It’s January and Ahrefs tracked keywords tell me that now would be a good time to publish some content for the annual onslaught of ‘SEO in 2019’ searches.
As a fan of all things search-related I know that plenty of marketeers will be looking for that extra kick to their campaigns in the year ahead. I also know that many other talented SEO execs and managers will be publishing posts in a similar theme, so I’ll need to create something pretty special to stand out among the ‘BEST SEO TRENDS FOR 2019, GET YOUR SITE TO RANK FIRST’ and ‘SEO HACKS TO SMASH SERPS!’.
So here it is, my definitive tips for website optimisation in 2019 (and one trend that isn’t working as hard as you might think).
1. Need for Speed
I know, I know. Every article says it, it’s always item number one in the list of things that will benefit your website. You came here for something different right? The thing is, site speed is actually super important and it doesn’t really matter how much you optimise the **** out of everything else; it’s going to be fruitless if you annoy your visitors before they even reach the first meaningful paint. Site speed can be a difficult game to gain ground in if you find yourself scoring Poor on mobile. Make sure you manage your inventory and crawl budget properly, keep an eye on assets and images. As your site grows, make sure you have a contingency in place to deal with orphaned pages and convoluted redirect chains. Tidy up your Robots.txt and make sure you No Index/No Follow irrelevant admin pages that don’t need to be in results. Search Console is your friend. There is plenty of actionable data for devs in the Google Developer Tools Site Speed tests.
2. Know Your Audience
Because ultimately, they won’t convert if your site isn’t meeting their needs. And I can’t stress this enough.. getting your website to rank first for your core keyword is only valuable if you have a site that delivers to the brief that is specified in the search itself (more on this below). We are pretty good at understanding audiences and how they behave online. If you need some help with Travel Personas, get in contact with Ryan Anthoney to discuss your specific business needs.
3. Do the Basics
I would give this advice for search engine optimisation in any year, it really is timeless. Make sure your H1 is the only instance on a single landing page, capture your key term in that Header and have proceeding and relevant H2, H3 and H4 etc roughly in order (don’t dilute your messaging). Meta descriptions and titles should follow pixel width best practice, or they will truncate with ellipsis in SERPs (especially on mobile). Your anchor text should be concise and relevant to the proceeding target page, whether its Brand, exact or partial match. Is this going to make a huge and immediate impact on your rankings? Probably not. But a bit of housekeeping now will save you a lot of time and stress in the long run.
4. Keywords are Key
There is so much published content on keywords and optimisation that it can be difficult to define exactly what best practice is. For me, search data is the perfect resource for understanding what your user wants, so ignore it at your peril.
Let’s Do a Breakdown of Exactly What I Mean
Our search term in this example is ‘Buy cheap red high heels’.
This mid-tail clause contains a semantically implicit object (shoes), budget consideration (cheap), conversion action (buy), a qualifier (high), and product specification/product taxonomy value (red).
Does your fashion eCommerce site meet these needs? What shoes do you sell? Are they cheap, red and high heeled? If not, you need to take a look at your broadcasting and PPC keywords again. This user is ready to purchase and sending them on a merry jig of your inappropriately optimised site will just create a poor brand encounter; it won’t gain you a conversion now and might even damage the chances of a later conversion (SEO 101, don’t rank for the sake of it).
And finally, one trend which I don’t think is going to work as hard in 2019 as is currently being predicted…
I wrote about this earlier in the year and I am fully prepared for all the stats that will be thrown at me for writing this. Around 20% of mobile searches are performed by voice according to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, announced during his I/O Keynote in May this year.¹
Voice definitely has its place and also has amazing potential for growth. Voice assistants in cars and hands-free tech have positive improvements in the lives of their users.
What I will say is that while voice assistants certainly have a purpose, the technology is still very much in its infancy. The list of skills missing from Alexa’s database is infinite and she is difficult to manage (especially if you have a strong Bristolian accent like my husband). How many times have you found yourself shouting ‘ALEXA STOP!’?
Amazon and Google’s in-home solutions feel clunky in reality and often don’t do what they’re meant to; make things simpler. As few as 2% of Alexa enabled device owners used them to buy things in 2018.² There are units gathering dust across the UK, purchased with the best of intentions but with owners who have failed to find real value in them.
With a bit more investment and research, Voice is going to develop on the great things it is currently doing and do them well; it is just not quite there yet.