Search engine optimization in 2019 is set to be harder than ever. Competition is fiercer, algorithms are more complex, and the easy wins of yesteryear are long gone.
But that doesn't mean you should give up on ranking high. Even after the rise of social media, nailing SEO can still bring huge rewards for any online business. Here's what you should be paying attention to for effective SEO in 2019 and beyond.
1) Impeccable Keyword Research
Keyword research has always been an integral part of SEO success, but it's now more vital than ever. Competition for the trophy phrases is so fiendishly tough it's often not worth the resources it takes to rank. Even the low-hanging fruit of yore has been mostly snapped up.
All this means that if you're shooting for the wrong keywords, you're wasting precious time, energy, and money that could be put to more profitable ranking use elsewhere. You need to be optimizing for keywords that hit the sweet spot of search volume and ranking possibility, and this takes careful research.
Thorough keyword research will generate the most traffic for the least resources, which is important in itself. However, with user engagement playing such an important role in today's algorithms, it's very difficult to gain traction on more competitive searches without at least some traffic to give engagement signals a kick start.
2) Go Local
An important but relatively easy route to early traffic is through harnessing local SEO. In 2019, it's essential to hit the ground running by optimizing for specific local versions of your money phrases, as well as the generic national or international ones.
These phrases will generate lower volumes, but the resulting visitors will be highly targeted. This will feed through into higher sales, but also stronger engagement signals for the algorithms to feed on.
3) Rich Snippets Provide Rich Opportunities
With organic listings taking up less and less of a typical search result, even a coveted #1 spot doesn't drive the traffic it once did. But there are still rich opportunities to be found on the first page of Google.
If you can engineer your site into a rich snippets section at the top of the page, you'll effectively outrank the rest of your competition in the organic results below.
Of course, this is easier said than done. The key is to ensure you rank somewhere on page one for your chosen term, and then give Google an easy win for showing the searcher a direct answer to their query.
The way to do this is to optimize your core content in easily digestible portions that the algorithm can strip out and display as snippets. Content formats to achieve this include:
- Small chunks of data presented in table form.
- Numbered bullet lists of concise, keyword-rich text.
- Information presented in a compact FAQ format, with highly searched queries as the questions.
Gaining entry to the exclusive rich snippets club is still a hit-and-miss process, but if you're not aiming for it this year, you can bet your competitors are.
4) Technical SEO
In many ways, technical SEO is the ugly duckling of the online marketing family. It rarely sets the pulse racing, and on its own it won't lead to stellar rankings for profitable keywords.
However, it's an essential that underpins all other SEO techniques. If your site is a technical mess, no amount of trickery will make it attractive to today's algorithms.
If you use a solid CRM such as Shopify with a reputable theme and have not made major changes to the theme you can rest assured that your technical SEO is solid. For everyone else, no matter what other SEO measures you take this year, make sure you:
- Optimize your page load times.
- Remove all duplicate content.
- Streamline your site code.
- Ensure your site is fully indexable.
- Optimize your navigation and URL structure.
- Test for errors across as many devices as you can.
5) Be Mobile-Ready
For store owners who use a solid platform such as Shopify mobile ready is built in, however you should still check your status as some older and off Shopify theme store themes may undermine your mobile ready status.
Device compatibility is important in another vital way. It's a no-brainer that your site should be mobile-friendly unless you want to cut off half your potential customers from the outset.
But 2019 will see this become even more important than it already is. Google has recently stated that a poor mobile experience will translate directly into lower rankings, with a site's mobile version taking precedence in algorithmic evaluation. If you're not on top of this aspect of SEO already, it's definitely now time to get moving.
6) Quality Link Building
Link building is no longer an easy route to fast ranking, but backlinks remain at the heart of the Google algorithm. No matter which other factors are taken into account, a site with great links will always outrank one with none, all else being equal.
The difference today is that quantity counts for little. While any unsolicited link is welcome, concentrate your acquisition efforts on those which will drive real, targeted traffic regardless of SEO considerations. One relevant link from a busy authority site will count for more than any number of random, low quality links.
7) Monitor and Drive Engagement
Engagement signals have been playing an increasingly important role in ranking over recent years, and this trend is only becoming more pronounced. After all, if Google can measure that your visitors aren't enjoying their experience, why should your site be ranked highly?
Be sure to monitor engagement metrics such as bounce rate, dwell time, repeat visits, and direct navigation, and work to improve any which aren't pulling their weight.
8) Concentrate on Exceptional Content
More than ever, great content is vital for good ranking. In mid-2018, with the 'Medic' update, Google upped the ante on its understanding of quality content. It's no longer enough to be just good enough; you need to provide the best content in your field.
Cover your topics in full depth, whether this takes 500 words or 5,000. Make your page definitive and authoritative, carrying out exhaustive research before writing a word. Demonstrate expertise, and produce content that your users can trust.
This is especially important for websites offering drop ship products where much of the core content is provided by a third party. The content you create is critical to convincing search engines that your site should be ranked.
The days of SEO shortcuts are a distant and fading memory. In 2019 you'll genuinely need to be the best if you want Google to trust you with their recommendation.
This means first and foremost providing quality for your users, then making your site a breeze to use, and finally letting Google see through engagement signals that you deserve your place in the results.
Germinate.com can help you create or transfer your eCommerce dream to the Shopify platform, so that you can get 2019 off to a great start.