SEO in 2019: Things you should prepare for

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Over the past few years, SEO has evolved completely. New changes keep taking place and keep the marketers on their toes. To reach the top in the search results, you will need to prepare for the trends. As Google has rolled out new updates, EU has imposed new regulations and innovative technologies are getting hold of the market, it’s certain that marketers will have to change a lot in their SEO strategies. By understanding the upcoming trends, you can rank on the first page of Google search results. So how will you rank on the first page in 2019?

Prepare for the following things:

Google SERP Features

You will need to provide as much value as you can to your users. Google Snippets are a great way to increase your brand awareness and get more traffic.

What are Google Snippets?

These are highlighted sections on SERPs, which display related answers to the search query. For example, the Google Maps’ snippet which displays local businesses in a search query, or the relevant questions with answers present on the SERP. Jim Bader, senior director of SEO at Vertical Measures, says whenever their site gets featured in the answer boxes, they get a considerable spike in organic traffic. This means you will need to optimize your website for position zero.

How to optimize your site for position zero?

The best way to do that is through doing proper technical SEO as well as on-page SEO. You will also want to increase your brand authority. Get active in your market and provide valuable content. You can hire reputed writers and get them to write content for you. It’s all about increasing brand authority while keeping your website’s SEO healthy.

Content for Voice Search

50% of all online searches will be voice searches by 2020. How many searches does it mean? Well, Google alone processes 3.5 billion searches per day. This number will also increase as the number of internet users is always climbing. That’s not all because 46% of voice search users search for a local business every day and 76% of smart home device owners perform a voice search once a week. You can understand then, how impactful voice search will be in 2019. You will need to optimize your content according to voice search in order to get the most out of this transition. Optimizing your content for voice search isn’t difficult. You just need to be more specific and create content while keeping the user intent in mind.

Getting Linkless Mentions

You’ve been focusing on backlinks but did you know about linkless mentions? As the name suggests, it refers to your brand name’s mentions on different websites positively regardless of a link. Search engines can now break down the content present on the websites and find out the technical terms present within. These technical terms are nouns, jargons and other words which aren’t common (pronouns, articles, etc.).

Google has been focusing a lot on semantic search and linkless mentions are a part of such implementations. For example, Neil Patel is a respected figure in the digital marketing arena. In many instances, people and websites mention him in posts or articles. This practice helps him in increasing credibility. Google understands the value of goodwill and word-to-mouth marketing. This simple implementation helps the search engine in finding credible brands and weeding out the spammers. Their ultimate goal is to serve the audience better and as Google says, they want brands. Therefore, your focus should be on developing a strong and credible authority in your market.

How can you increase your brand mentions?

You will have to provide value and prove yourself to be an authority in the market. Engage with your audience and your peers. Share valuable content and solve your audience’s problems. You will automatically begin to get brand mentions.

GDPR and SEO

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) made a huge dent in the online market. It has completely changed the scenario by introducing strong principles (and penalties) for the protection of privacy rights. If your website gets traffic from EU, then you should be aware of this regulation. It is imperative for site owners to keep their websites secure to mitigate hacking attacks. If you get traffic from EU, you must update your Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions. If you haven’t already, you should get familiar with the clauses of this regulation and make sure your site’s policies follow it strictly.

Structured Data Markups

Structured data markup is clearly a part of the ‘next big thing’ in SEO. Why? Because Google is focusing on AI. And AI depends on the data websites provide it. With properly structured data markup, you will certainly get an advantage over your competitors.

What is Structured Data Markup?

Structured data is on-page markup. It enables search engines to understand what information is present on the web page. As you can see it tells the search engines the extra bit of information they should know for serving the users better. For example, if your business page tells the opening hours and has well-structured data then the crawlers will easy understand its opening hours and present them to the users. Information architecture, schema markup and metadata are all necessary factors which SEOs and marketers have to focus on. You can optimize your existing content by updating their data markup as well. The goal is to make your content as much easier to interpret as possible. Additionally, as search engines are focusing on context more and more, the importance of structured data markup is bound to increase in the coming future.

Ranking beyond Google

Cindy Krum, the CEO of MobileMoxie, says SEO is about showing up where your audience is searching. So you should learn how you can drive traffic for things other than your websites. Google isn’t the only search engine out there. In fact, there are multiple search engines in different niches which are performing better than Google. Amazon has already beaten Google for product search. Job boards such as Indeed and Glassdoor are competing for job and recruitment searches. YouTube (which is owned by Google) is the most popular search engine for videos. The point is, Google isn’t the only players in the game. You’ll need to adapt your marketing strategy and SEO efforts for other search engines in order to reach a wider audience and boost traffic. Google says its goal is not only to drive traffic but to ensure they optimize the search experience, whether it is web-based or app-based. This means you have to think out of the box and rank in niche marketplaces. Depending on your audience and their requirements, you can plan out better SEO strategies and reach them where they are. If they’re listening to podcasts, go there. If they want to watch videos, go there. Following such a strategy will clearly help your site rank higher in SERPs.

SSL Certification

In 2012, Google had asked SEOs and website owners to get security certifications. In 2018, with Chrome 68, Google has done a clear implementation. Users visiting the websites that don’t possess an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate get a ‘Not Secure’ warning. Google now displays a strong warning for such websites. They have taken this action because of the increased number of data-hacking incidents. It alerts the users and aims to reduce such harmful activities.

As a user-safety measure, it is certainly worthy of appreciation. However, if your website doesn’t have HTTPS, then it is recommended that you get it. Otherwise, it will not only affect your rankings but also increase the bounce back rate.

LSI SEO

LSI refers to Latent Semantic Indexing. It is a part of the 2015 RankBrain update. Through this update, Google’s algorithms are now able to check the content and see if it is relevant to the search queries. The search engine crawlers were able to do that before, that’s why keywords are popular. However, now they are able to check the content more thoroughly and see the word selection as well as the language of the content.

For example, if you are offering weight loss tips, then you will want to use contextual words (LSI keywords) such as ‘exercise’, ‘eating healthy’, etc. Using these keywords shows the search engines how relevant your content is to the user’s search queries. It is essential for SEOs and marketers to keep Latent Semantic Indexing in mind while creating content. Search Engine Watch suggests, including LSI keywords for answering your audience’s questions more effectively. LSI keywords are essentially the synonyms of the keywords and key phrases are you’re targeting for already. It shows how Google and other search engines are working towards promoting high-quality and valuable content. They will surely increase their focus in 2019.

Mobile-first Approach

Even though AI is on the rise, we can’t overlook the dominance of mobile searches. Since March 2018, Google’s bots have begun considering the mobile version of a site as the primary one. They only consider the desktop version of a site when it doesn’t have a mobile version. With mobile-first indexing, it has become necessary for site owners to have mobile-friendly websites with responsive design. Google started preferring mobile-friendly sites in 2018 and it’s certain that they will continue to do so in 2019. Google released the Speed Update in July 2018, which has made page speed a ranking factor.

If your site takes longer to load, it will rank lower in SERPs.

Google finds out about the loading speed of your web pages through two scores:

1.    The Speed Score

2.    The Optimization Score

The Chrome User Experience report generates the Speed Score of a site and the technical SEO of the site generates its Optimization Score. The key takeaway from Speed Update is Google will promote websites that load faster. You can take the help of Google Page-Speed Insights to find out where your website lags behind.

What other Factors Influence Mobile SEO?

According to Jayson DeMers, following are some other mobile SEO factors you should keep in mind:

•    Text:

If your mobile site is easy to read and the user doesn’t have to zoom in a lot to read the text, you’re doing okay.  Text should be visible and easy to read to ensure your site delivers an optimum user experience.

•    Visuals:

Including images and visuals also helps in improving the mobile SEO of your site. Your images should change their size according to the device. The same goes for the video player. Otherwise, the user will not be able to use your site properly.

•    Pop-ups:

Mobile searchers hate pop-ups and it will be better if you don’t use many. Although you might need to use one or two pop-ups but ensure you don’t use more than that.

Conclusion

All in all, marketers will have to make a lot of modifications in their SEO strategies. You have to increase focus on user security and provide a holistic experience to the users. By providing value and engaging with your audience, you can surely master SEO in 2019.

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