The importance of having an established online presence for your businesses cannot be overemphasised. However, that is a challenging feat, especially if you consider how competitive it is for your site to rank high on Google search results, which would mean massive traffic to your site.
The mainstream way of getting massive online traffic is appearing on top of SERPs (search engine result pages). Easy to say your position in search results could make all the difference in the life of your business, but SEO isn’t what it used to be.
Google tries to give users the exact answers to their questions in search results and they’re getting smarter at this, their algorithms (programming language/structure) keep changing to provide the most relevant and helpful answers to their users. For instance, if your pet shop has its website and a user were to search for a particular breed of dog, Google tries to provide exact results to just that. This also means, your site would perform poorly or might not be visible at all. If your business website generalizes or does not have any specific directory for different types of breeds.
To stay on top of all the changes, you might want to consider a major ramp-up in your SEO game in 2019, because if you think it’s hard to rank on Google now, it’s only going to get harder.
Before we get into the trends to consider in 2019, let’s look at some major competition to look out for.
SERP features Google is constantly improving their user experience, meaning that they’ve incorporated some features that help you find the best possible result for any keyword.
These features include;
•Google’s massive database
•Local search results
•Organic search results
For example, when someone types ‘McDonalds’ in the search bar of Google, Google doesn’t just present the history of McDonald’s or the meaning of the word, they know that the person probably just wants to eat a burger so they display the nearest McDonalds, display a great photo of a burger and probably an ad to another burger shack close by.
You might have noticed that Google sometimes answers your question directly without directing you to another site. They’ve collected volumes of data which they’ve analyzed with complex, ever-evolving algorithms to provide the user with quick answers.
This is where the real competition lies, especially when trying to rank for commercial keywords like products or services. Ads will pop up before your site no matter how optimized your site is. They usually carry the ‘ad’ tag.
Local search results
If you’re a digital marketer, you probably know this. If you’re a newbie, you might want to follow the hyperlink for some basic information. Established local business outlets optimized for Google, will show up for the relevant keywords when a customer types in the keyword.
Organic search results
This is where you find the rest of the world, the guys who have the most relevant keywords and the most valuable content. Google keeps getting better at finding original, valuable and up to date results, so spamming your titles with keywords is not going to cut it anymore, now you can put your heart and soul into creating content and Google will reward you for it because they know your stuff is quality.
Note: these are not all the features of search engine result pages, these are just some valuable points, that drastically increase and change with the competition for top spot on Google. Others include Google news, “people also ask” section, google images, featured snippets, etc.
Top SEO trends and practices
With all the changes google keeps making, it’s getting more and more difficult to know which changes are going to up your SEO game in 2019, here are some SEO trends and practices you want to look out for.
1. Going mobile
A lot of factors influence how you rank on Google. These days, the attention has seen a major shift from desktop and PC to mobile users. This due to the fact that the majority of Google users use smartphones and tablets.
What this means for you is that since Google crawls for sites with mobile optimization, sites without it tend to fall lower in the ranking.
Google introduced mobile optimization as a ranking factor in the year 2016 since then it has seen outstanding growth. In the summer of 2018, Google officially implemented their ‘mobile first index’.
It’s no longer an option whether to optimize your site for mobile, it’s a requirement if you want to rank.
2. Optimize for local traffic.
A lot of businesses rely on local traffic as opposed to online traffic for their businesses. These businesses may know it to be a good idea to have an online presence, but having an online presence without local SEO is a waste of valuable online real estate.
The top three spots with high visibility and considerable traffic are usually occupied by close-by businesses that are optimized with their location.
A major way to step-up your SEO game and finally cash-in on all that traffic is to;
1. Associate your business with a location
2. Claim the business on Google. N/B: You can also do this by simply searching out your business on the Google Map. (A way of letting Google know you’re there).
3. Post your map address on your website as well as on your social media outlets.
4. Include the areas your business operates and the specific range of services you render.
5. Add your location when targeting SEO keywords like ‘Digital marketing agency in London’.
6. Focus on widespread SEO like backlinks, social media popularity, Google reviews etc.
3. Key sentences or strings vs keywords
If you know something about keyword research, this isn’t the first time you’re hearing this. Keywords are one of the most important factors to consider when doing SEO. It basically determines your rank in any SERP.
So, if you’re a new or small site without little in the way of authority that’s okay, you can still rank. When optimizing your titles, subtitles or whatever it is you’re optimizing, it’s a good idea to imagine what your potential client is going to type in the search box.
For example, if you use a keyword such as ‘Toyota Corolla’, you’re going to see older sites with way more authority than you. And the problem with using such keywords is that apart from the vicious competition, such keywords usually lead to their key string cousins that Google thinks their users want to find.
But if you use something more specific like ‘used black Toyota Corolla S in Manhattan’, you have a much better chance at coming up higher in SERPs.
If you’ve not been using this strategy, you might want to try it, with Google coming up with all sorts of filters, this one leads your client straight to you. And high specificity means the traffic you’re getting will convert better than the random traffic that’ll just click away.
4. Optimize for voice search
Google reports that one in every search is a voice search. This can be performed while driving and/or using mobile assistants like Bixby, Siri and google voice. Its popularity is a by-product of the sudden popularity of mobile (I.e. mobile first index).
This type of searches usually involves very specific long-tailed keywords. While optimizing it’s a good idea to try to guess what your potential clients are going to say.
Another excellent strategy is optimizing your content for a variety of languages using google translate. Especially when marketing products and services internationally.
5. Good old backlinks
It’s easy to ignore this one since setting up, takes up some additional minutes but Google will reward your efforts.
A lot of people go about saying link building is an outdated SEO strategy but Gary Illyes from Google disagrees. He says that page rank is still a very important ranking at Google and will remain so in the foreseeable future. He also said that authority or link power is obtained by having appreciable backlinks.
It’s a good idea to build links through motivated users who genuinely enjoy telling people about your site instead of spamming your links all over the place. Google will know what you’re doing and that will negatively affect how your site ranks in SERPs.
When link building, try to think about whether your link adds value to the users or if at all they have any interest in what you’re pushing if not, go place your link somewhere else where people will actually click on them and be glad, they did.
• Featured snippet card.
If you look at the SERPs today, you’ll see that a lot has changed. for one thing, it seems Google wants the front page for itself. For more commercial searches, the top 5 ranking items are sponsored ads. If you’re searching for something simple like ‘what’s Captain America’s real name?’, Google already has an answer waiting for you; not from another website but from the volumes of data they have. Any available ‘top-5’ space that isn’t taken by that is occupied by their ‘people also ask’ card.
You might notice a feature box on the right which features the information that is just the answer to your question (according to google).
Featured snippets are important as they provide quick answers to your questions when you type in a search. They’re also important to the website featured as the website receives explosive traffic from that search intent.
It’s likely going to be more difficult to occupy the top spots in 2019. It’s important to work hard, plan intellectual strategies and do lots of research. With the way things are going, you want to create content with maximum value instead of trying to fool the algorithm. It’s also important to know which goals to achieve and which goals are achievable.
If you want to feature in the snippet section, you should try to become an authority in your niche. It helps to add a question and answer section to your website. Tables or graphs can also go a long way as those are featured regularly on the snippets card.
Even with all the planning and strategizing, the competition is scary to look at. But with well structured, clear and straight to the point information that Google can use, smaller sites too can rank and even get featured.
So, you should be asking yourself what your target audience wants and be ready to go the extra thousand miles to give it to them in a well-structured way.
Google typically wants to answer questions and provide people with information. If you can do this well enough with relevant and original content, you too will rank.
• User satisfaction
Gone are the days when people optimize websites for search engine algorithms. Now, you optimize your site so your users can get what they need. This will prompt them to come back and also tell their friends.
Some points to consider when optimizing for user satisfaction include;
The average human attention span is nothing short of horrific at best, and it keeps dropping as if being propelled by rocket boosters. What this means for you is that you only have a few seconds to catch the eyes of your potential clients and if your sites take 10 seconds to load, your would-be clients would be long gone before the fifth second.
You can use tools like gtmetrix and pages peed tool to see how fast your pages are loading.
Error and bug-free
If you were surfing the net for something you know can be found in about twenty thousand other websites, would you stick around in one poorly coded site that shows error messages at every turn? No!.
That’s why your website should be working perfectly, without any bugs or errors whatsoever.
Optimize for mobile
The majority of people on the web today browse on-the-go, which means some kind of mobile device.
If your best display is meant for PC users, you’re going to be losing a lot of potential clients.
Running a business is a full-time job, you might want to be on top of everything and try to do everything yourself but you’ll only end up stretching yourself too thin.
No matter how committed you are to your business, you can’t be a cashier, salesperson, accountant, and janitor at the same time. Point is, you want to hire a good digital marketing agency.
Why You should hire a good digital marketing agency
You might have noticed that the trends we talked about before has a lot of technical stuff and you really have to be up-to-date about all the latest changes from Google and the tech world in general; in short, you can’t really do this to the point where it matters to your business while running your business. You want to hire a digital marketing agency. These guys market your business, they create brand awareness, they use SEO magic to make your business thrive, they give your business that online dominance that might just be the big break your business has been waiting for.
Reasons you should hire a digital marketing agency in 2019
•Allows you time to run your business: the online stuff really needs dedication and focus as well as being up-to-date on new trends and shifts. All that focus and concentration should be given to your business.
•They know their stuff: let’s face it, half the time you don’t even know what you are doing. You don’t have years of experience, you don’t know how to quickly change strategies to maximize profits or conversions, most of what you do still come from guys at YouTube who also made videos about other guys on YouTube.
Give the job to a digital marketing agency who actually knows the system, and can match your goals with their strategies to give measured success with a specified time frame.
•A Fraction of the cost: you might have thought about having a marketing department of your own, but that requires time to build not to mention the substantial amount of cash involved in paying and maintaining an in-house marketing team.
Digital marketers are pros and they give you results in real time not to mention their almost unbelievable charge. The choice is easy.
•Ideas for free: The most part of their job involves coming up with innovative and inventive ideas that could still be maxing your profits long after their contract is due.
These ideas include;
*changes to other section of your business that might not be in favor of maximum growth.
*insight into the behavior of potential clients and target audiences.
*Ideas on which marketing strategies are currently working.
There are practically no limits to what you can achieve with a digital marketing agency, it’s a good idea to hire one.