2019 could be a pivotal year for SEOOpens a new window .
While SEO-based marketing strategies aren’t nearly as hot a topic as they were just a few years ago, the space is set for some game-changing developments that will likely effect the way consumers search for products and services online.
So marketers better start paying attention.
The likes of artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality are so advanced that they are increasingly integrated into the search functions on the top sites (i.e. Google, Amazon). Meanwhile, Google this year rolled out several algorithm updates that stress its search engine will prioritize mobile in 2019.
The influence of these new technologies and mechanics, among many others, will impact our search habits and, as such, SEO best practice will likewise evolve in order to keep up pace.
Marketing teams will reap huge rewards if they start preparing for these new search trends now, and optimize their company’s websites and content for the impending changes to consumer search behaviors.
Soâ€¦what are the main SEO trends marketers should be aware of for 2019?
SEO isn’t about improving content for search engines. Rather, we are optimizing our websites and webpages to better target the people who use those search engines. That means on-page SEO should focus heavily on user experience.
With 83% of people expecting a seamless experience on websites across every device, a user-friendly site can help bring down bounce rates, increase session lengths and improve user engagement to generally boost search rankings.
Ultimately, besides ensuring that consumer demand for reliable, attractive and easy-to-follow online content is being met, user experience from an SEO perspective next year will focus on two primary factors: mobile optimization and page speed.
All about mobile
Smartphones and tablets now account for more than 50% of total internet traffic.
With internet use on mobile devices skyrocketing, in March Google implemented an important mobile-focused change to its algorithm: Mobile-first indexing.
Simply put, Google now prioritizes mobile versions of webpages for crawling and indexing. We can therefore expect Google increasingly to analyze mobile experiences as a first step in deciding where on a search engine results page (SERPs) that content will rank.
Marketing teams must therefore make sure the mobile versions of their webpages work well and are easy for users to access, otherwise they may find their content will not rank well.
Mobile-friendliness is a top theme for 2019, so in the interest of ensuring the best experience possible for mobile users, make sure you regularly track your website’s page loading times, responsiveness and engagement levels on various platforms. A tool that can help test this is Google’s mobile-friendly testerOpens a new window .
Faster is better
Speed has always been a primary component in Google’s obsession with UX.
Indeed, desktop page load times have been an important ranking element since 2009. And now, in July of this year, Google introduced the mobile â€œspeed update,â€ which has made page load speed a key ranking metric for mobile search as well.
While it’s possible to use free tools like Google’s PageSpeed InsightsOpens a new window to assess the loading speed of your web pages, marketers will nevertheless benefit from understanding which KPIs Google looks at when evaluating page speeds.
Across devices, Google now uses two metrics: speed and optimization.
Speed is the newer of the two metrics, and grades how quickly a site loads for each individual visitor. Optimization, meanwhile, looks at how well a site is formatted to allow for fast loading.
There are lots of small ways to optimize web content in order to improve the loading time of your webpagesOpens a new window .
Voice search revolution
People are buying more and more artificial intelligence devices.
Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, Samsung’s Bixbyâ€¦
With these sales surging, voice search technology is becoming more sophisticated and innovative. As a result, many experts are predicting voice search to be a top trend in 2019.
In fact, the shift has already begun. Google found that one in five search queries on mobile devices are made through voice commands, while more than half of all searches will be made via voice input by 2020 (they already account for more than 40%).
Expect consumers increasingly to use these devices to search for businesses, products and services online.
Optimization, however, is the major challenge with voice search. Although clearly potential is untapped in this nascent search segment, it will be difficult to calculate how to best target voice-based searches because consumers’ vocal queries vary significantly from written search.
Based on what we know so far about voice search behavior, marketers should target longtail keywords to optimize in this space.
This touches on a new approach marketers need to consider regarding voice search: Identifying the intent of a user’s search, rather than targeting specific keywords, will be critical.
Similarly, it will help to predict the types of questions asked by consumers that your content can answer.
In Part Two of this series: more key SEO trends in 2019.