Google’s heavily investing to be the best. SEOs are trying to adapt to changes that follow. That’s how 2019 SEO trends are born. Let’s view what trends will make a difference in 2019.
1. Mobile-first indexing
In a nutshell, mobile-first indexing means that Google uses the mobile version of your page for indexing and ranking. Since March 2018, Google’s started the process of migrating sites to mobile-first index. It might happen that Search Console has already notified you about it.
Bear in mind, a mobile-first index does not mean “mobile-only.” There’s still a single index with both mobile and desktop versions. However, the whole “mobile-first” buzz means that Google will be using the mobile versions for ranking once the site’s migrated.
You get it, right? With your mobile version being the primary one for ranking, there’s no excuse to procrastinate with mobile-friendliness.
2. Page speed
Google’s nuts about delivering the best UX and delivering it fast. Desktop page loading time has been a ranking factor for a while. In July, it got a twin sibling – mobile page speed’s become a ranking factor for mobile.
This crucial change calls for understanding which metrics matter for Google in terms of page speed evaluation.
Historically, when analyzed in PageSpeed Insights, a site was evaluated just on the basis of technical parameters. Now, both for desktop and mobile, it’s graded according to two different metrics: Optimization and, a new one, Speed.
The game-changing part here is how Speed score is generated. The data for the metric’s taken from Chrome User Experience report, the real users’ performance database. It reflects how your site loads for each visitor. It’s obviously hard to measure how fast each visitor’s device loads your site. As a result, the metric’s impossible to get through local tests.
As for Optimization score, you can totally control it by fixing all the issues preventing your site from loading fast.
So, which metric has the strongest influence on rankings? According to the mobile page speed experiment by SEO PowerSuite, the correlation between the page’s Optimization score and its position in SERPs is strong (0.97). And there is no correlation between the page’s position and its Speed score. In other words, now Google can rate your site as slow, but your rankings stay the same.
However, Speed metric is something new, so it’s clear Google’s testing it. With time, those correlations may change.
3. Brand as a ranking signal
Gary Illyes, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, has stated at Pubcon that Google uses online brand mentions in its search algo. There’re two ways it can use a brand as a ranking signal.
First of all, through unlinked brand mentions, the search engine learns that your brand’s an entity. By further analyzing all the properties mentioning it, Google gets a better picture of your authority in a particular field.
Second, each component’s sentiment and context matters: reputation, trust, advertising, complaint-solving, etc. Through context, Google learns to tell the good from the bad. For example, its Search Quality Guidelines state that reputation matters for rankings. Consequently, the sentiment around brand mentions can affect the site’s rankings.
GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulation passed in the European Union. It regulates a very nagging issue – who owns the data created by users’ interactions online. From now on, it’s users who do, not corporations which collect it. Consequently, users can now request to see what personal data the company has about them and ask for its correction or export. If a company doesn’t comply with the regulations, it can be hit with severe fines (€20 mln or 4% of the company’s annual profit).
This regulation affects the EU companies and customers. However, international companies should also comply with GDPR. As a result, Google’s decided to introduce changes into its Analytics. Now all personal user data expires after 26 months since it was collected. Such data includes demographic and affinity data (earlier kept perpetually) and doesn’t include sessions and goal completions. However, each site owner can change this data collection default period. Plus, it’s now possible to delete the data of individual users upon their request.
5. Become Familiar with Structured Data
Structured data is intimidating. But it’s actually easy to become familiar with how it works. The easiest way to become familiar with it is to copy and paste and start working with it.
I wrote a step by step tutorial for helping those new to structured data. It shows how the online manual for structured data is set up. Then it walks you through creating and testing your own structured data code.
6. Focused Content
This is perhaps the most important part of Internet marketing for 2019. Unfocused content is one of the biggest mistakes I’ve been seeing all year for sites that have lost ranking.
7. Improve Your Image SEO
Images are more than something to make your page pretty. Images are important for SEO. Treat them the same as you treat your title and heading elements because they all work together to help the page rank better. Images can also boost your ranking power by showing up in enhanced listings.
Image SEO Best Practices
Use images that tell a story
Readers achieve deeper understanding of concepts with symbols or images that illustrate your point. If the article is about adopting a pet, show cute kittens at an actual animal shelter.
If the article is about the failure of a company or a process, perhaps consider an image of a ship about to hit a rock or a car with the tires falling off.
Communicating an idea or a point quickly with an image can help readers understand what your article is about, which will help them decide to read it.
Illustrate Step by Step Instructions
Readers and consumers love step by step instructions. Screenshots and illustrations are super helpful and Google tends to use these kinds of images in enhanced listings. A single image that illustrates how to do something can be ranking gold.
Using images that can be measured in megabytes may slow down sales and rankings. Heavy images will contribute to higher bandwidth demands on your server, which can cause extra charges from your web host. Heavy images can contribute to slowing down the server when a crush of site visitors reach your site at the same time.
Bonus: Keep Up to Date
In addition to these tips for improving your SEO, you may wish to focus on security as well. Keeping the software that underlies the website updated is important. Use difficult to guess passwords. Consider undertaking an audit of all third party add-ons and plugins to make sure they are regularly updated and well written by a company that can be trusted.