Updated for 2019!!
This expert SEO article has been updated for 2019 – Scroll to the bottom to see the new entries and trends for 2019.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is changing faster than ever, with local search and voice searches on the rise, how will this affect your business?
Search trends show that the way we search online is set to change massively over the coming years. Comscore report by 202, 50% of all searches will be made via voice. On the other side 72% of users who perform a local search are likely to visit a store within a 5 mile radius.
SEO is a competitive market place, typically the top 3 organic search results get the most clicks yet tens of millions of businesses fail to rank anywhere near page 1.
The common SEO trends making the headlines in 2018 are:
Voice Search – With voice search on the rise and systems like Alexa and Google home only giving one result, how can you ensure that single result is yours?
Link Building – Still at the core of SEO, is it quality or quantity that drive SEO?
Mobile Search – Will there be more of a benefit to those offering an incredible mobile experience compared to those who don’t?
Search Terms – How will the phrases, words or keywords that we type in or speak into our devices be likely to change?
We’ve managed to sit down with some of the UK’s leading SEO experts to get their thoughts on what they expect the top SEO trends for 2018 to be – Read on to find out more…
Alex Mungo of GoMungoSEO:
I think we’ll continue to see many changes in 2018 relating to new technologies. While backlinks will still be important, website owners will need to think about optimising their content for voice search. As more people than ever before now use their mobile devices to search, we’ll also start to see SEO companies encouraging clients to focus on the mobile first index, and ensuring their websites are optimised for mobile users. Google may also begin to roll out algorithm updates related to mobile search so those who still haven’t updated their sites may find themselves getting left behind.
One of the biggest things that we’ll see affect SEO in 2019 is the changes to Google Image Search, and this may in part be due to the success of Google Shopping. Although Google hasn’t announced anything specific as yet regarding how they plan to update their image algorithms, last year showed us just how much importance Google was placing on non-text based content, so it only makes sense that this will continue this year. I expect to see more people searching for images using keywords and perhaps even similar photos and not for presentations as most image searchers did in the past, but for informational articles and products as well. Webmasters who optimise the images on their sites with this in mind may be ahead of the rest when Google reveal their updates.
Dave Robinson of RedEvolution.com:
With respect to SEO we’ve always been advocates of using keyword research to establish what people are looking for, married with great content that answers their questions. In this respect not much has changed since Google’s inception. Much of what has pretended to be SEO over the years has in fact, in my view, been little more than an attempt to trick Google and let’s face it, faking it is rarely as good as the real thing.
Now, this approach to SEO might work some of the time, indeed for some people it might work most of the time but long term we’ve found the honest approach is what creates lasting results.
So, what might change through 2018 and beyond?
I think the type of searches will change in that with voice search they will be much more conversational. Freeing people’s thumbs in favour of simply asking the question using voice search will change a search such as “plumber Blackpool” into something like “looking for a plumber in Blackpool to fix my leaking tap”.
This means, in my humble opinion, that businesses using blogs and transcribed video content, and by that, I mean genuinely useful blogs and videos, could hoover up more traffic.
As for algorithm updates well again, these are most often pushed to nudge out those trying to game the system, yet another reason to play by the rules and create a site that deserves to rank.
Ultimately businesses have a choice, they can take on Google’s team of PhD’s, aka their spam team, or spend the time understanding what their ideal customers are searching for. I know where my money’s going.
Simon Ensor of weareyellowball.com adds:
2018 will represent a continuation of strategic changes to SEO campaigns where SEOs focus on solution led content. Whilst content strategies will still be heavily influenced by inbound sales funnels and associated search volume, the most effective campaigns will be solution led, satisfying more complex search queries that are proliferated by an increase in voice search as well as Rankbrain.
Expect mobile specific updates (including the eventual roll out of the Mobile First Index) to be a primary concern for those that have not yet taken steps to alleviate issues with their sites. Technical SEO will be paramount in ensuring that traffic via mobile searches is retained.
Backlink profiles will continue to be critical to the success of any SEO campaign. Campaigns that deliver the highest returns will be focussed on generating economies of scale through link earning content blended with more traditional outreach techniques.
The complexity of Google’s algorithms (and other search engines) has meant a swift transition from more linear SEO processes to ones that take a more comprehensive outlook. Value for the user will remain a paramount concern and those that commit to this principle, rather than manipulation of search results, will see not only greater results but greater sustainability.
The team over at SmarterDigitalMarketing.co.uk:
I believe voice search has a bigger role to play over the course of 2018. The increasing development of voice search is becoming a more personalised option for users which will ultimately affect how marketers optimise their SEO strategy for voice. This may mean changing the way we think about keywords to make them more conversational and create a more natural phrasing of search commands. Marketers may need to redefine their focus on phrases that make sense when spoken.
Seb Dean from Imaginaire Digital:
One of the key areas that I see the landscape of SEO changing in is content and, in particular, how we’re optimising our content. I think most SEOs worth their salt have realised that they don’t need to throw “Keyword Area” all over their pages when it doesn’t read well for humans, and have realised that Google is pretty good at associating a keyword and then using the location as a modifier for that. So I expect to (or hope to!) see agencies smartening up on this side of things in 2018.
I also think that Google are pushing more and more aggressively toward answering questions in the SERPs which is going to change the way that blog articles are structured, so that we can maximise exposure. I expect to see blog articles begin to move away from click-baity headlines like “15 ways to” and move more toward answering questions that users are asking.
In general, I think the push towards usable, human readable content will gain momentum through 2018 and this should create a better web.
Neil Walker see’s an even greater focus on Mobile:
In 2016 Google removed the side ads from SERP’s in favour of a ‘best mobile layout’ introducing four ads at the top of SERP’s this has impacted some businesses organic traffic. That said the rise of CPC’s within Adwords still make’s organic as viable a channel as ever and Google’s local SERP results are still a very strong channel to capture traffic. What is clear going into 2018 is that long tail traffic is still as abundant as ever and with voice searches continuing to increase the way in which searches are linguistically carried out will continue to shift to the need for more tailored content.
Mobile has played a huge role in the past two years and realistically will still play a major part in the shape of Search, whilst technologies like AMP are becoming more prevalent in search results, new mobile led web technology which allows instant loading content of Non AMP based pages is on the horizon and brands need to be at the forefront of these technologies.
Its safe to say that voice search is growing and the impact for search could be huge, I think its important that brands don’t make the same mistakes which have gone on with mobile, such as “Mobile doesn’t convert as well // they may have a responsive website but the brand isn’t testing the mobile site for conversion”. One of the main tings to look out for in 2018 is how Google is approaching Voice Search Ads, its still unclear, but from an organic perspective optimising for featured snippets in general indicates being picked up for a voice search even if your actual listing doesn’t rank number one.
Matt Kirkman of Grapefruit Digital:
We’re only a couple of months into 2018 and already the SERP landscape has seen some significant shifts, a pattern which looks like it will continue for the rest of the year. In terms of where to focus to stay ahead of these shifts, we think two areas are probably going to be important. The first is content, and more specifically the quality and optimisation of the content pages that site owners are trying to rank – it seems that once a site is ‘trusted’ in the search engines’ eyes, the visible and non-visible content on the page can have a significant impact on what that page ranks for. The second key area is likely to be mobile search, but this could effectively cover a wide range of sub-topics, such as mobile-first indexing, mobile speed as a ranking factor, and the sort of voice/question searches that are becoming more and more popular. Optimising for mobile is no longer a choice but a necessity for sites that want to rank, and making sure any SEO project includes optimisation for the new generation of search phrases and keyword topics is another essential.
February 2019 Update Sitting here in 2019 and looking back, I think the one thing that we learnt from 2018 was how important user intent has become in searches, and how good Google is getting at being able to determine different intents for subtlety different search terms. Focusing on search terms with the intent that matches your website’s offer is going to continue to be important in 2019. As well as that, we think that relevance in backlink profiles will also be important for sites that want to rank well over the coming year.
The SEO Team at https://poddigital.co.uk
2018 was a landmark year in digital marketing, and we saw significant strides in voice search and mobile first, the potential of which was starting to become apparent as early as 2017.
Online businesses are no longer able to operate as a faceless corporation; it’s now more important than ever before to bridge the gap and truly speak to your customers as a means of creating long-term relationships and driving revenue.
SEO has evolved from a singular term to a more user-centric technique that has enveloped other forms of marketing along the way, such as web design, CRO, UX and video. Google has continued to emphasise that a website must serve the user and bringing all of the facets that SEO has become into a logical, useful recipe is the only way for a site to truly live up to its potential.
Nirav Dave, CTO & Co-Founder of Capsicum Mediaworks
If I had to pick one trend that is a front-runner in the field of SEO for 2018 it would undoubtedly be Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). With a shift to mobile-first indexing by Google, in order to enhance user experience and boost ranking in mobile search result one needs to make use of AMP to optimize web pages for mobile users. The benefits of doing this include – improve site speed and reduce bounce rate, which will ultimately boost your site’s ranking on SERPs leading to a higher conversion.
Qualitative link building is another SEO technique that is bound to be prevalent in 2018 and beyond and can prove to be quite valuable to your site if done the right way. Creating benefit-focused content is another must. In addition, implementation of LSI keywords is also important as this will ensure that you find success in all your online marketing campaigns – be it SEO, Social Media or other PAID campaigns.
Jimmy Rodriguez of 3dcart
SEO practices are continuously evolving and developed around Google’s innovations and online user’s behavior trends.
With mobile-friendly designs, page speed optimization and the use of https protocol, becoming a requirement for websites; online marketers cannot afford the SEO risk associated to missing any of these. With those out of the way, the effort should be dedicated towards natural link building, long-form content creation and targeting “user-intent” specific keywords where the website can win SERP features like Google’s Answer box, which will ultimate be the results dominating voice searches.
COO & Co-founder of 3dcart, a leading shopping cart software. As an ecommerce authority, he’s focused on helping internet retailers succeed online by developing strategies, actionable plans and customer experiences that grow and improve performance.
New expert SEO tips for 2019!
Helga Moreno of Ahrefs.com
Do you like science fiction? I am crazy about books and movies where everything starts with some alien cell that gets into the Earth lab. The scientists begin to study and experiment with it. The classical outcome is that the experiment comes out of their control as the cell growth rapidly, its level of intellect turns out to be much higher than ours, it becomes aggressive, and the second half of the story humanity tries to kill the insufficiently explored organism which is a rather challenging task.
Don’t worry, I remember we are here to talk about SEO trends of the current 2019 year. Just when I think about SEO I imagine it as a quickly mutating system that has a set of constant features along with unpredictable ones, appearing at the process of evolution. Sometimes I feel myself like a scientist from the scientific novel watching the alien and trying to control it.
Ok, so what stays stable with the subject & how the techniques evolve.
1. Thorough keyword research is still effective. But today it is evolving into a semantic search. I mean you don’t need to stuff your writing piece with exact match keywords. Google understands your searches no matter how you phrase them. Just center around a topic, not a keyword instead. This visitor‐focused approach will let you write a comprehensive, in‐depth article that will make both users & Google happy. What’s more, you will likely end up ranking for hundreds of long tail keywords by simply writing this piece of content.
2. Sometimes there is no need to create something new and epic to rank high in Google. I hope more and more bloggers will start to understand this. It’s not quite right to publish your article and forget about it switching to another task. You didn’t squeeze everything you could from it yet. Your good old content is still potent. What I recommend you to do is conduct your site audit regularly (annually, quarterly) and decide which articles should be improved, merged, and which should be removed. Re‐optimizing existing content on your site can provide an extremely high return. What’s also important – it doesn’t take much time to implement.
3. Speaking about SEO trends of 2019 it’s impossible to mention the AMP (Accelerated mobile pages). We continue to move to a mobile‐first world and AMP are great for creating lightning fast mobile pages. There are many reasons why more website owners are adopting AMP. I will name the two biggest ones for marketers. AMP improves the mobile experience which in its turn positively effects on‐site metrics like bounce rate. Google likes fast loading sites and ranks them higher in the SERPs.
4. Social media advertising is going to draw the attention of more marketers. When done right, Facebook ad campaigns, for example, can be extremely effective and the ROI can be really massive. Facebook ads are cheap, which makes them an affordable method of promoting linkable assets and acquiring natural links. Check out lookalike audiences on Facebook, they are your best customers. Just agree that if you are running a business, the ability to target customers who are worth more to you is priceless. You can better allocate your ad spending on more profitable customers and value-based lookalike audiences provide you with this ability.
5. It’s highly probable that personalization will become another buzz word that you will hear a lot in the 2019 marketing world. What it basically means is dynamically changing your marketing message on landing pages, ads, etc. in order to connect with each individual customer. For instance, you can change the call‐to‐action buttons on your site based on the search term the potential customer used to land on it.
Sam Charles, Director of Float Digital
As predicted, the search market witnessed a significant increase in voice searches in 2018.
At the beginning of the year it was reported that there were an estimated one billion voice searches per month, which could be attributed to mobile queries and voice-controlled technologies like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Google also announced that 72% of people who own voice-activated speakers say that their devices are used as part of their daily routines.
We’ve been given plenty of warning that the search industry is on the rise and it’s not something to ignore, comScore predict that by 2020 50% of searches will be voice searches. But what does it really mean? It means we need to change the way we product content, we need to change the way we conduct our keyphrase research, and we need to change the way to engage with our audience.
There’s so many opportunities left untapped because clients are chasing short-tail terms, sometimes the low-hanging fruit conversational queries are forgotten about. It’s time for a keyphrase strategy shake up. The content needs to then reflect where that users is in the buying-cycle, too.
Baruch Labunski – Rank Secure
SEO is an ongoing investment for businesses and it’s important to keep up to date with the changing landscape as users and technology evolve. Google continues to adjust their algorithm to award websites with great content, an engaging, useful and entertaining offering that users enjoy. If you want to focus your SEO efforts in 2019, here are the three areas to keep in mind.
1. Voice Search
The biggest trend in 2018 was Voice Search and this will continue into 2019. It’s expected that 50% of all searches will be voice, by 2020. The key things to consider when reviewing your site’s Voice Search performance are: 1. Local search terms, which means optimizing for geographically significant keywords and queries. 2. Consider conversational keywords, which means understanding how people phrase searches when speaking versus typing and 3. Consider the intent of the search, for example: if someone is searching “coffee near me” then you need your site to be optimized to best aid in the users search for coffee in their geographic area. They are likely not looking to purchase coffee beans, but this isn’t explicitly clear in the search phrase used.
Consumption of video continues to increase in 2019 and so your site must be ready for this with high quality and search optimized videos. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and therefore it’s worth using this channel to drive traffic and improve rankings. Not only will you find that video content is great for engaging with your audience but also Google increasingly values this content. The two key things to keep in mind: QUALITY content and OPTIMIZED videos. What does that mean? High production value, good lighting, engaging presentations, smart and thoughtful content. To optimize, look to include things like a video transcript (which is easy for google to crawl) and ensure that videos are adequately tagged and the description includes what the viewer will learn about in the video. These are all factors that Google use to help with ranking.
Both video and written content remain major players in the world of SEO. It has now become standard for users to expect brands to create useful, relevant and entertaining content for their specific industry. It’s the job of brands to generate content that will answer potential customer’s questions. Creating high quality content is time consuming and can be expensive but it will always pay dividends in terms of SEO. Remember Google is looking out for users and will credit websites that create a user-friendly and engaging experience for visitors. Content is the core of engagement and not only will queries This has been true for years and will continue into 2019.
Paul Clapp of Priority Pixels
Long-Form & Evergreen Content
One SEO trend that has picked up pace in 2018 and I think is something we’re going to see a lot more of in 2019 is the creation of more long-form content. More and more websites seem to be creating pages with content of 2,500 words plus. Rather than creating lots of small posts marketeers are spending longer creating larger, better written and better researched content.
From our own experience there is a direct collation between long-form content and higher online visibility through the search engine results pages. We have a client who has never undertaken any classic forms of SEO other than create a lot of 2,500 + articles. The website was getting 30,000 hits a month within it’s first year, 50,000 a month by the end of year two. Marketeers are becoming more savvy to this and we’re starting to see more weighty articles online. This has to be a good thing and in time will hopefully lead to better quality content and a better quality web.
Evergreen content is crucial to the success of long-form content. There is no point creating 2,500 words of waffle that nobody is going to read. Not all marketeers seem to have figured this out yet. Spending time writing a well written and researched piece of content will have way more benefit than writing lots of small pieces of content. If the content is written well enough and users start to engage with it, they will spend longer on your site (which is great for your bounce rate) and they are more likely to share the content on social media. If the content picks up enough traction it may even get a featured snippet in Google. We’ve seen this happen and the traffic you can get from a featured snippet can be huge.
Looking to push ahead with your SEO campaign? ALT Agency are a specialist SEO agency in Birmingham. As a leading and top ranking SEO company in Birmingham we have clients who have top 1-2-3 positions across the Google search results. We have a proven track record in offering SEO in Birmingham and surrounding areas. Whether you are confused about SEO or looking to expand from a local SEO to national SEO campaign, ALT Agency can help, call us on 0121 663 0202 to discuss your SEO requirements.
Here is some bonus SEO content from Brian Dean over at Backlinko: