For being just a few months in, 2019 has seen its share of changes in the way we view and practice SEO. From SEO strategy to content marketing initiatives, marketing professionals are going to have to become more forward-thinking in their tactics, to stay ahead of the competition, as we move through the year.
With that in mind, we'll cover some of the more talked-about trends, and offer some industry advice on how you can upgrade your current SEO best practices.
Voice Search Meets and Exceeds SEO
Whether you're Team "Ok, Google?", "Hey, Siri?", or "Hey, Alexa?", voice command and search have grown by leaps and bounds over the last three years, and show no signs of stopping. Studies show that nearly one in five adults has used voice search on their mobile in the last month, and while traditional SEO and search engines are always evolving, voice search is starting to impact how we retrieve quality content in ways we couldn't imagine. It's because of this a completely different approach to search engine optimization needs to be considered in 2019:
- Natural language will be king - the way people look for things in a search bar is different from the way they'd search using voice commands, so you'll have to be mindful of that when creating content. Using more natural language--including slang and regional colloquialisms--will spell the difference between good and great search results.
- Shorter is better - with the average length forGoogle results of voice search hovering around 30 characters, it's best to create content that can be answered quickly and succinctly.
- Get a fix on featured snippets - in the same vein, those short questions and answers that come up on the first page of a Google SERP will become prime real estate for voice search queries, and your content should be tailored to reflect that.
(Long-Form) Content is King
For many of the Google algorithm updates of the last year or so, quality content has been a reoccurring theme. Articles, blogs, and landing pages that feature 750-1000+ words have, and will continue to see major gains on traffic and rankings. This level of optimization can come in different forms, including multi-part series, global assets that you can continuously add new information to as it develops (i.e. e-books and white papers), and even video blogs. Regardless of what method you use, making sure your content is longer, well-written and thorough, and published less often will ensure more quality traffic is drawn to your site while providing information that's useful for the reader.
AI and Machine Learning to Augment Algorithms
What's still considered a point of contention for some SEO professionals, Google's near-constant algorithm changes are a necessary part of optimizing their search engine capabilities. What's new now is the incorporation of artificial intelligence to help enhance those algorithms. RankBrain, which was first introduced in 2018, uses Google's search and user data to better determine overall page rankings. For example, if the algorithm sees that one result's click-through rate is trending higher than another's, RankBrain will then suggest that higher-trending result is moved up the ranks. It's that simple.
eCommerce sites may see the biggest changes with the new AI, as it's designed to examine more than just the customer journey. The AI will also take into consideration an online store's pricing models, shipping options, and just about any other element that would be used to increase conversion rates.
Ultimately, we're in a time where both search engines, it users, and SEO professionals should be firing on all cylinders to ensure that only the best and brightest content shines through the fodder. With these tips, achieving that goal can become more obtainable than ever before.