Your search engine optimization strategy is key to attracting organic web traffic to your site. It’s all about increasing your visibility in search engines so more people find you naturally as they’re searching for businesses like you.
But the landscape of SEO best practices is constantly changing. Increased competition in the industry means that being on the cutting edge of trends is increasingly necessary to staying on top. In this sea of websites, the border between page one and page two of search results marks the waterline that you are doggy paddling to stay above. It may seem like a fight for survival.
It’s our hope that with these five 2019 SEO trends, you won’t just survive the latest wave of updates, you’ll ride on top.
One reason Google became the undisputed champion in search engines was its clean interface. In a time when the internet was peppered with pop-ups and obnoxiously flashy colors, Google’s straightforward listing of blue links against a white background was a site for sore eyes.
Now, over a decade later, Google maintains its focus on user experience by providing search results that answers user questions as directly as possible.
Rich snippets are a part of that continued commitment. Google is increasingly encouraging searchers to retrieve their answers without navigating off of Google’s first page of results.
Rich snippets put user information front and center. Here are three examples of Google Snippets:
For local small businesses, local packs are Google search results that work in conjunction with Google Maps. It is a rectangle at the top of the page that shows local search results. Which businesses get featured at the top of the results are determined based on a number of criteria including proximity to the searcher, number of reviews, and whether keywords are mentioned on the website, Google My Business listing, and in reviews or off-site mentions of the company.
In the right hand margin of Google search results, a company’s knowledge graph is their ticket to representing their business with information and photos. Google My Business is the portal that companies use to control what is featured in their knowledge graph. Some items, such as hours, phone numbers, Google Posts, and other features are within a business’ direct control. But there are also reviews, busiest hours, and customer-submitted photos that are less easy to influence.
Featured snippets answer web queries with short answer paragraphs or lists when appropriate. This means that, if a searcher asks Google what the steps are to build a delicious sandwich, Angela’s Bakery with “7 Steps to Make a Heavenly Sandwich” will have her seven steps listed first as the definitive answer to the searcher’s question. Your potential customers will be eating up those information breadcrumbs out of Angela’s hand. It puts her brand name on the radar for qualified leads that might not have known about her bakery otherwise.
Meanwhile, your bakery that doesn’t have any content optimized for a featured snippet is listed further down the page. She is stealing the bread right out of your mouth by answering a likely searcher query directly in a way that Google can repackage and feature in “position zero” as the very first thing a searcher sees.
Mobile First Index
In 2018, Google announced that it would begin indexing sites according to how they appear on mobile phones. As the internet is increasingly viewed on smartphones and tablets by a majority of users, Google will continue to favor web designs that optimize for mobile web viewing.
If you want any hope of ranking high in the search results on Google, mobile web optimization can’t be an afterthought. Designing a mobile-friendly website as part of your initial web marketing strategy ensures your website will have a good foundation for mobile SEO.
Luckily, investing in this priority is never ill-spent. Mobile web viewing overtook desktop web viewing in 2016 and continues to play tug-o-war to dethrone desktop for good. Most websites Key Web monitors traffic for are viewed on mobile 42%-57% of the time. So if you design your website with mobile users in mind, it is good for your potential customers just as much as it is for Google.
Check if your site is mobile-friendly at this link.
Optimizing for User Intent
One of the most far-reaching SEO strategies you can bet your marketing efforts on is optimizing for user intent. Old-fashioned search engines depended heavily on keywords to figure out the relevance of your website to answer a given search query.
With each new update to the reach of algorithm-based programming, search engines use more advanced machine learning to find the best search results. This depends less on the specific words that a user types into the search bar. Instead, Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others are leveraging a plethora of factors to guess at true searcher intent. This is why searching for “bacon movies” pulls up results for movies that star Kevin Bacon rather than films about everyone’s favorite breakfast food.
These updates make it increasingly important to maintain an SEO strategy that targets long-tail keyword topics with a comprehensive content marketing strategy rather than one-and-done SEO tactics. With a hierarchical topic format for addressing long-tail keywords, you cast a wider net on all of the potential questions that may lead a searcher to your business.
This means content is still king and just as important as its always been. It not only improves your ranking in search results either. A great content strategy organically guides your leads through the layers of their buyer’s journey to your website’s doorstep. What’s good for Google is even better for answering potential customers’ questions as they look for anyone on the internet to solve a problem that your product can fix.
Our final SEO trend is a culmination of the aspects of some of the other trends we’ve already covered. Voice search is making waves in SEO and is predicted to make up over half of all web searches in 2019. Due to the nature of voice search, Google, Alexa, or Siri aren’t able to spout off a list of every search result for each question you ask. Instead, they use features like rich snippets to determine the one result to give the user based on how they understand user intent.
With only one search result used as the definitive answer to any given query, SEO strategists need to be on top of their game to rank well enough for featured snippets. As our future interactions look more and more like a conversation with HAL 9000, websites that answer questions surrounding long-tail keywords with user intent and a conversational tone in mind will have a considerable edge.
Riding the Wave of Streamlined Search
Staying on top of a lot of these 2019 SEO trends centers around having a ongoing SEO and content marketing strategy that aligns well with your audience. In dawning heydays of the Information Age, search engines have served as curators and dispensers of knowledge. Their job is to connect the best information to the end user.
As a hopefully reputable company that improves the lives of your customers, your information ought to be intrinsically trustworthy and valuable to the end user. Making your content SEO-friendly helps search engines’ jobs easier as they help you help them help you help end users. From this perspective, staying afloat in SEO should be a little less intimidating.
If, however, you are feeling overwhelmed for any reason with your website’s search rankings, give us a call. We’ve helped dozens of small businesses stay grow their organic traffic and, with customizable monthly SEO plans, Key Web Concepts can work within almost any budget.