Given that Google ranks the 644 million websites out there based on hundreds of ranking factors, it can be easy to feel a little intimidated by the idea of wading and trying to find ways to rank your page among it all.
Many have said that SEO is a field with constantly shifting goalposts, but it’s not all that bad – by keeping an eye on the trends, we can figure out where to aim next.
While there’s obviously more to ranking than just a few things (there are over 200 ranking factors), we’ve done our best to pick out the ones that you simply can’t go without if you want to rank this year.
1. High-Quality Content
The first thing every site needs to rank is something for Google to rank it for. Without content, Google simply doesn’t even know you’re there.
Content optimised for keywords still holds sway over SEO rankings, but as time goes on, it becomes increasingly important to have content of quality.
Quality is a trickier thing to measure, but using common sense can get you a long way in this arena: make content that is valuable to users. Making content with no real value is dangerous; it can even negatively impact your rankings, ever since the Panda and Fred updates were implemented.
Good-quality content can boost your SEO across a number of factors. For example, increasing time spent on your pages, lowering your bounce rate, and improving UX.
In 2019, we expect that this concept will continue to expand into more complicated territories, including newer facets such as Search Intent, Voice Search and Rich Snippets.
2. Voice Search
Speaking of Voice Search…
The rate at which voice search is growing is astronomical. As younger generations enter the picture, the market for voice assistants is booming.
Canalys, marketing, analytics, and research firm, reported that the smart speaker market jumped 187% in the second quarter of 2018. Voice marketing is definitely one to watch in 2019, as it’s not a question of when, but how SEO ranking factors will be revolutionised by this new paradigm.
3. Mobile-First Site Design
Gone are the days when running a mobile version of your website was just a suggestion. Now, many developers are opting to pursue responsive web design, rather than create sites for multiple platforms and devices. Despite Google’s statements that their algorithms don’t favour this over any other form of design, it’s still their recommended format.
Now that mobile-first indexing is a reality, your mobile website is one of the most important pathways to the top of the SERPs.
4. User Experience
User Experience (UX) has been a growing aspect in SEO for the past several months and it shows no signs of slowing down. UX is tied indelibly to some big SEO ranking factors, like dwell time and bounce rates. The longer a user spends on your page before backing out to the SERP, the more value Google attributes to your page.
We previously mentioned that content is a great way to improve UX, but another method is optimising site architecture.
Beyond aiding users in finding what they’re looking for, it also helps search engine crawlers index your site faster. This is important as it augments every other change you make. You want your site updates reflected in Google’s index as quickly as possible, and the more difficult you make it, the longer it takes!
The prevailing rule of thumb is that a user should find what they’re after within three or four clicks. This isn’t always reasonable, and sometimes you need to employ a site search feature, but taking this into account still comes under UX.
As long as you’re putting the user first, your rankings will reflect it.
5. Page Speed
Finally, ever since page speed became a factor for Google’s mobile rankings, it’s been rising in importance. Now that the mobile-first index is part of SEO, it’s more important than ever. The bottom line is that the slower your site is, the less likely people are to use it – and the less likely you are to make it to the SERP.
There are free tools out there to test your page speed, and not all of the fixes are overly complicated. It could be as simple as properly compressing your images.
There is a growing number of SEO technicians who think anyone can achieve the rankings they want without links. While some can, and there’s evidence that backlinks will become less important over the next decade or so, there’s no reason to count them out yet. Ignoring them completely is leaving money on the table.
Secure a bright future for SEO in 2019
So there you have it – the top trends for SEO in 2019. There’s always more to talk about – we didn’t even mention metadata, schema markup, or internal link structure, all of which could have easily made the list.
All in all, there’s a lot to take into account this year, but you can be sure that we here at Pure SEO will stay ahead of the game! To find out what we can offer your business, contact the SEO experts here at Pure SEO, or call 0800 SEARCH today!
Sam Mannell has been a writer for the Pure SEO content team since August '18, and is now Lead Editor. He quickly found his place in the company as resident Dungeon Master and coffee expert. Sam holds a BA from University of Auckland, where he double-majored in Linguistics and English.