We’re well into 2019; the question is: have you revamped your SEO to succeed in 2019?
Sure, you’ve done your keyword research and are building a quality network of backlinks through hard work and guest posts. While the fundamentals are always important, you have to stay current if you want to excel at SEO in 2019.
2019 marks the full implementation of the Google Medic Update, which is Google’s latest algorithm update. But simply adhering to the changes of the Medic Update is not enough. Below we’ll detail the best practices for SEO in 2019 that you may not yet have implemented; and understanding how this small investment of time could drastically improve your return on advertising investment (ROAI).
First, What Is Google’s Focus In 2019?
Google’s focus in 2019 can be boiled down to E-A-T (expertise, authority & trustworthiness).
As it continues to grow, Google recognizes that the web is full of useful information, and that it is Google’s responsibility to deliver the most accurate and useful information possible to its searchers. However, Google also understands that in 2019, there is a lot junk out there, and it has taken steps toward filtering out that junk in order to better serve users with the most high-quality information available.
Poor Quality Information Is Most Harmful In High-Consequence Fields
Nobody wants bad information on lawn care. But the worst-case scenario in this instance? You get a brown lawn.
What about poor quality information in a health care scenario? Can you imagine someone searching Google for symptoms of heroin addiction and finding first-page results saying, “Not to worry! It’s not that big a deal”.
The potential for poor quality information to create the most harm holds true for financial, legal, healthcare and transaction-based sites; these sites have been termed YMYL (your money your life) sites. Google’s Medic Update hit YMYL sites with low E-A-T scores the hardest, and buried them in the 20th+ page of the search results.
So how do you avoid this same fate? Improve your E-A-T score.
Keys For SEO IN 2019
Improving Your E-A-T Score
- Content Should Be Created By Authorities In The Field
Google wants to know that the author of a YMYL piece, and every other piece for that matter, is an authority on the subject. If they’re not an authority they’re more likely to offer poor-quality information, and when dealing with YMYL sites, this poor-quality information can be devastating to their users. Thus, Google wants to hide low-authority content while highlighting high-authority content.
How Do Search Engines Determine Author Authority?
Search engines look for previous posts by an author. If the author has published pieces on this topic in the past, search engines will assign this author a higher E-A-T score and likely list the content higher up in search engine results.
By including a link to their previous works in their author byline, authors can make it easy for search engines to find links to their previous work and to establish themselves as an authority in the field. While this may require creating a short external author biography, it could be the difference between showing up on the first page of Google’s search results and getting buried in the 11th page.
Does Google Punish New Authors?
While it punishes content published by non-authoritative authors (authors that publish content on a wide range of unrelated topics) and rewards authoritative authors, Google neither punishes nor rewards new authors who have no previous work published in a field. So while the work of authoritative authors may appear above yours in the search results, don’t let that stop you from getting started and publishing that high quality content!
- Maintain Your Site Frequently
We live in the age where the transmission of information is instantaneous and frequent, and that is what is expected out of you and your site. People want content created around the latest technological innovations and the latest in your field and your products. If you don’t have content around these topics? Create it.
If you have content about out-of-date topics, take it down.
Or at the very least, edit it. Web pages have an HTTP header that signals when the page was last changed. This means if you have a blog post from 2001 about a Nokia flip phone up on your site, you either need to delete it or make significant changes to the piece, explaining how the phone is no longer supported by carriers and is obsolete.
It’s important to remember that even if you’re creating cutting-edge content, Google will punish you with lower rankings if your site has old, out-of-date, un-updated content on it.
- Quick Customer Service Is Key
Google views rapid customer response as the mark of a trustworthy company. As such, it has become imperative that in 2019, one of your main focuses is lightning-fast customer service.
This could be in the form of chatbots and autoresponders on your company Facebook page and for your customer support e-mail, but fast and frequent responses to customer inquiries 24 hours a day is crucial to establishing yourself as a trustworthy company in the eyes of Google.
- Implement HTTPS
If you have not already implemented an HTTPS certificate on your site you’ve likely seen a drastic decrease in organic traffic. Google has treated HTTPS as a ranking signal since 2014, but with its renewed emphasis on E-A-T in 2019, HTTPS is now a critical part of your SEO strategy.
Why? HTTPS provides another layer of security on your site and makes it more difficult for hackers, phishers and others to steal your users’ sensitive information like credit card numbers and passwords.
Other 2019 Best Practices
- Mobile-First Indexing
Google is moving toward placing more emphasis on the mobile version of a site than the desktop version, known as “mobile-first indexing”. As of late 2018, over half of the websites Google has indexed have been the mobile versions of the sites. This means that Google will now base where your site appears in search results on your mobile site.
Make your mobile site responsive and extremely fast. Consider implementing AMP on your mobile site to give your users the fastest possible experience. That may mean taking out features that exist on the desktop version like high-resolution videos, and that’s ok. Sometimes being the first into the hands of your users is better than dazzling them with bogged-down features.
- Implement Structured Data Markup
It is amazing that despite Google’s continued emphasis on structured data, only 24% of websites utilize Google’s preferred form of structured data, JSON-LD.
What Is Structured Data?
It is essentially a way for you to convey exactly what your website and its content are to search engines. So if you’re a psychologist with a personal blog publishing a piece about the importance of self-care, you can convey all of this information to search engines through structured data. When search engines are confident they know what your content is about, they’re more likely your content is what their users are looking for, and they’ll reward you for that with higher search rankings.
- Voice Search Is The New Search Results
You’ve probably used smart speakers to get an answer recently. “Hey Alexa, where is the nearest coffee shop to my hotel?”
While it’s easy to overlook this, this is a search! And optimizing for voice search is critical in 2019. This means targeting long-tail keywords and conversational phrases in your content. Users don’t say, “pub near me”, they say, “where can I find the nearest pub showing the game?”
Because it’s more challenging to optimize for voice search, its less likely your competitors are doing it. This means a big opportunity for you.