies have found that content that is at least 2,000 words and covers an entire topic consistently ranks better. In other words, presenting users with a ‘one-stop’ of all the information they need on one particular topic super useful to them.

For more help on writing awesome blog post content, check out these top tips from Neil Patel.

Reuse, recycle, refresh – update your content

If you’ve been writing blog posts for a while now, you’ll notice that some of your content is becoming dated. This is especially true in certain industries. You just have to look at the digital marketing sector as an example, where changes are rapid and constant.

Google is tired of ranking outdated content and searchers are tired of reading it. The answer is to continually update your content. If you have a blog post about optimising your site for mobile from 2016, this will no longer be applicable in 2019. But by simply updating this piece of content with up to date, accurate information, you’ve got yourself a new, relevant blog post.

This can be time consuming, but even if you get around to it just once in 2019, updating your outdated content will massively improve your chances of ranking in search.

Put the searcher at the heart of everything – consider RankBrain’s impact on results

 

In 2018 user experience signals were huge. It is expected that they will be even more important going into 2019. After all, Google has previously declared that RankBrain is their third most important ranking factor.

In simple terms, RankBrain is Google’s name for the machine-learning artificial intelligence system it uses to process its search results. It measures how a user interacts with search results and goes on to rank them accordingly.

Let’s say that users were constantly clicking the number 1 search result but bouncing a few seconds after landing on the page. RankBrain takes note of this. If enough people are landing and bouncing from this site, Google will remove it from top spot.

Similarly, if the number 5 result consistently receives clicks and subsequently users are staying on the page and reading the content, they will likely rank this content higher.

In summary, RankBrain looks at two things:

  • Dwell Time: this is how long users are spending on a web page
  • Click Through Rate: the percentage of people clicking on your result

The key here is that Google wants to present searchers with content they really want to read. Producing valuable, high-quality, relevant content will improve the chances that users will spend more time reading and enjoying your content, thus improving dwell time.

You will also need to focus on improving your click through rate.

Check out these 11 handy tips to attracting a killer click through rate from Backlinko.

Up your Link Building game

 

Link building will remain a crucial part of SEO in 2019 – without backlinks to your site, you won’t earn your spot on the first page of Google.

Research carried out by Backlinko found that of 1 million Google search results analysed, the number of sites linking to a page correlated with ranking more than any other factor.

Building up backlinks in 2019 is harder than ever with over a billion websites live right now. So instead of spending hours sending out email after email asking for links, make link building easier in 2019. Head over to Ahrefs and use the link intersect feature to help identify more backlink opportunities.

In this handy tool you’ll find sites that link to your competitors but don’t link to you. Clearly, if a site is linking to a handful of your competitors they are open to linking to sites in your industry. That means there’s a higher chance that they will link to you if you reach out to them.

Don’t underestimate the importance of Speed

 

Making sure your website loads quickly is more important than ever.

Yes, in 2019 people have 4g and 5g phones, but that doesn’t mean they always have strong signal, in which case a site will load slowly. This is super damaging for your business considering that 47% of searchers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less.

There are tons of handy tools out there that can help you measure your speed and identify areas that are slowing your site down. Try the likes of Google Page Speed which will show you exactly what you need to fix to load faster in Google’s eyes.

Optimise for Google’s Mobile-First Index

Google Mobile Indexing Graphic 

60% of all Google searches are now carried out on mobile devices, and this figure is quickly growing. So, it should come as no surprise that Google has switched to mobile-first indexing.

Mobile-first indexing means that Google uses the mobile version of a web page for indexing and ranking. This is a huge change considering that Google once considered the desktop version of a site as the primary one.

Google first launched its mobile first indexing for sites that were already following mobile best practices in early 2018, and they plan to continue to add more and more websites to their index using mobile first in 2019.

That makes 2019 the time to start thinking of your mobile site as the primary version, ensuring it is fully optimised for mobile.

Head over to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool. Enter your site’s URL and the tool will tell you how mobile friendly your site is and offer recommendations on how you can optimise it.

Similarly, the Google Search Console offers a Mobile Usability report, highlighting what aspects of your site aren’t mobile friendly and telling you how to fix this.

For more tips and strategies for optimising your site for mobile we’ve written about 9 ways to effectively optimise your site for mobile.

Position 0 is the new 1

 

Studies show that a whopping 11.3% of all search results now have a Featured Snippet. That means that Featured Snippets are stealing lots of clicks from the number 1 spot. After all, in 2019 position #0 is the new #1.

What’s more, 8.6% of all clicks on searches with Featured Snippets go to the Featured Snippet. That means they’re reducing the click through rate of the top ranked result by almost 25%.

Featured Snippets are a summary of an answer to a searcher’s query or question that is displayed at the top of Google search results. They are taken from a webpage and include the page’s title and URL as below:

cake recipe Google

Featured snippets usually take the form of tables, paragraphs, numbered lists or YouTube snippets.

So, how can you get your content to appear in the Featured Snippet?

  • As featured snippets are most likely to be answers to questions, find out what questions people are asking in your industry and write content that is geared towards answering these. Use the Answer the Public tool to uncover relevant questions.
  • Stay within the optimal word count which is suggested at being between 40-50 words.
  • Format your content with headers. This could be a question which you answer in the text below.
  • Use high-quality images and videos – people love to learn visually which is why images and videos can help you rank for featured snippets.
  • Find keywords that you already rank for that have a featured snippet. It is important that you concentrate on keywords you already rank for because 98.58% of all Featured Snippets come from pages that already rank on the first page for that search term. You can use Ahref’s Organic Keywords Report to help find a list of the keywords that your site ranks for that also have a Featured Snippet.

With featured snippets continuing to grow in popularity into 2019 this is the perfect time to incorporate them into your SEO strategy.

Next Steps – ready to drive more organic traffic to your site?

 

We hope you enjoyed our top tips for optimising for search in 2019. If you’d like further help driving more organic traffic to your site get in touch.

At Report Central we come up with clever ideas to make search engines sit up and notice your site. Wave goodbye to poor traffic that bounces in seconds and say hello to traffic that spends longer on your site, visits more pages and converts in sales more often.

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Request a free consultation with our team of experts.

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