The Future of SEO: Noteworthy Trends on the Rise
The new wave is all about being preemptive and laser-focused on the user
As 2018 comes to a close and businesses are putting the finishing touches on next year’s budgets and marketing plans, it’s important to take a step back and make sure these plans are not only devised from previous successes and failures, but also heavily based on trends on the rise.
Your SEO campaigns, for example, need to be designed for the quickly-evolving landscape that is online search, because as we all know, without search relevancy, most of your business development efforts will fall flat.
In the coming year, we will see SEO best practices that were merely considered conversational buzz just a few years ago, so it’s important to remain nimble and proactive while preparing your SEO strategy for 2019.
Here are a few trends worth highlighting:
You may have noticed by now that there is generally a quick and concise answer on the ready when you type a question into a Google search.
This neatly packaged answer is found in a box at the top of the organic search results and below the paid ads. This section, otherwise known as an Answer Box or Position 0, is called a Featured Snippet, and they will continue to rise in popularity in 2019.
Since featured snippets appear before the rest of the organic search results, scoring one of these coveted spots will not only enhance your visibility, it will also double your click through rates.
So how do you earn yourself a spot at Position 0? It all comes down to anticipating the specific questions users are typing in their search.
The best way to do that is to transition keywords on high-ranking webpages into question-form keywords. You can also include question and answer sections on your pages to make it easier for Google to pull and use them as a featured snippet.
Basically, anticipate what customers are asking when searching for answers online and preemptively include those questions, along with answers, on your webpages.
Another reason to start adapting your webpages to include keyword-based questions and answers, is the rapid surge of online searches performed by voice alone. As a matter of fact, 50% of all searches are estimated to be done by voice by 2020.
Due to the incredible rise in the use of virtual personal assistants (Siri, Alexa, etc.), users are ditching the keyboard for search queries and almost always conduct their voice-operated searches in the form of questions. These questions tend to be longer than those typed into an actual search engine, so incorporate longer keyword-based questions that users are inclined to use in more of a conversational setting.
Try to include questions on your webpages that start with Who, When, Where, and How, and then present subsequent information in a way that answers these questions. This will make it easier for users’ voice-operated assistants to quickly pull the desired information.
Again, the trick here is to anticipate what your users are asking and include both that question and the solution in your content.
Since the dawn of SEO, search engines have scanned the desktop versions of websites to help index and categorize content for both mobile and desktop results. This is no longer the case.
Moving forward, search engines like Google, will start to scan a website’s mobile version almost exclusively in order to index it for search. This is called mobile-first indexing, and it’s headed our way.
If you want to be ready for this shift, don’t skimp on the content that you include on your mobile site. As a matter of fact, you’ll get the search rankings that you want if you provide the same structured content on both your mobile and desktop sites.
Also, if your mobile site isn’t complete or exactly as you want it, don’t launch it. According to Google, a well-oiled desktop site is better than an incomplete or broken mobile version.
Optimize for user experience
As we move into a new year and SEO continues to evolve, it is not enough to only give users the information that they’re seeking. People are starting to demand instant solutions as fast as possible, beautifully packaged without any hassle or bumps in the road.
This means that businesses need to do much more than optimize their content with keywords if they want to stay on the nice list for 2019. They also need to optimize for the entire user experience. Here’s how:
Speed: Google divvies out higher rankings to pages that load faster than those that open slower. And by fast, we mean that your web pages need to load in under three seconds. Making this improvement will not only earn you SEO brownie points, but it will improve the overall user experience. Users who don’t have to wait for pages to load will stay on those sites longer, allowing for a much higher likelihood for conversion. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is here to help you optimize loading times if you need it.
Optimize for mobile: Another measure of SEO ranking is the user-friendliness of your mobile site. This may seem like a no-brainer, given that over half of all Google searches are being performed via mobile devices, but providing an optimal mobile experience can’t be overstressed.
Intuitive road map: If you want equivalent accolades from both Google and your users, then you need to clean up your site structure and provide clear navigation. The benefit here is two-fold: Google will actually use your site’s navigation to provide site links as search results, providing opportunities for users to land on any page of your site at any given time. Just remember, once they’re there, they’ll expect to be guided through a seamless user experience on whichever page they land on, or else it’s on to the next.
At the end of the day, SEO is moving in a user-centric direction, and striking a balance between emerging best practices and the overall user experience will remain the key to your company’s success.