We are edging ever closer to the end of 2018. To maintain your search visibility in the New Year, we need to look ahead at what’s likely to be in store for the SEO world in 2019. At SonicSEO.com, here’s what we see as the drivers for search engine performance:
Shrinking Organic SERP Space
Like the algorithm used to deliver search results, the layout of those results on the page evolves, too. We’ve already seen organic search results (the blue links) get pushed down the page by sponsored ads and other search engine-owned properties. This is not going to change, and in fact, those search engine-owned properties are likely to get bigger and present more useful information that keeps users on the search engine’s landing pages (not yours).
So, how can you get or keep search engine visibility if your link is, by no fault of your website’s performance, slipping further and further down the page?
Be visible in the snippets. To do that, you need to provide and present the information that search engines want to deliver to their users at a glance or with minimal clicking so that the algorithm selects your information to populate its snippets.
Places you may want to include in your SEO efforts are:
- Google maps
- Google Knowledge Graph cards
- Google Quick Answer
- Google People Also Ask
Getting seen in these spaces may entail optimizing other online presences, like:
- Google My Business listing
- Yelp profile
Appearing in these above-the-fold spaces may also entail presenting information in easy-to-consume formats, like tables and graphs, FAQs, infographics, etc. Implementing search engine-preferred data structures will also increase the chances that your website will be featured in these high-visibility boxes, drop-downs and carousels.
User Experience and Rank Brain’s Learning Curve
Google has moved beyond just mathematically-driven algorithms to implement machine learning to deliver better results to its users. Google’s AI, Rank Brain, translates search terms into concepts in order to find relevant results (some of which may not even contain the keywords used to perform the search!). But that’s only the beginning…
Rank Brain takes cues from user behavior to find out if/how human users find the results relevant. With Rank Brain, the link between user behavior metrics and ranking performance is more transparent. So, to maintain or improve ranking potential, you need to develop a strategy to:
- Increase organic click-through rates (CTR)
- Increase time spent on page
- Decrease bounce rate
These metrics are driven by UX factors like:
- Fast page loading speed
- Intuitive navigation
- Value-added content
All meta elements on the page should also be optimized.
The Preference for Video
Today’s internet users prefer video content. Cisco estimates that by 2021, 80% of all content on the web will be video. So, if you’ve been relying on the written word, it may be time to embrace moving pictures, too.
To be clear, video does not have to (and should not) replace your textual content, but rather complement it. In fact, some of your textual content can actually be video-ized to allow for easier visual consumption.
Although the content format itself is not a ranking factor, the format heavily informs user behavior and experience…and that means video content may end up performing better under Rank Brain.
Only time will tell if these trends will take on the SEO significance we predict. But, while our fortune-telling may leave something to be desired, our ability to keep pace with what actually does happen in the SEO world doesn’t. You can count on SonicSEO.com to know about and adapt to search engine updates and user trends to preserve your ranking potential.