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Q2 Ramp Up: SEO Strategies to Focus on for the Rest of 2019

  • CATEGORY: SEO

How do you feel about your SEO strategy in 2019? This year has challenged us with an interesting mix of the old and the new. We’re seeing users seek information in new and often unanticipated ways, but that hasn’t stopped certain traditional SEO strategies from remaining important.

As the second quarter revs into high gear, take a moment to look back and evaluate which SEO strategies are—and aren’t—working for you. Then take a look at three SEO strategies we recommend focusing on for the rest of 2019 (and one that we don’t).

Focus on Winning Zero-Click Searches

“Position zero” content is drawing more and more traffic away from other organic results. This content includes rich results like featured snippets, image carousels, and other enhanced results. Users type a search query, get their answer directly in the search engine result page (SERP), and then bounce without clicking on a link. This is the future!

Think about it. When’s the last time you clicked through to a link when you searched for the local weather? Or to calculate a tip amount? It’s probably been awhile. But today, even complex searches like “birthday party decorations” and “chocolate chip cookie recipe” are showing complete answers in Google’s coveted position zero.

As Google shows position zero content for an ever-increasing amount of queries, the amount of “Zero-Click” (also known as “No-Click”) SERPs grows. On these pages, the user is satisfied without clicking through to another page, thereby changing the entire SEO game.

As of September 2018, no-click searches accounted for 34.4% of desktop searches and 61.5% of mobile ones.

With this dramatic rise in zero-click searches, it’s time to develop a comprehensive Page 1 strategy that goes beyond organic ranking. So does this mean that all the hard work we’ve been doing for years has all been for nothing? Not at all. As Viola Eva at Search Engine Journal writes:

“Remember that the main goal of SEO hasn’t changed: take up as much prime digital real estate on Page 1 as possible and win the top positions.”

It’s just that those top positions might not be the traditional organic space you’re used to seeing. So, what can you do about it?

  • If you have a brick-and-mortar location and don’t have a Google My Business account, now is the time to make one. You’re late to the game! GMB accounts are free to make and complement your existing website by giving Google all sorts of useful, parsable information.
  • Target answer boxes by creating content that clearly answers questions people are asking—especially your customers.
  • Create video content to coordinate with the above!
  • Leverage your brand’s Knowledge Graph to better understand how customers are searching for your brand. What new keywords could you take advantage of?
  • Pay attention to click-through-rate (CTR). It can be more valuable to target longer keyphrases with less search volume, but higher CTRs.

Write Customer-Centric Content

Create content that customers want to read. Simple, right? Unfortunately, too many businesses aim for content with catchy, keyword-laden titles and forget to write anything that answers questions and solves customer problems.

Content quality isn’t a new dilemma, but it’s still worth addressing. Good, useful content:

  • Sparks happiness (and joy!) in customers
  • Increases engagement and social shares
  • Gives Google potential answer box content

The first two have always been important, but the third is more of a recent phenomenon.

“Google is appropriating your content into their interface and answering people’s questions without them having to go to your site. That’s the world we live in now. And it’s probably only going to get worse. All that said, it isn’t all doom and gloom,” explains Patrick Reinhart of Search Engine Journal.

With the increase in zero-result searches, it’s important to take a comprehensive approach to Page 1 marketing. If the top organic result is still half-way down the page, why not aim for the top piece of position zero content?

Button Up Your Site’s Technical Health

Every discipline is built on a foundation of something. To read, you must first learn the alphabet. To bake, you must first learn to measure. And to successfully manage your site’s search presence, you need to understand the technical elements of SEO.

As Reinhart remarks, “Regardless of how great your content and brand is, you will never reach your full organic potential if your site’s foundation is crap.” In other words, forget about our first two recommendations if your site is lacking in the technical SEO category.

Engaging content is great. But without a technically sound site, no one may ever see it. Here are a few common technical issues to watch out for:

  • Slow PageSpeed affects Google rankings and visitor engagement alike. Check out our top tips for improving mobile PageSpeed for a place to start.
  • Mobile Unfriendliness is a big no-no for Google. In 2018, Google switched to a mobile-first index, which is exactly what it sounds like: they index mobile sites first and use that as the baseline for rankings. While it’s not a mobile-only index, poor mobile performance can only hurt your search visibility.
  • Index Bloat means showing Google too much content through a sitemap with too many URLs indexed. Common issues include non-canonicalized tracking URLs and filter URLs.

While the above is not an exhaustive list, it’s a good place to start. Remember: improving your site from a technical standpoint can do wonders for your pages’ SERP placement.

Don’t Zero in on Voice Search (& Voice Search Alone)

Of all the buzz-worthy SEO trends of the past year, voice search has done the least to live up to the hype. But why is that, when about half of the population uses voice search in some way?

Much of it probably comes down to how we perceive content: while most people can speak quicker than they can type, few can listen faster than they can read.

Imagine you’re searching for a local Thai restaurant. When you ask Siri, Alexa, or one of the other myriad of available voice assistants, you’ll be read a list of nearby restaurants. Then, if you want reviews, you’ll have to give a new command. If you want to know which is closest, you’ll have to ask again. If you want to revisit an item earlier in the list, that’s another command.

On the other hand, you can find reviews, pictures, and a map of all local Thai restaurants in seconds by typing on your phone. Some queries are better served through visuals, not audio.

While song titles, local weather, and measurement conversions will probably continue to dominate voice search, it’s time to let out a collective sigh of relief: most searches will probably stay safely in the desktop and mobile realm.

Every year, the global SEO community makes predictions as to how Google will update their algorithm in the upcoming months. Sometimes they’re right, and sometimes they’re wrong. And sometimes Google throws a wrench in things and accidentally deindexes some websites. That’s why it’s so important to constantly evaluate your company’s SEO strategy. If you’re looking to polish your site’s content or technical foundation, chat with one of GPO’s SEO experts today.

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