Will SEO change in 2019?
Change is inevitable.
But what types of changes can you expect and prepare for?
That’s what I’ll explain today.
Here Are My 7 SEO Predictions for 2019:
- 1. Expect Fewer Clicks
- 2. Voice Search Becomes More Popular
- 3. Mobile Search Continues to Dominate
- 4. UX Becomes a Stronger Ranking Factor
- 5. You’ll Still Need Backlinks to Rank
- 6. Accurate Information Becomes Critical
- 7. Ranking Will Take Longer
1. Expect Fewer Clicks
Searchers are clicking on organic results less than ever.
Many variables are responsible for this, but two of the biggest culprits are:
More SERP Features
Featured snippets, invisible organic results, instant answers, and knowledge boxes reduce organic CTR.
Aggressive Google Ads
What’s the best way for Facebook, Google or any ad giant to increase revenue (in the short term)?
Force you to pay for ads by reducing organic reach.
I do believe Google cares about delivering quality answers for searchers.
But don’t forget:
They care more about pleasing their shareholders.
Google will do what it takes to increase CTR for their advertisers.
Never forget that.
The question is:
What can you do to increase your organic CTR?
Don’t Target “Dangerous” Keywords
You shouldn’t target keywords that have a high probability of producing low CTR.
Google can answer simple queries like “what time is it in LOCATION” or “what’s the temperature”.
The searcher doesn’t need to click through on these types of queries.
Avoid keywords that have “easy” answers.
Build Your Brand
Branded searches are the key to long-term SEO success.
You attract more branded searches by having an amazing product and by adding incredible value in your market.
Branded searches are a huge trust signal for SEO.
I believe your brand’s reputation/trust is the future of effective SEO.
More on this in a second.
2. Voice Search Becomes More Popular
Voice isn’t the future. It’s already here.
According to Bright Local…
“58% of consumers have used voice search to find local business information in the last 12 months.”
Here’s the good news:
You don’t really need to do anything new to optimize for voice search.
All the traditional SEO actions like…
…will help voice search performance.
There’s one key difference though.
According to Brian’s voice search case study…
“Approximately 75% of voice search results rank in the top 3 for that query.” – Backlinko
That means you need to focus on traditional rankings if you ever want to become a voice search result.
3. Mobile Search Continues to Dominate
No brainer here, but most searches are on a mobile device.
To be exact:
“52.2 percent of all website traffic was generated through mobile phones.” – Statista
I will say it varies based on the industry.
For example, 80% of traffic coming to GotchSEO.com is from desktop:
I’ve seen this trend in many B2B industries, but most industries will get most of their traffic from mobile.
Hence the reason why Google rolled out mobile first indexing.
They have way more data than we do and it’s obvious that mobile is more important than ever.
That means your website needs to be mobile friendly.
Not only that:
The mobile experience needs to be exceptional as well.
Bringing me to SEO prediction #4…
4. UX Becomes a Stronger Ranking Factor
One of the best ways to improve SEO performance is to optimize your site’s UX.
Adobe discovered that:
“38 percent of people will stop engaging with a website if the content and layout is unattractive.”
This alone should make you value UX/UI optimization more.
But how do you actually optimize UX?
There are obvious UX optimization actions like:
- Increasing your website loading speed
- Making your site mobile friendly
- Not using aggressive interstitial pop-ups
- Not using disruptive ad placements
But there is one UX optimization that matters for SEO more than anything else…
Optimizing for User Intent
What does that mean?
It means that your page should satisfy the intent of keyword that’s searched.
I won’t go too deep into this, but the best way to understand user intent is through categorization.
Memorize these four types of user intent:
If a user searches “how to build backlinks”, you serve them informational content because that’s the intent.
If a user searches “Moz vs Ahrefs”, they’re looking to compare and contrast these two products (so they can make an educating buying decision). A page explaining the pros and cons of these products would satisfy the intent.
If a user searches “buy Gotch SEO Academy”, they’re ready to transact.
If a user searches “Gotch SEO Academy login”, you know exactly what they’re looking for. Give them a freakin’ login page. Simple.
Satisfying user intent is simple.
Try to get into the searcher’s mind every time you decide to target a keyword.
What do they actually want when they enter that search query?
It’s time well spent trying to figure it out.
Getting it right will improve your page’s UX.
That means users:
- will stay on your page longer
- won’t pogo-stick as much
- may visit a second page on your site or…
- may complete a goal (like subscribe, submit a lead form, or buy a product).
I recommend using a combination of Google Analytics and heat map technology (Sumo, Hotjar, or Optimizely) to test and optimize UX.
Optimizing UX is the baseline for effective SEO.
But what happens when most websites have strong UX?
What signals can Google use to determine what’s best?
The same signal they’ve used since the beginning…
I’ve heard some people claim that “backlinks don’t matter” or “UX is more important than backlinks”.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Links matter and will continue to be critical to Google’s algorithm now and into the future.
Links are the only accurate differentiator if all things are equal.
Let’s say two pages are competing for a keyword.
Both of these pages…
- Have in-depth, well-researched content written by a qualified expert
- Have perfect page-level optimization
- Have perfect UX and all users signals are positive
What page deserves to rank #1?
Pretty challenging to make a decision when you don’t have external signals.
This why backlinks (votes) are critical to Google’s algorithm.
But don’t take my word for it.
According to Brian’s massive ranking study:
“The number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor.” – Backlinko
SEMRush had similar conclusions.
They found that:
“The higher the domain’s position on the SERP, the more referring domains it has.” – SEMRush
Not only that…
Ahrefs studied ~1 billion pages in their Content Explorer index and discovered there’s a direct correlation between total linking root domains and total organic search traffic.
They discovered that 90.88% of pages in their Content Explorer index get ZERO traffic from Google.
Roughly 85% of those pages have less than 3 linking root domains!
Let’s face it:
Saying that links aren’t important for SEO is like being a climate change denier.
The data doesn’t support it.
One dork will jump in my comment section below and try to nail me with the classic “correlation isn’t causation” jazz…
If you want to throw that cute phrase around, then here’s my challenge (and incentive) for you:
I will send someone $1,000 cash if they can prove (beyond a reasonable doubt) that links aren’t important.
6. Accurate Information Becomes Critical
I believe Google tested this theory with the “Medic” update. I also think it wasn’t a successful test because many websites saw a reversal after dropping.
It’s like the test they ran to see how the SERPs would look without using link signals.
That said… I believe E-A-T is and will be a big deal going forward.
Google wants accurate information written by real experts in their search results. You can feel that sentiment throughout their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.
This all circles back to quality content.
Google’s Panda algorithm targeted thin, low-quality affiliate websites.
Why wouldn’t they continue down that path?
Google wants to eradicate inaccurate and potentially dangerous information from their search results.
The good news is that optimizing for “E-A-T” is easy:
- Find a credible author (someone with real credentials, experience, or other forms of social proof)
- Write well-researched, in-depth content
- Be a good company.
Crazy concept, right?
You better believe Google has all positive and negative information about your brand.
If your product sucks or your company wrongs its customers, then your SEO performance will suffer.
It won’t happen tomorrow, but it’s coming.
7. Ranking Will Take Longer
Did you know that Ahrefs discovered that the average top 10 ranking page is over 2 years old?
This is why I emphasize patience so much. SEO is a long-term game.
If you’re not willing to put in the work over a sustained amount of time, then it’s probably not the right channel for you.
The potential is huge for people who are willing to do the right work and be patient.
SEO Lives On In 2019!
Despite these changes (or perceived challenges), SEO is more alive than ever. It’s harder and requires more skillsets, but THAT’S GOOD.
It’s good for those that are willing to learn, take action, and be patient.
Companies are willing to pay more for SEO than ever before because it’s so much harder than it used to be.
That means if you possess the ability to increase organic search traffic, then you will never need to worry about money again.
- You can take on clients
- You can start your own niches websites and…
- You can have real financial freedom when you learn SEO.
You just need the right system to follow and credible teacher.
Anyway, thanks for reading! Share this if you enjoy it.