As the number of your competitors online is constantly growing, staying competitive and getting yourself noticed is now more difficult than ever. To stay competitive and position yourself as a leader in your niche, you need to conduct regular SEO audits, keep track of the latest trends, and update your website accordingly.
As 2019 is just around the corner, I’ve listed a few critical SEO practices you need to implement to boost your online presence.
Invest in an SSL Certificate
We’ve been reading a lot about the importance of switching from HTTP to HTTPS. And, what we can conclude right now is that this is something Google expects us to do. The number of websites migrating to HTTPS is growing at an astonishing rate. According to SEMrush, more than 41% of the top 5000 websites use HTTPS now. And, if you’re not one of them, here is why you need to rethink your approach.
For starters, SSL/TLD may help you rank higher, as Google made it a “very lightweight” ranking signal. Sure, the search engine may decide to make HTTPS even more prominent in the future and not preparing for it on time may hurt your online presence.
Apart from your rankings, sticking to HTTP may also affect user experience. Namely, the changes Google has been introducing recently share one common goal- to make its users browsing experience safer and more pleasant. Precisely because of that, they’ve started marking sites using HTTPS with a green padlock and the “Secure” label. On the other hand, if your site is still using HTTP, Google will display the “Not Secure” warning. For example, if you’re using encryption techniques to protect your users’ sensitive information, but you haven’t switched to HTTPS, your site will still be labelled as not secure and drive many visitors away.
Make Sure you Site Complies with GDPR
With the rise of cybersecurity threats, protecting customer data should be every website owner’s priority. This is exactly why the GDPR or the General Data Protection Regulation was designed. As the largest regulatory measure of this kind, the GDPR came into full force on May 25th this year and applies to every website that gathers and stores the personally identifiable information of EU citizens.
Namely, in the past, many websites were collecting their users’ information without asking them for permission. The GDPR raises people’s awareness of how data collection works and gives them more autonomy, encouraging them to treat their data like their personal asset. Therefore, to comply with the GDPR, you need to ask your visitors for consent before collecting their data and let them monitor, control, and manage how their information is being used.
Logically, this may impact your marketing efforts, as using customer data to create personalized content and offers is now more difficult than ever. Still, the GDPR will remain important in 2019 and not complying with it carries serious penalties. Therefore, if you believe that you don’t fall into the category of marketers that need people’s consent to use their data, you need to double check whether this is true. For example, many businesses that are not based in the EU think that the GDPR has nothing to do with them. However, if your visitors or customers are from the EU, you’re bound by the law to give them the freedom of choice.
Optimize for Voice Search
Studies show that today, just one-fifth of Google search results are based on voice search. However, this number is expected to exceed 50% in 2021. Voice search has already started redefining the SEO industry we know of and you need to keep pace with these changes.
For starters, you need to change the way you do keyword research. Targeting and optimizing for exact match keywords doesn’t work anymore, as voice searches resemble everyday conversation and are based on questions. This is exactly why you need to optimize your website for conversational, long-tail keywords, too. Your goal is to understand your users’ needs and problems and see what type of search queries they conduct. Also, focus on creating longer content and optimize your FAQ pages to ensure they match your visitors’ searches.
Boost your Loading Time
Your page speed remains one of the most significant ranking signals in 2019. Namely, it has become even more important with Google’s latest Speed Update that has made load times a ranking factor for mobile sites, too. Another important factor that impacts your SEO rankings is user experience. You probably know that 53% of your site visitors will leave your site if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds. But, did you know that most of the users that had a poor experience with your site are less likely to buy from you again?
This is exactly why you need to audit your loading time as soon as possible. There are numerous tools like Google PageSpeed or Pingdom that may help. If your site speed needs a boost, here are a few steps you need to take:
- Invest in a content delivery network.
- Crop and compress image to reduce their size.
- Minify your codes.
- Choose a reliable hosting provider.
- Use browser caching.
- Leverage lazy loading.
- Don’t use auto-play multimedia.
- Remove all plugins you don’t really need.
Make Mobile Users Happy
The number of mobile users is expected to reach 5 billion by 2019. And, to make mobile searchers happier, Google has recently introduced mobile-first indexing. The search engine giant from now on indexes the mobile version of your site. This is one of the most significant changes in 2018 that will have a great impact on your SEO efforts in 2019 and beyond.
However, there is one thing you need to keep in mind. There is a huge difference between mobile-friendly and responsive websites. Unlike the static mobile-friendly sites, responsive design is highly adaptable, meaning that it changes according to your visitor’s device to provide them with the ultimate browsing experience.
For starters, test your site’s friendliness to mobile searchers using tools like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Next, take immediate steps to make your website compatible with different mobile devices. This is where SEO meets UX design. Every element on your site, from its architecture to meta tags and CTA buttons need to be highly flexible and tailored to different users’ needs.
Improve your Content Marketing Efforts
Content marketing remains the nerve centre of your online presence. It’s the source of organic traffic, high-quality backlinks, and greater conversion rates. However, content marketing trends are constantly changing. Just because a certain form of content worked for you in 2018 doesn’t mean it will deliver great results in 2019. Still, these are a few rules that will remain critical for your content strategy in the next year:
- Use content to build trust.
Make your content is data-backed, helpful, and relevant to your readers. Most importantly, it needs to be consistent and made about your readers, not you.
- Collect customer feedback.
The 2019 B2B Content Marketing Research emphasizes the importance of communicating with customers to create better-targeted content. However, its authors found that, even though the number of marketers using social listening, website analysis, sales team’s data, and keyword research to understand their target audience’s needs, only 42% of them talk to their customers.
- Experiment with the types of content to make it more exciting.
The research by Content Marketing Institute mentioned above highlights that audio and visual formats like videos are now the most popular content form, followed by text-based content (case studies, articles, eBooks), images (infographics, photos, charts, memes), in-person content (presentations), and audio-only content (podcasts). Try out different forms of content and stick with those that resonate well with your target audience.
Wrapping It Up
As you can see from the previous examples, SEO trends are changing parallel with your target audience’s needs. This is why you need to conduct SEO audits regularly, understand what tactics work for your users, and tailor your strategy to them. And, these steps may be a great starting point for you, helping you take your online performance to a whole new level