As the year is coming to an end and we can start getting ready for 2020, it is a good time to take stock and review the trends and changes that have been taking place in search engine optimisation. The ongoing development and adoption of technology make for a fast-changing SEO landscape and its impact on business, which leaves us with no choice but to stay well informed and make the right decisions.
When it comes to hardware, software, cloud and network infrastructure, a reliable and experienced local IT support firm can help to find the right business solutions. SEO is a different game, however, and some of the prominent trends of 2019 include the following.
One of the biggest transformations in internet search is voice, which is expected to account for 50 percent of all searches by 2020. SEO specialists will need to adapt to long-tail keyword queries as part of voice search strings, which are completely different to searches that are typed. This calls for a major shift in SEO approaches to adjust to natural, colloquial spoken language, as well as a greater importance of the position zero of search results for users unable to view SERPs.
In the US, mobile time has risen from 88 to 203 minutes a day in the last six years, and mobile data traffic is forecast to increase seven times by 2021. It is no longer enough for a site to be mobile responsive; it needs to be fully mobile compatible. Superior mobile-first versions will rank highly on the Mobile-First Index, and this will depend on the width of mobile content, formatting and the speed at which a mobile site loads. Google uses the Mobile-First Index to rank blogs and sites.
How does digital ledger technology have anything to do with SEO? The reach of blockchain extends far beyond cryptocurrency, as it makes possible secure and unalterable records of transactions. This can apply to the connections between advertisers and website owners, allowing them to verify each other’s identity securely, and it will impact on SEO as well as Google’s ad revenue. Companies, such as Microsoft, are already working with blockchain-based identity companies like Blockstack Labs and ConsenSys.
There is clearly one thing that voice search lacks: a visual element. With visual searches users are able to scan or upload images to the browser, which will deliver the corresponding results. This is already possible with Bing Visual Search and Google Lens, and various apps like TinEye and Picsearch. This technology may not have reached its potential just yet, but when it inevitably does SEO will need to adjust to an increased use of captions, descriptions and tags.
Another emerging technology that is transforming business in various ways, artificial intelligence will impact SEO by personalising user experiences when carrying out internet searches. For businesses, machine learning can help with keyword strategies, and recent research shows that most business owners see SEO as the single most profitable application of AI. Digital marketing can be aided by automation for SEO tasks, such as data reporting and analysis.
Rather than just keywords used as the important focus of websites, SEO is now required to look deeper into the intentions of users. This calls for specialists to do further research into user information, which will make possible engaging customers and returning information that wasn’t asked for, and in turn improve search engine rankings.
SEO specialists also need to respond to simpler search query interpretations and produce web content that meets the specific needs of users, while also offering product or service advice to potential customers. SEO will produce optimised code and include more precise terms like when, where and how, and deliver more specific results.
Implementing schema markup in content was formerly relevant to SEO for the purposes of dispersing rich snippets. Structured data is now making a return, and this is due to the role AI is playing in internet search. It can help search engines interpret the messages and associations of content, so schema markup will be helpful when AI crawls the web and analyses content before assigning relevance.
Looking beyond Google
Google may be by far the number one player, but there are many that predict this will not always be the case. For e-commerce and online goods, Amazon trumps Google, and a recent study shows that over half of internet users visit Amazon first when thinking about buying a product. This means that certain brands need to become familiar with Amazon first.
When potential customers are searching for apps, ranking in app stores is a priority. It is very easy to believe that Google is the only consideration in SEO, but this is not always the case.
SEO is essential to many businesses, and when executed the best possible way it can lead to a conversion rate of over 15 percent, meaning that customers are taking the intended actions. As with many internet-based fields, SEO is in a state of perpetual change, so we need to keep watching those changes and take the right decisions. For this we need to be attentive, informed and innovative.