The SEO game changes constantly. Between Google ranking algorithms (and upcoming search engine contenders like DuckDuckGo) it can be a challenge to keep on top. So what will search engine optimisation look like in 2019?
Google is smart. They understand that user experience is indicative of webpage quality – and they want to reward quality.
Google uses an AI algorithm they call RankBrain. Essentially, RankBrain is a machine-learning tool that Google uses to sort and rank search results, based on user experience of the webpage. If a user spends a long time looking at your blog, and then eventually clicks through to your services, RankBrain notices. The result? A ranking boost. Likewise, if you land on a webpage that doesn’t answer your search query, and immediately bounce, Google notices. And if enough people do it, the ranking for that page drops.
We know that Google use a wide range of tools to determine ranking factor. RankBrain, as announced by Google, is now the third most important tool Google use to determine ranking. So, user experience is king.
Recently, Google announced that they will be migrating websites to mobile-first indexing. Traditionally, Google ‘s internal crawling, indexing, and ranking systems typically used the desktop version of a webpage’s content. Now, Google will crawl the desktop and mobile version of your site separately, with mobile being the primary index.
What’s the reasoning? Mobile, now, is the dominant way users perform searches. That has startling implications for webmasters. To ensure your ranking doesn’t slip, your website should be well optimised for mobile. That means (among other things) being lightweight, highly responsive to screen-size, and fast.
Mobile users expect websites to be quick and easy to navigate. To stay on top of SEO in 2019, you will need to optimise your pages and content for mobile.
11.5% of search results return a Feature Snippet, which sit neatly at the top of the SERP, according to SEMrush. Understandably, chances are high that you’ll run into a feature snippet today.
Featured Snippets are typically full answers to certain queries. These are commonly definitions, answers to common questions, recipes, How-To guides, and more. Importantly, there is a distinction between Featured Snippets and answer boxes, which are Google’s own tools that pop up for queries such as converting measurements or translating sentences.
The goal is to optimise your web content so that it can return as a featured snippet. Not all content will be suitable – typically, content that answers a question (where the query begins with “what”, “why”, or “how”) has the highest chance to be featured.
For more detailed information, Moz.com have a great guide that goes in depth talking about how to optimise your web content to rank on a featured snippet.
It is still all about the content.
Users want to read and be informed – about your products, your market position, your insights. To dominate SEO, you still need to be publishing informative and genuinely insightful content, that makes you stand apart from your competitors.
And besides, you need content to be linked back across the web. Content that will be shared, and content that other websites will link to. And you need link building to rank on the first-page.