Last Updated on January 22, 2019
The field of SEO and search engine algorithms is constantly changing. Consequently, staying up to date with your knowledge is a must if you don’t want to fall behind, or – worse yet – get penalized and lose your search engine rankings. There have been a lot of changes in the recent years, but to truly stay ahead of the curve, it’s important to make an educated guess where the algorithms are going and grasp the big picture of what Google is trying to accomplish. This is the only approach that will allow your websites to stay future-proof in terms of rankings and keep your visitors satisfied.
With that in mind, let’s hop right in and see what 2019 has in store for us:
Page loading speed, for example, has always been a huge factor in how your websites fare in the search engines, and this is still true today. Simply put, it’s one of the most crucial factors of your website’s user experience. The reason why you should make your web pages load faster is not only because Google wants you to, but because you care about your users.
To that end, upgrading your website’s infrastructure is a must. Since mobile traffic is now arguably more important than desktop traffic, you should make sure to make it mobile-friendly by applying responsive design or make sure to modify the layout and content in a way that it will always be displayed correctly no matter what type of device the users are accessing it from.
This is a phrase that everybody loves to throw around, but what does it really mean? As search engines are getting smarter with each passing day, they are better equipped for judging the value of the content that can be found on your website. As such, the days of stuffing it with keywords just to get their attention are long gone. In fact, your content should be written for the readers, not the search engines. This means using clearly understandable sentences and giving value at every step of the way.
Some industry experts like Neil Patel advise you to avoid writing sentences that are too long – if you are familiar with his one-paragraph-per-sentence writing style, it’s easy to see why this works so well. You should also be liberal with your subheadings – the more, the merrier. That way, the content becomes much more easily digestible and the users can quickly skim over it to learn the main takeaway points if they’re short on time.
Making good use of ranking for long-tail keywords is one of the best digital marketing strategies you can take advantage of. Yes, long-tail keywords have fewer searches in general; however, they tend to be highly targeted. What does this mean? Well, even if you get fewer people on your website through them, they’ll be much deeper in the selling process, meaning that most of them will know exactly what they want. This makes delivering just the right content much simpler; and if you do, conversions will surely follow as a result.
The idea is to optimize the core of the article around the main keyword, then either naturally sprinkle in some long-tail keywords or structure the subheadings around them. Ideally, you should aim for a good return on your investment, which can either be your time or your money. By designing the content in such a way that both the main keyword and the long-tail keywords are covered, you’re essentially killing two birds with one stone, thus maximizing the return on your efforts.
On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with a plain old article. Or is it? If user engagement is any dear to you, you will strongly consider enhancing it with various multimedia elements such as videos and images. In fact, if you properly optimize the images that you post (hint: make proper use of alt tags), you’ll find that you’ll also be getting organic traffic from image searches, an important aspect of SEO that many webmasters seem to forget.
One might argue that traffic that’s coming in from image searches isn’t nearly as relevant, targeted, or important, but given how little it takes to optimize for it, why leave money on the table? Any little bit you can get help.
That being said, make sure that you respect other people’s intellectual property. Simply firing up a search engine and grabbing the first decently-looking image you stumble across is a huge no-no. Before publishing it on your website, make sure you have the necessary licensing rights. Ideally, you would get your hands on a creative commons license for that particular image, which allows you to use it in any way you like, even for commercial purposes.
As for embedding relevant videos, there is little to worry about, as doing so doesn’t infringe on anyone’s rights and makes your content much more engaging as a result. If anything, their owners will thank you for it, since all you’re doing is sending people to watch them and raising the watch count!
Contrary to popular belief, page design is much more than making your website pretty. The basic premise is this; the less time a visitor has to spend searching for the information they’re after, the more effectively your page is designed. Nowadays, people’s lives are busy, and if you expect that the visitors to your website will linger on for a prolonged period of time just to find the valuable piece of advice they’ve been promised, it’s time to re-adjust your expectations.
Will the visitors dig deeper and try to find the answers that are buried deep down a corridor of other articles you may have published? Hardly so – they will simply navigate away to your competitors’ websites instead. Not only will this cost you a potential customer, but the bounce rate of your website will suffer as a result, pushing it down the rankings some more, thus costing you even more visitors in the future. You see? It’s a vicious cycle, so do everything in your might to avoid going down that road.
People are slowly catching on to deceptive marketing tactics some webmasters use and are not as likely to trust you as this used to be the case decades ago when the internet was still in its infancy. How to fight against this? If your products and services are genuinely helpful, there’s no shame in promoting them in any way you see fit; after all, you aren’t deceiving anybody. However, be advised that if you incorporate some social proof on your websites, you can expect a much larger percentage of visitors to trust you and believe in what you’ve got.
This is easily accomplished by having some form of social media presence. At the moment, Facebook still holds the #1 place, so this is the avenue you should be exploring. If you can afford to manage additional social media channels, you should consider expanding to Twitter and Instagram as well (besides, finding a social media manager is not too hard these days, so you won’t have to do all the work yourself). After this is taken care of, simply include social media buttons on your website; since there are a myriad of free plugins readily available if you use WordPress, you should be able to manage this even if you aren’t particularly tech-savvy.
As many on-site SEO experts will tell you, metadata is still a huge metric in the eyes of the search engines. In particular, this boils down to the following:
- Keyword in title
Keyword in the meta description
Keyword in URL
Keyword in headings
Arguably, this part may be a bit challenging to implement for some, but again, modern CMS solutions like WordPress and its wide array of plugins make your job incredibly easy (at least easier than it used to be). In the old days, you’d have to open up a website editor and tinker with the source code of your website. For programmers, this is nothing but a walk in the park, but the rest of the crowd may not be so keen on fiddling with the very core of their website and potentially doing more harm than good.
Fast forward to 2019, things are much less technically demanding and everyone can edit the content and SEO properties of a website, no matter what that individual’s skill level may be. If you aren’t using WordPress, you should strongly reconsider your position; after all, there is a reason why most webmasters prefer this CMS over all the others. Plugins like Yoast and All in one SEO pack make your on-site SEO efforts an absolute breeze. With one of these installed, you can enter all of the above-mentioned metadata manually without having to write a single line of code.
While no one can truly tell what 2019 and beyond has in store for us, we can make an educated guess based on what’s been going on in the world of SEO up to this point. But no matter what you do, just take care of everything we’ve touched upon today, and you are bound to see some improvements in your website’s search engine rankings sooner or later.