For marketers planning their content marketing strategy for 2019, SEO should be a priority. For good marketers, it looks something like this – an SEO plan in place, a list of premium keywords at hand, active blogging, optimized website, a set off-page/ on-page plan and an eye over Google Analytics and SEO tools like SEMrush or ahrefs, CMS/ marketing automation tool reports etc.
For many companies, the process is not as complex. They need to increase their leads, quality website visits. Their content marketing plan needs help and they are sick of seeing their competitors’ name above theirs on their best search keywords. So what do they need to improve their SEO marketing strategy?
General Tips for good SEO strategy
For beginners, there is no shortage of ways to improve your SEO strategy. General considerations must include ensuring load times are kept to the minimum, carrying out keyword research to customize your posts in order to match what people are searching for, updating fresh relevant content, using header tags and linking out to well-respected authority sites etc.
While SEO practices like these are evergreen, there are many things involved in what ranks well. These factors are dependent upon the search engine’s algorithms (that continually change). Thus you need to do more to expect good results.
Here’s what you can do to improve your SEO in 2019
- Prepare for Google search algorithm RankBrain
Google has previously announced that RankBrain– to be one of the most important ranking factors. It is a machine-learning artificial intelligence system that helps the search engine platform to sort results.
What RankBrain does is measure how visitors interact with the search results and ranks them respectively.
Like for e.g. You search “best chocolate cake baking tips”- and click on the fifth article that looks the most enticing. You find you’ve come to the right place because the article is genuinely useful.
In the second scenario, you click on the first search result instinctively but find that the article is just a clickbait and so you come back on the main page and go the fifth article which is actually pretty useful.
RankBrain, seeing this pushes article ranked fifth up in positions. How does it do this?
It factors in two things.
Dwell Time, i.e. how long a person spends time on a specific page.
This weighs heavily in how a page ranks. In fact, research by SearchMetrics found that “the average Dwell Time for a top 10 Google result is 3 minutes and 10 seconds”.
Spending more than three minutes translates that you like the content. Google thinks so too and makes it easier for people to search it as well.
The Click-Through-Rate, i.e. the percentage of people clicking on your result.
Google Engineer Paul Haahr implied that RankBrain may sometimes rank pages higher up than they should rank. Like a specific page ranking on first page and having a snippet may sometime be positioned lower than other first result page (which doesn’t have a snippet) according to an algorithm.
Like if a page gets a more than average CTR, then it should get a permanent ranking boost. This isn’t a surprise, why shouldn’t an above-average CTR receiving result be kept on the first page?
Meanwhile, if a result is getting clicked on several times, why would Google keep it on the 10th position?
- Voice Search Optimization
Voice search is becoming increasingly common. If you’ve used Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Echo or Google’s Assistant then you have used voiced search. Therefore, you need to consider how voice search will affect your SEO efforts.
The main difference between optimizing for voice search and your typical search involves more “natural” phrasing. After all, searching for something in text normally involves a stilted, compressed search like “best SEO tips 2019”. If you were to use voice search for the same info, you are likely to say it as “What are the best SEO tips this year/ in 2019”
The second phrase is much natural and longer. This means that you’ll have to optimize your content for long-tail keywords to a greater degree.
- Try to rank your content in Google Snippet
Zero is the New One.
While Featured Snippets are not new, they have gained a lot of clicks in the past year and will continue to do so in the future. According to SEMrush – “11.3% of search results now have a Featured Snippet”. And yes, they do steal a lot of clicks from the number 1 position result.
So, what you can do to put your content on Featured Snippet?
Find keywords that you already rank for and keywords that have a Featured Snippet. More than 99% of Featured Snippets are from the pages that rank on the first page for the search term.
So, if you already don’t have a top ten position for that keyword, then it is almost impossible to be in the Featured Snippet.
You can use Ahrefs “Organic Keywords” report to find which of your content have Featured Snippet opportunities. It will show you the keywords you do rank for.
Secondly, keep in the mind the term “Snippet” which means “a small piece or brief extract”.
So, purpose your content designed specifically for Featured Snippet position. Keep it short, simple and to the point- like a definition.
Finally, take note that most featured snippets are in paragraph formats. So use H2 and H3 subheadings for every item of your content.
If you want to rank in a list format, make sure you create a table that is easy for Google to pull.
- Optimize your mobile pages for Google’s Mobile First Index
Google’s “Mobile First Index” means that the search engine now considers your mobile website as the “real version”, so it ranks pages based on their version designed for mobile devices.
This means even if your website performs flawlessly on the desktop, but is sluggish when accessed on mobile- your SEO ranking will suffer. So, ready or not you have to start optimizing for mobile.
For this, you should make sure your content display is consistent on desktop and mobile. If your site uses pop-ups make sure they don’t interfere with mobile user experience.
For the same reason, use of accordions, links to different tabs should be avoided, even though technically Google says hidden content is ok. This type of content is most likely to be ignored by users and thus will suffer in rankings.
Google also recommends to move on from m-dot domain to responsive design before the Mobile First Index fully rolls out.
Finally, it is also important that your website is super-easy to use on mobile. So, make sure you test your site on mobile-friendly test tools beforehand.
There are many sites that technically work fine on mobile but are hard to use on mobile. As mentioned above Google’s RankBrain carefully studies how users interact with a website. So, if a visitor pops out of your mobile-site after a few seconds because it’s not easy to use, it will inevitably affect your search rankings.
- Tap into Video Content
Video Content is in.
As per Cisco, online videos will make up for 80% of all online traffic by 2021. 80% is no huge amount and chances are they may still not satisfy netizens demand for video content.
One of the many advantages of creating video content is that most marketers aren’t into video content optimization right now. This eases up the competition for you.
Thus, if video content is not a part of your digital marketing strategy this year, you will be missing out, big time.
So, what you can do to take advantage of Video search optimization?
Firstly, create and optimize content specifically for YouTube.
You may understand that YouTube is already a popular online platform, but to keep things in perspective- it is the world’s second largest search platform.
In fact, Huffington Post reports that “the amount of time that people spend on YouTube is up 60% compared to last year”. It is already 2x popular than Bing.
This shows us that people are already searching content on YouTube first, skipping even Google.
The plus point is that as Google owns YouTube- your video content on YouTube can be featured as Google search result or even as a Featured Snippet. In fact, 55% of Google’s search results contain at least one video. Furthermore, Google also blends YouTube search results in Image search.
SEO is not a fixed achievement- it needs continuous pursuit and updates. As the internet changes, so do the parameters of your site ranking. This means keeping up with ways to improve your SEO marketing strategy now as well as in the future.