Year-end is in sight and businesses around the world are starting to shift their focus more toward 2019. With the correct data, companies can use this time to reflect on last year and finalise next year’s marketing strategies. From social media and email marketing to PPC and SEO trends, it’s all about refining targets and setting goals.

The aim of any business should be to increase conversions and profit margins through an improved lead generation strategy. While that sounds pretty straightforward, it does involve some hard work and tough decisions for the New Year. The world is expanding at a rapid pace and people are becoming more tech-savvy. Customers are better informed in terms of digital marketing which means a winning SEO strategy for 2019 is essential.

SEO Trends For 2019

SEO has played an integral role in digital marketing but as many pundits agree, it will become even more important. These are some of the top SEO trends and predictions you should know about going into the New Year.

Mobile-first Indexing

For those who don’t know, mobile-first indexing means that Google uses the mobile version of web pages for crawling, indexing and ranking purposes instead of desktop sites. After some experimenting, Google released their mobile-first indexing in March 2018. While important for SEO, mobile-indexing doesn’t offer a ranking advantage and it is separate from the mobile-friendliness factor.

With more than half of all web traffic coming from mobile devices, websites must be mobile-friendly to remain competitive. It is vital to consistently show up in as high as possible in mobile search results. A website that renders poorly on mobile can easily result in lower rankings. This can include several factors from load speed, Metadata to above the fold content and bounce rates among others.

Did you know that as page load time goes from 1-10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases 123%? A similar situation applies to page elements such as images, text and titles. File size is a major consideration especially as far as mobile is concerned. Compressing images and text can be a game changer. 25% of all web pages could save more than 250KB where 10% can save more than 1MB (source: Think with Google).

Google’s commitment to only serve the best, most relevant content is abundantly clear come 2019. If you haven’t already, now is the time to evaluate your web presence, SEO strategy and content. Use the Google Mobile-friendly Test tool to help you determine how web users experience your website.

Commit to E-A-T Content

In order to succeed, online content must follow three basic principles: Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T). Google uses these as a metric to rank pages and will become an even bigger deal in 2019. Good quality content is more than just long-form, short-form and relevant keywords; it’s about keeping the customer in mind at all times.

Brands must create content that encourages engagement but more importantly, it needs to portray expertise. Content resonates with readers when they know that it comes from an authoritative and trustworthy source. People love information that they can share on social media which is actually another ranking factor to bear in mind. For that reason, content should always inform, educate, entertain or provide some type of specific value to the readership.

In addition, content must meet the relevant search intent and aim to provide the searcher with the best possible answer. While E-A-T is a concern for brands that create content, it certainly also applies to individual authors. Writing with the end-user in mind should become second nature to everyone involved in content creation and digital marketing.

According to Google, high-quality E-A-T pages need the following:

  • Sufficient main content (MC) to satisfy the needs of a user for a page’s unique topic and purpose. For example, broad topics require more information than narrow topics
  • Page content and associated content must be expert, authoritative and trustworthy according to the topic they discuss
  • A website with a positive reputation for page topics
  • The website should have sufficient auxiliary information, including “About us,” “Contact Us,” or “Customer Service” information
  • Features supplementary content (SC) that enhances the user’s enjoyment and web experience
  • The functional design allows users to easily navigate the site and locate the information they want
  • The website is maintained and edited regularly and frequently

Voice Search Continues To Grow

Possibly one of the most prominent SEO trends for 2019 is voice search. Some experts have even predicted that by 2020, 20-50% of online searches will be through voice. Considering that there were over one billion voice searches per month as of January 2018, the prediction is very likely.

The challenge with voice search is the reliance on Natural Language Processing (NLP) to recognise voice texture, interests and behaviour. While NLP is forward-thinking, not all brands understand how to optimise their content for voice search. Almost 70% of requests to Google Assistant is expressed in natural language compared to typical keyword searches typed into a search bar.

In 2019 and beyond, it will become imperative for brands to optimise and create content more suited to voice search. Page speed, site security and domain authority will still play a vital role here but it comes down to ensuring that visitors can easily find your site content using voice search. According to Backlinko, the average word count of a voice search result page is 2,312 words written at a ninth grade level (Year 10 or 11).

People use Google and other search engines to find answers to questions so brands must focus on providing the best possible answer. The only way to do this effectively is if they truly understand their audience and the information they’re after. Getting this right involves market research, keyword research and creating buyer personas by asking all the right questions. You can read more about keywords and personas in our article, ‘Keyword Research and Digital Marketing’.

Marketers need to understand the power of voice search and optimise their content accordingly. Brands must go back to the drawing board and modify their SEO strategies to incorporate voice search and also virtual assistants.

Online Security and Data Privacy

In recent years we have seen some serious data breaches, from Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica debacle to the most recent Google Plus data leaks. The latter affected over 50 million users but there are other security and privacy issues at many top global companies. We all know how much personal information is already out there and that is likely to increase going forward.

Coupled with the increasing distrust in invasive marketing messages, brands also need to avoid the “creep factor”. This refers to ads that follow visitors around wherever they go. Fact is, consumers and B2B buyers, want more privacy and protection on the internet.

For some time, HTTPS was considered a ranking factor and this year Google made their position clear on HTTPS encryption. Google strongly advocated websites to make the HTTPS switch by July 2018, before the release of Chrome 68, or have their site show “not secure” in the browser. With a focus being on 2019, brands can expect Google and other browsers to clamp down even further beyond next year.

In addition, after a two-year-long transition period, the EU implemented GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) earlier this year. It enforces and permanently changes the way businesses collect, store and use their customer’s data. With this, marketers can expect new privacy and security to come into play. GDPR isn’t going anywhere and will continue to impact paid search efforts as the new rules and regulations will result in platform target changes. This means that smart organic SEO will once again rise to prominence.

For the moment, GDPR doesn’t technically affect American customers but they also have their own structures in place. Besides, there’s no harm in following data protection guidelines as it will help your brand build trust and remain on the right side of Google.

Alternative Search Platforms

While Google remains the largest search engine, more traditional search engines and “non-traditional” search platforms are challenging them. A great example of this is Amazon as indicated in a recent eMarketer report. “Amazon is now the third-largest digital advertising platform, behind Google and Facebook.”

Kenshoo also reports that 72% of online shoppers use Amazon to find products and more than half of them go on Amazon before any other sites. It’s a no-brainer to consider Amazon’s audience size and predicted growth when brands finalise their 2019 budget.

In terms of other search engines, Bing will continue to play a key role in SEO and paid search come 2019. Bing’s recent LinkedIn profile targeting makes their service offering even more attractive especially B2B. Alternative search platforms will also grow and more companies are likely to adopt DuckDuckGo, StartPage and Mojeek for example. According to AdWeek, DuckDuckGo has hit record traffic numbers in 2018 of more than 8.5 billion direct queries.

Google still holds the top spot with more than half of the entire search market but that doesn’t mean brands can ignore alternatives. The growing industry means marketers must always consider other platforms when setting up their SEO, search and content marketing strategies. Using alternative platforms for paid search can benefit brands considerably as the competition is much lower at the moment. This presents a real opportunity for brands looking to grow their audience, improve conversions and save a few quid.

Final Thoughts on 2019 SEO Trends

The world is more digitally connected and advanced than ever which means global reach is within everyone’s grasp. While the opportunity is there to target a global audience, companies must first understand them and involve research, continuous monitoring and testing. Looking at 2019 and beyond, brands need a smart global SEO strategy to reach new audiences wherever they are searching.

According to Eli Schwartz, Director of SEO and Organic Products at SurveyMonkey, “By gaining insights on your audience through People Powered Data, you can create an SEO strategy that matters to them and reaches them in the vernacular in which they speak.”

While there are several new SEO trends to keep in mind for 2019, we can’t ignore the foundational SEO elements. It’s important to implement and measure what really matters to Google, including domain authority, direct traffic, backlinks, content quality and website security among others. Here is a great breakdown of ranking factors every business should consider.

What are your thoughts on these SEO trends and can you name a few more? Please get in touch if you need expert advice on anything digital marketing. We specialise in SEO, PPC, social media management and Marketing Automation among others.

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