Take a scroll down any social media feed and you’ll see a number of marketing “gurus” telling you they’ve found the magic trick for Search Engine Optimization or SEO. They’ll tell you the secret is in your meta descriptions, in your word count, or in finding the trendiest topics to write about. While these certainly aren’t “wrong,” that also doesn’t make them the best option for growing your website traffic in 2019.
The internet is a complicated place. As you know, it changes quickly. The only thing for certain is that what worked last year isn’t necessarily going to keep working this year. As an online marketer, it’s your job to change with the internet. More importantly, you need to change with search engines.
Thanks to Panda and Penguin, you can no longer get away with cheating the system. Plus, like the bad student who copied your math homework in middle school, nobody likes a cheater. The only way to get ahead is to put in the work. In a world where 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, you should put that work directly into your website optimization.
But you already know all of this. That’s why you’re reading this article in the first place. You’ve been waiting for me to cut to the chase and tell you the real-world info you came here for. If you don’t need a refresher on SEO strategy, let’s dive right into the 2019 SEO trends your small business can actually use.
1. Optimize for Voice Search
Raise your hand if you have an Amazon Alexa device, a Google Home, or an iPhone with Siri. Most likely, if you’re living a modern life in 2019, you have some kind of AI assistant who helps you get where you’re going faster and accomplish more. In the age of AI voice-control, we’re changing how we use search engines.
While users are likely to type keywords into a search bar on Google, this isn’t how they interact with voice search. Shouting “best coffee” at Siri likely won’t yield the right results. Instead, users are asking Siri/Alexa/Google, “Where are the best coffee places near me?”
Why does this matter? Because this is how people are search today. In 2019, we’re moving away from keyword-based search. Now, you have to pose your keywords and content in the form of a voice search question. These are conversational. I don’t know about you, but I’m glad to break up with awkward, formal keywords. By 2020, over half of all searches on the internet are expected to be voice-based. Get a head start on the competition by changing your optimization strategy today.
Actions to take today:
- Research the top voice search terms.
- Think of how your current keywords tie into voice search.
- Begin optimizing new and existing content with these new, conversational phrases.
2. The Rise of Video Content
If a picture’s worth a thousand words, how much is a video worth? According to recent statistics, a whole lot. Hubspot reports 45% of people watch over an hour of video today, and this is especially true of younger users. Video is another way to meet the user’s intent. What is user intent? According to Google, it’s about meeting users’ wants and needs quickly. Sometimes, this isn’t done with text.
While we don’t often think about it this way, YouTube is a search engine. People go to YouTube to search for questions, keywords, and interests. If you’re creating content, you should be creating video content as well. Some users simply prefer video format, and it’s a powerful way to increase your search engine ranking.
Optimizing your videos with keywords, specific titles, tags, and more will help them rank higher. They’re also a powerful tool for building backlinks. How so? If you include a video on your best blog posts, this only adds to its success. From there, you’ll be more likely to attract high-quality backlinks from trusted sources.
Do you need to be a professional video producer to create content-driven videos? In short, no. Like any type of production, the more you can learn about the medium of video, lighting, and basic editing, the better. However, a tripod and a smartphone will get you far.
Action to take today:
- Brainstorm video ideas for your top blog posts or pages.
- Create short videos optimized for social media and YouTube.
- From there, publish them to YouTube and include the video embedded on your blog post page.
- Publish your videos regularly to social media to spread awareness.
3. Backlinks Still Matter
There’s a lot of gossip about backlinks being a thing of the past. While marketers can debate this all they want, the real answer is a firm yes. The number of referring websites is still one of Google’s top ranking factors. The math is simple. The more backlinks you have, the higher your ranking is on Google.
Yet, backlinks are still more complex then they’re often treated. There are more factors at play than simply counting the number of backlinks you get to a page. Here’s a run-down on all of the things that matter when it comes to backlinks:
- Total Number of Referring Domains- Of course, the number of domains linking to you matters. The more top-quality domains linking to your website, the better off your SERP ranking will be. It’s as simple as that.
- Total Number of Backlinks – Don’t confuse this number for the one above. Some websites have several backlinks to the same domain. For instance, you can imagine big-name publications like Forbes or Inc have several backlinks from an entrepreneurial blog.
- Total Follow Backlinks – This is a count of the number of backlinks that are follow links. If the link includes the HTML rel=”nofollow”, it’s not included. No-follow links are usually found on forums, comment sections, and sponsored posts.
- Total Number of Anchors – Anchors are invisible tags used to direct users to a certain section of your page. They’re often used for long pages that are divided into sections.
- Keywords – Finally, it matters what keywords are used for your URL anchor. It’s always a good idea to use a highly targeted keyword in your anchor, though it doesn’t have a huge influence in the greater scheme of things.
The moral of this list is that your links still matter. Sourcing high-quality backlinks from similar websites is a strong way to improve your SEO in 2019. This hasn’t gone away, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
How do you get more backlinks? Older SEO practices still reign supreme. Writing great content, networking with similar blogs and websites, and producing a high-performing website are still great ways to attract backlinks naturally.
Actions to take today:
- Create a strategy for posting on similar websites, whether through guest posting or sharing informative content (hint: this is a great time to share your new video).
- Monitor your current backlinks to see where you need to improve.
Taking Advantage of Today’s SEO Trends
There’s a lot we can learn about the current state of Search Engine Optimization. SEO is not dead. It’s alive, thriving, and evolving. Like all of technology today, it moves at warp speed. Are you keeping up with the latest and greatest ideas?
Take these trends above seriously. They’re more than a passing fad. We already see them becoming the new normal, so it’s time you jumped on that train before it leaves the station for good. Are you ready to take your SEO to the next level?