The way search engines like Google rank websites changes everyday. Yes, you heard that right! Apart from the big algorithm changes that Google announces once in a while, certain little tweaks and optimizations are made to their algorithms everyday to provide better results to searchers which you don’t even know about. And 2019 is going to be no different!
With a few new algorithms introduced this year, Google will give more importance to those websites that adhere to those algorithms for sure in some time to come.
Also, Google is focusing more on providing the best search experience to their searchers and if your website doesn’t, you will lose a few rankings on the SERPs for sure in the year to come.
So, what should you do exactly to stay in the good books of Google and ace your Search Engine Optimization in 2019? This post is all about that and a lot more. So, let’s dive right in -
Rankbrain is going to be more prominent than ever
Rankbrain is one of the most prominent algorithms Google has released in recent years. But what exactly is it?
It is a Google indexing algorithm backed up with AI which promotes/demotes websites on SERPs based on a certain set of factors. It is designed in a way to make sure that the best results come first for searchers searching for a specific query.
Since it’s a machine learning algorithm, it automatically adjusts websites on the SERPs and doesn’t require human intervention at all and can make changes to SERP almost instantly.
But what’s it based on? The algorithm was implemented to make sure users get the best search engine experience and the websites that they click on do that as well. So, websites that focused more on providing the best UX to visitors were rewarded by gaining Google’s top real estate, which gets the most clicks. Doing all of that is handled by Rankbrain now.
So, you’ll have to keep Rankbrain in mind and optimize the UX of your entire website to provide a better experience to the people who stumble on your website after searching on Google. Doing this is going to be extremely important in 2019!
But to ace Rankbrain, you need to know the exact factors on the basis of which it grades websites on the SERPs, which are -
1. Dwell Time
Dwell time is the time a visitor spends on your website. Obviously, a visitor won’t stay on your web page or blog if the content is irrelevant to them or is of bad quality. So, providing quality content that aligns with searchers intent is of utmost importance to excel in the Rankbrain era.
Rankbrain is designed to look closely at the CTR of each and every web page on the internet to give an appropriate ranking to them. For example, if a search engine result on the 6th position is getting a higher number of clicks than a result on the 3rd position for the same query, Rankbrain would notice and bump up the rankings of the result on the 6th position. But since dwell time is a factor as well, just getting a higher number of clicks on your web pages will not be enough, you will have to provide the kind of content that makes users stay as well to improve your search engine rankings.
Take care of these two factors for all your webpages & blogs and Rankbrain would do the rest.
Go Mobile or go obsolete
Google cares about their searchers. And apparently, a majority of them search for queries from their mobile devices. Mobile searchers have long surpassed desktop searchers and Google wants to provide them with the best user experience.
For the same, Google rolled out the Mobile-first indexing algorithm in March this year which changed how the algorithm accessed websites forever. Under this new algorithm, Google crawlers would prefer a mobile website first for indexation and ranking to primarily provide better results to their mobile searchers.
So, having a mobile website that properly supports your desktop website is not something you can procrastinate anymore, it has become an absolute necessity under this new algorithm.
Google prefers having a mobile responsive website over other methods of going mobile because of its ease.
But having a mobile website is not enough, you’ll have to provide a great user experience on your mobile website as well (remember, Rankbrain) to make an impact in 2019.
Focus on working on the speed of your website
According to a study performed by Google themselves, a website’s speed is the greatest factor that determines if a website’s UX is satisfactory or not. And since, Google has been lately focusing so much on providing a great user experience to all their users, they rolled out an update that ranked websites based on this sole factor. They called it the ‘Speed Update’.
While the factor is not the heaviest, focusing on optimizing the speed of your website will certainly give you a advantage and it would greatly improve the UX of your website, which is always a nice thing to do under the watch of Rankbrain.
To make your site load faster, you can get rid of heavy elements on your website or minify or combine scripts. Or else, you can use Google’s own tool to check and optimize the speed on your desktop and mobile website - PageSpeed Insights. This tool will tell you everything there is you can do to make your website load faster and perform better in SERPs.
The increasing relevance of unlinked Brand mentions
Google has long been solely dependant on backlinks for determining the authority of websites over the web. The general idea is, the more backlinks a website has, higher will be it’s authority in the eyes of Google, and higher it will be placed in SERPs. And it has been like this since the inception of Google.
But all of this is going to change. The way your brand is mentioned over the web on social media conversations, blog posts, forums and any other medium is closely looked over by Google. It takes into account the tone, intent and context of each brand mention over the web to ascertain if it’s positive or negative and the way people talk about you over the web will certainly affect your ranking in 2019.
‘Unlinked brand mentions’ over the web are gaining relevance each day and it calls for social listening. You’ll have to jump on each and every conversation happening about your brand over the web and make sure it’s in positive light to maintain your brand reputation in the eyes of Google.
Google’s Gary Illyes mentioned it himself. So, if you’re not actively monitoring your brand mentions over the web and making sure they add to the overall reputation of your brand, you will struggle to increase your search engine rankings is some time to come.
To monitor your brand mentions over the web, you can make use of tools like ‘Awario’ and ‘Brand Mentions’ that would help you do just that with ease!
Searchers are consuming more video content than ever
People preferring to consume video content over any other type of content is nothing new and has long been a trend that’s still going strong.
If you are looking to gain a lot of engagement from your audience on your website, social media or blogs, then video is certainly your best bet because people simply prefer video over anything else.
Obviously, quickly watching a video about something is always easier than reading a ton of content and that’s why video is still so popular. In this world, where every brand is throwing up a lot of content on the web and is seeking attention from their audience, people have found a better way to consume content on a daily basis that quickly gives them the facts and is engaging to consume.
So, if you’re not making use of Video, you're definitely missing out on a lot of engagement and additional SEO benefits. I would suggest you quickly start creating some video content for your brand and publish it on Youtube. Since, Youtube is owned by Google, you can also enjoy some obvious search engine benefits in the time to come.
Target people searching for answers on Google Assistant
Optimizing your content for voice searchers is currently a hot topic. And it has all the reasons to be. Voice searches globally are on a tremendous rise and you’ll be missing out if you don’t write content that targets those users head-on.
But how do you target them? Here are 3 ways that would help Google Assistant pick your content over others when it comes to answering voice search queries put up by searchers -
- You need to be on the top 3 results for Google Assistant to even consider picking up your content.
- If your content appears in the featured snippet, your chances to get picked up by the Google Assistant increases by folds. Here’s how you can get featured in the featured snippet.
- Answer your own questions in your content. Usually, most of the voice queries start with a question and to answer that question, Google Assistant usually picks up the content that revolves around that exact question. So, try answering the most basic questions people might have around your focused keyword.
To know more about what else you can do to target those voice searchers, Forbes compiled a list of best advices from 15 members of the Forbes Communications Council… do have a look at it.
Quality content and backlinks are still important
While the above suggested ways are vital to ace your SEO in 2019, don’t forget that content and backlinks are still the top ranking factors that matter the most to Google.
With Google placing more importance on the user experience that each search engine result provides to users (Rankbrain), I think creating quality content should be your top priority for acing SEO In 2019. If your content provides real value to your target audience, they will be inclined more to read it all. And when they dwell more on your content, Google will notice via Rankbrain that you have a knack of providing quality content to all your users. Which I think is the point of SEO in general.
Link building and providing quality content goes hand-in-hand as only when people love your content, they’ll want to share that content on their own blogs and within their own social circles, expanding the reach of your content and building some valuable backlinks along the way. If you continue to provide awesome content to your audience, the biggies in your industry will notice and would want to link to you too. That’s the essence of natural link building right there, and it’s not going to lose value in 2019 and beyond!
If you are looking to approach your SEO in 2019 with a bang, the above mentioned ways are the perfect way to do it. But before you start implementing them, keep this in mind, Rankbrain ranks website keeping in mind the response of your audience to your content. If they bounce even before your site loads completely, Rankbrain would not even let you reach the first page of Google, let alone acing it. It’s a machine learning algorithm that does it all for Google and looks at the UX signals of your website really closely to award rankings. And it’s not easy to game Rankbrain because of it’s self-learning mechanism. You’ll have to provide quality content to your audience to get your SEO ball rolling in 2019 and there’s no escaping it now!
Having said that, I hope the above mentioned ways will help you greatly in improving your website’s overall SEO potential! Being a SEO agency ourselves, we’ll rely greatly on these tactics as well to provide the best services to all our clients.
If you think there are other ways (I know there are) that have helped you greatly in achieving SEO success lately and you're confident that they’ll be of equal importance in 2019 when it comes to increasing a website’s search engine rankings, do let us know about them in the comments.
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