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SEO 25 min read December 20, 2018

SEO Trends 2019: Experts' Predictions, Volume II

SEO Trends 2019: Experts' Predictions, Volume II

Shane Barker
Digital Strategist, Brand & Influencer Consultant at Shane Barker Consulting
The number of consumers who turn to search engines to get answers to most of their questions is increasing day by day. They trust that Google searches will deliver the right response at the right times.

That's why a majority of consumers perform searches to look for information, discover new products, and find answers. In fact, Google now receives over 70,000 search queries every second on average.
If you want people to find your business when they're looking for your products or services, you need to rank higher in relevant search results. That's where search engine optimization comes into the picture.

Leveraging various SEO tactics can help your brand rank higher in search results and increase your chances of getting discovered by potential customers. That's the reason that 61% of marketers consider improving SEO as their top marketing priority.

However, the ever-changing landscape of SEO makes it extremely difficult for brands to maintain their top SERP rankings.

For this, you need to come up with an effective SEO strategy for your brand. To help you with this, I've put together this expert roundup.

Let's hear from the experts about the top SEO trends you should follow in 2019.

Have you already checked out our first post about SEO trends? Not? Then hurry up! We interviewed more than 50 SEO specialists from Booking, Amazon, Vodafone, eBay, Shopify, and other world-famous companies to identify key trends in 2019. We think that websites having the highest traffic in organic search can definitely say what will be favored next year.

Warren Whitlock, WarrenWhitlock

As the SEO market matures, the basic fundamentals of business become more important than ever.

Human beings look for two things in every aspect of life. First, their connection with others, not just a site link. We all long to feel that we are truly understood by people we interact with. Second, we desire to share stories.

Make your visitors part of the story, tell your story from their interests and create meaningful stories together. Seek for connection and story involvement in all your SEO.

    Chad Pollitt, inPowered

    The biggest changes I'm seeing happening in SEO aren't exactly what I expected. Especially, if you would have asked me this same question five years ago.
    It's the tools to research, implement, optimize and report on SEO. The line between SEO tools and content marketing tools are blurring more and more every day. In a few cases, there's even some similarity between a few (what I'd consider) PR tools and SEO tools.

    Add to that, the rapid deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) across all of these tools sets. This is creating a new genre of tools — content intelligence. These AI-driven tools are getting better and better every day and are very useful for SEO practitioners. Adoption of AI-driven content intelligence tools will continue to grow in 2019.

    Tyler Thursby, Zion & Zion

    I've been fixated in recent years on the relationship between SEO and UX. Listen to the bigwigs in search marketing and they'll be quick to tell you, optimize for people — not search engines. Improving the user experience of your website is essentially performing a more sophisticated version of onsite SEO, in my humble opinion.

    I believe Google will reward websites that invest in their overall user experience; we've already seen plenty of evidence to suggest this will be a continuing trend.
    People primarily search with a mobile device — Google made mobile-friendliness a ranking factor.

    People expect fast load times — Google considers site speed a ranking factor.
    People want valuable content that's easy to digest — Google often rewards content for having a clear formatting hierarchy and uses it to provide instant answer boxes within SERPs.

    That's because all of these factors help to improve the user experience.
    So, what can SEOs do to get ahead of this trend? I'd recommend self-educating on user experience.

    If your company has a UX department, great — start taking advantage of their knowledge. There are a couple of books that are great introductions, such as Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug and The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman.

    Learn how people are using your website and why.
    So much that we do as search engine analysts is reactionary — Google changes something and then we react.

    To me, conducting UX research is perhaps the greatest thing I can do to anticipate future changes.

    These days I don't really fuss about what Google does, that's entirely out of my control — I care about making my website accessible and functional for my intended audience.

    Itai Sadan, Duda

    The word 'Schema' gets thrown around a lot within the SEO, Local Search, and web design industries nowadays, and there is a pretty good reason for that. A schema is a powerful tool that helps search engines better understand the content and context of a website and the business it represents.

    Ironically for a tool that's present to make things more understandable, there is often a lot of confusion around exactly what Schema is and what it does.

    Traditionally, search engines returned a list of ten blue links that represented the best results for a given search. However, search engines can now return information directly outside of the standard search results via knowledge cards, knowledge graph results, etc.

    These don't fit directly into the standard organic path because search engines find and display this information in a qualitatively different way than when it's just searching for keywords and links.

    Schema is what enables your clients' websites to show up in these new results.

    As search engines like Google innovate and evolve in ways that allow them to better understand information and return ever more accurate search results to users, web professionals need to take seriously the importance of using Schema and structured data in websites.

    Larry Kim, MobileMonkey, Inc.

    The top trends in 2019 essentially just a continuation of previous trends. More mobile searches, more snippets, more weight placed on engagement metrics, more ads, more voice search, etc.

    Dennis Seymour, SeriousMD

    The usuals for sure are still effective. Producing quality content (I literally just published an in-depth review on a site I run and I ranked within 1 week) with the usual SEO best practices are still gold. UI/UX is becoming more and more apparent, along with mobile design.

    Voice search is cool but I don't see it picking up until after 2019 so I don't see the trends for it yet.

    What I would look into for 2019 are videos. Videos can be deciphered today! Google can suggest product just by seeing it in the video. Google can automatically transcribe the content.

    Video search and results in Google are beginning to get better and better. I do see some issues as Google is still suggesting old videos BUT that's exactly why it's great for you, because the old videos are relevant in its eyes, similar to why Google still shows old 2014 articles when there are new, more current articles.

    So if there's 1 trend that I would jump on, it's video because not everybody will want to do it. Dominate this in your market, you'll be thankful you started early.

      Sean Si, SEO Hacker

      My main belief is that 2019 will focus on a relatively underused type of keyword research. Some SEO experts focus on high volume, high difficulty keywords. Others focus on low volume, low difficulty, high intent keywords.

      However, since 2018 has seen a rise on the use of voice search and its corresponding tools such as Alexa and Siri, there will definitely be a change in how SEO experts conduct their keyword research and it will be a trend for the upcoming year.

      SEO experts have to adapt to a relatively new type of search — voice search. Since voice queries are comparatively different than normal searches, SEO experts have to delve on how voice search algorithms process a user's query. This is closely related to automation and machine learning, so SEO experts should also delve on these subjects as well.

      Marcus Miller, Bowler Hat

      I think 2019 will see continued gradual evolution rather than any huge sweeping changes.

      Mobile will continue to get an ever bigger share of search traffic. As devices and UX design improve customers will be happier to complete transactions as well as research on their phones. Particularly in the B2C space.

      SERP features like featured snippets and people-also-ask results will mature and take up even more screen space. Optimizing for these will become ever more important to maximize exposure and get seen in informational search queries.

      Voice search will continue to grow and optimizing for voice and figuring out how voice search results connect to your digital marketing will become more important.

      The real win in organic will continue to be content based. Getting in front of your customers as early as possible and then connecting this to other digital marketing tactics to nurture these clicks into customers.

      2019 will very much be business as usual!

        James Gurd, Digital Juggler Ltd.

        I expect SEO folk to put more effort into LSI (latent semantic indexing) keyword research. Even though the search market has moved on and mobile and voice are having a pronounced impact on people's search habits, I don't think ecommerce teams have adapted quite so fast.

        LSI enables content writers to understand the breadth of language that people use when finding products and information, and to use language that appeals to a wider set of users than focusing on one set of keywords exclusively. It also opens you up to additional content opportunities where the related queries might be subtly different enough to demand a unique treatment.

        There are free & paid tools already available to help with this type of research. My advice — explore for a couple of high volume target search queries where you have average or poor visibility, then look for semantically related terms and see if you can make quicker gains factoring these into your content optimization.

        Brent Csutoras, Brent Csutoras

        There are a number of things I think are going to be super important for SEO in 2019, but the two that stand out the most are Schema and Quality Content.

        Schema has continued to become more and more important with each passing year and that will not change anytime soon. With so many elements dependent on your Schema data, like voice assistants, voice search, and rich results, you should definitely make sure you are up to date with the various Schema markup options and that they are implemented correctly on your site.

        Look out for additional types of Schema markup to be introduced and utilized in 2019 as well.

        As for content quality, it has been repeated for years that the quality of your content is more important than the quantity you produce.

        For years we have been saying that quality content is important, but this year and 2019 are going to really bring that concept front and center to most businesses.

        We are already seeing the results of product and content pruning, leading to overall improved rankings and traffic for websites and that will only continue as we start to realize that search engines no longer want all our content, but rather our highest quality content.

        In 2019, you should expect that to continue, as well as an increased effort from search engines to validate what authors and sources are truly authoritative and thus should be respected more.

          Cameron Conaway, CameronConaway

          The rise of voice search and local SEO will undoubtedly capture a ton of attention, as will algorithm development (as it always does), but in 2019 I believe more search results than ever will surface without having to submit the search — or click through to the site.

          A typed but not submitted search on an iPhone in Safari, for example, shows (directly before listing other related searches) the featured snippet or what is otherwise believed to be the definitive page on the searched-for subject.

          For many searchers, this is all they'll need, and the result is a better search experience because two major friction points have been removed — completing the search and then clicking through to a site.

          How long are the search giants willing to hold out from making this more widespread? Their reason for holding out has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with their current business model — it's reliant on what happens after a search is submitted.

          Retailers across the board know that offering on-site search experiences that surface visual product results as the customer types is a surefire way to increase sales and have fewer abandoned carts. It's a better experience they can afford to offer their customers.

          Search without the need to submit is likely to increase in 2019, perhaps nudging that old SEO cliché about how "the best place to hide a dead body is page two of Google" towards "the best place to hide a dead body is below rank zero in Google."

          Will the highest advertising bidder soon surface first in mobile, just before the definitive source? It's likely. The overall result here is an alternative SEO universe where the competition to win keyword bids intensifies at the same time bidding to win anticipated full-length voice searches becomes the new norm for the masses.

          Laura Pence Atencio, Social Savvy Geek

          Each year there seems to be a new fad or trend to follow. My strategy is to play the long game and avoid implementing short-term tactics.

          Quality content that serves your audience is always a good idea and investment. Anticipating your ideal clients' needs and giving them what they need in a way that appeals to them is a solid approach that pays off over time. The more attention and care you show to your audience the better your relationship will be.

          With blockchain poised to level the playing field and further reduce the effectiveness of clickbait (yay!) it is going to be harder than ever to "game the system." A well-deployed content system including podcasting, blogging, video, and social content helps you find, engage, and convert potential clients.

          When coupled with solid keyword research and traditional SEO activities like building relationships and relevant backlinks, your traffic and conversion keep improving over time.

            Voice search: Optimizing your content for voice search will continue to be crucial, as more and more queries will be made via Siri, Google Home, Alexa, etc.

            More than ever, we'll need to anticipate questions (usually in long-form, conversational phrases) that people tend to add their favorite voice assistant. Voice search results are taken from featured snippets, so getting your content into the featured snippet box will help you dominate the SERP and voice search!

            Optimizing for topics: As machine learning transforms search, there will be a greater focus on covering a particular topic or answering a particular question comprehensively. Search intent and user experience will continue to dominate.

            Also: Focus on user experience, the move to optimizing for mobile, blockchain technology.

            Radomir Basta, Four Dots

            Their occupation demands it, so you can't fault SEOs for living in the future, but they can sometimes get ahead of themselves in these attempts to predict the next big thing.

            This fascination with novelty often results in half-implemented solutions, and superficially adopted practices. In my opinion, 2019 will be marked by two trends that are already being more or less uniformly recognized as essential, but with very few people actually giving them the attention everyone claims they deserve.

            1. Mobile First onsite

            While no one will argue that Mobile First indexing is a major change that shouldn't be taken lightly, taking a look at how much they've actually done to adapt to the situation reveals a glaring discrepancy between their words and actions.

            This is evidenced in basic onsite mistakes which are so elementary that it seems like they are more likely to be a product of negligence than ignorance.

            So, even though most SEOs and webmasters will claim to be fully aware of the importance of the Mobile First update, they will forget to make all the content from desktop version accessible to mobile visitors as well — potentially confusing crawlers and users alike.

            You need to make sure that your content in accordions and dropdowns can be viewed and indexed, and to find the right balance between how fast you need the page to load and how much of the original, desktop content you are going to keep — not forgetting that content length is also a ranking factor.

            Structured data is another thing that often gets neglected in the shift from desktop to mobile-first. Adapting your markup and even metadata to ensure better visibility and clickthrough rates in mobile search is already considered essential, but 2019 is bound to be the year when people actually start practicing what they've so far only been preaching in this regard. Which leads us nicely to the second part of the answer:

            2. Increased importance of engagement metrics in link building

            While engagement metrics have always been essential in digital marketing, they had more to do with conversions and visitor retention than with actual visibility in organic search. It's not that the traffic and dwell time your pages are recording are just now being recognized as decently accurate signals of their quality, it's just that tracking these metrics and basing the page's rank on them wasn't really all that easy to do.

            Several updates in 2018 have been claimed to revolve around the increased reliance on these metrics, i.e. around the shift from Domain or Trust rating based method of page evaluation to the one relying on actual user interactions and engagement.

            So if you are still only relying on SPAM and DR metrics when evaluating a backlink prospect, and not even thinking about checking their organic traffic projections in Ahrefs or SEMrush, 2019 is likely to be the year you'll have to either change your tune or learn to accept bitter defeat.

              Zac Johnson,

              In 2019, SEO is going to be all about authority content — even more so then it already is.

              Take a look at the some of the most recent updates from Google, and you will see that they are penalizing sites that rank really well but don't have the proven authority or reputation within their niche.

              This means we will see less "unknown" sites ranking at the top of Google, and more "well-known" and trusted brands.

              This means it's important for all blogs and sites to focus on improving their reach, following, trust, DA and PA, and everything in between. As the internet continues to get flooded with more junk and spammy sites, we will continue to see these types of changes and updates made by Google.

              Srish Agrawal, A1 Technologies

              The future of SEO is all about mobile and making sure your sites are loading as fast as possible. With more people now accessing the internet from their mobile devices, it's no surprise to see Google boosting sites in the search results that are already responsive and optimized while pushing down others who aren't.

              This is nothing new, but we will continue to see these types of trends throughout 2019.

              It's also not just about having a mobile-ready site, it's also going to important to keep an eye on how long users are on your sites, bounce rates, and how easy it will be for users to navigate through your content while on mobile devices.

              Google will keep on making these changes not just for their audience, but also for their bottom line as well. Follow the trends issued by Google, and you should still see continued SEO growth in 2019.

                Craig Wilson, Rapid Growth Marketing

                I'm a strong believer that the #1 trend every year is to post really useful, quality content that speaks to your audience's needs.

                If you do that and ensure that relevant keywords are used throughout the content, you will undoubtedly generate more traffic, a higher visibility score and better search rankings for a lot of associated terms.

                This is because Google's search algorithm tends to act like a feedback loop, rewarding popular, relevant content with strong engagement metrics.

                So, produce great content and optimize it for search and you will see great results.

                Chris Makara, Bulkly

                Like 2018, I feel that voice search optimization will be the top SEO trend for 2019. It's just too hard to ignore with the increased use of voice search on mobile devices as well as wider adoption for products like Google Home, Alexa, etc.

                  In 2019, search extends beyond Google's stronghold on computer and mobile options. Search will start across a wide variety of options including Amazon, voice, visual and video.

                  The key to success will be having a place on your audience's smartphone homepage. To succeed in the long term, use every contact to earn audience attention.

                  Ideally your goal is to develop Share of Audience Attention (or SOAA). You do this by delivering consistent content. These are regular servings of useful information optimized for your keywords. SOAA uses blog posts, emailings, videos, podcasts and webinars to distribute content.
                  Now that you know the SEO trends that the experts recommend, you can leverage them to create an effective SEO strategy for your brand.

                  The insights from these experts can help you build a strong brand presence in search results and drive more targeted traffic to your business.

                  Is there anything you would like to share with the community about the most effective SEO tactics for 2019? Please share it in the comments!

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