7 SEO Tips You Should Be Implementing in 2019

What a year 2018 has been. Facebook has been at the centre of a huge scandal that has changed the platform forever, taxi company Uber rolled out (and quickly recalled) self-driving cars, over 200 million people have been fighting each other battle royale style on Fortnite and Google has gotten even smarter. That’s right, the impossible has become possible, and the new Google landscape means that SEO has become a whole new ballgame. Read on to discover our end of year SEO round-up, where our SEO expert Rob Goodison has compiled a list of tips so that you can be at the top of your game for the new year.

Optimise for RankBrain

RankBrain is a machine learning platform that Google uses to determine which search results are most relevant for searches, and it is responsible for tweaking the algorithm and assigning rankings. It works by putting queries though an interpretation model that applies different possible factors, such as, the location of the search, personalisation, and the actual words in the query to identify what the query is actually looking for. Essentially, it works by trying to provide the best, and most relevant, search results for a user’s query.

Google announced that RankBrain is Google’s third most important ranking signal, meaning that it is hugely important to optimise for it. The main things it looks for are:

  • User behaviour metrics – Mainly dwell time & click through rate (CTR)
    If lots of users click a result that’s ranked position 4, RankBrain will run an experiment by placing it at top position, and if user behaviour shows that people continue to click this result and then they engage with the page, it’ll make the experiment permanent.
  • Meta descriptions
    These are a lot more important than they have been for the past few years. Schema markup (the thing that pulls through star ratings for reviews and price as well as other cool stuff) is also really important, as it’s likely that this will help the click through rates.Meta Data ExampleWhen typing in the search term “shoes asos”, we can see an example of a well optimised meta description that is written specifically for the Men’s Shoes page and features compelling copy.
    Best practice for meta descriptions is that they should be between 50-300 characters, unique to each page and should be written in a style similar to ad copy. Meta descriptions share a lot in common with ads now, as they serve as functioning as a type of ad copy. This means that they can contribute towards improving CTR if the keyword is included in the meta description.

Consider user experience (UX) signals

Mobile sites should be your first priority. Whilst mobile-first indexing isn’t new, it’s becoming best practice to think of the mobile site as the ‘real’ website. This is because mobile website traffic now accounts for over 50% of all online traffic worldwide. Mobile indexing refers to Google using your mobile site as the starting point for its index and the foundation of how it determines rankings. Google has previously stated it has begun to prioritise mobile sites and that having a mobile friendly site’s content indexed will probably help the site perform better in search results.

UX design is the key to improving user behaviour metrics. Optimising your site for users will improve the user journey, and you’ll see an increase in metrics like: time on site, interaction with content, and a decrease in bounce rate and exit rates. Site speed is hugely important as an overloaded website with a slow page load speed will lead to a drop in sessions. The better your site’s UX, the more users will favour your site over others. Split testing ideas to find out what makes your UX better is definitely worth trying.

Go all in on video content

The majority of all queries have a YouTube video in the search results, so make sure that you’re making the most of this feature. These videos could even be used to generate links through creating embeddable content. Google algorithms have changed to prioritise websites with video content. For example, having video content on your page drives a 157% increase in organic traffic, and doubles the amount of time people will spend on your page.

Video Content

Featured snippets

Sometimes referred to as position 0, featured snippets are the instant answer cards that appear on search results. (Try typing in to Google, ‘who is Elon Musk’, and you’ll see what we mean).

  • The tactics for getting this position seems to be ‘write an answer to a question in less than 100 words early on in your post, then write about it in-depth’. For example, if we look at the results of the most frequent keywords found in search queries with featured snippets, the top performing word is “recipe”. So if someone were to use the keyword “key ingredients for vegan cupcakes”, in order to reach the featured snippet position, the recipe for vegan cupcakes would need to be clear and concise at the beginning of a page. This helps Google to acknowledge that the page is directly answering the search query, pushing it to the position 0.

Rich Snippet Example

  • Featured snippets are pretty much what is driving voice search, which is becoming bigger every year. With more and more people owning voice-activated assistants, Google has predicted that nearly half of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. Due to this, we need to focus on creating content that will convert to a featured snippet. Google prefers longer-tailed keywords when selecting which page should feature on a snippet section, so bear this in mind when creating content. As a majority of featured snippets take the form of question and answer searches, content that answers a specific question concisely will also be more likely to be chosen to feature as a snippet.

Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EAT)

In a document published in 2015, Google revealed that expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (EAT) are some of the most important characteristics when it comes creating high quality content and ranking. Increase EAT by:

  • Expertise – your content should be written by experts who know the most about your chosen topics.
  • Authoritativeness – build and manage your site’s reputation. Sites with a solid reputation will get preferential treatment over other sources.Reputation is based (probably) on a mix of traffic, links and user signals.
  • Trust – make sure that your content is helping users, and establish security so that they feel like they can trust your site.

Content and links are still as important as ever

In-depth content is still the best way to rank well and generate links. The one-stop approach works best. Try to answer the initial user query and any secondary queries that are related, therefore a user won’t have to visit any other sites If your content can give them everything they want to know in one place. All-in-one content will increase user engagement, barring any site issues.

Things that have proven to be less important in 2018:

Keywords

Keywords are less important (sort-of as you should still include them in your strategy to help Google understand your site). They used to dictate rankings and be the sole way in which Google would decide which search results were relevant to queries, but now keywords are just a small part of the machine that is improving user signals. Due to RankBrain trying to determine the real intent of your search, keywords are becoming more redundant as it looks into

Now, because of RankBrain, it’s important to consider your web page itself as much as the keywords you’re trying to rank for. Google looks at the context of a search as much as the content on your page, so keywords are becoming more redundant in the process of pairing difficult queries with results. For example, if someone were to search for “coffee”, they could be looking for A) a coffee, B) delivery or C) coffee facts. The search term is not specific enough so Google wouldn’t know exactly what a user is trying to find out, but RankBrain can help to eliminate this problem by pulling through external factors of the search rather than relying on keywords alone.

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