Find out about algorithm changes, Google innovations and changing customer behaviour to plan your SEO marketing for 2019.
Search marketing consistently outperforms other digital marketing tactics for return on investment. An effective search marketing campaign, will encompass both search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay per click advertising (PPC).
Like the rest of the digital landscape, SEO marketing is continuously evolving. It’s important for any professional in this field to keep up to date with the changes in trends and algorithms.
Aside from the ongoing analysis of insight provided from our client data portfolio, it’s helpful to keep informed outside of your own agency. Following social media accounts and blogs published by Google’s key decision makers or big industry experts is a great way to keep on top of rapid change (Gary Illyes is a particular favourite of mine).
Google’s algorithm changes can have severe implications for clients. It’s essential to remain at the forefront of those changes to give the best advice, implement any required actions and keep ahead of competitors.
Of course, mobile has had a dramatic impact on the digital landscape over the past few years. This is typified by the Mobile-First Index Roll-out on 26 March 2018, which was announced on the Google Webmaster Central Blog. What this meant was that after a lot of testing, Google confirmed it is moving a large number of sites to this mobile-first indexing process. I
n essence, Google systems for crawling and creating its index will be much more heavily focused on a mobile-first experience going forward.
For clients with a responsive website in main, the roll-out should have little impact; however, it does get a little trickier for those clients with a desktop and mobile site. For example, if a website has a device type redirect in place, then the mobile crawler will see the mobile site only.
This means that if some content is missing from the mobile site in comparison with the desktop site, then it will be not be seen by Mobile Googlebot and will not be included in the mobile first index. So, the advance here is to ensure all key content is present on both mobile and desktop versions of your website.
At the end of last year (2017) we also saw the Maccabees update. Google announced that they released several minor improvements over the period of the period of about a week and after analysis, experts within the SEO industry concluded that the updates were the result of keyword permutations and site using doorway pages.
The creation of multiple landing pages for close keyword permutations undermines user experience and of course is an indicator of spam for search engines. It’s for these reasons that it is a tactic that we would always advise against.
Another fairly recent but unconfirmed update dubbed ‘Fred’, looks to devalue affiliate-heavy or ad-centred content. The update rolled out in March 2017 and mainly sites (particularly blogs) with low quality posts that appear to have been created largely for the purpose of generating ad revenue. This update has a number of implications for clients:
- Ensure ads are placed on high quality websites
- In terms of outreach targets for content marketing, avoid websites such as those described above at all costs!
This is something that we will continue to see impact both websites looking to place content on other websites, as well as publisher websites into 2018 and beyond.
For me, the most impactful algorithm updates are often unconfirmed. While we can see their impact in SERPs, any detail surrounding them is still yet to be provided by Google as well as some the well-known, historic names such as, Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird and of course Rank Brain.
The future of engagement in SEO
In my view, engagement is incredibly important and always has been for SEO. For example, Google has access to a wealth of data including metrics from search engine results pages such as click through rate, through to key engagement metrics taken from individual websites that use Google Analytics.
With that in mind, it seems to me incredibly unlikely that data would not be used to either directly or indirectly inform search engine results.
There is no point in wasting resource and efforts to rank highly for a generic keyword (albeit with high search volume) if that results in users not engaging with your website because it is not specific enough.
Equally, there is no point in wasting your SEO marketing efforts by delivering lots of traffic to your website from highly relevant search queries, if the user experience upon landing on that website is poor quality. That’s why at Kagool our search marketing, design and user experience teams work closely to ensure that we’re not only increasing traffic for our clients, but maximise the value of this traffic.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence or AI has become a buzzword of the past couple of years and is set to go on to be a 2019 trend. Positioned by the media as a phenomenon that seems destined to impact to all aspect of our lives in the imminent future. From an SEO perspective, we were introduced to RankBrain nearly two years ago, a machine-learning artificial intelligence that Google’s been using to process a very large proportion of search results.
Beyond RankBrain, last year, researchers at Google Brain announced the creation of AutoML, an artificial intelligence that is actually capable of generating its own AIs.
While the goal of introducing AI into search engine algorithms is to predict results that are more useful to humans, Google’s continued efforts to embrace AI means we can expect to see more and more search results where ranking factors change from query to query.
This will be impacted by factors such as location, search history, favourite websites and what other users clicked on for a similar query. The algorithm learns from the behaviour undertaken and data relevant to a given search query and uses it to decides on the most relevant factors to take into account for each search moving forward.
Search is continuing to evolve in line with technology, namely voice assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google Home to help people find information or an item they are looking – quickly. The web is becoming more fractured day by day. The faster and more accurately that you can answer your customers’ questions, the more likely they are to use your services or buy your product; and in turn show you brand loyalty in the future.
Voice search is a prime example of this with Google announcing that 20 of mobile search queries are now from voice search. Using data and research to understand the type of search queries potential customer use so in particular, an understanding of the conversational sentences that they are likely to use as well as the decision-making process they undertake. Ensuring your web presence is optimised to take advantage of the latest technology can deliver results in the fastest, most convenient method is key here.
Voice search and featured snippets in SERPs are likely to grow together over the coming months. Featured snippets often referred to as “answer boxes” and often appear at the top of SERPs with an answer to the searcher’s question pulled from one or more of the listings on page one of Google’s results.
The rise of voice search means that that a focus on long-tail keywords and natural, spoken, conversational language is key to ranking well. Similarly, many featured snippets come from question-based searches so we can expect to see a rise in both.
The most important factor in an SEO marketing campaign
There isn’t really one factor that’s more important than the rest because when it comes to SEO marketing campaigns it spans three top-level disciplines, technical, on-page and inbound linking.
Although some factors can have a greater bearing on where you rank in major search engines, in order to create a genuinely authoritative website you need to take a holistic approach that demonstrates a thorough knowledge of your customers. It also includes continuously making lots of often very small, granular enhancements to ensure that you remain ahead of the competition. It is a competition after all!
Quick tips to improve SEO
For companies looking to improve their SEO marketing results, I’d suggest starting by analysing your customers in a much detail as possible. Ask important questions:
- What drives them to make a purchase?
- How will they look for your products or service?
- How long, on average, is their decision-making process?
Answering these initial questions will help identify where SEO fits in to your overall marketing strategy and will underpin the campaign moving forward.
Get the best results
Get in touch to discuss how our search marketing team can help your organisation.
If you’d like to learn more about our previous work, visit our SEO case studies. Find out how we achieved a 205% increase in organic traffic for global manufacturer, Artex.