Roughly two decades since its appearance in the popular consciousness, SEO is going strong.
Today’s businesses must keep up with the latest developments in the landscape set by Google and its algorithms if they want to remain competitive and reach the widest possible consumer base.
SEO in 2019 will see millions of marketing professionals competing to rank for a relatively limited set of keywords. To help you manage a solid lead in these changing times, I’ve put together this quick guide to the most important tips for the coming year.
1. Produce Fresh Content
In 2018, businesses and marketers could get away with producing content that’s been said and done before --provided they had their SEO foundations covered. Strong links, tags, and keyword density was enough.
Today, the challenge is a lot bigger. The number of blogs on the internet is growing wildly, and there are nearly 100 blog posts published at any given second of the day.
A large chunk of those bloggers have a clear idea of what it takes to rank, which means that the deciding factor will be the quality and novelty of the content being published. You can’t just write; you have to stand out.
Producing fresh content is critical to SEO success in 2019. To pull this off, I suggest keeping a close eye on the latest trends and engage in “newsjacking” when appropriate.
When planning out blog content, one of the most important questions you have to ask yourself is, “Have I seen this before?” If your readers can get the same information elsewhere on the net, then it doesn’t matter how well-written or well-presented your blog is.
To close this entry on the list, it bears mentioning that your existing content can help in the way of keeping your content fresh. By updating your older web pages, you can preserve their rank on search engines, add value to your readers, and position yourself as an authority on your chosen subject matter. From there, the traffic will follow.
2. Max Out Your Best-Performing Content
If you’ve had any experience working with SEO before 2019, then you already know how difficult (and hopefully how satisfying) it is to secure a top rank on Google or Bing.
Many businesses and marketers are happy to stop at their target keyword, but the top performers know how to turn their successes into larger, more valuable wins by inserting related long-tail keywords into their best pages.
Maximizing the value and impact of your top pages can be as easy as using a keyword research tool like Ubersuggest or Keyword Tool to search for long-tail keywords related to your best-performing pages, and working them into the same pages that are already ranking well.
If you can insert them in a way that adds value to your readers, or at the very least avoids weakening the informative power of your article, then you should be well on your way to increased traffic from visitors who are more likely to convert.
On a related note that has a bit less to do with SEO, I recommend aggressive distribution of any high-converting but low-ranking content you have on your site. Send these out on your social channels or to your mailing list to offset the difficulties you have with ranking them.
The bottom line is this: if you have a quality piece of content, don’t stop until you’ve squeezed as much value out of it as you can.
3. Brand Inquiries Fuel SERP Rankings
Many people have the idea that SEO is an equalizer: it lets smaller companies win against larger, more popular ones.
While this is true to an extent, Google still rewards popularity to a significant degree.
To best explain this, consider the following problem: how would you design a search engine that can sort through vast oceans of false and questionable information to deliver only the most reliable results to your users?
Google solved this by leaning on brands. Their assumption is that big brands have the most to lose by risking their credibility on poor information. Ergo, content published by popular brands receive more trust (and higher ranks).
To succeed at SEO in 2019 and beyond, you have to play the long game and think in Google’s terms. For our purposes, this means increasing your brand inquiries to see your well-constructed pages rising in unison.
Shift your SEO focus from search engines to popular spaces like social networks, forums, and even offline.
Some suggest running campaigns that generate curiosity --think fliers with your site’s name and nothing else-- to generate more searches. I say get creative with your brand’s identity and tweak some of your existing awareness-stage marketing plans to generate searches instead of site visits.
4. Ignore YouTube SEO at Your Own Risk
Video content is skyrocketing in popularity, and tomorrow’s most successful businesses will take advantage of the fact.
Rather than confining SEO to Google, Bing, and traditional search engines, success means paying attention to YouTube and similar video hosting platforms. With roughly 1.3 billion users and 30 million daily visitors, it just makes sense to invest in YouTube.
This entry won’t cover how to produce video content, but how to make sure your content ranks (after all, I did promise SEO tips).
Assuming you’ve come up with a content plan for engaging and viral-worthy video content, the next step is to factor in length. YouTube rewards videos with longer run-times, mainly because they’re interested in keeping viewers on their site for longer.
HubSpot suggests a 2 minute average for videos on YouTube, but other sources suggest ranging up to 4 minutes or longer.
After you’ve secured the length of your content, you have to make sure to identify the keywords you want to rank for, same as you would on Google. The difference here lies in placement: beyond your title, tags, and description, you want to make sure your keywords occur in the video itself.
You’ll have to upload a transcription of your video in the form of an .srt file for best results anyway. In doing so, the inclusion of your keywords lets YouTube’s system recognize that your video is actually relevant to the keyword beyond what your title and description suggest.
Finally, make sure your video is watchable. Select a thumbnail that aligns with your content and catches the eye, and make sure that your channel is populated with content that people want to see.
Helpful tutorials, entertaining features, or information in video form are your best bets when planning marketing content for YouTube.
In conclusion, SEO will experience some very big changes in 2019. Some of them are new tactics that mix well with what you already know, and others shake up the game entirely.
Get ready to adapt to a new set of demands in the way of skills and strategy by brushing up on the tips above, and keep an expert on speed dial to make sure your business stays ahead of the curve.