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Three Local SEO Predictions for 2019

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Because most companies don’t have unlimited funds to put towards SEO initiatives, this is the time of year when many of your clients are deciding where to direct their digital marketing dollars. How can you help them to get the most impact for their money?

To help, here are three of our 2019 predictions:

  • Online review diversity and quality will be crucial
  • Content is now a different kind of king
  • Technical SEO is becoming the crown prince

As Google’s algorithm and search quality guidelines continue to evolve, they’re doing so in a way that’s causing the value of SEO gimmicks to dry up. Overall, we expect that to be good news for companies that truly have expertise, authority and trustworthiness, as long as they invest the appropriate amount of resources into their SEO campaigns.

Here are more specifics.

Online Review Diversity and Quality

If you’ve managed local search campaigns for any length of time, you already know how important consistently-posted Google reviews are for local rankings. What we don’t hear talked about as much: the growing importance of review diversity beyond Google My Business (GMB) and Yelp, with the most strategic mix depending upon industry.

Diversity is important because different people use different review sites to get information, plus appearing in more sites gives companies greater exposure across the web. And, Google uses review site diversity as a local search ranking factor.

In 2019, we believe that the quality of reviews will play an emerging role in local SEO success — meaning that companies should have consistently-posted good reviews in diverse types of review sites, including but not limited to GMB.

To get good reviews, companies will need good products, good service and good people.

If/when Google makes the quality of online reviews part of the local search ranking algorithm, this will help quality companies have more opportunities to rank well in 2019 and beyond. So, companies that want successful local SEO campaigns will need to take a good hard look at their internal processes and improve what needs fixing. (And, yes. That can be a hard message to impart to clients).

Content as a New Kind of King

Although content hasn’t been dethroned, how quality is being defined is changing — and content needs to work a whole lot harder than it once did. Content that will rank well in 2019:

  • Will need keywords, sure, but that’s just the foundation
  • Must be exceptionally helpful to target audiences
  • Will need to be long-form (2,000 words in length or 500 words longer than what’s currently ranking well on the subject)
  • Must offer up answers to voice search queries
  • Will meet the needs of site visitors across the buyer’s journey

As you prepare for the new year, it makes sense to evaluate the content that your clients currently have on their sites and compare it to goals for the content. Does current content match up with what you want this content to achieve? What is missing from any conversion funnels? What kind of content is performing well (add more of that!)? What content is performing poorly (how can you fix that)? What internal linking could be added to streamline the user experiences of site visitors?

Take a look at your clients’ service pages. How can you adapt them to create additional content to add value to those service pages? Things you could add include customer testimonials, FAQs and more. Are each of the location pages unique and valuable? If not, focus on them, too.

Prioritize Technical SEO

For example, there’s page speed. Since July, it’s been a ranking factor for mobile. So, be sure to encourage clients to include speed-related page fixes in their budget for 2019. Tools that we recommend to get speed-related info include:

If the page-speed recommendations are numerous for your clients’ sites, prioritize them. What can you do for them now? What is within their budgets for, say, Q1 of 2019? What kind of additional resources (time, money or knowledge) are needed to make the fixes happen? Create a plan based upon what your clients can afford now and get started. Also make sure that SSL certifications are in place.

Have any of your clients rushed in to boost page speed or add SSL certifications to their sites, doing the work themselves? If so, it’s possible that they didn’t entirely understand what needed to be done, which can cause even more technical SEO challenges to arise and for traffic to drop.

We’ve noticed how technical SEO issues are becoming increasingly more common. The range of issues isn’t necessarily greater — they can include improper or missing redirects, broken links, crawl issues, accessibility issues, duplicate content challenges and so forth — but they do seem more common, and we attribute this to some companies doing the work themselves without having all the tools and knowledge needed to do the work.

More 2019 SEO Predictions

Here are even more SEO predictions for the upcoming year, each designed to help your clients future-proof their websites. The good news is that, if companies truly invest in SEO in 2019, then they’re more likely to be rewarded by Google than in years past when spammy tactics too often ruled the day. Has spammy-ness completely lost its effectiveness? Of course not, but the pendulum is swinging in favor of companies that invest in their SEO strategies and techniques.

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