2018 was the year in which Google introduced dramatic changes to how it ranks sites. For example, Google used AI for approximately 30% of search queries. The page with the most links does not always rank at the top anymore. Here are the five SEO factors that I believe will be important for 2019.
- Become Familiar with Structured Data
- Avoid Structured Data Mistakes
- Consider Podcasts for Your Marketing Agenda
- Improve Content Focus
- Improve Image SEO
1. Become Familiar with Structured Data
Structured data is intimidating. But it’s actually easy to become familiar with how it works. The easiest way to become familiar with it is to copy and paste and start working with it.
I wrote a step by step tutorial for helping those new to structured data. It shows how the online manual for structured data is set up. Then it walks you through creating and testing your own structured data code.
2. Avoid Structured Data Mistakes
Sites have been receiving penalties for incorrect implementation of structured data. It’s possible to make an honest mistake and receive a penalty for it.
The five most common structured data mistakes to avoid:
- Using inappropriate structured data
- Structured data doesn’t match on-page content
- Violates Google’s Guidelines for a specific data type
- Violates Google’s Structured Data General Guidelines
- Shortcuts and taking liberties (aka manipulative behavior)
3. Consider Podcasts for Your Marketing Strategy
Podcasts are an increasingly popular way to consume content. You should consider investigating if potential customers are listening to podcasts related to your niche. And if they are then it may make sense to create a strategy to reach those listeners.
A strategy could range from sponsorships, appearing on the podcast, and by promoting specific content that may be of interest. Podcasts are content that is consumed in a digital format. Marketing with podcasting can be considered an extension of content marketing.
4. Focused Content
This is perhaps the most important part of Internet marketing for 2019. Unfocused content is one of the biggest mistakes I’ve been seeing all year for sites that have lost ranking.
In an article I wrote about how to create better content I suggested this:
“Web pages rank because websites link to those pages. Websites link to those pages because those pages solved a problem, because it scratches an itch.
Nobody ever linked to a web page because of its keyword relevance.”
5. Improve Your Image SEO
Images are more than something to make your page pretty. Images are important for SEO. Treat them the same as you treat your title and heading elements because they all work together to help the page rank better. Images can also boost your ranking power by showing up in enhanced listings.
Image SEO Best Practices
Use images that tell a story
Readers achieve deeper understanding of concepts with symbols or images that illustrate your point. If the article is about adopting a pet, show cute kittens at an actual animal shelter.
If the article is about the failure of a company or a process, perhaps consider an image of a ship about to hit a rock or a car with the tires falling off.
Communicating an idea or a point quickly with an image can help readers understand what your article is about, which will help them decide to read it.
Illustrate Step by Step Instructions
Readers and consumers love step by step instructions. Screenshots and illustrations are super helpful and Google tends to use these kinds of images in enhanced listings. A single image that illustrates how to do something can be ranking gold.
Using images that can be measured in megabytes may slow down sales and rankings. Heavy images will contribute to higher bandwidth demands on your server, which can cause extra charges from your web host. Heavy images can contribute to slowing down the server when a crush of site visitors reach your site at the same time.
Bonus: Keep Up to Date
In addition to these tips for improving your SEO, you may wish to focus on security as well. Keeping the software that underlies the website updated is important. Use difficult to guess passwords. Consider undertaking an audit of all third party add-ons and plugins to make sure they are regularly updated and well written by a company that can be trusted.