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SEO is always changing. After all, that’s one of the best (and most challenging) aspects of search engine optimization, and the field of digital marketing in general. No longer is SEO synonymous with simply “tricking” search engines to get websites to the top. Today, SEO is about building websites and creating content in line with Google’s best practices and intentions for the benefit of its users.

And, while it’s impossible to understand Google’s intentions with complete certainty, we do know that Google wants to provide a great search experience for its users. In accordance with that, now is the time for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to prepare your 2019 SEO strategy!

In-SERP Results

More results will show in the search engines themselves through quick answer results. Nevertheless, often, the company that shows in the quick answer result box is not the top company that shows in organic listings. See the example below where The Simple Dollar is showing in the Quick Answer result, with several others showing in the accordion quick answer results, and then America Saves is showing in the 1st position on Google’s organic results. Quick Answer strategy for keywords with Quick Answer results is imperative so that your brand is the 1st position on Google.

Example:

Google wants “to provide the fastest and most accurate answer possible” for users but, selfishly, it also wants to keep users on its own platform rather than your website. Because of this, Google is increasing the amount of keywords which now have quick answer results. We can see how this has already impacted results with the graph below:

This means that SEO content strategy needs to be A) focused on attaining in-SERP results through Quick Answer and Local Pack results while B) also being mindful of targeted (but potentially more evasive) keywords with a healthy organic clickthrough rate so your SEO is still beneficial. It’s easy to see that organic SEO traffic will likely decrease over time—notably organic desktop traffic—especially if no SEO strategy is in place.

Quick Answer SEO Strategy

While Quick Answer results are largely the reason why we’re seeing more zero-click searches, they’re also the reason you want to be showing up for the Quick Answer results. Ranking for Quick Answer results is still valuable in that your brand is seen as the authority to the user, and the Quick Answer result is more likely to capture the most organic traffic compared to other listings below it. Creating pyramid-style content (with the most important information at the top and then narrower information below) that answers a specific question works best for quick answer results. Beyond that, using lists and technical SEO items like alt-text on images can also improve Quick Answer result strategy.

Organic Clickthrough Rate (CTR) Strategy

Now, while Quick Answer is a fantastic strategy for any size of business, another important strategy to consider is going after SEO keywords that have a high organic CTR—meaning there are fewer in-SERP results like Quick Answers for that keyword, as these are more likely to garner organic traffic.

HTTPS-Secure Website

While having a secure website is not a new suggestion—by now we know that Google uses HTTPS as an SEO ranking signal—this is a very important point to emphasize, because there are still more unsecured (HTTP) sites than there are secure (HTTPS) sites indexed on Google. Securing your site is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to benefit your SEO and, perhaps more importantly, protect your users’ and business’s data and information. However, migrating from HTTP to HTTPS can go wrong quickly without proper canonicalization for all pages and assets, like images, so be mindful through the migration process.

Mobile-First Indexing

It’s official: mobile-first indexing is here, and we very much live in a mobile-centric world with over 52% of all searches coming from mobile devices globally (and likely more when signaling out the tech-apt US). Have you built your website and content with mobile in mind? It’s ever important to ensure that your website loads quickly, content is easy to read, all content is available with a responsive web design, and that user experience is streamlined for mobile use.

Page Speed

Google announced in July 2018 that page speed is now officially a ranking factor, and we’ve seen how this impacts our clients’ rankings first hand. There is a laundry list of factors that impact page speed, and while some are more complicated than others, most are pretty easy to fix, like:

  • Compressing image files
  • Streamlining CSS and JavaScript code
  • Making the above-the-fold content easily readable

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Accelerated mobile pages (AMP) has been around for several years and didn’t initially take off, but Google has since doubled down and is opening up AMP slots to be available for more queries than ever. Providing AMP on your blog content can drive more organic traffic to your site and will help you conquer organic CTR—all while providing a fast experience for all your mobile users!

Voice Search

Voice search has been getting quite a bit of buzz lately—and rightly so! Despite that, there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding voice search. Nonetheless, with the large growth of in-home devices like Alexa, Google Home, and others—paired with the growth seen in voice-to-text and Siri—voice search is coming to a device near you!

For voice search SEO, content strategy should be geared toward answering users’ questions in a conversational way (rather than simply going after keywords) and the important location information on a site (e.g. name, address, phone number, etc.) should be made readily readable via schema and in the footer and/or header of the site. Fortunately, Wpromote’s local listing tool automatically syncs with Amazon Alexa.

Structured Data & Schema

Schema (also known as structured data) has many uses, and while there is no evidence that schema directly influences rankings, there is research to show that schema increases CTRs. Schema allows search engine crawlers to find information more easily on the site and influences the way results show in search by adding things like review stars, publication date, event dates, product prices, and more. Amazon uses schema wonderfully for its products and the results certainly look more attractive, which supports evidence for higher CTRs for sites with schema. See an example below:

No matter your industry or services, schema can set your website apart from your competitors because many websites do not take advantage of schema.

RankBrain & UX

User experience (UX) signals—how easily users are able to interact with a website—played a large role in 2018. UX signals are certain to grow in importance in 2019, as Google wants to create the best experience possible for its searchers.

RankBrain is Google’s machine learning system that helps rank results by using interactive metrics like organic CTR and engagement metrics on the site (e.g. bounce rate, dwell time, etc.). RankBrain is Google’s way of doing its best to factor in UX signals so it can show the best results for users, and Google has even announced that RankBrain is the third most important ranking factor. While RankBrain has been around for a few years, it is definitely amping up to play a larger role going forward.

Get an SEO Expert on Your Side

Wpromote is well equipped to help your business succeed. Through our partnership with Google, and by following Google’s best practices, Wpromote has helped thousands of small- to medium-sized businesses enhance their SEO strategy and grow their businesses through organic traffic increases. As you strategize for 2019 and look to take your business to the next level, don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about how Wpromote SEO services can help.

Interested in a free website analysis? Throughout January 2019, Wpromote is offering free website analyses for SMBs! Get in touch with us for your free website analysis by sending an email to smb-partner-sales@wpromote.com with subject line “Free Website Analysis.”

Author’s Bio: Travis Tallent is a Senior Account Manager and also the SEO Team Lead for the Small and Medium Business Department at Wpromote, handling mid-market to local SEO accounts as well as conducting department-wide SEO trainings.

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