Keep updated with current trends in SEO best practices
Leading search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and others are doing their best to build a secure, faster and better web for all of us as they now tend to answer directly to more queries on the results pages. As a website or blog owner, these trends by the search engines will make you change your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. Making proper strategies based on current SEO best practices is what will enable your site or blog to get to the top or maintain good SEO ranking in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Unlike in the past when all you had to do was to ‘pump’ keywords in the content, today that is a forgotten method to most SEO experts and website and blog creators. You will need to learn and familiarize yourself with the best SEO practices that are trending to stay ahead. Below are the top SEO best practices for 2019.
1. Content Is Still King
Search intent is one of the leading SEO factors that determines if your page will be displayed in the results for a given search query. Even though search engines algorithms are changing and getting better, textual content is still needed to determine the web pages relevant to the search query.
Did you know that 95% of people only look at the first page of search results. So if your content appears on the second page or after, most people won’t see it. So it is no surprise that a study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute shows that businesses are putting upwards of 56% of their marketing budget into content creation efforts.
The trend in ranking the pages based on quality and search intent will continue in 2019. It is up to you to do your best to provide high quality content and the best content on your topic in your blog or website. Always ensure your texts are unique, checked continuously and provide added value to the audience. They also show you which terms you should have in your text for it to become more relevant in relation to the search terms used by the audience. Also, ensure that the keywords are not stuffed in your content.
2. Voice Search
Back in 2014, Google through one of its studies had found that over 40% of the respondents use web searches that are voice-controlled. The rate was even more than 50% for teenagers. Today, Google states that every fifth search query by mobile users is made using voice input. ‘Voice search’ features will be used more frequently in 2019 as the use of smartphones and mobile devices and other digital assistants continue to rise.
Based on research conducted by comScore, by the year 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches.
In 2019, you should focus more on long tail keywords when you are optimizing your content since users communicate directly with the search engines when using voice-controlled searches. There are tools that you can use to help you know which queries to anticipate in your content and they include:
3. Mobile Optimization Is Still Vital
Over the past few years, search engines such as Google have continued to show an increase in focus on mobile searches. It is well known that today, the number of mobile searches is more than that of desktop users. In 2016, mobile optimization was introduced by Google as one of the ranking factors and in 2017, they also improved their mobile update and promoted the acceleration of mobile pages. In 2018, Google also introduced and implemented ‘mobile first index’ and they have plans for the future of showcasing the page version in the form of a mobile index. If you are a website owner, you should ensure that in 2019, your website is optimized for mobile devices.
SearchEngineWatch.com wrote about a recent Google survey of mobile users that stated;
“72 percent of mobile users say it’s important to them that websites are mobile-friendly”.
Is your site mobile friendly? Check it here.
4. The Use of Image Search Is Growing
Google in 2017 improved its image search. There were times when users did not need to get out of their Google pages and they will click through the images like they were in a picture gallery and many websites owners used to lose huge traffic in the process. Google image upgrade has responded well to the ongoing trend. In 2019, ensure you have optimized your visual material and use pictures that are better than those used by your competitors. The image, video material, and textual content should cover the topic comprehensively and add value.
People are naturally drawn to images so it is no surprise that they attract 3% of all Google search clicks.
5. Links Are Still Important
Ignore those people saying that ‘links or SEO is dead’. Backlinks will continue to play a vital role in 2019. Gary Illyes, a Webmaster Trends Analyst for Google stated at a conference in 2018, Google still continues to value good old techniques to rank pages internally. A website or a blog page link authority or power is achieved through the use of backlinks. ‘Linkless backlink’ will also continue to play a major role in 2019 and search engines like Google still consider the mentioning of sites or brands in other web pages. In 2019, consider whether the link to your page adds value to the user when building links. It is also advisable to be very careful with guest posts as Google warned site and blog owners about low-quality guest posts two years ago. Instead, focus on building quality content and adding links that add value as backlinks.
6. User Experience
User experience will continue to play a major role as well in 2019. As a site or blog creator or owner, it is important to understand that we optimize for users of websites and search engines and not for search engines. When the user experience is poor or for instance the website takes longer than expected when loading, chances are the user will move on to other site or your competitor web page. The three points below should be your focus in 2019 to boost user experience:
- Loading Speed: Google has a free PageSpeed tool that you can use to measure your site performance. There also other tools that you can find over the internet to test the loading times of your blogs or web pages. You can have good content on your website but if it is loading slowly, no visitor will look at them, do everything possible to increase the loading speed of your site pages.
- Mobile Optimization: Also ensure your mobile website has excellent loading times.
- Technically Flawless Websites: you should ensure that your audience can still rely on your website and the web pages continue to be usable in 2019 going forward.
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7. Include Target Keywords
Add keywords in the Titles, Meta Descriptions, Heading Tags, Text, Images and URL.
The use of keywords has been used since the inception of the first search engines link Google and it still works used to this day. The use of keywords applies to the textual content, images and voice search as well. Google tends to match the search query within the voice text and extract the matching search answers. Google also tend to rank the images better when tagged with their keywords in the name of the image file and alternate tags. The Meta description is also shown by Google when it finds the search query in it.
Add keywords in the Titles, Meta Descriptions, Heading Tags, Text, Images and URL.
8. Ensure The Page is Accessible and Crawl-able
Search engines use a program known as a spider that reads the pages and other information to enable it to crawl and access it for it to properly index and rank the web page. Sometimes a search engine can fail to access and crawl your web page due to the following reasons:
- Numerous redirects e.g broken redirects or redirect chain
- 5XX and 4XX errors-e.g ‘page cannot be found or server errors’
- Robots.txt file which is responsible for blocking the spiders from accessing the web page.
- The search engine might also have a problem in understanding the web page languages used to code a particular page(s) such as Java or Flash.
When you experience the problem of the search engine failing to access and crawl your web pages, conduct comprehensive auditing on your SEO website using auditing tools that are available to identify problematic web pages and resources. Always ensure you have submitted a sitemap to GSC (Google Search Console) and try as much as possible to include internal links where appropriate to your web pages where they can be easily discovered by Google. This will enable easy SEO ranking and indexing to your web page.
9. Include Structured Data And Use Markup Where Possible
Search engines work hard to understand the text or content of a web page. It is advisable to include structured data on your web page to help Google understand your content better. For instance, in your article content, mark it up with structured data to describe the page in the article or video. This action can come in handy and enable your content to gain placement in different rich features including the Top stories carousel. You can use a Google tool known as developers.google.com to identify which types of items in the content you can markup.
10. Featured Snippets
Initially, people conducting searches were used to just getting organic search results and Adwords but search engines like Google have added more information over the years. Featured snippets are also included in the search results when a search is conducted in these days. A featured snippet tends to pull out the most relevant content and provide the user with an answer and the user does not need to necessarily navigate down the result page. A featured snippet can be in form of a text, image, video, lists, and even table. It is advisable to use Q&A sequences in your content and even tables that have structured information that search engines can easily use.
11. RankBrain: Machine Learning
RankBrain is a self-learning algorithm that was introduced by Google in 2015. It is an artificial intelligence type of a tool which is in perpetual development and Google today uses RankBrain to answer a huge amount of the daily queries. Google now is able to read complex queries using RankBrain and in 2019, more progress is expected to be made by search engines to be able to read human better than before. This is better news to web developers, bloggers, and content creators to continue coming up with content that adds value to their audience.
12. Land Conversions Using Video
Let’s face it, video content converts very well. Besides high user retention, the longer time the users spend on-page and fewer bounce rates, video on landing pages has also proved to increase conversions as well. Incorporating video in your pages especially the landing web pages will enable you to engage with your audience directly, hold their attention longer and build trust. It is one of the most recent best SEO practices which also translates to increased engagement and the long time that the users spend on-site.
Research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute revealed that video was the largest priority for B2B content marketing efforts.
13. The Website is Secured With HTTPS
In 2014, Google confirmed that indeed HTTPS is an SEO ranking signal. This also meant that those who have adopted HTTPS will slightly boost their pages to rank better. The best thing to do is to contact your web developer or web hosting provider to ensure that your website is secured with HTTPS.
14. Keyword Research
For you to focus your pages accurately, it is wise to conduct some keyword research which also continues to be among the top 2019 best SEO practices. There are tools you can use to research keywords in your content.
We covered the best free keyword research tools in one of our previous posts named Top 10 Free Keyword Research Tools To Improve SEO
15. Competitor Analysis & Research
Many people often miss to find out what their competitors are doing. To know what to do to beat your competitors you need to find out exactly what they are doing and which SEO best practices they are using and which ones are working for them. There are also crawling tools you can use to find out what your competitors are doing. Are they using images or videos? Which keywords are they using? How often are they active on social media? These questions will guide you in researching what your competitors are doing.
16. Title Tags
Page titles will continue to be important in 2019 as a Google ranking signal. Initially, the minimum number of characters was 55 but today Google changed and they now use pixels to measure the size of the tag. However, it is very important to ensure that your title tag is not too long as Google tends to truncate or cut it short and this can have a greater impact on the message of your title. It is advisable to have one keyword in each title located at the beginning as much as possible.
17. Content Is Amplify-able (easily earns mentions, shares, and backlinks)
These are off-page signals and even though over the years their influence has decreased, it is still used by Google and if your content is not shareable, likable or mentionable, it will not be easy to maintain top sea ranking. Find a way to get at least five people or more, it could be your friends or co-workers and get them to read your content and share, link or mention. If no one was able to share or link after a long period, it is time to strategize again.
18. Understand Your Audience and User Intent
What does your audience prefer text, audio, images or videos? Or do they like textual content with images and videos more than those without?
This is also one of the best SEO practices, you will need to know in 2019. You will need to give your audience the answer to these questions in the simplest way possible. Knowing your audience’ taste, interests and preferences will greatly help in achieving your SEO goals. Content specialists are advised to focus more on user intent of those keywords they will target as they create content.
19. Invest in Technical SEO
Over the years, websites have continued to grow in terms of complexities and in 2019, investing in technical SEO will still be a wise decision. Some of the major technical areas of the SEO to focus on will be:
- Progressive Web Apps (PWAs): In 2019, it is time to think how your website can live and stay as PWA in the future. Can users regard your PWA as an experience they would like to keep and put on their home screen?
20. Local SEO
Local SEO is also referred to as a customary or organic SEO. The major difference between the normal SEO and local SEO is that for the latter, you will need to add your city/state in the content, title tags, headings, alt text, and URL. There are many other aspects of optimizing for local SEO so it might be a good idea to get a local SEO expert to optimize your website and listings to bring you the best bang for your buck.
21. Social Media Signals
In recent years, social media has grown significantly and is a useful and profitable channel for SEO. Social media provide great traffic without struggling and give you the chance to build and retain a community around your product or brand. Search engines are now using social media mentions to determine the SEO ranking as well. It also means that if more people retweet or like it, its value is great. You can also use your social media to build or create an audience and work harder to drive user engagement and conversions.
22. Use SEO-Friendly URLs
SEO-friendly URLs are major elements of SEO, especially in WordPress SEO best practices. Use URLs that are easier to remember and those that search engine spiders will read easily. Before adding your content to the blog go to setting>permalinks and then select ‘Post Name or Month and Name’ and create an easy and SEO-friendly URL. You should do this before your content is added to avoid broken links which are a nightmare for SEO.
Search engines like Google have always claimed it is difficult to determine the primary language in your web pages is when you are using multiple languages. You should always translate everything when you wish to move your pages to a new language. The alt tag also needs to be translated as Google views it as part of your page.
24. Evaluate The SERPs For Your Related Content Or Industry
Due to the SERP features included in the search results pages, they make them look different these days. The SERP features are what search engines include when a search is initiated other than the search results and they include Image Packs, Knowledge Graphs and featured snippets. They come above the number 1 organic result and they are therefore important if you are able to optimize for them. However, there are those features that do not apply to other specific industries and it is important you find out which ones apply to yours when strategizing the ones to add to boost your SEO ranking.
25. Incorporate Videos In Your SEO Strategies
Visual content is attracting more people than before and the trend will continue in 2019. Incorporating video content in your SEO strategy will increase visitors’ dwell time on your web page, especially if the video is a short one. You can also embed relevant videos from YouTube in your content and you might be surprised when your page ranking improves.
26. Header Tags (H1, H2, H3+)
Most people underestimate the importance of header tags, even those who use them. They help tell Google more about your pages. Header tags explain the page components and they are also used for heading style. Also, use keywords in your headings where possible. It is also wise to use only one H1 tag in one page. Headings give your content a usable structure and adding them is one of the best SEO practices that can help you to improve ranking.
Most web specialist and even digital marketers tend to ignore putting favicons on the sites or blogs. Favicons are the small images that appear in your browser when you are looking on a web page. They are just on the left side of the title. Most businesses have favicon as their company logo or an identifiable part of the logo. Google has recently issued a warning to the websites that lack favicon meaning they are important and should be considered for SEO strategies in 2019.
As SEO trends keep changing, it is vital to stay updated. In 2019, there are those trends that will roll-over from previous years but there are also those that are based on recent updates from search engines including Google while some are based on the technology in future. Face 2019 with a bang! And apply these SEO strategies and let 2019 be the year that your SEO ranking improved.
How is your website stacking up to the above mentioned SEO best practices?
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