The SEO industry has definitely changed in the last five years, particularly the search results pages. In this blog post, Rachael Murdoch, Owned Media Account Director, answers popular questions around the evolution of the SERPs and what you should look out for in 2019.
1. In your opinion, what has been the biggest change in the SEO industry this year?
The technology behind how we achieve the best SEO results for our clients is constantly changing. In recent years, we have seen huge changes in what devices people use to perform searches, particularly across mobile devices. This year has seen an increase in the use of voice search with devices such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa entering the market. These changes present great opportunities for SEO campaigns as there are new methods and tactics that brands can employ to put content in front of relevant audiences.
2. How have the SERPS evolved in the last five years?
SERP features continue to have a big impact on SEO campaigns as they change search behaviour of users as well as how they are interacting with branded content. Google is also constantly testing new features: there is currently a feature in Beta that displays hotel pricing information. You'll very rarely find a SERP without features. Within the results, users often see images, map results and featured snippets when browsing. All of these threaten to take impressions away from a brand's site, which is why it's key that you understand the best tactics for your content.
Aggregator sites and resellers such as Amazon are also dominating the SERPs more as they offer users so much choice. Optimising your products for these third-party sites, particularly Amazon, should be part of any SEO campaign in the future.
These developments underline how important it is to understand the changes in the search landscape. It's also important to understand how to make the most of the traffic you are organically driving by reviewing how to improve conversation rates.
3. In terms of ranking factors, how do you think search engines will update their algorithms in the future?
Algorithms are changing on a daily basis and the days of large wide-reaching updates are over. However, I do think that there will be ranking benefits for good site performance and having a site that is secure.
This is where Technical SEO will become really important to keep up-to-date with the short attention spans of users. This will include using AMP, optimising CDNs and generally ensuring that the performance of your site is optimised. This year, Google updated its site speed insight tool to highlight the steps the search engine will take with regards to site speed, both for desktop and mobile.
We are sharing more data online than ever before, so it’s more important to gain the trust of users by ensuring you are keeping their data safe. This means hosting in secure servers and using encryption. It’s been clear for a while that secure (HTTPS) sites are already receiving a ranking boost however, as of July, there was a Chrome update that pinpoints non-secure (HTTP) sites to users.
4. What trends from this year do you think will be even bigger in 2019?
I think that technology will become integrated even more into everyday devices and voice search will continue to grow. Results for voice search will become more localised and hyper targeted so that the most relevant results are being served to users. It is therefore vital that users have an understanding of your local performance. It will also be important for brands to understand how digital channels work together. Google is releasing Google Attribution as a tool to understand this interaction between channels, which allows marketers to understand the user journey much more effectively.
5. For brands that plan to invest even more in SEO in 2019, what are the top three takeaways that you’d give them?