Every year I do one of these. I’m a little late this year, but it took a little while to come up with a shortlist of things I see as becoming more important this year. They are in no particular order, but these are the tip things I predict will gain in importance in 2019. So, let’s get to it.
1) Growth of Voice
This one should come as no surprise. Voice search has been growing in popularity over the past couple years and will continue to gain traction in 2019. As the technology behind it (powered by improving AI) improves, so do the opportunities. Think “onebox” but for voice results. While I think voice search (and voice enhanced by AI) is still in its infancy, 2019 could be a big year for it.
2) Mobile First Indexing
While having a mobile version of your website is nothing new, optimizing primarily for mobile will be for most people in 2019. It’s true that mobile first indexing by Google started rolling out in early to mid 2018 but most site owners still don’t know exactly what it means, or how to take advantage of it. I think in 2019 you will see a big shift in how SEO’s and site owners handle mobile first indexing. The ones who figure it out will be the most successful.
3) Site Speed
Along the lines of Mobile First indexing, site speed continues to be important. But not just desktop site speed, but mobile site speed. The key to success here is focusing on improvements you can made as suggested by the updated speed tool found in the new Google search console, or use the site speed module found in Chrome’s web developer tools.
4) Brand Becomes More Important
When most people think of brand they think of the big brands – Walmart, Coke, Amazon. But as a business owner, you have a brand too. And that brand has value. Therefore, trust in your business and website becomes increasingly important. Trust will become more important in 2019 therefore your brand becomes critical to your online performance in 2019. But building brand in 2019 will become easier to do as well. Rather than focusing your SEO efforts strictly on search phrases, adding your company name or brand as a search phrase helps to improve your brand.
5) Increased usage of social and video
Going hand in hand with brand building, increasing your usage of social media and video will help not only with your online marketing and SEO efforts, but also help to build your brand recognition online. A well-designed social profile helps increase recognition of your company’s brand, while a structured regular video campaign further cements your brand as an authority in your field.
6) Optimize Your Website for User Intent
A big part of SEO is driving traffic to your website. But more and more SEO firms realize that their job simply doesn’t end there. Good SEO practitioners know that simply opening the door isn’t enough and that visitors need to be guided through the purchase funnel. This is where it becomes increasingly important to provide multiple conversion paths through your site to help not only attract more of the right type of searcher, but also helping to ensure that these different searchers, with different search habits, are able to easily and effectively navigate through your website to achieve your and their end goal – whether it’s a form submission, a phone call, or an online purchase.
7) Local Search Becomes More Important.
With the tighter integration we’ve been seeing between Google map results, and Google organic results it should come as no surprise that local search will continue to grow in 2019. When we first started seeing map results in Google searches, there was very little integration between organic results and maps. The past couple years, however, we’ve seen each type of listing having more of an impact on each other for more and more different types of searches. Where we used to see approximately 30% of searches return local results, we now see more like 70-80%, particularly in searches which are considered local, or even nearby searches (that is, searches which may not be 100% local to a city, but still somewhat local to a region perhaps).
8) Growing importance of Schema and Structured Data
Tied into the increased presence of local search is the increased usage of Schema by search engines. Schema is more of that “invisible” code that search engines use when ranking web pages. However, much like we were able to manipulate results in the late 90’s and early 00’s simply by changing meta tags, schema can also be easily manipulated. Search engines know this, so are cautious with some forms of structured data, so be sure to take advantage of Schema and structured data the correct way. Don’t try to game the system because while you might benefit from a short term gain, there will be long term pain for those who try to gain an unfair advantage.
9) PWA – Progressive Web Apps
While these have been around for some time, their adoption has been slow mostly because some mobile devices, such as iPhones, didn’t readily accept this standard. Times are changing, however, and PWAs and now acceptable almost everywhere.
A PWA is like an app for your phone, but really all it is is a shortcut on your desktop to a web page that appears in full screen mode. Granted this is a description of a web app at its most basic, but you get the picture. Rather than opening a browser and then searching or typing a URL, you open what appears as an app on your mobile device which then launches a web based instance of your site in it’s own window.
Some developers are already moving away from apps, while some devices are allowing more flexibility in what the apps can do. You probably already use some PWA’s in your daily phone use but don’t even know it.
So there you have it – my top 9 predictions for 2019. You may have noticed a theme in them. Expanding mobile presence for one. Mobile first indexing, site speed and PWA’s are all part of the mobile environment. Branding encompasses some of this, while improving your social and video presence also have an impact on defining and building your brand in 2019. Schema affects your local presence as does a well optimized map listing. So when you boil these choices down there are really 3 areas to focus on in 2019 – mobile, local and branding.
If you need help with any of these please don’t hesitate to drop us a line. We can help you figure out how well you are doing in these areas and provide practical tips for enhancing your business and brand online in 2019.