If you have spent any time working in the SEO world, you’ll know that things never stay the same for long, whether you’re In-House, a Freelancer or working for a Digital Marketing Agency. All too often we see Google sweep down & change the game, or a new emerging technology absolutely changes the landscape in a way no one could have thought.
Last year we made our predictions for what would happen in 2018, but this year we decided to double down on our predictions and get some more experts to provide their insight into future changes.
This is why we’ve gathered 22 SEO experts to all make their predictions as to what happens in the SEO world in 2019 and beyond. 🚀
So, Let’s Hear From Our Experts!
“I’m usually cynical when it comes to SEO predictions. I didn’t jump on the ‘links are dead’ bandwagon, Google+ or Authorship plus many other bandwagons, so these may be somewhat obvious and/or ‘outside of the box’.
💡 Quality links from authoritative sources will become even MORE important; totally forget about volume and focus on links from pages that will get traffic and get clicks
💡 Voice Search from Siri, Alexa and Google Home et al will continue to grow; though there’s very LITTLE place for it when it comes to e-Commerce (don’t get sucked into the Voice Search hole/bubble)
💡 Have a TL;DR snippet above the fold and for every single (traffic-driving page) on your site to prepare for more Featured Snippets”
“Usually I don’t like to hedge bets on any large changes because Google always keeps algorithm changes close to its chest, but I feel that video marketing will take a step forward and play a large part in marketing a brand. We’re seeing that video is a great way to push a brand and services and Google is leaning into showing Video content in traditional search results.
We’re seeing video suggestions appear a lot for ‘How To’ searches, so any brands that look to help their audience with guides could definitely benefit from the creation & marketing of videos. I’ve also noticed that more and more views on a video can lead to more sales, as the video cements the brand in a consumers mind as authoritative & reputable”
“Next year will be a turning point in content marketing. The traditional web document is dying as users consume information in a multitude of different formats. It’s no longer enough to write generic copy to capture a specific keyword or intent; to succeed, content marketers need to be truly audience-centric, focusing on creating pieces that provide genuine value in ways that transcend web search.
The new year will bring a fresh opportunity to diversify into new, engaging delivery formats – video, experiential, social – leading to better creative campaign ideas and collaboration between online channels. There will still be a need for text-based content, but the nature of this will change. Content marketers must continue to work closely with their colleagues in search to drive the most value from their work, whether across search engines, voice devices, assistants or augmented reality.
A key trend – structuring information correctly – will be critical to success in this area and is an activity that currently sits with SEOs. However, as the lines between the two teams continue to blur, I expect to see this quickly becoming a part of the content marketer’s remit too.”
“The Mobile index and page speed will have more of an effect on websites in 2019. The mobile index is one of the biggest changes to the Google algorithm for 20 years, it was not rolled out quickly and has taken a year and a half of testing and extermination to get it where it is now, and I believe there are more changes to come. The fact is that some sites, even large ecommerce sites, still are not mobile friendly at all, then add the fact of slow loading pages. Website owners need to look at their mobile websites and really look at the speed of it. When you look at the fact that websites were taking an average of 15 sec to load in Jan 2018,
And most websites still do not have compressed images – you can see very quickly how easy it is to save time for the users and if you have an ecommerce site that means ££,
Website owners not only need to think about the user experience when they land on the website, they now need to think about the journey to their website. If you travel somewhere and it takes you a long time to get there you are less likely to go back, and then factor in that you can get the same thing elsewhere much quicker.
More and more users are now using their mobile phones to carry out transactions online. Website owners really need to focus on having a mobile-friendly site that is super-fast and that still provides the user with a great experience in 2019.”
“With the ever-increasing popularity of smart home assistants and devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, the way users search online is shifting dramatically. Voice searches are typically longer and more specific, which will cause fluctuations in the types of keywords and content that will rank.
Quality content that considers the users intent will be more important than ever. Voice searches are typically centered around ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘why’ – so creating content that solves the user’s question or problem will be critical to ranking well. In the last few years, there has been a shift away from ‘keyword stuffing’ and a huge focus on quality, unique content. Use natural language and integrate schema markup to help search engines navigate your content.
You should always optimize pages with the user experience in mind rather than adding as many keywords as possible, which could otherwise ruin that experience. Creating solid, trustworthy content with a focus on user intent will be essential in ensuring you dominate “voice search” rankings in 2019.”
“I have quite a few ideas for how 2019 will go down for SEO, most of which everyone else has been kind enough to cover already (Voice search is on the rise, video is a major asset and the mobile first index is going to force a change for many websites).
One of my main points though, is that for 2019 at least, backlinks will remain one of the most important ranking factors (when done properly). Gaining good links will still be a large part of getting good rankings, but I see more of a shift to a Content Marketing or Digital PR approach, creating good content people want to engage with, rather than low-quality guest posts and other low-quality links.
A simple rule for links in the world of 2019’s SEO landscape, if the link doesn’t add any value to the user, it shouldn’t add any value to your SEO”
“From a technical SEO standpoint, the thing I’m most excited about in 2019 is how we can take advantage of new technologies to overcome a lot of challenges we face on an all to regular basis.
These challenges being things like legacy platforms and developer roadblocks, meaning we can’t do things like canonicals, Hreflang, redirects, and one a lot of the rising cloud-based platforms – server log file analysis.
All of these issues can be overcome with Service Worker technology. With service workers you can utilise the employment of code generation, which given a configuration, input data and specific run-time, will generate a self-sufficient worker bundle that can be deployed with no DevOps.
Through the research we conducted and presented at TechSEO Boost 2018, we know that the service worker method works, and in implementation cases such as Hreflang, the code appears in thewithin Google’s rendered HTML.
These technologies can also be implemented by non-developers through Cloudflare Workers, and free service worker generators also exist (https://sloth.cloud), so we can take back full control from development and DevOps, and get our clients to where they need to be in terms of technical excellence faster, and in a lot of cases at a reduced dev cost.”
“While it’s no secret that SEO is a long-term strategy, clients want to see value as soon as they sign. We’re seeing a shift where we’re entering into an era of ‘content quick wins‘ – businesses want to see strong results, and they want to see them as soon as possible. We’ll see more and more businesses look at what they can do with existing content and how they can repurpose it to see ‘immediate’ results.
We’ll see a rise in simple tasks such as reviewing old onsite content to see how it can be updated to serve user experience, and looking at existing content that has potential to be re-optimised to serve a featured snippet. This will also include creating striking assets for pieces of onsite content that are performing well, so that they can be recycled and re-outreached.
Repurposing content for those ‘quick wins’ will become just as important as creating that innovative campaign or pushing brand new service pages.”
“I try to stay present and avoid attempting to predict the future (since that’s impossible). That said, there are some trends I’ve been noticing in the SEO industry.
💡 User Intent – I’ve been hammering my audience about satisfying user intent because it’s the lead domino for ranking well in Google. You simply will not gain or maintain rankings if your page doesn’t satisfy intent for your target keyword phrase. Get a clear understanding of the “intent” behind your phrases. There are four main categories of intent: transactional (“buy ___”, comparison (“Ahrefs vs. Moz”), informational (“how to ___”) and navigational (“Moz”). How you structure your page will depend on what the intent is. One easy way to get it right is to analyze what’s already ranking. If 90% of the pages ranking are product pages, then the keyword may have transactional intent. In this case, it would be a safe bet to try to rank a product page.
💡 Fewer Clicks – Featured snippets, answer boxes, and higher quantities of Google ads will pull clicks from organic search results. I have a feeling it’s only going to get worse. Google wants questions to be answered without clicking through. That’s because it will increase the likelihood that the searcher will click on an ad. That’s why it’s more important than ever to try to get into featured snippets and to try to rank in the top 3. Otherwise, your CTR will suffer.
💡 Voice Search – Voice search isn’t the future because it’s already here. I believe the end goal for Google is that voice search will be able to respond to most queries. This won’t be happening anytime soon, but when it does, SEOs will feel the pain because searchers won’t need to click. On the other hand, complex queries that require more than a few sentences to solve will still require clicks (for now). In general, you should probably avoid keyword phrases that have simple answers. Like: “what time is it in London”.
There are other developments such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), but it’s still in its infancy stage. I think that will continue to be the case throughout 2019.
To conclude, focus on satisfying user intent, try to push your keywords into the top 3 (and try to get inside featured snippets), and avoid “simple” keywords.”
“Voice search usage will continue to increase in 2019 as Google aims to show more videos to better answer these natural language queries. Making video marketing & optimisation ever more important.
However, to rank for featured videos or snippets, having a trusted domain will be vital and one of the best ways to earn trust, is by earning links from high authority domains. Having said that, l believe link importance will continue to decrease overall and indirect brand ranking factors and user satisfaction/UX signals will increase in importance.”
“💡 Domain strategy – Companies seem to be identifying that running multiple brands across hundreds of domains globally isn’t delivering an effective ROI both from a content management standpoint and also from an SEO investment perspective. Key reasons for this include increasing CMS license fees, significant dilution of SEO equity across multiple domains and challenges with International SEO targeting.
What I anticipate:
SEO agencies will be involved increasingly in domain consolidation and site migration projects as companies look to consolidate ccTLDs onto single .com / country folder setups.
💡 Procurement – As procurement teams become more educated in SEO, they have required more detail relating to SEO projects and scopes, requiring Agencies to be even more detailed about their approach, whilst at the same time protecting their own IP when disclosing their approach to SEO.
What I anticipate:
Request for Proposals (RFPs) to become increasingly more detailed, requiring SEO agencies to invest more time and energy to demonstrate their point of difference and a greater focus on how SEO fits more broadly into the digital/digital marketing mix.
💡 Reporting trends – Clients require more than ranking reports and traffic engagement data – increasingly they are seeking reporting on voice search, greater analysis with regards to competition (beyond visibility metrics), integrated SEO/PPC reporting, and reporting within dashboard environments, as they move away from Excel and towards environments such as Tableau/Google Data Studio.
What I anticipate:
– More of a focus from SEO focused platforms such as SEMRush and BrightEdge to provide integrated SEO/PPC reporting vs. standalone SEO reports
– Greater investment in clients own reporting systems, to supplement Agency reporting including education around the benefits of platforms such as Google Search Console
– Greater focus on rich snippet/position zero reporting given the growing interest in Voice Search
💡 Site Speed – Site speed projects client-side are gaining momentum, given the benefits they bring not just to SEO, but to all digital channels and clients are investing in platforms such as New Relic to provide real-time monitoring of site speed, as part of overall customer experience. Developers are requiring less education in this area, and improving page speed is becoming part of business-as-usual work, rather than part of the remit of the SEO Agency.
What I anticipate:
Agencies will continue to work on page speed as part of their technical SEO remit, however, more focus will be required on other technical areas which are not the specialism of their client’s developer teams.
💡 Voice Search – There is a growing interest in Voice Search – businesses want to make sure their sites are visible for voice, even if the industry is immature and they cannot quantify voice search volumes.
What I anticipate:
As smart speakers become more conversational (and therefore more useful), there will be greater uptake from a consumer standpoint, and therefore ‘search’ volume will grow. Once voice search is effectively monetised (I expect China to lead the trend here), marketers will invest more budget in optimising for this channel.
💡 CMS Vendors – The CMS offerings from the likes of Adobe, Microsoft and IBM are becoming increasingly more sophisticated from a content management and audience management perspective, with a greater focus on the marketing cloud, however, provide CMSs that out of the box are not SEO friendly. I’ve encountered numerous instances where these CMSs fall down when considering URL naming conventions, page load speed issues, page title & meta description naming, hreflang setup, structured data implementation and redirect handling through to more advanced features such as Accelerated Mobile Page implementation and validation.
What I anticipate:
It will be several years before CMS vendors can meet the needs of modern day SEO (will they ever truly catch up?), however I anticipate that more SEO features will become available to the content editor, which rely less on developers from an implementation perspective, even if this relates to more basic SEO requirements such as URL handling.”
“I think for 2019 we are going to see the continued evolution of the SERP’s pushing ever closer to the 0 clicks. I believe they are still very much in the testing phase of all these features which is why we see them come and go.
Though as they collect more data they’ll be able to find what works for them, though this might come at the cost to the end businesses trying to promote their websites. I don’t believe this will happen overnight and this will take several years to implement but through 2019 we’ll see lots of new SERP features been tested that we’ve never seen before.”
“💡 The Rise of Voice Search – We’re already seeing over a billion voice searches a month and this is only expected to increase. Alongside this, it’s estimated that 70% of searches use long tail keywords.
In 2019 we’ll see a shift in keyword strategies – it’s time to think long tail and spoken queries rather than short, broad and keyword focussed.
Don’t forget to look at related searches, and even Google autocomplete suggestions for popular searches when doing your research.
Also, keep on the lookout for Speakable Schema being tested by Google, and make your content compliant with Google’s guidelines to be eligible to be included in the Google Assistant Actions Directory.
💡 Expect a Shift in Search Habits – It’s no surprise that mobile searches have taken the lead over desktop searches – mobile optimisation should be the default now, not looking and optimising desktop versions/for desktops first to then look at mobile, hoping it is all okay.
The rollout of the mobile-first indexing update is also shifting the way users search and the results they expect. In fact, with an increase in “on the go” searches and rising expectations for instant answers, users increasingly want to be served with instant answers to their queries.
Whether users are looking for quick answers, suggestions for places to go to things to do and things to buy, these pre-purchase searches have formed a change in consumer behaviour. This is not only affecting search queries but also becoming key to a business’s sales targets.
Depending on the nature of your business, try to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and find out how to best reach them at every stage of their journey. Here is a great guide to understanding and winning the shift to mobile: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/micro-moments/micromoments-guide-pdf-download/
Whether you sell services or products, think about the end game, and further down the sales funnel – at what point do users become qualified prospect buyers? If you are a luxury travel agency, focus on the resorts and precise destinations you know are relevant and in the reach of your specific target audience. This is not a new strategy but will become more important than ever before!
💡 Think Schema, Answer boxes, Position 0 & Zero Click Searches – Going hand in hand with the shift in users search habits, schema will become increasingly important in 2019 as users will increasingly be expecting key business information and content to be relayed in a very straightforward manner.
With the rise of “moment searches”, users want instant answers, and one of the best ways is to give them that through the all-important position 0.
With more and more answer boxes, graphs and featured snippets being served, increasingly more searches are leading to no clicks to websites. In order to still benefit from these searches, businesses need to ensure that users can get answers they are looking for, and that your site is optimised to target portion 0 – especially as Paid Search seems to continuously be taking up more of SERPs space… who knows, organic results on page 1 could soon become scarce!”
Inquiring about trends in the SEO industry in 2019 makes for an interesting question. For several years, the strategy has been the same:
Marketers and bloggers do keyword research looking for long-tail keywords with mass interest. High search volume with low-competition for readership has been the end game. The start of voice search made this a necessity since people ask longer questions than they type into search bars. However, people realize that isn’t a practical strategy.
First, if you hit your desired Position in the SERPs, then what?
Also, with all the online competition, it’s harder than it used to be to land your position in the SERPs.
The new trend, and I see this continuing in 2019, is to find long-tail keywords with a medium amount of search volume. Then, compose new articles with similar keywords. All those numbers will add up and your search traffic will soar. You can find comparable keywords at tools like Ubersuggest where the keyword choices seem endless.
“What should we expect for Search in 2019? Digital will meet the high street. If it doesn’t, the high street will die out, but if the high street does merge with the digital sphere, it will start the rise of in-store search optimisation. In the same vein, Amazon’s hold over eCommerce will grow stronger and when the eCommerce world understands that, it will start moving our focus as SEOs from Google and Bing to Amazon.
Because of the rise of Amazon, the world will realise that, at the moment and for the foreseeable future, voice search isn’t that big of a deal, certainly not a big money maker… unless your customers own an Alexa and you sell on Amazon. Back in more traditional realms, relevant link building, the more relevant the link, the more traffic flow will flow through it and hopefully, it will end this random war with journalists and PRs. Finally, and most importantly, with all the right data about our customers, we will out Google, Google!”
“2018 is a year of shake-up for SEOs and businesses with the Google Speed Update in July and Mobile-First Indexing rolling out for most websites.
After the “Medic Update” in August affected many sites across multiple niches, especially YMYL pages, there seems to be a shift in emphasis towards EAT “expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness” within the SEO community.
With the release of Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines, I foresee 2019 to be a year of consolidation, where webmasters and bloggers push for more quality content and focus on building trust and authority not only on their websites but also building their brand presence across the web as well.”
“With new technology comes new buzzwords and the SEO industry is renowned for throwing up new words every so often. Although many eyes will be closely watching the advancements being made across voice search, artificial intelligence and even augmented reality, I think 2019 will be a year where webmasters understand the core importance of getting the basics right.
In short, I predict that website owners will focus on SEO fundamentals throughout 2019. For me, these fundamentals are made of three key pillars: security, speed and search intent specific content. I’m referring to things like secure socket layers, speeding up website load times by exploring server locations, optimising JS/CSS/HTML, compressing media files and of course the creation of content that offers the user the information they wanted quickly and precisely. ”
“I believe that we are moving towards an integrated marketing approach, where ‘content marketing’ isn’t just about creating a new content hub and posting at least twice a week, but looking at how an entire business runs and assessing content across all verticals. This could be content that aids the sales team with their jobs, right through to content that ties in with the wider comms planning.
To make content more sticky and achieve business goals, brands will now need to look at investing in it on a long-term basis, rather than using the test and forget approach. An integrated customer experience can only happen when marketing teams are working cross-functionally rather than competing, so silos need to be broken down and a mutual understanding is required for content success.
💡 More content will be served up in closed messenger channels like WhatsApp
💡 Thought leadership will also be big again in 2019 with brands looking to find a voice or look for external experts to lead the company forward
💡 SEO will be driven by good quality content rather than link budgets
💡 We will see more interactive content and possibly VR video taking off”
Alongside this, I believe that SEOs need to stop viewing JS as the enemy and embrace the potential it has for the industry. Yes, there is lots that can go wrong and it will inevitably require close collaboration between SEOs and developers (not always the smoothest of relationships), but it’s undoubtedly the way things are moving and where we can continue to add the most value. Just put ‘server side rendering’ into Google Trends and you’ll see what I mean!
My second prediction is based on the keynote that Rand Fishkin delivered at BrightonSEO in September. That is Google will continue to attempt to answer more questions and provide more content directly in the SERPs, reducing the CTR that higher ranking websites have traditionally seen for organic traffic. While this is undoubtedly a challenge, I liked the solution that Rand suggested – ensuring your brand has greater search volume than the non-brand keywords we often fixate on. This, I believe, will require a shift in the mindset that we traditionally see in the SEO industry that will come to the fore in 2019.
It will mean truly understanding who your audience is, how they search, what they search for and how they interact with other digital channels. The result of that will mean investing more in creating content that is built around addressing intent, answering questions and instilling brand advocacy. There’s no doubt that SEOs can play a hugely significant role in defining what content brands should create, and they will also play a pivotal role in proving its value – both in terms of brand and bottom line.
In short, there will be more demand for SEOs to swoop in and save the day when sites have implemented JS lazily. There could also be a shift from focusing on chasing non-brand search volume, to using our insights on search behaviour to create content that has great brand value. All in all, I’m really looking forward to it!”
“In the United States, it has become normal to have a domestic voice assistant, but in Italy, we can’t say the same.
Google Home has been speaking our language for less than a year and Amazon has launched its smart home devices just at the end of October. I think in 2019, Italians will use much more frequently the “Voice Search”.
The rise of voice search means that SEOs need to give a high priority on long-tail keywords and focus on natural-spoken language and structured data becoming even more important. Most of all, featured snippets are from question-based searches, and most voice searches are questions.
I would also like to mention the mistreated backlinks strategy: often there is someone saying that “link building is dead” but I think that, even in 2019, a good backlink strategy will be crucial for positioning.”
“For SEO in 2019, I predict that the winners will be those who have high quality writers and content creators who know their industry inside out, and know how to craft intensely valuable pages and articles that people love to read and consume.
As Google gets increasingly clever, I think keeping people ON the page will become even more of an important factor.
In a nutshell, that means having the best people to produce the best content that readers find extremely valuable. It will become harder to outsource content work to freelancers and agencies that don’t know the niche inside out.”
So, What Have We Learned From All Of This?
There you have it, 22 expert opinions on what will happen to the SEO world in 2019, with voice search taking a larger chunk of the search market and many more interesting things. After speaking to all of the experts who contributed to this roundup, we looked through and picked out what trends were mentioned as something to look out for.
Breaking it down we saw 11 main trends mentioned, these were: focus on more high quality links, voice search, featured snippets, video marketing, creating more valuable content, using multimedia content, focusing on structured information, the mobile first index, user experience, more focus on tech SEO & more focus on site speed.
As this chart shows Voice Search is leading all trends for 2019 – this is then followed up by creating more valuable content as the second biggest talking point for trends in 2019 and in third place we have a focus gaining higher quality links.
A few other trends that were brought up frequently were: Site speed, especially with the focus on mobiles, site speed is more important than ever. User experience, Google has always looked to get people to a site that suits their needs the most, so User Experience being a sticking point for Google is a no brainer. Tech SEO, the fundamentals are always important, so it’s no surprise that people still see it as a key part of SEO going forwards. Featured snippets, since their introduction they’ve taken a hold in many SERPs, often providing people with a resolution to their search without a click being needed, it is more important than ever to have your brand in that feature to get seen before anyone else.
If you want to prepare for all that 2019 has to offer from an SEO perspective, check out our blog for actionable information & guides. Or, if you need a hand, Bulldog Digital Media can help, we have in-house experts speciliasing in SEO, PPC and Content Marketing & can offer a full service that will help you build on the trends in the Digital Marketing world in 2019 and beyond. Click here to contact our team of experts today!
If you want to build on your inbound marketing or lead generation, check out our handy guide we made for a beginner’s guide to generating business the inbound way.