By Mateen Agha, associate director – SEO, Bruce Clay MENA
Quite funny how people keep asking “When can we stop investing in SEO?” We say. “SEO is done when Google stops changing/updating its algorithm and all your competition is dead.” And that’s never going to happen.
Just last year, Google updated its algorithm 2,543 times; that’s almost 10 times every working day! Search engines are continually evolving, and with them, we need to as well otherwise we can bid farewell to our website.
Moreover, search engines are becoming ever smarter. For instance, Google is now answering more queries directly on the results pages (Answer box and Position 0) and the number of voice-activated search queries is increasing.
The best time to prepare for the future is now! Let’s explore few SEO trends that will dominate 2019.
1. Voice search will continue growing
Google reports that 55 percent of teens and 40 percent of adults use voice search daily; and, the ratio of voice search is growing much faster than type search. Further, according to Comscore, 50 percent of all searches online will be voice searches by the year 2020.
Now, with more and more devices utilizing voice search, there are three important things to consider.
- How does this impact search terms?
- How do you optimize your website to rank for voice searches?
- Does voice search matter in your industry?
i. How does this impact search terms?
The biggest shift we see is in the way people search. A lot of voice searches usually involve a question-related query like “how to bake a cake,” “how to tie a tie,” “how to jumpstart a car,” “which is the best mouthwash” – the list goes on. With voice search, people articulate their queries more unambiguously and precisely.
ii. How do you optimize your website to rank for voice searches?
You can build your authority and optimize for voice search at the same time. This can be done by producing informational content that answers your target audience such as step-by-step instructions guiding users from beginning to end.
Further, FAQ pages are a big driver of voice search results as people search in question form more often with their voice than they do when typing. Having an FAQ page on your site surely proves to be beneficial to your SEO strategy in more than one way.
iii. Does voice search matter in your industry?
This is very important to consider because the adoption of new technology varies industry to industry. For example, websites in certain industries still have less than 40 percent of their traffic from mobile, while others may be at 70percent.
So, it’s very important to keep in mind who your target audience is and what they are doing in their moment of need for your services and products. Since you know your business best, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask if your users would voice search, and if they did, how would they use it?
2. RankBrain grows more powerful
In 2015, Google released RankBrain, a machine learning technology to help deliver its search results. The goal of RankBrain is to better interpret search queries and serve the most relevant search results. This has been a lifelong goal of Google Search.
RankBrain can take sets of data created by humans to help establish a baseline, and then can apply machine learning to determine the best search results based on multiple factors over time.
In 2019, we expect Google to use this data and power to make changes on the fly at an even more rapid pace, meaning it is becoming even more important to stay on top of your website and optimize it in real-time.
3. Featured snippets/Position 0
Featured snippets offer a way for websites with certain types of content to enhance their site’s search result listings in Google. All the website has to do is add some HTML code to structure that data in their pages, so the search engines can recognize it. Featured Snippets are powerful and can drive more traffic than a No. 1 result.
Position 0 is another way to describe rich snippets that appear above organic search results when the query is commonly phrased as a question.
Featured snippets will continue to play a very important role in 2019. You should increasingly ask yourself what your target group wants to know when searching the web or what they want to cover with their search. The more you meet this need with your content, the better your ranking chances will be.
4. User experience
Unfortunately, user experience (UX) is a road less traveled by SEOs. Google has always said: Optimize your website for the users and not for search engines. For this reason, UX plays a very important role in SEO.
The following should therefore also be on your to-do list in 2019:
- Website loading speed: With tools like Google Page speed insights and web page test, you should check the loading times of your web page.
- Mobile friendliness: With the advent of mobile-first indexing and the fact that most users search using a mobile device, it is essential that your website is mobile-optimized.
- Technically perfect website: A good crawl experience and an even better user experience is what is required. Making sure that you have a technically flawless website is the key. For example, make sure there are no broken links on your website.