Google turned 20 years old last year. Though much has changed in those 20 years, Google and other search engines have retained the same goal – getting users the information they are looking for quickly and accurately. Knowing this, we can anticipate the direction of search and inbound marketing beyond 2019 and focus an SEO strategy right alongside the trend.
Relevance & Understanding Searcher Intent
One of the things that search engines have continually pushed towards is providing users with the exact information they are looking for. Accomplishing this means understanding the intent behind each search. If someone searches for “Seal,” are they searching for information about the aquatic animals, a wax emblem stamp, the Navy branch, or the musician? For most queries, Google has an idea of what people are looking for and will return sites that line up with that search intent.
More than ever it is important to understand specifically how your target market searches for your service. What words do they use? Do they use image search? Voice search? Figure out how your users are searching and tailor your strategy accordingly. Your site isn’t going to rank for a term if your content doesn’t match the intent for that search term. Do a quick search for one of your keywords and make sure that Google is returning sites similar to yours. If the search brings up links to listings and reviews, or sites in a completely different industry, you might need to shift your optimization efforts for a more relevant search intent.
Mobile, Speed, Security
In addition to providing relevant and accurate information, search engines want to make sure this happens as quickly and conveniently as possible. 2018 saw a push in three areas: speed, accessibility, and security.
In 2018, Google recognized the growth of mobile search and subsequently changed to a mobile-first index. Google also made algorithm updates that prioritized page speed. While having a secure https-website has been a ranking factor for a while, browser updates further emphasized and highlighted secured websites.
Going forward, it won’t be enough just to have the right information; it will need to be quick and accessible. Sites that are speedy, secure, and mobile responsive will have the edge in the competitive digital marketplace.
The Changing Landscape
The effort to provide users with relevant information quickly and conveniently is apparent right from the search results page. Gone are the days of 10 blue links on Google. Things like rich snippets, carousels, knowledge graphs, and other search features have led to an increase in queries being answered right from Google. Voice search and smart devices are also changing the landscape of search.
Now more than ever it’s important to make sure your site can take advantage of the real estate on the search engines. One way to do this is to capture a featured snippet like an answer box. This not only gives you a top spot but is important for things like voice search. The best way to earn a featured snippet is by anticipating the questions searchers may ask and tailoring your content to answer them accurately and concisely. Your traditional on-page SEO and structured data markup need to be in order if you want one of these competitive spots.
It’s also important to ensure that your Google My Business profile is thorough and accurate, with consistent listing information, photos and reviews. You can even make social posts through Google My Business to boost your visibility on the search results page.
Google isn’t an unpredictable beast that changes on a whim, throwing the web into chaos. By continually striving to get users the most accurate information in the most convenient way, Google make it easy for you to anticipate how search will continue to evolve in 2019 and beyond. Stay one step ahead by matching your content to your user’s search intent and making your site fast, secure, and easy to access on any device. Pay attention to the way the search landscape is changing, and you can position yourself for success.