This year is the year that redefines SEO in a manner that is far more in depth, far more precise and all about looking into the future and bringing it to the present times. Over the past decade, Search has been a major factor in any brand’s digital strategy but the ante is now up and Google’s constant changing of algorithms and cleaning up act means that SEO has to be more strategic and much more intelligent.
1. Understand User Intent = Your Audience
Does your audience prefer text? Images? Video? Audio.
As a digital agency/strategist/SEO professional – do you know what your client/brand’s audience wants? Do they prefer Text, Images, Audio or Video as knowing this is one of the key tenets to understanding how search needs to be in the scheme of things?
It’s imperative to be able to preempt the answers to what someone is expecting to find when they search a word or a phrase and get them to see that in the fastest and simplest way possible. Today’s digital audience are inundated with so much information that their interests, tastes and preferences change faster than you can say Shazam!
Google is now ranking websites high that are all about the audience- if a website enhances your customer’s journey then it’s a Win-Win especially given the major fluctuations in site rankings since 2017.
SEO content specialists need to get user intent from the word Go even before they put the content out there. Buyers today have far more awareness and ranking for keywords further down the funnel rather than spending money on broad terms is a strategic approach that most Digital marketers are now leaning towards more and more.
Checking SERPs of competitor websites is now par for the course as past of any SEO team’s Keyword research.
Understanding your Audience and User intent will give you great insight into creating content that makes the crucial difference between SEO that pays the bills and SEO that leaves your competitors eating digital dust.
2. Google Search and beyond
Whilst there is digital chatter that Amazon and Apple are cutting into Google’s search dominance, it is an unlikely reality that Google will be displaced as the number 1 search. However, SEO is already proving to be beyond Google this year and into the coming years.
Driving traffic and engagement for things other than just website platforms is taking SEO to other search engines. For example- If a brand’s potential audience are searching for relevant Apps, then SEO needs to be about ranking in app stores if its podcasts and videos then those platforms need to be factored in.
Brands that go the distance are the brands that are holistically well-rounded and rank for content beyond websites and Google search.
Being optimised for audio-only/home assistant devices or the next big technology benefits products that can be sold or brands that need a wider exposure. Strategising beyond Google, creating conversations on other content aggregators, hosting articles etc will ensure that a brand’s SEO strategy is far more efficient and fulfilling.
3. Build Authority, Trustworthiness Via Great Content
Quality comes with context and this is the understanding that SEO strategists need to take onboard. It is not that simple to rank by writing authoritative content unless you are an authority on that subject.
In 2018 Google made it obvious that it had intensified its focus on quality content across the board. Sites that were weak with this were literally wiped off the digital map.
And there is more coming.
Which means know your brand’s reputation and audience inside out. Have a team that knows how to leverage data and are the go-to source around the brand’s core expertise. This is what Google values currently and accordingly rewards with rankings when you are able to generalise your ranking algorithm as much as possible. MI is very good with generalising and this can be used for your SEO strategy.
Content needs to be 100% solid to acquire credible links now- so content that moves audiences, that motivates and empowers, that brings people together in the community, generates social awareness is what Google is looking for in 2019. Instead of trying the SEO the life out of that standard content and getting the audience to come to your site; now is the time to reevaluate reassess and reimprint your brand’s digital content strategy.
4. Technical SEO = Invest more.
This has to be a major area of any brand’s digital investment as websites continue to get more complex in the coming times.
Some key areas of focus on the technical side of SEO will be:
5. Voice Search is Mega
By 2020 50% of all searches will be done by Voice and 30% of all searches without using a screen. Google Home like Voice enabled devices are taking the world by storm and Voice activated searches are longer than texting via keyboard. This means that your SEO will have to factor in more than 7-9 keywords as in regular conversations. General information that drives the brand’s potential customer audience through the sales funnel and specific questions related to this will be significantly more in terms of How, Who and Where.
1 in 5 adults uses mobile voice search at least one time a month, according to Global Web Index.
Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home and Apple’s Homepod are already a part of one’s digital lifestyle and more homes are getting wired to adapt to this new environment. This massive demand for AI devices means a proportionate growth in Voice search is not exactly rocket science. People are being conditioned towards using these devices beyond turning lights on and off and more for hot deals and looking up local businesses using voice search. From the year of mobile, digital is now going towards the year of Voice and SEO needs to factor this in when that year sets in!
While ‘voice’ might be an easier way to request answers in some scenarios, it certainly isn’t the ideal format to fulfill the intent in more complex answers (e.g., when comparing services or products) and yet it is taking precedence more than ever.
By 2022 UK voice commerce is expected to be around 3.5£ billion and the US is slated to touch 40$ billion over the same period
46 Voice searchers use local businesses and visits to a local business which means that ‘local voice search’ is now part of consumer behaviour and brands need to adapt to this via SEO.
There you have it- the top 5. Many Digital strategists and SEO professionals are feeling shell shocked and are trying to find their feet in the ground as search engines and technology keep up their relentless pace. The ones who will lose ground are the ones who will fail to stay alert and attentive to shifts in the digital landscape and not adapt well before time.
I always say- It is all here in the Now and the clock ticks- So pull your socks up and bring that next level SEO to your game.
Are you going to lead this change? Are you a leader or a management consultant or a company that would like to know more on how to bring about a model that is capable of bringing this future to the present. If so get in touch with us. Our brand founder and author of this blog Chetan Jha is leading not just change but also innovation across the board through best practises that echo compassion understanding and reflection. To know more, email us: [email protected]