Search Engine Watch recently put out an article on the key ranking factors for 2019. Keeping in line with what I have said for years, the ABC’s of ranking in Google have stayed the same since day 1. Google has simply gotten better at quantifying the user experience than they used to be so they can figure out the fakes a little easier than they used. We also see changes in technology that make the way we search change a bit, like voice search, etc. that can make being #1 even more important, or in many cases push people to advertise more. Below are my thoughts on the 2019 ranking factors article and how they may be looked at by today’s small business owner, who may not be churning out pages and pages of news articles and is wondering how this type of stuff applies to them.
Breaking Down the 2019 SEO Ranking Factors
Much like Search Engine Watch did, we look at factors in a few different categories. I tend to break them down into On-Page, Off-Page, and In-Page Optimization, but more and more, there is another piece that combines all of these, that is the user, or User Optimization. I will demonstrate in the categories below.
On Page Factors:
This is typically viewed as your content. Google has gotten more specific over the years and the obvious top factor for content is relevancy. At its simplest form, a page about chiropractors shouldn’t rank for an auto parts search. Google wants to display the best answer to someone’s search query and find a page that answers that specifically. The way this continues to potentially hurt smaller business presence is that much of the traffic that used to go to the homepage, don’t go there anymore. Google and the searchers want more specific answer to these searches. Your business site should have pages for all of your individual services that thoroughly answer what the searcher is looking for. Searcher intent will be a buzzword in 2019 and you will want to keep adding content that matches that intent. Whereas in 2018, we focused on getting pages for each of those services you offered, you may now want to have a page for each way someone may search for or use that service.
Off Page Factors:
Off page is typically looked at as link building. Links to your site from others is still the top individual factor used by Google to determine authority. Even those that know this struggle to strategically build links. Once you get past your current relationships, it is often hard for small businesses to gain links. This is where we rely on over a decade of relationship building to reach out and let those out there in the digital world know what you are doing. Much of SEO is actually done off the computer with relationship building, much like other aspects of building your business. Links still matter a lot in 2019, so don’t ignore them.
In Page Factors:
In page is typically looked at as the technical side of things. How fast does your page load? Does your site have https? Do you have lots of 404 errors building on your site? Keeping your house in order is very important with SEO and many of these factors, especially speed, can get your page removed from “the conversation”. Google doesn’t want to put up a slow loading page in the search results, so they may go to a page with worse content and less authority if it loads significantly faster. You need to load fast to make sure your bases are covered. And if you aren’t https yet, you better do that today.
Data that Google can see such as bounce rated, time on site, and click through rate on your listing are very important. You have less control over this, but providing good, thorough, digestible (thorough is scary when it is just a wall of text), fast content will keep people engaged. Having title tags and descriptions that draw the user in and make them want to click will enhance your positioning. It is still extremely important to have keyword concepts in your title tag, but the way you present them may make a lot of difference going forward and you may want to look at that steadily as you entice searchers to choose your result over the one they see above you.
SEO is hard work but luckily, we have you covered. I have been successfully managing SEO for smaller businesses for over a decade and take pride in the combination of knowledge and flexibility to make sure we address the most important issues when they need to be addressed. Our client success is most important. We don’t folow cookie cutter plans. We follow custom plans that can change when they need to, but still adhere to the proper foundations and techniques to help you succeed. Please call us today and get started right in 2019.