When it’s time to prioritize SEO-related tasks for the upcoming year and decide where your dollars would be best spent on SEO, it makes sense to consider what strategies and tactics are likely to be the most effective in the upcoming year—and that’s exactly what this post is designed to help you do.
As step one, it can make excellent sense to review what Google updated in their Search Quality Ratings Guidelines. Fortunately, SearchEngineLand.com did a comparison that can save you time and streamline your ability to future-proof your website.
Because content is crucial for SEO success in 2019, one of the most important changes, according to SEL, is that Google is instructing its human raters to look beyond the reputation of a particular website to also examine the reputation of the content creators. (If this reminds you of Google authorship markup, we agree.)
So, in 2019 and beyond, pay attention to whom you permit to write guest posts for you, while also building up your own content creator reputation by providing guest posts to reputable and relevant sites.
Now, here are specifics about three key SEO trends.
SEO Trend #1: Sites that make content work harder will benefit
You may be tired of the phrase, “content is king,” and for good reason. It’s been around for a really long time (as far back as 1914, although not with today’s context!) and, like all clichés, it can feel stripped of meaning.
So, hopefully you’ll forgive us when we suggest that you NOT throw the baby out with the bathwater: in other words, toss out clichés while still keeping your eye on strategically expanding content. The reality is that Google is clearly rewarding longform content, as long as it’s written in ways that benefit site users.
To help make that happen, review your service pages and prioritize them in importance. Then, working from the most to least important, see where you can add informative FAQ sections to expand upon page value. Why FAQs? Well, they are an excellent way to naturally work in keywords, including those with commercial intent, plus the inclusion of questions helps you to optimize for voice search queries.
Other effective ways to expand services pages include adding checklists, especially those that help site visitors to solve commonly held problems. It’s also helpful to add testimonials from your best customers, snippets from case studies with links to the full studies, and more. What’s most important to remember is that boosting word count is not, in and of itself, a magic potion. Search engines want to offer up high-quality content in their results pages that are useful for site visitors, so make sure that you expand content in 2019 and beyond in a way that satisfies what your target audience(s) want and need to know.
As far as long-form blog posts, consider shifting from writing, say, three to four shorter pieces per month to one in-depth one that offers more potential for Google visibility. This may cost you about the same, budget-wise, but reward you more. Or, if you can increase your content budget, you could either include long-form posts along with the shorter ones you’ve already been writing or create multiple long-form posts monthly.
It may, at first, feel a bit intimidating to switch to long-form posts, but there are numerous ways to gather valuable information. These include:
- Talking to members of your team who have customer contact to find out their concerns, desires and more
- Talking directly to a cross-section of customers
- Interview experts in the field; these can include people in your company, along with:
- Review what other bloggers are saying on the topic and quote what’s most engaging; this can include what you agree with and what you don’t
- Read relevant studies and provide context for them in a unique way
- Use data found in Google Analytics to decipher patterns
- Conduct surveys
- Use customer testimonials and reviews
Sections in your long-form posts can incorporate relevant history and the subject’s context, along with timelines and overviews, FAQs, survey results, checklists and more. You can offer up quotes from experts, along with relevant images (ideally original) and how-to videos, additional resources for readers to explore, and predictions for the future.
SEO Trend #2 Link Building = A Natural Part of Content Marketing
In the past, you might have first looked outward to see who might link inward. Now, though, it’s important to first create linkable content assets, like those described above, and then market them to people who would likely find them to be interesting content, even valuable, worth sharing.
A content marketing rule of thumb used to be that half of your resources should be spent developing the content with the other half going towards marketing those assets. In 2019, we believe the percentage should be weighted in favor of strategic content creation, with ratios like 70/30, or even 80/20.
So, how do you know what percentage is right for you? Analyze how much you’ve developed relationships with relevant influencers to date. Although that type of work is never “done,” if you’re pretty far along, then you may be able to spend 80 percent of your content marketing/link building time actually creating the linkable content assets. If you have a way to go in relationship development, then your ratio may be 70/30—or perhaps even 60/40 until you solidify relationships.
As you create increasingly numbers of linkable assets and market them well, you’ll notice that a smaller percentage of your inbound links will go to your home page. Instead, they’ll go directly to specific pieces of content of interest to readers.
SEO Trend #3 Online Reviews Should be Consistent, Diverse and of Quality
Back in the good old days, it might have felt as though you just needed to facilitate a steady supply of Google Reviews (not a flood, a steady supply) and then you were good to go. There is definitely truth to that, but now you have to go further. Why? As Google becomes increasingly more sophisticated, they are looking for real-world signals that indicate customers appreciate companies, making gimmicks less successful.
And, for quality companies and white hat SEO agencies, that’s good news.
We believe that Google will therefore reward sites with reviews more diverse than, say, just Google and Yelp. Plus, we expect that consistently good reviews will also be rewarded—and, to make that happen, companies will need to have good products, good services, and good people.
Is That All?
The short answer: no. These are key SEO trends for 2019, but not the only ones. Other trends include:
- increasing importance of technical SEO aspects
- branded searches serving as stronger search engine ranking factors
Companies will need to determine how much budget they have to spend and then prioritize dollars appropriately. They will also need to recognize that, as Google continues to reward the more time-consuming real-world strategies, planning far enough ahead of time in a quest to meet goals on a timeline is also crucial.
Again, in short, the sooner you start, the better.
Bio: Chris Gregory is the founder and a managing partner of DAGMAR Marketing, a local SEO company based in Jacksonville, Florida. The agency’s work was recently recognized in Search Engine Land’s international search marketing competition, garnering the Best Local SEO Initiative award.