Why is it possible to make a fairly reliable forecast of the upcoming SEO trends at this point in time? One reason for this are past updates of the last few months, which have provided valuable insights. Numerous statements by Google also indicate what will be important.
The following topics are likely to be among the SEO trends for 2019:
- Relevance and quality
- voice search
- Mobile First
Relevance and quality
Basically nothing new is the news that the relevance of a website has a significant influence on Google rankings. This has become clear recently, especially in connection with the core updates carried out by Google. Google’s regular recommendation after such updates is to check the relevance of the website. Anyone who has to complain about worse rankings after an update should check whether the content offered still fits the needs of the users and whether all their questions are answered sufficiently.
Selective improvements or certain “SEO tricks” hardly help any more. This means that good rankings involve a lot of work. It is necessary to know one’s own target group and its needs and to address these needs as comprehensively as possible on the website.
One tip for better identifying the information needs of users is to take a look at the Google Search Console and see which search queries have led to impressions in the search. These search terms can be used as a basis for creating new or expanding existing text.
However, the quality of a website does not only depend on the relevance of the content. Further quality factors are usability, security (e.g. by playout via HTTPS) and page speed.
In July of this year, Google carried out the so-called speed update. With this update, the loading time of mobile websites has become a ranking factor, after Google had previously only included the desktop loading time in the rating.
Another change resulting from the speed update is that even small improvements of the loading time can have a positive effect on the rankings. However, this applies almost exclusively to particularly slow websites.
And this seems to be exactly what Google is currently looking at. It is shown by warning messages that Google has been sending to operators of particularly slow websites since last week. In it three characteristic numbers are emphasized:
- First Contentful Paint: Indicates when the browser starts rendering a page. This is important for the user experience and shows that something is happening on the page.
- Time to Interactive: After this period, the page can be used interactively.
- First Input Delay: Delay after the first user interaction with the page, such as clicking a button or link.
Admins of websites that receive such a warning message should urgently work on improving their page speed. Tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights or Google Lighthouse show which optimisation potentials exist.
There’s still been no breakthrough on spoken searches. But the spread of digital assistants like Alexa, Siri or Google Home is progressing and will increasingly affect the search. Google still has no official data on the share of voice searches in the total search volume. Google also does not yet offer the option of displaying spoken search queries separately using the Search Console.
However, there are older statistics that show that a high proportion of adults and an even higher proportion of young people already use spoken search queries, for example to obtain route information or information about the current time.
With regard to voice searches, two factors are particularly important:
- The search queries are on average longer and more complex than typed search queries.
- Normally only the top pages are seen by people
This means that it is important to know what users are looking for via a digital assistant and what questions are asked. These questions have to be taken up and answered on the website. Those who don’t make it to the first place of the search results will be left behind. The experts at the Memphis SEO company have written that as long as articles are diverse enough and contain many phrases, Google can understand the overall relevance of the page for all kinds of related search phrases.
Of interest in this context is Google’s announcement to use a new type of structured data for content that is suitable for spoken language output. Although these structured data are currently only relevant to news sites in the US, they should be kept in mind.
Google’s transition to mobile indexing, known as Mobile First, is in full swing. The decisive factor is that Google will no longer calculate the rankings on the basis of the desktop display, but will evaluate the mobile presentation.
It is therefore important that the mobile version of a website has all the essential content of the desktop version. In addition to the texts, this includes above all
- Structured data
- Media files such as images, videos, etc.
You don’t have to worry about backlinks: Google will continue to evaluate all links together – both the desktop and the mobile version.
The switch to Mobile First will probably take some time over the next few years. First of all, pages will be converted where the differences between mobile and desktop presentation are small. This applies in particular to pages with responsive design, but also to desktop-only pages.
Quality and relevance will be the SEO success factors for 2019. This, combined with the appropriate focus on voice search and the associated information needs as well as a fast and user-friendly and search engine friendly playout of content, creates the prerequisites for good rankings.