In the past, we’ve hammered on about employing powerful niche keywords and what Google looks for.
While these concepts in SEO have always been important and will likely continue far into the future, there are some new emerging trends that can change how Google ranks your pages.
Optimizing for Voice Searches
Sure, optimizing for SEO is important, but what happens when the user is conducting their search with voice-enabled device like Alexa or Google Home. Sales of these devices have been skyrocketing since their release, and it’s been estimated that by 2020, half of all searches will be conducted by voice.
It should also be noted that users tend to employ conversational language when interacting with their voice-enabled device.
So what does this mean for your 2019 SEO strategy? Creating natural long-tail keyword phrases that are 7-9 words that match those conversational search terms!
Combined with creating amazing content that takes would-be customers through the sales funnel (What -> How -> When -> Where), your site will be ready to capitalize on the massive upswing in artificial intelligence devices.
Mobile Optimization Ramping Up
Back in March 2018, Google announced that it had begun the process of moving sites to a mobile-first index. As in, once fully implemented, Google will be using the mobile version of webpages for ranking, and those sites that haven’t migrated yet will be left behind.
With 60% of searches currently being conducted on mobile devices, there really is little reason not to migrate your site if you haven’t already done so.
There are a few caveats to keep in mind once you’re ready to pull the figurative trigger, though:
Ditch the “m.” (mobile) version of your site, and opt into responsive design.
Responsive design settings are governed by the viewport, which can be found using your browser’s Inspector Tool. Hit Ctrl+Shift+I, then Ctrl+F, and type in “viewport”. Confirm meta tag reads as follows to ensure the best display across all devices:
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">.
Being “mobile” is not enough. Is your site easy to use on mobile devices?
Many of us can relate that some sites’ mobile pages are a pain to navigate. It’s not a matter of whether these sites have migrated to mobile-first or not, but rather is the page a joy for visitors to interact with.
If the answer is no, they’ll click off and likely never come back.
Google offers a Mobile-Friendly test tool that’ll not only ensure that your page is ahem, mobile friendly, but also offers advice on how to optimize your page for an even better mobile experience. Simply put, the more time that visitors spend interacting with your site, the higher up the SERPs you’ll climb.
Speaking of which...
Increasing Dwell Time = Rankings Boost
If you’ve never heard of RankBrain, it’s a machine learning system that Google employs to help them sort their search results. In short, it’s job is to monitor how users interact with the search results and rank them accordingly.
For any given search term, Google may return results that don’t offer users much value and encourage them to bounce off back to the search page. Say that user then finds the exact content they were looking for, spending an average of 3 minutes 10 seconds interacting with said page.
Guess what? Enough users do that over time, the lower-ranking page will get a permanent rankings boost simply due to having a higher average dwell time than the previously dominant page. This phenomenon has been confirmed by the head of Google Brain in Canada as a ranking signal, so get creating something that users will actually want to interact with and share!
The other half of this phenomenon is…
Increasing Your Click-Through Rate Organically
Over the years, Google’s front page has gone through a tremendous metamorphosis. Where search results alone once held court now vie for page space with images, ads, and more recently, Featured Snippets.
Perhaps as a result, organic clickthrough rate as a whole is down 41.4% from 2014, according to one industry study.
If you want people to click on your link, here are three things you need to do today:
Vet top-ranking results for choice keywords for desired search terms.
Couple these with power words (today, quick, simple, etc.) when drafting your title tag.
Write an actionable meta description that employs the desired keywords.
While it’s true that meta descriptions themselves carry no direct SEO value, their purpose is to entice users to click on your site’s link, and truth be told, the default meta description produced by most pages is typically nonsensical and offers no true insight into what the page offers.
Do yourself and your would-be visitors a favor and don’t skimp on the meta description.