2018 Organic Search Recap and 2019 SEO Predictions

2018 Organic Search Recap and 2019 SEO Predictions

2018 Organic Search Recap and 2019 SEO Predictions

Several key topics dominated the World of Search in 2018 and focused on the need to thrive in organic searches. The algorithm updates focused on specific website needs like mobile friendliness, topical authority, and user intent. My 2019 SEO predictions emphasize this. 

Below, I will cover these topics in detail and what they mean for website owners. I will also go over predictions and trends I see becoming key to exceeding organic competition in 2019.

Website Speed

Website speed took a majority of the focus going into 2018 and stayed prevalent throughout the year. But more specifically, making your site fast loading and quick for users to navigate was the main topic. Google published a blog confirming speed would become a ranking factor for mobile searches.

Going forward, it is obvious that both mine and your 2019 SEO predictions will include page speed.

That blog started a worldwide flurry of trends to quickly improve website performance. We immediately noticed the broad adoption of mobile formats like AMP. Others pushed to have progressive web apps or other more native ways of delivering their content.

2018 page speed impact by google

This update was promised and pushed in July of 2018 but had a much smaller impact than expected across the search community.

Mobile-First Indexing

Mobile friendliness was one of the most important trends of 2018 behind website speed. We expected this trend because mobile friendliness has been on top of everyone’s mind ever since the mobile-apocalypse forewarning in 2016.

However, the topic changed a bit in 2017 with the announcement of Google’s mobile-first indexing.

As a quick recap, mobile-first indexing is a slight change to what version of your site Google would judge for rankings within their search results. In the case of mobile-first indexing, it is the mobile version of your website that would be judged, not the desktop version when determining your website’s appearance in desktop and mobile searches.

As of mid-December 2018, Google announced that over half of all searches come from the mobile-first index. This really demonstrates the need for all websites to be mobile friendly and mobile optimized. Stick to these 2019 SEO predictions to make sure your site is mobile optimized.

You’re several steps behind if you don’t look at your site from a mobile-first perspective. Even if you currently see a majority of traffic coming from desktop computers, that will likely change over the next few years.

Begin now to make changes, or design your site with mobile in mind to be prepared for the future of search.

Matching User Intent

Google has always made it clear they want to make users happy. They call any changes with this goal in mind “micro-actions”. So in 2018, we weren’t surprised to see core algorithm updates with search intent as the reasoning. Google’s Search Liaison explained many of these core updates as nothing to ‘fix’.

This series of tweets led to Danny Sullivan to offer some replies explaining and defending why “nothing to fix” as choice words were warranted.

The Importance of User Intent

One of the biggest updates noted by search professionals was the ‘Medic Update,’ named because it had the biggest impact on medical-related websites. But it impacted the entire search landscape, with many sites seeing a few rankings or even whole sections of content massively shift in search placement.

But these shifts make sense if you look at them through the lens of micro-actions. A basic example of this would be someone looking to learn about a topic, but the related search results focus around shopping or signing up for something.

If usability is taken into account it’s easy to see that a query is not matching user intent, meaning we must think of user intent when trying to driving rankings. If we push for keywords that don’t have the right intent, the higher rank will be temporary.

Gauging Expertise

Those who ‘won’ the search updates in 2018 were those who showed expertise in their field. In other words, they didn’t just add words to a page or a title. They showed visible signs of unique expertise.

The best examples have long-form content like blogs with hundreds of posts or very unique content on social media. Having your own tone and take on subjects allowed those with true experience to shine through the noise of generic or bland content.

Those who saw this with user intent in mind began reworking, expanding, or producing tailored content using their unique view as a way to naturally customize their brand’s messaging.

Identifying Experience

Raw experience and the ability to understand who has it algorithmically goes hand in hand with expertise. This comes in the format of:

  • Blogs
  • FAQs
  • Case studies
  • Testimonials
  • Reviews
  • Raw engagement

When evaluating who came out ahead in algorithm changes, we noticed these content elements present in all successful sites.

To succeed, you need to start documenting your experience, along with adding your own personal twist to make it customized to your brand and identity.

If you don’t have some of these pieces, or are struggling to justify it, now is the time to get the content created before you fall behind. Or if you feel like this does not apply to your company or industry, I would encourage you to take a hard look at your competitors to see what they do for their content.

My 2019 SEO Predictions

Most search experts constantly lookout for the next big thing, or big change. Here are my guesses on 2019’s big items.

More Mobile

With all of the buzz around mobile-first indexing, it is easy to get sucked into just one way of thinking about mobile. I am sure you first think of your phone when you hear “mobile.” While no one can deny our personal phones are the largest mobile platform, they are not the only mobile devices.

Mobile also means cars, smart speakers, televisions, tablets, and more.

If you plan on leading in search, you need to start preparing now and adopt different ways your website could be used. You’ll need to plan for users to take action on your site and give them multiple ways to use your website.

Dominos and Pizza Hut did this very well. Through their platforms, you can order a pizza digitally, or via voice, or even through a dedicated app, all without having to question the quality, price, or experience.

New Forms of Content

With the focus on mobile and the need to create better experiences, we will have to adapt and create new forms of content. We have all seen this with digital assistants, geo-fencing, and interactive content. Now is the time to consider how you can best utilize these new forms of content to expand your brand and offering.

I’m guessing the early adoption of new content types will be the key difference for those who dominate search in 2019. You need to understand your customer’s journey and observe how you can tailor your brand to best fit various content delivery methods.

All the Content

In just this article, I’ve mentioned “content” 20+ times. My 2019 predictions focus around content, along with assets and blogs, and there’s a reason for this. A website’s presence constantly needs to grow to be successful in search. And that comes by creating and publishing content.

To keep up with the search algorithm changes of 2019, focus on content. And simply having text will not be enough. Content means, pictures, video, audio, and engaging articles. Utilizing these various elements together will be huge in creating something that cannot be easily copied.

Your Website is Proof

As noted from the 2018 recap, it’s easy to quantify experience and expertise. This means using all of the advantages noted above and publishing your work. No matter your trade, if you’re a dentist, plumber, or veterinarian, you need to show your projects and work in order to get a search presence.

This may just seem like extra work, but you just need to change your mindset from creating content to just documenting what you do every day. It becomes easy and less of a chore if you just consider content as publishing proof of your skills and prowess.

Use 2019 as the year to gather and publish proof or your quality and knowledge within your industry. And use these 2019 SEO predictions to get you there. Start using video, social posting, customer engagement, and more to help you succeed without spreading yourself too thin. All this will help your brand’s presence grow online.

Stay on top of 2019 early by also knowing what you can expect in marketing for 2019. Also, see what you can do with all those year-end social media reports.

Colton Miller
[email protected]

Colton is the Director of SEO Strategy at Boostability testing and defining the products and processes that make Boostability's customers successful. He has been a part of Boostability for over 7 years. Colton loves hanging out with his family and gaming. He runs a personal blog over at www.coltonjmiller.com where he discusses gaming, life, and SEO.