Over half of all internet traffic comes from organic search. This isn’t just half of search engine traffic, but half of all the traffic, from all sources on the internet. According to Pew Research 77% of Americans are online every single day and more than a quarter of them admit to being online almost constantly. This represents the potential for businesses to reach a massive audience through search engine optimization alone – but only if they’re aware of the current trends that are fueling modern SEO.
The start of a new year is the perfect time to look at how SEO is changing. As you’re computing your year end numbers and thinking about the future of your business, now is the perfect opportunity to look at your SEO strategy and determine how your business can be even more successful at this same time next year.
There is an incredible number of businesses competing online for attention from search engines, and Google updates its algorithm literally hundreds of times a year. Knowing these things, it should come as no surprise that the best practices for SEO change and shift over time. In 2019, we’re going to see some major changes in how businesses are approaching search engine marketing to produce measurable results for the year ahead.
A New Approach to Keyword Research
Keywords are an essential component of SEO, and keyword research is something that has undergone a transformation since the beginning of search engine optimization. In the beginning, a keyword strategy was all about getting the attention of search engines and nothing more. In 2019, it is much more complex.
Keywords have become more about establishing relevance for your audience. Search engines have become sophisticated to the point that they use long tail keywords to determine intent and the level of value that the web page or content will have the user who is initiating the search query. For business, this means it is time to throw away a keyword strategy that focuses on numbers alone in favor for one that has meaning for your audience.
The structure of keywords is also changing. Voice search and the explosion of mobile use has meant that keyword phrases have become longer and more representative of natural language patterns – something that is especially important for local SEO.
The Mobile First Index
“Mobile first index” is a buzzword that many in the industry are growing weary of hearing. It’s been on the front of our minds for so long that it’s hard to believe that it’s anything that could be considered trend-worthy. The difference between 2019 and years past is that this is going to be the first full year where Google’s mobile first index will be official.
In case you haven’t heard, the mobile first index is Google’s way of prioritizing mobile sites by indexing them first, before desktop versions. This doesn’t mean that desktop versions of websites won’t get any love, they’ll just come in so far down on the priority list that ranking with a desktop site alone will be near impossible.
One of the major trends for the year is that we’ll be seeing the businesses that have been holding out finally making the jump to responsive design in order to stay current, appeal to their audience’s preferences and get the attention they deserve from search engines.
Increased Focus on Featured Snippets
Google is all about contributing to the user experience, and what better way to make their users happy than answering their questions on page one of search results without them actually needing to click on a site?
Featured snippets are those blocks that appear above the standard search results. They typically contain a short paragraph or a bulleted list that offers an immediate answer to the searcher’s query. If you hand a craving for buttermilk pancakes and entered that in the search bar, you might have an actual recipe pop up in what is also referred to as position zero.
Currently, a little over 11% of all search results contain a featured snippet. The reason this spot is so coveted from an SEO standpoint is that it immediately grabs attention and therefore also a good majority of the clicks.
The trick is that businesses can’t just raise their hand and say, “Over here, I want to be a featured snippet”. Google choses what goes in these spots all on their own, but there are certain things you can do to up your chances, like creating content in bulleted lists or in short blocks that would work perfectly in a snippet. The majority of featured snippets are from pages that would normally rank on page one for that search, so going all in on your SEM to earn a great rank ups your chances of earning a spot in position zero.
Content Isn’t Going Anywhere
Content, which has been the primary building block of any great SEO, isn’t going anywhere. In fact, we’re going to see the focus on content going even deeper. By this, we mean that the current trend for content to take on more meaning to the audience is going to continue and become even more important in 2019. This includes longer form content that dives deep into topics, but also a focus on other types of content that audiences enjoy engaging with.
For instance, video content will continue to stay strong, but businesses will begin to get more creative with how they’re using it. For instance, instead of using blocks of text to tell a brand story, businesses will begin to use background video on their webpages to convey more than they could with words alone. In the coming year, video will be more than a complementary web design element for many businesses
Have you given any thought to how you’re going to adapt your SEO strategy for the year ahead? We’d love to talk with you about the current direction of your businesses and how a modern approach to SEO can set you on the trajectory for success. Contact Knowmad and speak to a digital marketing expert about our range of SEO services today.
Diona is a managing partner at Knowmad. Her areas of expertise include digital marketing strategy, project management, brand management, search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click advertising, inbound marketing, content marketing, conversion rate optimization, social media marketing and website design.