As the new year sheds its confetti and cranks into gear, there are several trends marketers need to keep a keen eye on for the next twelve months — and beyond. Let’s start with SEO:

1. Mobile-First Indexing

Since mobile use has surpassed desktop searches in recent years, Google has made mobile devices a top priority for indexing pages. Before this change, the desktop version of a page was indexed for mobile searchers, which caused problems for mobile users, as desktop versions of pages could be vastly different than mobile versions. With this change, Google ranks your page based on its mobile performance, providing users with a better experience. Make sure your site’s pages are all mobile-friendly (ideally, responsive) and that the mobile version of your pages have intuitive navigability and fast load times, which won’t cause users to bounce from your site.

2. Voice Search Optimization

Voice search is something every marketer should watch out for. Brightedge estimates that 50% of all of all U.S. households will own a smart speaker in 2020, which means almost half of Google searchers will own Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, or Apple’s Homepod. It’s more important than ever to get a jumpstart on optimizing and implementing a voice search strategy. Keep long-tail keywords and also local SEO in mind when doing keyword research, as more people are using voice-enabled devices to search for local businesses. When users search through voice enabled devices, Google displays a “People Also Ask” feature so you can receive more insight on the questions you should be optimizing for. There are also tools you can use, like Answer the Public. Just type in a root keyword and it will return a map of commonly asked keywords centered around that keyword.

3. Google SERP Features

Google is constantly rolling out new features in search engine results pages (SERPs), and it’s essential to implement a working strategy for each one. Whether it’s the Google Knowledge Panel, answer boxes, carousels, or whatever Google rolls out, it’s important to understand how to rank and optimize your business for them. And always stay on the lookout for new features in the SERPs in 2019.

4. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

AI and machine learning have advanced SEO remarkably. Both bring personalized experiences to users and ensure messaging is matched with user intent. They also automatically deliver value to users by predicting behavior and search query history so that users find what they’re looking for. Stay on top of this trend so you can report and analyze successful — and less successful — strategies.

5. Video Optimization 

More users search for videos for tutorials and entertainment, as well as learning about a product or service online. Cisco VNI predicts that video will represent 80% of all internet traffic by 2021, so make sure you optimize videos on YouTube and Google. Creating shareable videos is critical, and putting those videos out there will not only help you compete in 2019, but will be an important part of the SEO marketing funnel when driving new customers to a valuable product or service.

6. User-Intent

SEO is not just about keywords or metadata: it’s about keeping the customer’s intent in mind. With voice search on the rise, users can now can ask direct questions about a product or service. Google has become more sophisticated over the years and they’re prioritizing around the user’s intent, so it’s critical you’re answering their questions and tailoring content for them. Take into consideration Google’s Search Quality Guidelines as queries can have more than one intent.

7. EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trust)

EAT is important when you’re trying to rank pages, but don’t take our word for it, ask Google. Google’s Quality Guidelines explains EAT in great detail and demonstrates how Google might rank your pages. It’s worth reading if you’re wondering how to raise page quality and are curious about what characteristics indicate a quality page. It states that government, news, and education sites are considered high in EAT. There is much more to EAT, so take a look at what you can do to raise expertise, authoritativeness, and trust in 2019.

8. Page Speed & UX

With Google implementing mobile-first indexing, page speed and user experience (UX) should not be ignored on any device. Making sure pages are navigable, responsive, and fast will drastically improve rankings, as Google rewards sites for speed and low bounce rate. If you haven’t improved UX or page speed on your site, it’s imperative to get up to speed so you’re not left behind.

9. Influencer Marketing

Social media is a powerful tool for SEO, and connecting with influencers who are willing to endorse your product on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube will help increase organic traffic by way of back links.

These are just a few areas — among many — to keep in mind for a 2019 SEO strategy, and ensuring you keep up with these trends will help you rise above your competition and boost your search rankings. For more information on search engine optimization, as well as any other digital marketing questions you might have, please contact us today.

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