Search engine optimization (SEO) is an ever-evolving science. There are many facets that affect how an SEO strategy is implemented from the changes in consumer searching trends to the speed of your website. Google’s algorithms change constantly and so tactics change for SEO agencies from year to year. Here are a few areas that we at Bema Creative think you should be watching for in the coming year and a few tips on how to stay above your competition.
1. Website Speed
With Google’s focus on the user, speed will continue to be an increasing factor in the way they rank websites. In 2018 Google rolled out its speed update that shifted the priority of website speed on mobile, and the speed of desktop versions have been a factor for Google for years prior. Anytime we see Google spend some time and money researching a specific area of interest you can be sure that an update in their algorithm is soon to follow.
From a user standpoint, a lightning-fast website is the first key to success. If your site won’t load fast enough then visitors start to leave an increasing rate. Google has published the following chart that shows the comparison with site speed and bounce rate:
Photo of Google Chart
Source: Google/SOASTA Research, 2017
As people’s attention spans decrease in this world flooded by instant gratification, you can bet that as time goes on speed will be an increasing factor in how you will need to implement your SEO strategies for websites. This factor means that it will be important to prioritize speed optimization for websites when you go through the web development process.
2. Local is King
With Google’s focus on local products, you can bet that anything that affects your local listing will also affect your ranking. If you aren’t already focusing on local SEO in your marketing tactics then now is the time to fix that. As time goes on we predict that Google will continue to focus more on local geotargeted searches. Local listings need to be consistent across the board. It’s no surprise that local listing management services (link to our page once created) have exploded in the past few years, and for a good reason. Local SEO is here to stay and those who focus on it will see the benefits now and on into the future as Google targets local more and more.
Reviews have long been a key factor in search engine optimization. In Google’s article “Improve Your Local Ranking on Google” they explain “high-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.” This reveals that Google Reviews hold quite a bit of weight in local SEO. In 2018 Darren Shaw of Whitespark released his findings from his annual Google local rankings survey. The survey revealed that reviews account for 15.44% of how Google ranks a local business.
Photo of Chatmeter Graph
Source: Chatmeter, The 2018 Local Ranking Factors
With Google continuing to focus more on local, Google reviews will continue to be an increasing factor in the future. Strategizing methods to increase customer reviews should be a part of everyone’s SEO plan of attack.
4. Technical SEO
Technical SEO is a key tactic in any SEO marketing strategy. It is a balance between user experience and the way that Google sees your site. Google’s algorithms are based on the learning of AI. If visitors to websites can’t navigate your site with ease than the chances are that Google can’t either. If Google bots can’t crawl your website with ease then it can greatly affect your rankings. Many factors can affect technical SEO from site indexing to website security and everything in between. Since Google bots are not going anywhere anytime soon then technical SEO won’t either and along with all other high ranking factors for Google, this is one that must be a focus for SEO strategies across the board.
5. Longtail Keywords
According to Casie Gillette of Ko Marketing, 50% of search queries are 4 words or longer. As the number of websites increases, we predict that search queries will have to become longer to target exactly what the consumer wants. In an article by Millforbusiness.com, they discovered that every minute the number of websites grew approximately by 380. With such a large increase in websites, we believe that the number of words in each search query will only increase as times goes on. In this case, we recommend that targeting more longtail keywords in your SEO will likely be a factor in the success of websites in the future.
In July 2018 Google started to mark “non-https” websites as not-secure in their chrome browser. If Google is requiring this for websites with their browser than we can assume that security is a high priority for Google across the board. HTTPS shouldn’t be the only security measure that you take with websites. Encryption on all levels and safeguards for malware should be taken. As cyber hacking continues to rise we can only expect that Google like its users will want other security measures in the future which will most likely affect SEO.
7. Voice Integrations
This has been a popular topic in SEO for the past few years. Many remember when Siri was released in 2011. To most, it was a technology that was fun to simply ask Siri funny questions and hear her response. Now since its introduction with Siri, voice integration has scaled across many companies and platforms from Google Assistance to Amazon’s Alexa. Most use voice integration today to get information and search for things. This means a change in the dynamics of SEO.
The main factor that will play a part in optimizing for voice search queries is that people type and speak very differently. Most queries via voice integration are longer than typed and most people are asking questions rather than just one or two terms. Another factor that plays a part is that voice queries are 3x more likely to be locally driven than typed. Yet another reason that local SEO will continue to gain more traction in the future. Moving into 2020 you will likely need to implement more voice integration strategies into your SEO.
8. Google’s People Also Ask (FAQ)
Since its inception into Google testing in 2015 Google’s people also ask SERPs has continued to become more popular. This is partly due to the rise in voice integration. Most people using services like Alexa and Google Assistant are asking questions. This helps Google to more accurately target there People Also Ask “PAA” SERPs. If PAA isn’t a strategy for you now this will absolutely need to be in 2020.
In 2018 Mozcast said that PAA’s showed up in around 30% of the queries they monitor. I predict this number will continue to increase in 2020. In order to target PAA for your SEO strategies, a great tip is making sure that your site features a FAQ. Continue to be on the lookout for PAA into 2020 and on.
9. More Strategy: Quality over quantity
“Search algorithms also aim to prioritize the most reliable sources available. To do this, our systems are designed to identify signals that can help determine which pages demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness on a given topic.”
As time goes on the AI that Google uses for its algorithms will learn to pinpoint quality content more precisely. The Google algorithm is always evolving and because of this, it will take more precision and more strategy to make it to the top. You will not be able to push unwanted content with targeted keywords anymore. You will need to have quality content that shows that you are an expert in your field. For some agencies, this may mean partnering more with clients to have them write their own content instead of trying to stumble through something like Business Law that they know nothing about. This will take more time and strategy, but in the end, it should be a better payoff for both user experience and SEO results.
“Better content is outweighing more content.” – Rand Fishkin