Another year is almost over and its time for a look at top tips for 2019. I am starting the ball rolling with the top 10 tips for SEO. Here is the list of items, each one is expanded further in the blog.
Mobile - all about loading speed and Google's new SEO focus
Featured snippets - getting to the zero position in SERP
Videos and Webinars
Branding and direct searching
All you can EAT and lots of love
Security and GDPR
Design, dwell time and looking good
Communicating with better words
Listening and using voice activation
Its a big wild world and there's lots to do
Its first on the list and it seems that we have been talking about mobile for a long time. Truth is the idea of mobile dominance appears to becoming true. Latest research gives a figure of around 60% for all online searches are performed on a mobile device (Hitwise). So Google have now made your mobile site the first place they look at to decide where you will page rank. A factor of this page ranking position will be directly connected to the load speed of the site on a mobile device. So your hosting choice, responsiveness, size of images (JPG and not PNG images are best) should all be reviewed. Also the readability and density of text, size of font plus all the normal keywords related items that are important on your desktop version make a review of mobile a key task for January 2019.
Touch point for getting in touch on a floating menu
Easy to read and use navigation or they will never leave the first page
Add a search bar
Reduce the information on the mobile version
Ensure video content works
Redesign forms for mobile use
Change to an easy to read font
Check responsiveness on a variety of manufacturers devices
2. Featured snippets
You will notice that this year the first page layout of Google has changed. In fact it is always on the move but the biggest change is a new position zero for some searches. If you ask a direct questions you may see a box above the first blue search item answering that question with the link below it.
Getting you answer in this position is obviously a great result. To achieve it requires full use of keywords, H1-H3 subheaders and ensuring the full question and answers is on your website, of course, and between 40-60 words. It can be achieved by a blog or a single page. Research is required and you can use tools such as Answer the Public and many others.
3. Videos and Webinars
If you choose videos when you search you will notice a big change in the choices offered. This happened in June 2018. To feature in these lists then the video has to viewed like any other piece of information and as Google cannot see the video then all the information has to be put into the title and description. How to videos do well as you can ask and answer a question in the description rather like you would with a snippet and Google like this. Webinar content which are really just live videos need the same approach.
1. Brands using video get 41% more web traffic
2. After watching a product video you are 85% more likely to take the next step and purchase
3. A call to action at the end of a video get 380% more clicks than a static page
4. Videos increase organic traffic
5. 'How-to' searches are increasing by 70% year on year on YouTube
6. When asked 80% of people would rather watch a video than read a blog
7. People love 'behind the scenes' BTS low budget content
8. Customer generated video content combined with your professional content increases engagement by 28%
9. Those who watch a webinar are 30-40% more likely to become a customer
10. 52% of shoppers say watching a video makes them more confident about a purchase
(information supplied by Wix community )
4. Branding and direct searching
Some parts of the process to getting your website working well on Google without adopting Adwords, online advertising and other Google products are really hard. On such part of SEO is back-linking. This is especially hard if you are a new brand, service or company. Google may have realised this and it would seem that back-linking is becoming a little less important and here's why; Google like sites that have a lot of direct web visits and if you can generate this then you will rank better in the SERPs. So this means that your conventional advertising and marketing strategy linked to a social media strategy should never be overlooked. Driving traffic to your website from outdoor, TV, magazine, radio, sponsorship and events is as important as ever and Google know they are competing for your advertising budget and therefore if you get a lot of direct traffic they know you are successful and they want to support you... as you may become a paying customer in time!
1. Newspapers - local/regional
2. Magazines - specialist/general
3. TV National/regional
4. Radio national/regional
5. Outdoor, billboards, bus, trains, maildrops
6. Email marketing
7. Postal marketing
8. Social media Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, LinkedIn, Google Plus,
10. Instore promotions
14. Celebrity endorsement
5. All you can EAT and lots of love
Within just a few years Google has changed gone are the days when any content would do, quantity was king and keyword stuffing worked. With pressure from new advertising platforms like Facebook, and Amazon which use personas and not keywords to target people Google had to change and with the rumour that organic SEO was dead Google needed to simplify its tools make its products more accessible and give more information about how it works. (see my earlier blog - Is Google evil?). So in August 2018 Google's new core algorithm update seemed to focus on the company's new EAT standard. That's EXPERTISE - AUTHORITATIVENESS - TRUSTWORTHINESS. The word was just create great content and everything will be OK . They didn't mention that the top position of an organic Google search will only put you at position 8 on the first page!
How to start:
1. Know your customers
2. Understand how they use your products and write about it
3. Keep it friendly
4. Keep it structured - infographics, bullet points, Q&As, Vidoes,
5. Write specific titles and link to the content
6. Write a short intro
7. Add visual aids
8. Interlink articles
9. Test it out of office
10. Update regularly and publish feedback and testimonials
6. Security and GDPR
Its been a testing year for data and security. Is email marketing dead, well no its just better now I think! In general Google have to be the best when it comes to security they therefore rate a HTTPS site higher than a standard HTTP. They will alert visitors to sites that have security risks. Gmail is also pretty tight and the tabbing system makes your inbox much easy to manage. But hackers just get better and although there has been a reduction in the number of mass virus attacks in 2018 it is always better to be safe than sorry. The big thing at the moment appears to be hacking into corporates and stealing consumer information and this is because many bigger organisations have a constant battle to stay safe, upgrade and improve services at the same time. It is not made any easier when they are merging and taking over other businesses and trying to integrate. I work with an company who are experts in online security and they are able to test systems and give guidance. OWA
1. Passwords - stronger and stronger and two step authentication should be the norm
2. Protecting each device - Desktop, laptop, pad, phone - with different passwords
3. Publishing on Social media - check your settings on all sites Facebook, linkedIN etc
4. Careful of free WiFi
5. Don't open emails and never open an attachment from an unknown sender
6. Cloud storage - check your passwords
7. Watch out for text scams - becoming very sophisticated
8. Clone websites that will steal your financial information
9. Staff access and using others passwords should be stopped
10. How much is it costing - lock down your airtime and WiFi providers and get the bandwidth you paid for
7. Design, dwell time and looking good
Google have been using an AI system, since 2015, called RankBrain It works out your site position and focuses on two KPIs which are dwell time and CTRs (click through rates). Dwell time is really about relevance and interest and this very much includes how good you look. As we know Google can't see your site it just sees a lot of text linked to a lot statistics so it makes sense if you have a fast loading site with lots of great content offered in a cool way creating an amazing UX (user experience) - it is going to help a lot. Brand image is so important to a consumer and this is the way Google make sense of it. Also the fundamentals of advertising and communications must be used online. The 4 Ps of marketing; Price, Product, Promotion, and Place are as important today as they ever have been.
So in 2019 looking at your web design along with everything else is very important.
A few tips (there are millions of course)
1. Keep your home page free of clutter, have a clear message and simple navigation
2. Focus on ensuring text is easy to read on both desktop and mobile sites
3. Serif typefaces are easier to read than sans serif and reversed out text is harder to read.
4. Keep font use to a minimum (max 2)
5. Use beautiful original imagery
6. Explain things graphically
7. Put a video on the home page (but only if it is unique to you and of good quality)
8. Place your brand and logo carefully and ensure it is perfectly colour matched
9. Keep the main message above the fold
10. Use a footer to provide all contact information
8. Communicating with better words
In 2019 LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) will become well known. This just means contextually related words and it is one way to ensure that Google can make sense of your carefully crafted words. It is all about preventing over use of a keyword and ensuring that for instance when you use a keyword that has a number of meanings (Homonyms) like bark (dog or tree bark) Google can understand. The first thing to do is find your LSIs and you can do this by a simple Google search or use a tool like LSIgraph. These new descriptions you create can be used as keywords and in header tags but alongside existing keywords.
9. Listening and using voice activation
Gartner have predicted that by 2020 30% of all web browsing will become screenless, that is to say a search will be activated by voice. If you have used such a system you will know that Alexa or Siri or Google can only respond with a very few answers and they must be perfect sentences and exact. This means that the 0 position answers I have spoken about in point 2. could well become the information that is spoken back to you. It is obvious from this that the balance between a generic question giving an organic researched response will be much different to response from a Google advertiser and how will we make this choice. More importantly how will Google deal with this. Few of use will want sponsored answers from advertisers when we are searching by voice for something ... or will we? What is clear as voice activation and searching becomes important Google's SEO rules will change and 2019 will be an important year when things start changing greatly.
What seems to be the trend is for an AI tool to being to record, understand and predict your requirements so perhaps you will have a personalised system that uses search as just one tool in providing you with the voice service you require. Details of all the products you own would give you specialist voice help for them.
Recipes for cooking would come from an understanding of your food purchases, business would link to specific web pages you teach the system. Music, TV and Film could be quite easy as it is already fairly advanced. Currently Google cannot answer all these needs but as one of the biggest companies in the World they are most likely with Apple, Facebook and Amazon working on it right now.
10.Its a big wild world and there's lots to do
The final point for 2019 is to remember that Google is just a business as is Facebook, Amazon and Apple. Of them all Google has done the best job of convincing us that everything we need as a consumer from them is free. However, we give our data, time and information to them in return for these free services.
So from a marketing point of view we must look beyond SEO. SEO is a tool in our marketing tool box and 2019 will be the year when a certain amount of disruption will occur that changes the balance of power. Optimising e-commerce for Amazon is a very big part of many online sellers marketing work. In the USA Amazon accounts for nearly 50% of all online sales and it is still growing rapidly in the UK. Ebay is also important for many small sellers. The predication in 2019 is that marketeers will be looking for different ways to use their budgets and Google will have to work even harder to deliver.
Post written by Stuart Greenfield - Greenfield Marketing email@example.com