Looking for advice on where to spend your 2019 online marketing budget and be prepared for what’s coming next? I’ve got you covered with my best SEO predictions for 2019.
Here’s what’s coming into focus:
- Content, especially long content, will be even more important
- Google’s Quality Ratings Guidelines should be part of your SEO toolkit
- Content marketing will be the new link building
- Technical SEO tasks will matter more than ever
- The quality of customer reviews will outweigh the quantity
- Branded searches will be even stronger search engine ranking factors
Read on for more about these SEO trends and the tactics you can use to take advantage of them.
SEO Tactic #1: Expand the content you already have.
Content really does make or break your SEO success, and 2019 is the year to finally get it right. How? One way is to make your existing content work harder.
Do you have short content on your most important services pages? Expand it by adding informative FAQ sections (which can also help you naturally work in keywords and optimize for voice search queries), testimonials from your best customers, or checklists to help readers solve a problem.
Google and your prospective customers are clear on this point: They want more information about you. Keep in mind that word count alone is not going to get you the best ranking results. Although a lot of your content should now be long form content, it still has to satisfy the search engines’ requirements for high-quality, relevant content that’s useful for the reader.
In-depth, useful content takes time, but it may not have to take a lot more money: You can shift from three or four short monthly content pieces to one or two for about the same budget, and get more from your budget in return.
SEO Tactic #2: Get to Know The Search Quality Ratings Guidelines
SearchEngineLand.com did a great overview of what’s important to know about Google’s updated search quality rating guidelines, which Google uses to help its “quality raters” rate online content. Read this first for context before doing your own deeper dive into the updated search quality rating guidelines. The overall goal of this is discover how to future-proof your site in today’s artificial intelligence world.
The change that’s “most noticeable for content creators,” according to the SEL post is that Google wants raters to look beyond the website’s reputation to the reputation of the content creators themselves. So pay attention to whom you allow to write guest posts for your site. Build up your own reputation as a content creator by getting your own guest posts on reputable sites.
SEO Tactic #3 Content Marketing is the New Link Building
Link building starts with creating linkable content assets, then marketing to the audience that’s most likely to be interested in sharing those pieces of content.
Links should help with Domain Authority and other metrics, of course, but they should also provide real, targeted traffic.
In the past, a rule of thumb was that 50 percent of your content marketing resources should be spent on content, and the other 50 percent on marketing. I think the percentage is shifting significantly. In 2019, the percentage breakdown is likely to be more like 70/30 or even 80/20, weighted in favor of thoughtful and strategic content creation.
If you still need to develop relationships with highly relevant influencers, you may find that you’ll be allocating more than 20 to 30 percent of your content marketing resources towards the marketing half of the equation, at least for now. As relationships are built and solidified, you should consider shifting more budget to content creation.
With this focus on link building to blog posts and other linkable assets, a smaller percentage of your links will go to the home page, which was once where a good percentage of inbound links went.
SEO Tactic #4 Technical SEO is More Important Than Ever Before
Here are three reasons why this is so.
One is page speed. This summer, page speed became a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm for mobile searches (and, if you’re wondering why there was about an eight-year gap between when this happened with desktop searches and mobile searches, I’ve wondered that as well). It’s important to check Page Speed Insights and fix what you quickly can now, and create a plan for anything that will take longer to implement.
You can also test page speed at another Google website: TestMySite; another site we’ve used that offers free page speed tests is GTMetrix.com. I also like the open source tool options available at ModPageSpeed.com.
Another important technical SEO issue is the SSL certificate. Regardless of how much weight an HTTPS site has in Google’s algorithm, the reality is that a “not secure” warning in the search engine results pages is going to make a significant number of potential site visitors go elsewhere. (Admit it. You’ve done that before, haven’t you?)
Here’s the third issue. As companies and webmasters become increasingly aware of the importance of fixing technical issues on sites, they might rush through their fixes, leading to other technical SEO issues that, in turn, often then lead to poorer user experiences. Although these problems are more or less the same ones we’ve seen in the past, they are clearly more abundant.
They can include:
- Improper or missing redirects to new URLs
- Crawl issues
- Broken links
- Accessibility issues
- Duplicate content issues
We’ve been seeing (and, unfortunately, expect to continue to see) companies needing to put more of their SEO budgets towards fixing errors.
SEO Tactic #5: Focus on Consistent Reviews from Diverse Sources
We all know that having consistently posted Google Reviews is an important component of local SEO success, but having a flood of them is a red flag for Google’s algorithm.
Our 2019 local SEO prediction is that it won’t just be about consistent Google Reviews anymore; it will be the need for consistently good reviews. As Google becomes more and more savvy about the real world, gimmicks are drying up. That’s a good thing for companies and SEO agencies alike—and it means that the correlation between good reviews and good rankings is our shared future.
To consistently get good reviews, it’s important to have good products, good service, and good people. Not all companies have all of them; the companies that don’t have any of them are likely going to suffer in local SEO rankings in 2019 and beyond.
These are the kinds of issues that are beyond the ability of digital marketing agencies to solve, unless they’re willing to take a good hard look at themselves and make significant improvements.
I also predict that a diversity of review sources (not just GMB and Yelp) will play an increasing role in local search rankings in the next few years..
SEO Tactic #6 Build Your Brand Recognition
Nothing stands out in advertising and marketing like brand names. We’re wired to focus on things we recognize, so when we see a brand we know, we’ll gravitate to it. You can use this to your advantage to improve your SEO results.
When Google sees a branded search query for your company’s name, or your branded product or service, it sees a user who already has awareness of you and who has very clear intentions. If you’ve optimized for branded keywords, you’ll be rewarded with higher rankings. Off-site brand SEO tasks are just as important—mentions or citations of your brand need to be linked back to your site to strengthen those brand signals that Google loves.
Some Final Thoughts on SEO Trends
More than ever, search engine ranking performance must be addressed by implementing more time-consuming, real-world strategies. That can mean making a larger investment in your SEO campaigns or zeroing in on the tactics that give you more for your money. The good news? You can get started today!