6 Top Organic SEO Trends to Focus on
The goals of organic SEO specialists remain unchanged from year to year: to get ahead of others in SERPs, to increase returns on investment, to improve revenues. However, the ways of achieving these goals are far less static, what with ever-changing Google algorithms and business landscape. So what are the most important trends to look out for this year? Let us take a closer look.
1. The Growing Role of Featured Snippets
We may have grown so used to it that we no longer notice it, but the way a SERP looks today is very different from what it was ten or even five years ago. Enter any query, and in many cases, you will have to scroll down to get to the organic search results.
Depending on what you search for, the first positions will be occupied by:
- AdWords ads
- Featured snippets
- Knowledge graphs
- Google News
- “People also ask”
- Google images
- YouTube videos.
In other words, you have to compete for the reader’s attention not just with your direct competitors, but with a lot of other content that gets a head start by definition.
Although featured snippets will undoubtedly continue to play their part (providing quick and simple answers to the user’s questions), only time will show how Google is going to address the issue of reliability of these sources.
What to do about it now? You may try getting a top ranking in featured snippets yourself. In fact, current algorithms allow smaller websites to compete for this position effectively if they provide well-structured information. Consider adding a Q&A section or a table with the information your target audience is likely to be interested in.
2. Continuing Shift Towards Long-Form Quality Content
Google has been promoting long-form high-quality content for many years. It has for a long time been one of the central themes of most of its significant updates. They are constantly trying to show that posts longer than your typical 500 to the 1000-word blog post (sometimes far longer) can be used to significant effect.
Recently, many popular websites took this suggestion to heart and achieved spectacular results. The takeaway is simple: longer, well-structured posts comprehensively covering their topics and providing valuable new content, can bring far more traffic than your typical fare. There is no need to publish 3 to 4 posts a week, as is usually suggested. One such post a week is more than enough if you are capable of providing consistent quality.
3. Google’s Mobile-First Indexing
Last year, Google finally moved to mobile-first indexing. And it is hardly surprising. After all, about 60 percent of all Internet traffic comes from mobile devices, and its share is only going to grow with time.
What does this mean for SEO?
Simply put, it means that Google prefers to display the position of your website in the mobile index, So if you haven’t yet optimized your site for mobile, now is high time to do so. Speed seems to be one of the most important factors here. Google perceives slow-loading websites to be one of the most crucial problems of mobile Internet, and will heavily penalize sites that don’t load quickly enough. Therefore, every tenth of a second, you shave off your loading time is going to improve your position. Responsive design is another thing you should invest in.
4. Machine Learning
2019 is the year we are finally likely to see machine learning seriously changing the search landscape. There has been a lot of preparatory work for this for quite some time, and some initial implementations using RankBrain. But these were just baby steps. In the coming year, Google intends to make enough changes to their engines to answer user intent rather than questions. That is, the search engine will not just automatically answer your search query based on the words you use. Rather, it will try to glean why you are making the query in the first place and react to your intention.
The change, however, should not and will not be one-sided. Businesses willing to rank high have to adopt machine learning themselves to create a new type of content optimized for SEO.
5. Voice Search and Virtual Assistants
It is projected that by 2020, about half of all searches will be done by voice. Further, at least 30% of all searches will be done via voice-enabled devices like Google Home, without the use of a screen. This means that the nature of an average search will be quite different from what it is now. Text searches usually consist of keywords, sometimes with a short phrase or two. Voice searches tend to be longer, more conversational, more like real questions one human asks another. That is why your SEO should concentrate on such searches, consider what questions your potential audiences are likely to ask and capitalize on it.
6. Use of Brand as a Ranking Signal
It has been some time already since Google admitted they are using brand name mentions in their algorithms, and it seems to be true. There are two ways in which it happens.
Firstly, Google notices all the unlinked mentions of your brand and thus finds out that such an entity exists. It then goes on to analyze the places where it is mentioned to understand better how authoritative it is in its field.
Secondly, it takes into account all the contexts and associated sentiments to evaluate the sentiment surrounding the brand name. These include ads, reputation among customers, and reactions to complaints. In other words, how well your brand is perceived by customers influences your ranking on SERPs.
All in all, the direction in which SEO moves remains unchanged. Modern search is less concerned with keywords, and more with the quality of content, your ability to solve your visitor’s problems and provide exactly the information he/she is looking for. Following the aforementioned trends can help you achieve better results in this endeavor.
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You may also want to read: 8 Best SEO Practices To Avoid Google Penalties
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