For many years, SEO seemed to be an ever-changing target for website owners. “Expert” recommendations came fast and furious in an ongoing effort to stay ahead of “the man” and game the system. It’s been years (literally) since anyone in good conscience recommended some of the shady tactics of the past—black hat backlink building, link farms, paid placements, etc.—and “content is king” has been firmly established as the preferred approach.
So what will be different in 2019?
Truth be told, not much. High quality (shareable) content and great site structure will remain the foundation. But as with any new year, it’s a good time to turn over a new leaf, right some wrongs, and get your website shipshape.
Meet User Need and Intent
How well do you know your audience? As a business owner, you know how important it is to understand your buyer (don’t you?), but depending on your business model, site visitors can be different from buyers through other channels (especially if you have a physical location). Use data from past sales, Google analytics, customer service interactions, and any other resources you have to continually improve your understanding of who visits your site, where they are in the buying cycle, and how you can best serve them in order to convert them—through both content and user experience.
Many site owners dragged their feet on mobile adoption for a number of reasons: the cost of development, “my users aren’t on mobile,” or just plain obstinance. But as of about 2015, anyone serious about competing in search had to embrace mobile or risk losing out to forward-thinking competitors. But a healthy SEO-friendly site is more than just readable on mobile, it is designed for an optimal experience on mobile first, with desktop accoutrements being, essentially, the cherry on top. Roughly 2/3 of internet visitors across all industries view sites on mobile. If your site isn’t optimized yet, it’s time to catch up.
It’s Not Just About Google
While it certainly feels like Google is the only search engine out there, there are competitors that you should at least pay attention to—including traditional search engines like Bing, but also other platforms that have practically become search engines: YouTube, Amazon, Pinterest, and even Facebook. Beyond that, are your customers’ needs dictating that you embrace other platforms, such as native mobile apps? Be where your consumers are, and Google will notice (even if it’s not on their property).
Schema / Structured Data
Schema (also called structured data or microformats) are HTML tags that markup special kinds of content. It signals to search engines that the content within matches a common pattern, such as:
- Organizations or People
The list of recognized schema has grown quite large, so anywhere you have content on your site that fits into one of these recognized patterns it makes sense to use the full schema markup to give your site an SEO advantage.
Be the (Recognized) Expert
We all like to think we’re the expert (in our own minds), but on the internet it really only counts if your expertise is recognized off-site. Build authority and trustworthiness by providing the best expert content you can (either with in-house writing or by contracting an expert) and building your audience around your expertise.
Speed is everything to on-the-go users. Your desktop bells and whistles may be worth waiting for (though your users may not agree), but they certainly can bring a mobile view to a screeching halt. Invest in optimizing speed, script serving, and even implementing Progressive Web Apps (PWA) this year or in the near future as greater adoption is on the horizon.
Once your visitors drill down to your call to action, don’t make it hard for them to pull the trigger. Optimize your product, service, checkout, and squeeze pages to reduce resistance or friction, and encourage conversion.
Voice Is Coming
Experts claimed mobile would overtake desktop for several years before it finally did, and now voice search is getting the same treatment. It’s not likely to explode in 2019, but it’s already here and poised to grow both in search engines and smart devices, so now is the time to prepare. Optimize answers to what, where, when, and how regarding your company, product, or service with brief phrases that can be picked up through AI (artificial intelligence).
2019 is a great year to continue with your solid SEO foundation, and also a perfect time to pivot if you’ve allowed your site to lag. Need help planning your SEO approach? Give us a call or contact us!