As always, in the digital atmosphere, things are changing and at a faster speed than ever before.
For that reason, I’ve created a list of the top 7 SEO trends, changes and fluctuations that is impacting SEO experts, that you need to be aware of and preparing for in order to see success in 2019.
Voice search is going up
Voice search is a speech recognition technology that allows a user to speak a search query into a device.
According to WordStream:
- 1 in 6 Americans now own a Smart Speaker
- About 30 per cent of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020
- 40 per cent of adults now use voice search once per day
- By 2020, 50 per cent of all searches will be voice searches
- Google’s AI read over 2,865 romance novels in order to improve its conversational search abilities
- 5 per cent of consumers use voice shopping, but that number could reach 50 per cent by 2022
- Voice shopping is expected to reach $40 billion in U.S. and $5 billion in UK by 2022
- 20 per cent of mobile queries were voice searches back in 2016 – this number is expected to be much higher in 2019
- Mobile voice-related searches are 3X more likely to be local-based than text
- 72 per cent of people who own a voice-activated speaker say their devices are often used as part of their daily routine
- 58 per cent of consumers have used voice search to find local business information
which means you don’t want to be missing out on voice search opportunities.
How can I make sure I’m optimised for voice search?
Luckily, a lot of what voice search uses is based on traditional SEO practices such as good content, on-page SEO and link building.
Voice search is not forcing businesses to make more high tech changes to websites or keywords in order to work better.
However, there is a key difference you should note.
According to Brian Dean’s voice search case study, approximately 75% of voice search results rank in the top 3 for that query, so you will require on traditional rankings in order to win at voice search.
Traffic is going mobile
Mobile traffic has been big news for the last couple of years and it isn’t going anywhere.
According to Statista, 52.2% of all website traffic was generated through mobile traffic in 2018.
We will continue to see this figure grow especially as mobile phones continue to develop to allow us to spend more time on them.
However, it is always important to bear in mind what your industry is and who your customer is.
For example, many B2B businesses see the majority of their traffic actually still come from desktop computers, but is that a surprise when their customer is someone sitting at a desk at work?
Meanwhile, with many B2C businesses, they are likely to see traffic coming from mobile devices because users aren’t necessarily static. They could be on the go, in bed, on a train! It doesn’t matter.
What do I need to do?
By now if your website is NOT mobile friendly (test it here) you will really be suffering and the entire SEO world would stare at you in shock for not doing something sooner.
If you’re that person, go fix your website!
Meanwhile, most of us have got mobile-friendly sites, but are we missing the bigger picture?
Is the site “mobile-friendly” in a logistical way, or is it friendly in the sense of the entire user journey and experience too?
Perfecting the user’s journey from start to finish, from search to checkout, from blog pages to product pages, will help you capitalise on any heavy, mobile traffic.
UX will become a stronger ranking factor
As the point above about mobile demonstrates, there is a growing movement toward having the best user experience possible at the moment.
Adobe has reported that 38% of users stop engaging on a website if the layout is deemed unattractive.
We knew it before, but were we listening? I’ll say it again: UX and UI optimisation is key.
How can I optimise UX and UI?
First of all, ask yourself some of these questions.
- Have you got disruptive ads or aggressive pop-ups that can disrupt your user?
- Is your site quick (does it load fast)?
- Is your website mobile friendly (see the previous paragraph)?
If you are answering all those questions in the right way, then there may be one last part to consider.
Most of all, are you considering what your users want?
Are they here to buy, compare, contact, gain access, get instructions, read information, get reviews?
This is known as user intent and there are four types of intent which can help you satisfy your customer needs:
- informational (e.g. how to look after an orchid)
- comparison (e.g. Netflix vs Amazon Prime)
- transactional/ready to buy (e.g. buy tickets to SEO training)
- navigational (e.g. Microsoft Dynamics login)
Providing informational content or a pros & cons list for comparison to the right customer based on the keyword will make a huge amount of difference.
When you work this out, customers will see what they want to see when they arrive on your site.
This means less disappointment for them, a lower bounce rate / dwell time and all in all, an improved user experience (UX).
You can use Google analytics and heat maps to help you work out what people are looking for – give it a go.
Fewer clicks – Organic CTR is going down
Now this one may come as a shock and the last thing I want is for businesses to think they’re fighting a losing battle.
But you must know these things are happening! Organic click-through rate (CTR) is going down.
With the increase in more SERP features, knowledge boxes and the like, organic clicks are decreasing.
It’s logical really, Google has to do what their paying customers and shareholders want to see. If these shareholders are paying money for ads, it cannot come as a surprise when paid advertising starts seeing more results than organic does.
And what’s the best way to make more customers follow this pattern?
Lower the organic reach, so more people buy ads. It makes total sense, even if it is frustrating for the rest of us.
Can this be avoided?
Not entirely, but my advice would be to avoid high risk / low CTR keywords and anything that might have an easy answer.
For example, if they can get the answer without actually clicking onto your website, your CTR is going to be incredibly low.
Another important part of SEO is to make sure your brand is known. Branded searches are good for Google’s algorithms and a good indicator of how trustworthy you are as a business.
If you have built your brand well, your product is good and Google knows it is sending customers to a reputable business, why wouldn’t it?
It will take time to build your brand but it’s worth it in the long term.
Google isn’t going to stop using this for its algorithms anytime soon. If two different pages have great content, with good UX, how can Google pick a winner for the top spot?
Some claim that backlinks aren’t important anymore, but they are the most accurate signal on similar and equal pages for Google to make this decision.
Brian Deans’ study shows the number of domains that linked to a page correlate with rankings more than anything else!
The data is there, so make sure you read up about it and don’t ignore it just because it seems like hard work.
Accuracy is key
Google wants to keep improving and in order to do that, they want to make sure their users find accurate information and are happy with the search results.
If a customer can’t find what they want or the information they find is untrustworthy, then why would they keep using Google?
What can you do?
Use credible authors, have well-written and trusted/researched content and ooze positive vibes! The more positivity that your brand dissipates throughout the system, the better.
From quality products to excellent customer service – Google will be monitoring everything about your brand and if negative reviews and comments start filtering back – your page will suffer.
SEO is a long term game, now more than ever
To be blunt: do the right, honest kind of work, be patient and if you can’t do these two things, SEO is not worth you pursuing.
Because you probably won’t ever see the results! Rankings are taking longer now.
Ahrefs discovered that almost 60% of the pages ranking in the top 10 ranking positions (first page of Google) are over 3 years old, so rankings won’t ever happen overnight.
SEO is a long-term strategy and the payoff is huge if you do it right.
SEO is continuing to develop and change for another year and it will keep moving in this fashion.
It’s going to get harder, with more parts that affect it as technology and interfaces develop.
This is going to involve more SEO experts to do their job and do it well to give these businesses the amazing opportunities that the web presents.
With people paying more than ever before for SEO and the demand increasing, make sure you stay up to date.
Whether that’s requesting any assistance with your SEO directly from me or joining me for SEO training based in Essex and the surrounding areas – get in touch and start putting your best SEO foot forward today!
I’m a UK based freelance SEO consultant and digital marketer and I provide results-driven online consulting and digital marketing services to SMEs. Are you ready to grow in 2019? Get in touch today!