In the world of digital marketing, nothing stays still for too long. Trends and consumer behaviors are constantly shifting, and this means that you should always be adapting your approach to connecting with your audience online. You probably already know that a dedicated SEO strategy is one of your most important tools for success online, but no matter how successful you have been with SEO in the past, it’s important to not get too comfortable in your approach.
The start of a new year is the perfect time to assess your SEO strategy and learn about the ranking factors that are really going to matter for achieving results in 2019. To help you with the process, we’ve highlighted 5 SEO ranking factors that should be at the top of your priority list in the coming year.
Mobile First Indexing
According to Pew Research, more than two-thirds of American adults own or use a smartphone. This is a number that has more than double since 2011 and has no doubt increased even more since this research was conducted. From a business standpoint, this tells us that the overwhelming majority of the audience you want to connect with probably has a smartphone within their reach at this very moment.
The surge in mobile consumerism in recent years has caused mobile UX to become more important for SEO. Last year, Google solidified this by issuing an update which included the full force implementation of their mobile first index.
From this point forward, Google will prioritize indexing mobile optimized websites, including websites that have been built with responsive design. While you might argue that mobile responsiveness isn’t technically a ranking factor, a mobile optimized website is absolutely one of the most crucial elements for search engine optimization in 2019. Without it, all the other ranking factors carry little weight.
Let’s face it, nobody likes to wait around for a website to load. You might be a little more forgiving if it’s a site you’ve visited before and you have a specific purpose for your return visit. However, for new site visits, businesses don’t have much of a cushion before visitors lose interest and back away from a slow loading site.
The magic number for load speed hovers right around 3 seconds. You’re losing visitors exponentially by the second if your website takes longer to load, and this is something that doesn’t appear favorably in the eyes of search engines.
Speed matters as a ranking factor in 2019, especially mobile speed. Now is a good time to test your web speed and see what can be done to optimize your website performance to meet the demands of search engine users and to earn some bonus points from Google.
User experience (UX) has been quite the buzzword in search engine marketing the past couple years. We’ve seen a major shift from search engine optimization with the goal of attracting the attention of search engines to an approach that is more user focused and considers a website’s usability and comfort factors.
There might not be a single ranking factor called “UX”, but there are multiple important ranking factors that all lead into the overall UX that a website provides. In 2019, anything that influences UX is going to important from an SEO perspective.
Google looks at user behaviors and the ranking factors that influence them. For instance, bounce rate and time spent on your web pages are good indicators of the quality of UX your site provides. Details such as the quality of your interface design, website architecture, and how well your content matches the intent of your core audience’s queries all contribute to UX, and as a result should be high on your SEO priority list for the coming year.
Targeted, Quality Content Strategy
Content is crucial to search engine optimization because it is essentially the entire reason why people visit your site. Try and picture a website that lacked content. It would provide little value to the visitor and quickly turn people away. Having weak content on your web pages or not putting any effort into a content strategy at all is a sure way to damage your SEO.
There are several elements that Google looks at as SEO ranking factors in your content strategy. First, the preference is for content that is longer and goes deeper into subject areas. If you’ve mastered this, then you probably don’t have to worry too much about being penalized for having duplicate or copycat content that too closely resembles something that’s already been published multiple times.
Keywords are still an important ranking factor for content, but you want to stay far away from spammy oversaturation that reads awkwardly and provides little in terms of value. Search engines have become more sophisticated and have learned to pick up on subtle cues of intent. This means that you can ditch the awkward reading text for phrases that deliver high performing keywords but also elevate your content’s readability. Local long-tail keywords and a keyword strategy that takes voice search into consideration will perform better for SEO in 2019.
High Quality, Authoritative Backlinks
Backlinks have been a ranking factor for pretty much the entire existence of SEO, so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to find out that they’re still important in 2019. However, if you’re still following the same backlink building strategy that you were using 5 years ago, you’ll definitely want to update your practices.
Leveraging backlinks as a ranking factor has significantly more to do with the quality of your backlinks rather than quantity. Links from irrelevant, low quality and spammy sites aren’t going to do anything for your search engine rankings. Instead, focus on earning backlinks from sites that are reputable and relevant to your industry and local audience.
2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year for SEO. We can’t wait to see how your business takes off in the coming year. We’re here to help you achieve the success you deserve with professional SEO services. Contact JLB today and let our team of experienced SEM professionals help you achieve success online.