Half of 2019 is over. Accordingly, SEO trends 2019 can be illuminated a little more closely and a first conclusion can be drawn: Some megatrends that developed from 2015 continue. We look at the trends in search engine optimization 2019 in detail:
Google is getting better at handling structured data. As a result, the algorithms are capturing the content on web pages with increasing precision, including data without markup. Examples of this development are Featured Snippets and Google Answer Boxes, which present content graphically. This trend is intensifying. In the meantime, only that content is presented as a Featured Snippet which users have taken up best. It needs a clear text structure with unique content and paragraphs that should answer specific questions about the topic of the URL. Google recognizes questions in searches and delivers snippets if the page answers that question. In online stores, structured data is now standard: it provides rating stars in the snippets.
The approach is known to be older, but the trend towards mobile search will be supported even more strongly by Google and other search engines in 2019. This makes sense, because users worldwide now search more frequently on mobile than via desktop PC or notebook. In addition to Responsive Design, which has long since become the standard, programmers should pay attention to three factors when creating websites:
Texts, videos and graphics on the web are becoming increasingly simplified, which is not necessarily a bad thing. We are all users and do not want to read nested sentences or watch endless, lyrical videos on our smartphones. Even a diagram should be immediately comprehensible on the small display. A concise content doesn't have to be wrong just because it sums up the truth with a few (textual, graphical, visual) facts. The pure web design is also challenged: The contrast must be high enough to let everything be seen well on smaller displays. The loading time of a page for the mobile device must necessarily be less than three seconds, otherwise the user will jump off.
Those who have the option speak their search into the device, which Google Home, Alexa and Siri are increasingly supporting. Voice search is changing search behavior. Young people in particular (but not only) are affected: 41 % of all users aged 13 to 18 use voice search almost exclusively. The proportion is likely to rise to over 50 % for all search queries of all age groups by 2020 at the latest, according to the Comscore analysis institute. The questions are asked differently than with a keyboard entry. We speak specifically into the smartphone, "Where is the nearest restaurant?" At the same time, we rely on our location being determined automatically. With the keyboard, we would enter "Restaurant Berlin Hohenschönhausen." Google has now adapted its algorithms and recognizes W questions via voice search. This means for SEO: These W-questions should also be asked and answered in SEO texts.
Since this year, texts that are only written for search engines are definitely useless. Long word monstrosities with keyword heaps that are supposed to boost the Google ranking have obviously become useless. Instead, content optimization must be aimed at the so-called keepable experience. This means: the reader should take something away from the content conveyed in order to remember it and thus the page in the future. Brand expert Robert Seeger extends this approach with his 3H concept. The 3Hs are heart, brain and attitude. Keepable Experience, according to Seeger, consists of content (texts, videos, images, graphics) that appeal to the emotions and intellect of users, while at the same time expressing an attitude. The statement may or may not be welcomed by the user, but it must first be present. Only then will the target audience find the content that is relevant to them.
Content struggles for quality in order to achieve the necessary attention. This makes sense, because in the last 20 years, inflationary content has been created on most topics, which is often as similar as one egg to another. In the text area, it is mostly created by spinning, i.e. the mere rewriting of existing texts so that the Google algorithms identify the new text as unique content. In this case, it is supposedly only important that no more than four to seven words of the source text are repeated (depending on the setting of the CopyScape tool). However, Google's algorithms have been more advanced for years. It is known that since the Penguin update in 2012 at the latest, they already measure the dwell time on a page that results from a user getting stuck in a text. However, it is not enough to simply post a very long text, which in turn is the result of spinning. Long texts also contradict the postulate formulated at the beginning that (in terms of mobile optimization) concise, catchy formulations are important. Rather, content must be relevant, excitingly written, creative, lateral thinking and of high quality. This applies to texts as well as to any other content. It is gratifying for content authors that Google is finally rewarding artistic freedom. It would be desirable that the marketers - probably 80-90 % affiliates who commission the content - also recognize this and give the creatives the necessary freedom.
In 2015, Google introduced Rank Brain and thus also officially relied on AI. Rank Brain is one of the algorithms that determine the position of a post in the SERPs, it uses AI and machine learning to answer questions that were not even asked. It translates search queries into a mathematical pattern that the search engine can process. Rank Brain is linked to the 2013 Hummingbird update, which emphasized semantic search more. Rank Brain is able to semantically link unknown words to known linguistic entities. The system learns on its own in this way. As a user, we experience that a question similar to our search query is (also) answered - possibly because we were mistaken about the query, but possibly also because the similar question could also be relevant. It was known before 2015 that AI was playing an increasing role in Google's algorithms. In October 2015, a Google spokesperson confirmed in a post on bloomberg.com that the Rank Brain algorithm was using AI to rank search results. By mid-2019, it is estimated that ~15 % of search inputs are absolutely original, meaning they have never been entered that way before. Rank Brain nevertheless identifies what the user likely meant. It is part of those algorithms that are based on AI. These are playing an increasing role in SEO and are expected to lead to search engines thinking more and more like a human: what could my counterpart have meant? What associations are associated with this topic? What should I therefore offer as an answer? This in turn fits in with point 4, namely the abandonment of keyword spamming, which has become completely superfluous. Regular bloggers have noticed this for quite some time. They therefore mostly do without keywords altogether. If they fit the topic, they automatically appear in the text anyway. The fact that Google no longer values them as much as it used to is also related to the increasing weight of visual-based platforms like Instagram. Placing keywords in video and photos or their captions has long been considered difficult and not very helpful in the process. But the important visual messages are nevertheless gaining the rank they deserve, namely viral: they are shared voluntarily. This is also a ranking factor, so Google's AI is much more likely to reward content relevance than mechanical keyword piling. This SEO trend in 2019 is gratifying, but also challenging.
Their importance has diminished, but they are far from irrelevant. However, purchased backlinks are a nasty trap (and by the way, so are purchased likes and comments on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook & Co.), the search engines and social networks have long identified them. Backlinks have to be natural. That doesn't mean that targeted off-page SEO can't help things along a bit. It is perfectly legitimate to set a backlink to your own page from your own blog post or PR contribution. However, it must be really relevant, and link spamming must be strictly avoided. Referral links that deliver high-quality traffic remain useful. Ideally, they should come from a page that itself ranks relatively well. This increases the importance of press portals and, accordingly, the importance of PR for companies - which brings us back to high-quality content. How backlinks should be technically constituted is described in the E-A-T guidelines in their section 3.2 (Search Quality Evaluator guidelines).
PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) are websites with special features of native apps. Thus, they improve the user experience in mobile search and basically combine app and responsive web design. SEO has paid little attention to them so far, but that is changing in 2019. In the spirit of increasing mobile search (see 2.), it is worth considering running new websites as PWAs. These also work offline, they can also send push messages, can be used across the entire screen (the display) and can still be installed as an icon on the HomeScreen like any native app. For SEO, it is extremely interesting that search engines do index PWAs if they meet their guidelines. Another advantage of a PWA is: it convinces with its usability, because it does not have to be downloaded and also does not require any updates. This SEO trend 2019 is still young, we should keep an eye on it.
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