It’s never too early to be looking ahead to upcoming changes, especially where SEO is concerned. Search Engine Marketing is a constantly-evolving form of marketing, and in order to make full use of it, one must be aware of trends as they emerge, or ideally, before they do.
Though we are just coming to the end of summer, we are already looking ahead to 2019 to determine where SEO is heading and to make sure we are not just along for the ride but leading the way.
Not everything that we will see in 2019 is going to be brand new. In fact, much of what matters most for 2019 has been coming for some time. The growth of mobile for online search has been a significant change in all aspects of online life for a number of years now, but it was March 26, 2018 that Google rolled out their mobile-first index, confirming that their index will be primarily focused on mobile moving forward. This will, of course, be the norm for 2019.
Those clients who had responsive websites were largely unaffected by the shift. It is more of a challenge to those who have mobile and desktop-specific sites because if a site has a device-type redirect, then the mobile crawler is only capable of finding the mobile site. As a result, any content that is on the desktop site but not the mobile one is not seen by the Mobile Googlebot and thus is not included in the index. Obviously then, it is in one’s best interest to have the content on both versions of the website.
The Fred Update
A series of updates that occurred in March 2017, Fred’s impact will continue to be felt through 2019 as it aims to devalue ad-centred, affiliate-heavy content. While it focuses on sites (especially blogs) with low-quality posts created mainly for generating revenue, Fred has impacted clients in a number of ways, including:
- The need to ensure that ads are being placed only on high-quality sites.
- For the purposes of content marketing outreach targets, giving those types of revenue-focused sites mentioned above a wide berth.
Though details concerning Fred remain unconfirmed, this is also the case for some of the most impactful algorithm updates that Google has produced, including well-known updates such as Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird. They, too, remain unconfirmed in specific details, though their impact can be clearly seen in SERPs.
The Maccabees Update
The Maccabees update arrived at the end of last year, as something like an extension of the Fred update, with a focus on user experience.
Methods such as multiple landing pages with minor keyword permutations are an indicator of spam for search engines. Because they detract from user experience, these websites are now penalized.
Artificial Intelligence has been discussed quite a bit over the past few years and looks to be a significant trend for 2019, with various media positing that it will have a major impact on all aspect of our lives in the very near future.
Last year, researchers at Google Brain (a machine-learning AI that Google uses to process large amounts of search results) introduced us to AutoML, an artificial intelligence that is capable of creating new AIs on its own.
AI has been added to search engine algorithms with the goal of providing more useful search results to users. We can expect to see more search results where the ranking factors change with each query as the AI learns from user behaviour and decides what relevant factors to consider moving forward.
The subject of much focus lately, voice search is continuing to evolve and grow in importance along with the technology that makes use of it, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo. With increasing focus being placed upon the need for quick and accurate responses, sites will need to adapt to new technology.
Google has announced that 20% of mobile search is now conducted via voice search. Adapting to this growing technology allows you to optimize your web presence and provide results in the fastest, most convenient form for potential customers.
Voice search and featured snippets—which are frequently referred to as “answer boxes” and appear at the top of SERPS—are expected to grow in tandem over the coming months. Make use of this by adapting to search patterns focused on long-tailed keywords and natural speech to improve your SEO ranking.
What Matters Most?
It isn’t wise to over-stress one particular aspect of SEO marketing, as the various factors come together to create an effective whole. SEO encompasses a number of techniques to produce the best results, and while certain ones may seem to have a significantly greater effect on one’s ranking, an approach that accounts for them all will serve to push you ahead of your competition to a place where you can better serve your customers.
Those customers, remember, are your main focus. SEO is all about reaching them in the most effective manner. Consequently, you should get to know your customer as well as possible by asking key questions. Who are they? What informs their decision-making before a purchase? How long is that decision-making process? How do they search for the products and services you offer?
Staying on top of changes to SEO is one of your best tools to reaching more of your potential customers online.
About Marwick Marketing
Marwick Internet Marketing is a Premier Google Partner Agency specializing in Search Marketing (SEO, Google Ads, PPC & CRO).