SEO is always evolving, and 2018 has been no different. 2019 is sure to bring a host of new changes and trends to watch and adopt.
So what can we expect from the world of SEO in 2019? What do Google and other search engines have in store for us?
Google’s Mobile-First Indexing
Now that Google uses the mobile version of your website to determine rankings, it’s critical that whatever is displayed on a mobile device can be easily viewed and displays all the relevant information.
Starting in March 2018, Google began to migrate websites over to its mobile-first index, which the majority of websites will have seen pop up in Search Console.
The fact it is now mobile-first means that the mobile version of your site is the one that Google is using to determine what terms you should rank for, and where you rank.
So if your mobile site is a stripped down version with less content or features, then it could be doing your brand a disservice. However, if you display all the relevant information via a responsive design or otherwise, you’re likely fine.
Conversational AI and Virtual assistants
Mobile assistants and conversational AI has become more important and more used over the past few years.
Black Friday 2018 alone is enough to see that smart speakers and AI-based assistants are going to get more popular. With the number of deals on smart home-hubs and speakers with virtual assistants, it’s likely more people than ever will be searching and asking queries via virtual assistants or AI of some kind.
Not only that, but there will be a continual rise in the use of voice-activated assistants via other devices, such as smartphones. More people will not only be buying more up-to-date and powerful phones, but will also be more used to the features and functionalities available.
Even brands such as LG are putting AI into smart televisions to answer questions. How will these devices answer queries, or what search engine will they use? All worth considering – but for most people, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri (maybe Cortana) are worth considering.
As with the rise of mobile or virtual assistants, and how conversational AI helps to address search queries, voice search will be used more.
Long-tail keywords will become more important. You will need to consider what type of terms or search queries a customer would physically say when searching for a product or service like yours. What would change in how they would type vs how they would speak?
Using terms such as near me instead of locations, for instance, is something voice search users do. But they will also ask questions, such as, “what is the best Italian near me” rather than typing in “best Italian restaurants Cambridge”.
The rise of Amazon as a place to search
Not strictly SEO, but Amazon can be an integral part of how many businesses operate – whether selling through Amazon or as a competitor.
More people are starting their shopping directly on Amazon. No research on Google or elsewhere to begin with, instead relying on Amazon’s suggestions, top sellers or otherwise, the results it gives when searching for specific products.
So if you have thought of selling on Amazon, but never pulled the trigger, it may be worthwhile. It’s estimated that 56% of consumers use Amazon as the first place to begin their shopping.
Page speed has always been a big issue for SEO. However, rankings were always based on the loading time on a desktop. Now though, mobile page speed is a ranking factor for people searching on mobile – and this is likely to get more significant down the line.
Websites are now judged by new factors that determine a sites speed. Google uses data from the Chrome User Experience report, which is essentially a catalogue of how websites perform out in the wild on users’ devices.
Therefore, it’s quite difficult to suitably optimise a website specifically to gain a better speed. So best practice is simply to create the best user experience that loads as quickly as possible.
You can improve your Optimisation score by fixing issues which may mean your site loads slowly.
GDPR was one of the hottest (yet dull) topics of 2018. Whatever industry you work in, it’s likely GDPR affected your business and how you operate in some way.
There are a number of SEO-related precautions to take. Google has had to change the way in which platforms such as Analytics, Google Ads and Tag Manager collect and store personal data.
For instance, any personal data collected via Google Analytics expires after 26 months. While this doesn’t have a significant instant impact, it’s worth keeping in mind for the future and for records. This includes affinity and demographic data, that can prove useful for particular industries or businesses.