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SEO 26 min read December 20, 2018

SEO Trends 2019: What To Expect? Feat. Amazon Music, Booking, eBay, Vodafone & Shopify Experts

SEO Trends 2019: What To Expect? Feat. Amazon Music, Booking, eBay, Vodafone & Shopify Experts

Stacy Mine
Editor at Serpstat
How can you predict the future of SEO? By using a crystal ball? We have a more accurate way :)

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.

So what are the SEO trends worth waiting for in 2019?Already know what to prepare for? Not? Then read the post!
We asked more than 100 experts to identify the SEO trends in 2019 and
made an infographic about the upcoming trends. The infographic
presents the trends that have the most votes.
So, voice search and virtual assistance became the most popular prediction, covering 21% of all the trends. Voice search is a speech recognition technology that allows users to search by saying terms aloud rather than typing them into a search field

The second place was taken by higher demands on content and content clustering having 19%. In 2019, you'll need to produce high-quality, well-structured content.

And the third place is occupied by mobile search optimization with 17%.

RankBrain: Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
(a machine learning system that helps Google sort their search results) collected 12% followed up by Featured Snippets having 9%.

User experience signals (users' behavioral patterns that Google uses to structure the rankings of your website in search results) and Personalization have 6% each closely followed by Google knowledge graphs and video content with 4% each.

Data visualization tools that help you present your data became the least trending having only 2%.
What do our experts think about the trends? We asked SEO experts
from global companies to identify the key trends and give
their comments! Meet our contributors:
Rodrigo Stockebrand
Julian Redlich
Nick Wilsdon
Juliette van Rooyen
Founder of VR Squared
UK Head of SEO at eBay
Read the answer
Vytautas Palovis
Eleftherios (Lefto) Chatziandreou
Jasja ter Horst
Founder and developer at SEO Review Tools
Follow him on Twitter
Read the answer
Ann Smarty
Dan Taylor
Senior Technical SEO & Account Director at SALT.agency
Follow him on Twitter
Read the answer

Rodrigo Stockebrand, Amazon Music


What are the main SEO trends in 2019? Why are these trends most important for the next year? What changes does the SEO industry expect in terms of these changes?

In 2019, there will be more content published on the web than ever before. And the overall quality of that content will only continue to grow as creators begin to break the thresholds of mediocrity in efforts to win at their own ventures. In short, the bar to win has been set higher than ever before, so the effort is naturally reciprocating. In addition, search engines will have to work harder than ever to discover signals from noise and highlight newcomers front-and-center (which is where RankBrain/ML and NLP come into play).

In addition, the bar for performance will become even stricter (Relative CTRs, % Exits back to a SERP, etc.) forcing webmasters and SEOs to nano-track performance metrics and spend exorbitant amounts of time monitoring SERP movements to mitigate risk. In short, there's never been a better time for a company/site to win in SEO, but the requirements for success are much more fierce and advanced than ever before.

Could you please share your experience and give some tips on how to change the SEO strategy to take these trends into account? What difficulties can be found while implementing these changes?

Learning the basics of Data Science (R, Python, SQL) will be essential for SEOs in 2019, along with a stronger understanding of data visualization tools and libraries like D3JS. This, in essence, will change the SEO strategy for most websites since it will facilitate much more aggressive testing, capturing massively more data (via APIs), and being much more methodical in approaching standard SEO practices.

For example, imagine an SEO being able to leverage machine learning to correlate a site's technical SEO audit (issues timestamped daily) with actual SERP and rank performance movement (again, daily), resulting in them finding that there are 3 issues on 8 specific pages causing 90% of recent performance drops. It essentially changes the game in terms of what to fix and when to fix it.
In terms of difficulties, the learning curve into SEO data science will be steep for many, but fortunately, there are dozens of courses on Udemy and Coursera to facilitate and guide even the most novice of practitioners.

Also, and perhaps equally as important - SEOs will need to fight harder than ever in 2019 to ensure that they have the right tools for the required level of nano-tracking that will be required. More tools will be needed, beefier subscriptions, and almost certainly more usage of each tool's APIs.

    Julian Redlich, Booking


    What are the main SEO trends in 2019? Why are these trends most important for the next year? What changes does the SEO industry expect in terms of these changes?

    The main goal (of the majority) of search engines is to deliver the perfectly satisfying result to the searcher and their search query. Keeping that in mind, personalization is crucial and something that search engines like Google, Bing (you name it) have been working on for quite a while.

    Delivering satisfying answers to individuals ultimately results in higher revenue for the search engine itself, which is something every SEO professional should keep in mind. This means that changes will get rolled out constantly to improve the platform. The stars of the SEO scene have been preaching for years that marketers should think of the user first, and build content that is tailored and best in class to answer their query. If you're still building pages for bots, with word counts and densities in mind, you won't succeed in the long run. Having a clean technical setup that allows search engines to read your pages optimally clearly goes without saying.

    Could you please share your experience and give some tips on how to change the SEO strategy to take these trends into account? What difficulties can be found while implementing these changes?

    You first need to understand what potential customers want to see when they perform a certain search that's relevant to your brand's website or app. Once you are clear about the nature of a particular query and the approach that others are taking to rank higher for this specific search, you know how to format your content accordingly. In practise, this means figuring out if the queries you want to rank for have an informational background (for example "what is life insurance for"), which might require some detailed written text with explanatory imagery and/or videos, or if they are more transactional in nature, such as "book hotel Amsterdam", where searchers probably expect a list of bookable items and elements to take further action, like a date picker.

    Understanding your customer and what you can offer on various landing pages to best satisfy them might seem tricky at first, but it is easily achievable by doing some simple customer and competitor research. Get together with various people within your company to come up with ideas about how to solve the customer needs based on the findings of your research. You can further confirm your hypothesis on how to improve your chosen KPI via a build-test-learn cycle.

    That being said, don't only focus on SEO for traditional search engines. Keep in mind that your potential customers might not hang around on Google or Bing, but would instead find you much better via alternative search engines that are branch specific. It's all about relevance — pick up your customers from the right place.

    With these basic measures, I hope you'll soon be happily awaiting the next Google Update, rather than fearing it.

    Nick Wilsdon, Vodafone Group


    What are the main SEO trends in 2019? Why are these trends most important for the next year? What changes does the SEO industry expect in terms of these changes?

    We're moving quickly towards a data-first environment, where our content, information and services need to be machine-readable. We're seeing this in Google SERP changes and across their products, from Google My Business to Maps.

    This trend will take on new focus with the development of voice over 2019, which has had an impressive adoption rate through this year and is only due to increase as the technology is deployed through an array of common household devices, from clocks to microwaves.

    SEOs will need to optimise campaigns across all these new devices and platforms. We'll still focus on Google SERPs but increasingly our role will be about making our brands discoverable across this whole new environment. The internet is no longer constricted to our desktop or even mobile but will be something that we interact with in every setting, from our home to bus stops. That move will be a game-changer for campaign optimisation.

    Could you please share your experience and give some tips on how to change the SEO strategy to take these trends into account? What difficulties can be found while implementing these changes?

    SEOs need to be aware of these new developments so they can find the opportunities for optimization. Much like they have had to learn the intricacies of Google, they will have to do this across other leading platforms and technologies. That will bring challenges in terms of stretching our skillset to cover so many areas of subject-matter expertise. I'd predict that SEO is due to fragment soon, to deal with this challenge.

    This would be a good time for SEOs to consider their future career and which areas interest them. From technical SEO to content marketing, from mobile optimization, voice to performance. There is a wide choice now of specialisms for SEOs to choose from. It will be increasingly difficult to maintain a position as a subject-matter expert across all of these areas.

    Lefto Chatziandreou, Expedia Group


    What are the main SEO trends in 2019? Why are these trends most important for the next year? What changes does the SEO industry expect in terms of these changes?

    One way or another, we've all experienced the impact that Google's endless algorithmic updates and changes on SERPs layout have to our SEO performance.

    As users get exposed to new technologies and start having more options available through multiple products/services, their standards and demands will continuously increase.

    In order for Google to stay relevant and capitalized upon all those changes, it will need to find a way to take their users' experience and SERPs to the next level.
    As a result of that, Google's ecosystem will constantly develop. That's where we will start seeing them introducing more tests on UX and features, algorithmic updates and even new products releases on the SERP.

    Could you please share your experience and give some tips on how to change the SEO strategy to take these trends into account? What difficulties can be found while implementing these changes?

    Whether someone is an in-house SEO, agency side or freelancer, the main challenge that all are facing is the time to implementation of their strategy & execution of projects.

    It can get pretty difficult to get a buy-in from all relevant stakeholders for prioritizing on the top of the backlog a project that requires a lot of engineering resources.

    One way to get all on the same page is to show them the potential value upfront. Someone could easily argue that can use case-studies or rely on best-practices and get an easy buy-in.

    The truth is, the basic fundamental principles of SEO is the foundation for every strategy. However, every site is unique, every niche & vertical different and what works for one website it's not guaranteed to work for another.

    I find SEO experiments to be an extremely useful buy-in tool which can help quantify potential impact on performance and give a strong undeniable argument for prioritizing SEO projects and get all stakeholders committed to the execution.

    Juliette van Rooyen, VR Squared, eBay


    What are the main SEO trends in 2019? Why are these trends most important for the next year? What changes does the SEO industry expect in terms of these changes?

    Featured Snippets / Knowledge Graphs: As those continue to be present on greater volumes of search queries, they are impacting search behaviour and impacting the value of the more traditional web results that SEO has focused on in the past. A second part of this my prediction that we'll see the increased impact of Paid Search positioning on SERPs and Click Through, and in particular the impact of increased volumes of PLAs in the retail space.

    Mobile optimization: SEO will need to continue to adapt to mobile technology developments and the impact it makes on how searchers interact with search engines. It's become a business necessity to continue to refine mobile strategy and optimisation to remain competitive in all markets.

    Voice Search: As smart home and products like the Echo become more common throughout the world, natural language and relative search patterns will become stronger. We are almost coming full circle to the point where we would 'ask jeeves' and are now needing to understand intention and word modifiers better to ensure the best matches for SERPs.

    Brand as an element of SEO: As searchers become more aware of scams and issues on the net, brand itself will engender trust and help to driver searchers towards brands they know and trust. This favours established brands, but can come at the expense of discovering new and innovative companies in an industry.

    Video & Image search: Visual elements will continue to grab more attention away from text elements on SERPs and as they become better optimise, they will move closer to the centre of optimisation campaigns.

    Could you please share your experience and give some tips on how to change the SEO strategy to take these trends into account? What difficulties can be found while implementing these changes?

    With the growth of non-web elements on SERPs, it is crucial to ensure that all potential page elements are included in a Search strategy, including Paid Search & PLAs.

    Optimization strategies now need to make sure that the optimization of each element is addressed separately, but that the overall strategy takes into account what people will find most valuable for a given search query. If this is not done, effort and budget will be wasted duplicating effort without seeing any additional value from that focus.

    This is particularly true when making sure that Organic & Paid Search work collaboratively together to ensure each covers the greatest areas without leading to cannibalization of spend or effort. However, the knowledge that can be shared between them can help ensure that changes to SERP structure can be analysed clearly and optimisation made more effective.

    Vytautas Palovis, Oberlo (Shopify)


    What are the main SEO trends in 2019? Why are these trends most important for the next year? What changes does the SEO industry expect in terms of these changes?

    I think one of Google's main goals is to solve the pogo-stick problem and to further improve the user experience on their search engine. Nobody enjoys clicking ten different search results before finding what they're looking for. Google tries to deal with this by introducing a bunch of new search engine features every year, such as featured snippets, knowledge panel, "people also ask" box — all these features were invented to help users find information faster, with a better user experience. Now it's no longer a game of who will win a place on the first page on Google SERP. If you call yourself a true SEO expert, you need to care about all the above new features, and try to be visible everywhere.

    Could you please share your experience and give some tips on how to change the SEO strategy to take these trends into account? What difficulties can be found while implementing these changes?

    You need to understand the search intent behind every search query in the same way as Google does it. If you want to rank for some particular search queries - just google those keywords yourself and look at what type of content appears on the first Google SERP. If it's an image — you should probably create an infographic, if it's a video — it means you need to have video content in order to rank well for that search query, or if it's a mix of everything — it means you need to create a comprehensive article which should include visuals, video and text.
    From my personal experience, this strategy works like a charm, otherwise, you could optimise your onsite SEO part perfectly, but if you missed with the search intent — you won't succeed.

    Jasja ter Horst, SEO Review Tools


    What are the main SEO trends in 2019? Why are these trends most important for the next year? What changes does the SEO industry expect in terms of these changes?

    If you're interested in the feature of search, the article Improving Search for the next 20 years from Google is a vital piece of information.

    Google's primary goal remains the focus on the user and user experience in general. To achieve this goal, they ran more than 200,000 experiments that resulted in 2,400+ changes to search (just in 2018 alone). I see AI and Machine Learning as the engine behind all these changes, allowing Google to automatically run and validate these experiments on a very big scale.

    Another important trend that will change the way how user will interact with SERPs in 2019, is what Google calls The shift from answers to journeys. This is a trend which is already taking place in the form of comparison modules, Google collections, expanded possibilities within the knowledge graph and other "native" Google content types. I expect this to trend to have a huge impact on SERP design and interaction in the near future. These changes offer both opportunities and challenges, because of the declining organic visibility.

    Could you please share your experience and give some tips on how to change the SEO strategy to take these trends into account? What difficulties can be found while implementing these changes?

    What I think we should stop doing in 2019:

    • Chasing Google algorithm updates and rankings (you should be aware of both, but don't let them determine your strategy)
    • Producing mediocre and redundant content.

    My preferred SEO strategy for 2019:
      1
      Know what your audience likes, produce quality content and stick to it.
      2
      Be prepared to take the extra step to make stuff a bit more interesting (visually, interactive, creative, in-depth, ...).
        3
        Don't just copy what other people are doing.
          4
          And finally keep an eye out for new structured data types and other requirements for different search features that are going to be released by Google in 2019.

          What are the main SEO trends in 2019? Why are these trends most important for the next year? What changes does the SEO industry expect in terms of these changes?

          Google is getting smarter and SEO industry is not keeping up. For example, we don't know how to properly utilize voice search: How to get people visit the site after the answer has been read to them? Google is becoming a publisher: They want to satisfy a user quickly and keep them using the site. How to get around this trend and still generate traffic from search results? Figuring out these answers is already important and will become our priority in 2019.

          Could you please share your experience and give some tips on how to change the SEO strategy to take these trends into account? What difficulties can be found while implementing these changes?

          Optimizing for featured snippets and People Also Ask is the clearest way to still get visibility in SERPs. In order to get featured, you need to create indepth well-structured content answering popular niche questions, defining concepts and giving concise clear factual answers. Optimizing for featured snippets helps you build visibility in voice search (featured snippets are being read in response to a voice query). So it's really a must. There are several issues though we are still figuring out. One of those is that featured snippets are volatile: They change regularly (because Google is tweaking the algorithm and because more and more publishers know how to optimize for them). So it's a constant battle. When it comes to voice search, it seldom affects the bottom line: Users hear the answer and move on without ever clicking your link. With all the issues being considered, optimizing for featured snippets should still be done, otherwise your competitors will get featured and your pages will get buried.

          Dan Taylor, SALT.agency


          What are the main SEO trends in 2019? Why are these trends most important for the next year? What changes does the SEO industry expect in terms of these changes?

          All of Google's updates in the latter part of 2018 have all been about the user, and delivering results that better match intent. As the machine learning algorithms process more queries and training sets they'll become more intelligent in delivering the right results — because of this we need to do what we've always done, and continue to better structure content (and vectors) from a user perspective with good information architecture leading to positive user experiences.

          Could you please share your experience and give some tips on how to change the SEO strategy to take these trends into account? What difficulties can be found while implementing these changes?

          As with most things, producing structured content starts with research, and the quality of the research can really impact performance. This content can come in a number of forms, for instant AO have made their product pages really comprehensive for users, whereas Cloudflare have produced great learning centre resources and in-depth guides.

          It's also important to note that content structure doesn't just mean the layout of a page, but how it links to other content pieces and increases user value with supporting content.

            Have you already checked out our second post about SEO trends? Not? Then hurry up! Shane Barker interviewed SEO experts to identify the trends to follow!
            Thanks to our experts for their answers!
            Are you surprised with the trends? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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