A third of SEO experts have (and overwhelmingly so) decided that voice search is going to be the leading trend for SEO in 2019 and by 2020 it’s estimated that 50% of all of our searches are going to be carried out using voice search technology.
It’s simple, fast and takes less effort. What’s not to like?
Who’s using voice search right now?
The key age group using voice searches at the moment are the 18 to 29-year-olds. It’s no surprise really that it’s younger users that are embracing new technologies; because they’re not new to them, they’re what’s happening in the here and now, but the age of the voice search user is set to spread over the full range from young to old as time and technology trends move forward.
How is it affecting SEO?
Think about it. How we ask a question out loud is often very different to how we write it down.
Voice searches are likely to provide more long-tail keyword queries so regarding SEO we’re going to have to consider how best to optimise for it. On top of that, voice search is going to be more about deciphering the intent of a user’s search as opposed to simply picking out keywords. Google is implicit in this already so we’re going to have to consider what it will mean with regard to our website content and structure if we’re going to be able to give the search engines exactly what they’re looking for.
In March this year (2018), Google confirmed that it was moving a large number of sites to a mobile-first indexing process. In other words, Google has decided that its crawling and indexing methods are going to focus on mobile experience more heavily than before. And it’s no surprise given that the figures show that mobile use is by far the most popular way we access the Internet.
For those already optimised for mobile with a responsive website and a quick delivery then all is well and good in the world. For those without, or for those with a redirect for mobile or desktop, then it’s probably time to get your tech in better order. Any company with both mobile and desktop sites will likely have their mobile site crawled first so any content that features purely on the less streamlined desktop site may not be found at all. Local SEO proved to be one of the biggest trends throughout 2017 and will continue to dominate in 2019 and beyond that. So make sure to attract customers in your local area by following this massive Link building for local sites guide.
In July Google officially confirmed that mobile site speed has now been added to how they put together mobile search rankings. Given the assumption that mobile users are on the move and need answers in a hurry then the slowest performing pages will be penalised when producing search results.
Mobile users are viewing the web in different ways to desktop users, so if websites aren’t already optimised for experience and speed, they really need to be to meet the demands of good SEO.
We still talk about AI as though it’s some future commodity because of its continual evolution and development. We’re constantly learning and adapting it to be used in different ways, but with regard to SEO it’s already integrated and working hard.
It’s already sorting through huge amounts of data to make specific audience targeting simpler and that targeting helps marketing teams create the type of content that can reach their audiences far more efficiently.
It’s going to take the AI behind the voice search technology to find its way through images, video, ads and more in order to be able to narrow searches down to the most useful and relevant results to post.
One key area of change where AI will be utilised heavily is its advanced ability to detect black hat SEO methods. SEO provided using improper techniques will soon be eradicated creating a more level playing field for the rest of the ethically produced marketing on the Internet.
AI is currently measuring the quality of our content, collecting targeting data, determining emotional values and organising marketing campaigns. In future it’s heading towards managing our rankings with the search engines, delivering real-time customer service, providing improved visual content and optimising conversational keywords throughout our websites. And because voice search is going to be taking over how we seek information; conversational keywords are going to play a serious part in our SEO.
With greater bandwidth and data opportunities moving media and video are going to take over what we see on the web moving into the future.
For SEO purposes video can be used to get your visitors to spend more time on the required pages, improving domain authority with Google and hopefully helping with rankings. A video is brilliant at providing answers to customer’s issues and problems so if you can regularly bring them back by supplying more problem-solving content then there’s another SEO boost right there.
To help get the best from our SEO we should be including a video sitemap; Google is assumed to prefer video content over non-video at the moment so pages inclusive of that media will receive priority indexing.
Broadcasting through video channels such as YouTube and Vimeo give outbound and inbound link opportunities as well as accessing their vast number of users and searches.
Transcribing videos increases your indexing opportunities as well as giving access to those in situations where the sound isn’t an appropriate option.
Importantly, we shouldn’t forget our goals while getting wrapped up in the available technology but to use it to achieve our initial marketing goals. A video is a premium way of engaging visitors and turning them into customers. Inform and educate them about your products and their benefits and this should lead to a rise in conversions, sales and rankings.
When blockchain was introduced as the backbone of cryptocurrency and Bitcoin technology it created a level of sophisticated security that allowed information to be passed between users in what is considered a fraud-free environment.
It works by providing interconnected blocks containing full information about each of them. If a change, or a transaction, needs to happen it has to be confirmed by every block for the update to be validated.
Using this technology will dictate a higher level of trust and honesty, so when it comes to placing adverts, reporting news and unveiling scammers the blockchain controlling these areas will see to eradicate anything that doesn’t check out through the system. Search results, both paid and organic, should become more credible under a blockchain system, and personal data will be far more secure.
The impact on marketing could mean that we no longer need to be governed by an outside regulator of trust; consider Google Ads being skipped on their display network because going directly to the website owner will then be a trustworthy process in measuring clicks and views under blockchain technology. Whether this affects how we sell advertising or market white label pages that offer us new blockchain options will remain to be seen. It’s certainly one area that is going to develop through 2019.
How to quantify user experience regarding SEO may appear tricky at first but for Google or any other search engine to rank how well a website entertains and offers real, useful information to its visitors can simply be measured by how much time a visitor spends on the site, how many pages and how much content they interact with and the amount of traffic that keeps coming back for more will show just that. All of a sudden UX appears simple to gage and if you’re to marry that with the mechanical performance of a website, one that loads its content quickly and efficiently then every good search engine optimisation company will know just what they have to deliver.
User experience is going to be a stronger influence in our searches through 2019 so it’s important to start delivering the right content in the correct manner as soon as we can. We all want our information fast and delivered in a slick and easy to consume manner so content will need to be streamlined. We want to be entertained and amused while we browse so we’re going to see more video and micro-animation content. These factors need to be inclusive to clear and concise presentations, and with the strength of mobile searching, we’re going to see many more single page sites or sites with more content that need fewer clicks.
We already know that speed of delivery factors strongly in SEO and 2019 isn’t going to make any exceptions. If anything, it’s likely to play a more important role as Google has implemented a speed update in July already. If the slowest loading pages are being ranked down then the competition for the fastest loading websites is truly on.
It’s going to mean utilising clever ways to deliver the content we want to see; big beautiful images, video and animated content will still feature highly but the developers are going to have to make sure they can deliver them at speeds where they’ll still rank well in the search engines and not lose the interest of the viewer. The average viewer wants to see their information load in less than 2 seconds, they are likely to shut it down and choose an alternative if it takes more than 3, so if Google wants to promote a quality of information to keep its customers happy then we’re all going to have to perform within those parameters.
Virtual reality and augmented reality
Both of these rising technologies could see specialist ways of interacting with search engine technology and in how they can present the results to the viewer. The way we do everything on the Internet is constantly changing; VR and AR are both looking as though they are going to come into their own in the next few years. 2019 could well be the year.
Content strategies are already heavily involved with video presentation so it’s only a matter of time before they push that technology that bit further in order to start presenting information in more exciting ways. Working on your SEO with the elements of how we’re expecting UX to affect rankings then AR and VR technologies can certainly offer experiences we haven’t seen the best of yet knowing so much more is still to come.
Tom Buckland is a digital marketing consultant specializing in technical SEO & Amazon Marketing. He’s the founder of search company and loves helping businesses profit through smart digital marketing strategy.