New Year, New SEO Goals: 5 Trends to Watch in 2019

December 11, 2018

New Year, New SEO Goals: 5 Trends to Watch in 2019

You may be scrambling to finish shopping for the holidays, but don’t forget what else is just around the corner – 2019! With a new year on the horizon, marketers everywhere are making lists and checking them twice, putting the bows on nicely-wrapped campaigns and initiatives to drive revenue in 2019. If you’re anything like, well, everyone, SEO is one of the many hats you’ll be wearing in the coming year and boosting your search engine rankings on your New Year’s resolutions list.

We’ve put together a list of the five SEO trends we think will repeatedly make appearances in 2019 – check them out and let us know in the comments if there are any others worth mentioning!

1. Page Speed

When it comes to websites and the user experience, page speed needs to be an important part of your SEO strategy and evaluated in any and all audits done in preparation for the next year. In fact, 50% of website visitors expect your page to fully load within two seconds, and you better believe that if it doesn’t, they are going elsewhere in their search.

A great place to start is Google’s very own PageSpeed Insights tool, where you can see both website speed and optimization recommendations. The speed parameter is measured based on FCP (first contentful paint) and DCL (DOM content loaded) parameters. The optimization score is what influences mobile rankings the most, thus it needs to be worked on in order to take into account Google's mobile page speed update (which made page speed a ranking factor for mobile devices).Check out the nine rules PageSpeed Insights uses and see where you can make some improvements to your optimization score.

2. Linkless Mentions

You’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times – backlinks are one of the most powerful ranking factors, and vital to a comprehensive SEO strategy. With increased search engine intelligence, however, linkless mentions are becoming more important as a site’s authority can be calculated by associating mentions with brands and brands with their corresponding websites. Just ask Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes or Duane Forrester, a former senior product manager for Bing.

Begin with tracking brand mentions across social media and other digital avenues, which allows you to both uncover opportunities and respond to any negative PR out there about your company. Once you do this, you can embark on a strategy to increase the number (and quality) of mentions via social selling, review managements, using social media as a customer support channel, influencer marketing and more.

3. Voice Search

Voice Search first made its appearance earlier in 2018, but we believe that 2019 will be the year in which it shines. With the rise of virtual home assistants like Alexa and Google Home, an estimated 70% of all queries now include natural language - likely as a result of voice search. Additionally, Google reports that 72% of voice-activated speaker owners say they use their devices on a daily basis.

When it comes to keyword research, voice search requires a different approach, with a focus on longtail/conversational phrases that more closely align with how people speak in real life. Think commonly-asked questions you get from customers on the phone, and be sure to give relevant, precise answers to the questions that most often turn up in industry conversations. Another great idea is implementing for marking up your content and telling Google crawlers what your site is all about.

4. Mobile-First Indexing

Since March of 2018, Google has been using the mobile version of pages for indexing and ranking in an effort to make the Web more mobile-friendly. According to Google, a majority of users now access Google via a mobile device, so this new method of indexation makes a whole lot of sense.

The simplest way to make sure you’re not negatively impacted by this mobile-first indexing is to be sure that your website has mobile versions and is using a content management system that allows for responsive web design. You should also revisit your robots.txt file to be sure that your website’s most important pages are not restricted from being crawled.

5. GDPR’s Effects

In May of 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect in the European Union, requiring companies to implement high levels of protection for customer data. First and foremost, your site should have both Privacy Policy and Terms pages to establish it as a professional and credible source.

Additionally, make sure that if you’re attracting EU-based visitors, there is explicit consent elections in the forms of a box or form showing what information you collect, how it will be used, where it is stores, consent options for each data use and stating that the information collected will be protected. You can read more about GDPR in our guide here.

But what does this mean for SEO in 2019? Paid marketing has suffered under the weight of the GDPR restrictions, which means we will likely see a shift towards SEO and organic search. Further, without cookies search becomes less personalized, making it easier to reach customers with broader, less-specific queries. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking this doesn’t apply to you – this regulation may only technically affect EU-based websites and websites visited by EU citizens, but we have a feeling it will be precedent-setting for the rest of the world.