It’s that time of year again. Time for everyone to say what they believe will happen during the coming year in the Search Engine Optimization realm.
So what will Google do in 2019?
While we can’t be sure with 100% accuracy, we have had our fingers on their pulse for a long time and have a good idea where they are heading.
If you find you that your site doesn’t meet all the criteria in the list below or you are not at least in the process of moving in this direction, be sure to start soon — particularly if you have a “Your Money or Your Life” site (YMYL), as you’ll need to start making some changes today (more on this below).
Without further adieu here they are, our predictions for SEO in 2019.
#1 – We are predicting a higher level of emphasis for on-site factors like internal linking, link structures, interactive features (like Youtube videos) and time on site.
These will become more important to monitor and work on, when (not “if”) there are problems. These are what we call “user friendliness factors”.
As Google keeps getting better at tracking its users it will take these factors more into consideration, especially the actual clicks on these internal links, videos and things of that nature.
So ideally, the goal would be to have a user visit from a search, and not only read your content but watch your embedded videos, share your relevant infographic, as well as follow and read your other content by clicking on links in your article.
All of this shows a great user experience to Google.
#2 – Long-form editorial content that is combined with E-A-T factors will continue to evolve and become even more important.
It’s best to address these 2 things immediately to get ahead of this trend.
Long form content involves truly fleshed out content pages that are typically several thousands of words long, with images, infographics and videos galore (this is heavily dependent on your niche/topic, see our caveat below for exceptions).
But, focusing on a rigid word count is not the way ahead here. The best approach is asking your writers to create a holistic piece that covers every important aspect of the topic, and seeks to be the most in-depth resource online for that topic. That mindset is much better than an arbitrary, “Write 2k words.”
E-A-T factors include having extensive author bios with backgrounds, degrees and credentials fully fleshed out. To go a bit beyond your competition, we also recommend that you link to authoritative publications that acknowledge those credentials, like Wikipedia pages, etc. Aim to link to as many authoritative third parties like this as possible and, of course, only when truly relevant and valid.
For example, if you were featured on Doctor Oz (as a health pro), then link to the video that features you, as well as embed the video to increase those interactions.
These show Google that not only do you produce great content but you are qualified to write this good content. There are many sites out there that produce content that have good user metrics but aren’t actually “good” content because the content is misleading or not fact-checked. This is especially important for YMYL sites, as on a investment site where your credentials and whether you are a certified investment broker or not is important.
Google came down particularly hard on some YMYL sites towards the end of last year that didn’t have these factors. If so far you have been spared, don’t delay to get them implemented, the next round of updates may affect your site.
Here is an example of a good author bio page with EAT:
What is done well in the above, is that it has interactive features (there are different tabs to click), plus a link out to an authority page (In this case his own website, which backs up his claim of being an expert).
If this site was taking our advice, they would link to a conference he was a featured speaker at, or embed a video of one of his talks. They should also link to other publications that he is a contributor to (anything that isn’t competing with Search Engine Journal).
Plus to go the extra mile, they should bulk up the profile with about 200-500 more words.
#3 – We believe the schema markup that Google looks for may officially be announced as a ranking factor.
Maybe this point is a little bit sensational but this prediction is a pretty sure bet.
The key to implementing this is that Google doesn’t care about all schema markups, just certain data points per their guidelines. The fact that they put out guidelines like the linked page shows that they are probably moving in this direction and it is something that you should check out.
Make sure your site is as up to date as possible and if not, put a plan in place to update your site ASAP.
Note: Getting ahead of these last three on-page trends and putting them into practice could put you way ahead of your competitors. Why?
Because for the most part everyone else is usually slow to pick up on these trends (simply because they require a little bit more effort) and don’t jump on board till everyone has done it (at which point you should be on to the next trend as this one gets exhausted).
Getting a site audit could be just the place to start. Go here and login to get started on this today.
#4 – On-page factors on content linking to you will continue to evolve as well and become more important.
Obviously this is not talking about natural links (which you can’t do anything about except disavow them). But when it comes to things you can control like guest posts, simply getting a post on a high DA site won’t matter as much, if you aren’t making sure the content is real quality content the users of that site can profit from.
This means your guest posts need to have links to other authority pages and contain other factors such as correct grammar and punctuation, especially since Google now has the ability to learn grammar with machine learning.
How to take care of this right off the bat?
As a good rule of thumb, is if you wouldn’t put the whole article or piece of content on your site then it shouldn’t be posted anywhere else.
#5 – In the same vein, we predict that link metrics all by themselves will not matter as much any more.
There are plenty of DA 70+ sites that have approximately 100 or less actual traffic a month, but for whatever reason, SEO’s tend to still focus on getting these links sometimes. We are predicting that the true measure of value will shift more and more towards real traffic as the gold standard for high quality websites with metrics still playing a part of the whole picture.
On the opposite end, links on such “DA honeypots” may become worthless or spammy to Google.
If Google doesn’t like a site enough to send it real traffic, why would they make a link from that site and help your less authoritative site get real traffic?
#6 – Our final prediction is that other off page factors will increase in value, especially ones that are difficult to fake.
Google is looking more and more to these other side signals to verify whether a site is a true authority or not. The primary factor in this “other factors” category is getting your brand or name listed (without a link).
For instance, an example of this would be a client of yours going on your Linkedin profile or some other review site and saying you guys did a great job for them.
This review will start to gain even more value then it does right now, as Google is only getting better at tracking and quantifying these mentions and making sure they are actually good mentions and not complaints (which is the main reason this isn’t more of a ranking factor than it is).
But be aware that this is not the only factor to be aware of that Google will get better at tracking.
Other factors that will help your rankings, can be social interaction on social platforms (getting comments and likes on posts, etc) and creating YouTube videos with the aim of actually getting views and traffic from them.
Do not be like some that put up one one-minute commercial video and put a check mark next to “create YouTube channel” on their SEO list.
Another important factor that doesn’t always get a lot of press is getting branded searches. This is when someone goes on Google and searches for “your brand + keyword phrase.”
Pro tip: If you create YouTube or Facebook live videos instead of giving direct links to your content all the time, encourage those watching to go and type in their query to Google.
Just a few searches like this can put you on the Google “brand map”, as it were.
These are our predictions for SEO in 2019.
What are your predictions? Let us know in the comments below!