With new marketing trends popping up every now and then, and Google making changes to its search algorithms all year round, the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry keeps seeing new developments year in, year out. One strategy for winning in business and life is to always look ahead in anticipation of the future and plan in advance accordingly. This gives you an edge over the competition and puts you in a position of advantage. Doing the same for your SEO strategy will have the same impactful results. And what better time to do it than now when 2018 is folding and the new year is quickly approaching.
Today, we want to show you some key trends that'll most likely rock the search landscape in 2019 so that you can better prepare to win in your marketing in the coming year.
Ready for this? Let's get to it:
1. BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY WILL DISRUPT SEO
Blockchain is the buzzword of the moment. If you’ve heard of Bitcoin, then you've most likely heard a thing or two about blockchain. It is the technology that powers Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
The pivot of blockchain technology is that it allows users to conduct transactions in a secure and transparent manner without a middleman. Instead of recording data in a traditional database, the technology uses a distributed ledger and consensus algorithms to store data in a decentralized format.
Although still in its early developmental stage, this is a fundamental rethinking of how data is tracked online. Now, blockchain is not just a buzzword. It is actually forecast to disrupt a wide gamut of industries in the upcoming years, and SEO isn't left out of this.
How exactly is blockchain affecting SEO?
In 2019 and beyond, marketers are expected to take advantage of this amazing technology to build trust-based relationships with their prospects and customers.
The technology is still being developed and tested for several types of use cases in marketing. But one that has been tried so far regarding search engine optimization is that, since the quality of SEO campaign is usually based primarily on the quality of the traffic it gets, experts are working to find ways blockchain technology could help organizations ensure high-quality inbound traffic to their SEO campaigns.
Since blockchain is able to track the data of each user independently, it'll guarantee the authenticity of inbound SEO traffic for organizations, thereby reducing marketing and advertising frauds and waste.
It is expected that blockchain can be used in SEO for validating not just inbound traffic but backlinks, too. These and more are already being tested and in 2019, SEO and other marketing areas like advertising, lead nurturing, and prospects’ buying signal tracking will start seeing the results.
2. MOBILE IS THE NEW DEFAULT
Getting to the end of 2017, Google started experimenting with mobile-first indexing, which is all about ranking websites based on their individual mobile optimization as opposed to ranking based on desktop experience. This followed an earlier milestone in 2016 in which mobile overtook desktop for the first time to become the default device used for accessing the web.
In March 2018, Google announced that after a year and a half of careful experimentation and testing, they were now migrating sites that follow the best practices for mobile-first indexing. This migration process is still a work-in-progress and 2019 will see it in full swing.
Bearing this trend in mind, there’s no excuse to procrastinate with mobile optimization except you want Google to index something you can’t show to mobile users. But you don't want to go that route. A large chunk of traffic are using mobile to browse the Internet.
Statista reports that in 2018, 52.2 percent of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile devices, up from 50.3 percent in the previous year and 0.7 percent in 2009.
3. ONLINE VIDEOS: NOW A STRATEGY
With 78 percent of people viewing online videos every week and 55 percent watching every day, viewership of online video — and the sheer volume of video content online — is growing exponentially.
Cisco even reports that by 2020, online videos will make up more than 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic (85% in the US).
Users view more than 500 million hours of video each day on YouTube. If you have yet to push on video marketing, then you're certainly losing a lot of traffic and leaving money on the table. 2019 might just be the year for you to start making videos.
In 2019, video-based content will become even more popular amongst businesses and consumers.
For those who are already creating videos, you might want to do more, in terms of quality and optimization.
More and more people are turning to online video platforms to search for products and information. Alexa shows that YouTube is now the second most trafficked site, after Google. But with this trend comes the competition. As more videos are being uploaded, viewers now have more options. To stay afloat, not only must you publish good quality videos, you also must optimize them to appear on the search results.
4. USER DATA: OWNERSHIP IS CHANGING HANDS
This year, an historic event took place in the world of the web — the European Union enacted the GDPR regulation.
For the benefit of those who were too busy playing Fortnite, GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation (2016/679). It's a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union and the European Economic Area. But it also affects pretty much everyone who uses the Internet for selling, buying, or just about anything.
The regulation was agreed upon by the European Parliament and Council in April 2016 and was made to fully replace the Data Protection Directive 95/46/ec in Spring 2018 as the primary law regulating how companies protect EU citizens' personal data.
If you've been wondering who owns the data generated by users’ interaction with web properties online, by reason of this law, it’s users who do going forward. Not the businesses who collect it, as it used to be. GDPR has started (and will in 2019 continue) having a massive impact, not just on businesses but on how they do marketing (including search engine marketing).
For example, you would have to be open about what user data you collect, how you collect them, what you do with them, how you keep the data safe, and so on. And users can now request to see what personal data your company has about them and ask for its correction, export, or even deletion.
If a company does not comply with the regulation, it can be forced to pay stiff fines of up to €20 million, or 4% of its worldwide annual revenue of the prior financial year. As a matter of fact, Google already decided to make changes in its Analytics. Now all personal user data expires after 26 months of collection.
This includes demographic and affinity data (earlier kept perpetually by Google), but not sessions and goal completions.
But in any case, if you have no European customers, you can go to Google Analytics and switch to the “do not automatically expire” option. However, if you do so, the user data responsibility will be on you and no more on Google.
5. MORE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS COMING
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has come to stay. 2018 was a great year for the technology as it made an incontrovertible headway in several sectors of the digital economy, including marketing. The coming year will see even more advancement of the tech.
Google already started out on the AI front with its RankBrain, an AI-based, machine-learning algorithm which has significantly reinvented search. In line with this, the search company made it clear that along with content and backlinks, RankBrain is among the top three most influential ranking signals (out of hundreds of them). However, it is expected that in the future, Google will touch on the algo to become even more intelligent and semantics-savvy.
But RankBrain is not the only Artificial Intelligence factor that is expected to drive or hit SEO in 2019. Google and other the stakeholders will continue to dig into ways AI can help make search marketing better.
6. THERE WILL BE NEED FOR SPEED
While Google had since 2010 said that page speed was a ranking factor for desktop searches, the company only started using mobile page speed as a ranking factor in their mobile search results in July 2018. They called the update the “Speed Update.”
This was following the launch the AMP project in February 2016, when Google began to show the AMP versions of webpages in mobile search results. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages and it is a Google-run website publishing technology designed to get mobile web pages to load faster.
The Google “Speed Update” only affected a small percentage of queries, which are “pages that deliver the slowest experience to users” according to the search giant. We advise that you use the new updated PageSpeed report and tools like PageSpeed Insights (or even our Page Speed Test Tool) to measure and improve your page speed.
But do note that the problem with PageSpeed Insights is that because the data for the metric is taken directly from Chrome User Experience report — the real users’ performance database — it doesn’t have enough data to reliably measure smaller websites.
So the speed part of the report is unavailable for those type of users. Also, the report reflects how your site loads for each visitor. Thus, it's difficult to measure how fast each visitor’s device loads your site. As a result, you're not able to get that metric through local tests.
Optimization scores are still available, but that’s not enough to allow sites to tell if they have slow pages or not. So even if your site is slow, its ranking may not change. Given this limitation, it's likely that Google is just testing out this ranking factor. Perhaps in the coming year, they'll push out more on speed metrics.
7. VOICE SEARCH: MORE TALKING THAN TYPING
The search market witnessed a rather swift surge as voice search swept across the industry without respite in 2018. Alpine.ai, at the beginning of the year, reported that there were an estimated one billion voice searches per month. Another firm, comScore, added that by 2020, voice searches will account for 50 percent of all searches.
These statistics only mean one thing: voice search is becoming mainstream.
The surge that happened in 2018 will continue in 2019, but at a much higher intensity. Consumers will continue to acquire and use more voice-controlled technologies while products like Google Home, Amazon Echo, Siri, Cortana, and Amazon Alexa will continue to gain momentum across the web.
As a savvy SEO, you ought to prepare your online properties for this trend by optimizing for voice search. Google even mentioned that up to 20 percent of all Android searches are coming from voice.
8. QUALITY CONTENT DEVELOPMENT IS STILL A THING
If there's any trend that keeps coming back year after year, it is content quality. You really cannot play down on the quality of content the Internet demands. Day by day, users will always demand for and drift towards content that delivers true value. That's why developing quality content is an all year-round trend and topic.
2019 will be no different. If you want to win the hearts of existing customers and potential users, and as well get favors from search engines, then you just must continually deliver quality content that is relevant to your business and answers users’ questions.
Want to take your SEO game to another level in 2019? You don't have to wait until next year starts. You need to begin now! The thing with search engine optimization is that, to win at it, you have to follow the trends; you have to become acquainted with what stakeholders like Google are working on and intelligently reposition your strategy to fly accordingly.
We've painstakingly researched these SEO trends to give you a way to prepare assuredly for the coming year, 2019, and make your SEO efforts count. The next step? Start creating and implementing strategies that roll with the trends!
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