09 November 2018 - Gavin Duff

What Are Your SEO Predictions for 2019?

I got a phone call recently from a very well-known website. If you work in SEO, you’ll know them. They had a question that can only mean one thing – it’s that time of year again…

What are your SEO predictions for 2019?

And so it begins, a barrage of articles about this very thing.

The contradiction is that these articles are usually written purely to rank highly for queries related to just that, so they are sort of missing the point.

I’m writing this for our readers, our clients, and anyone who wants something more engaging. And for that reason, this article will be read more than 95% of those junk articles out there – because, we hope, it’s a little different.

Lists of SEO predictions usually mention some of the same topics every year. They throw the same shit at the wall and hope that when it sticks they can say ‘Aha, we were right!’.

Most of these lists are about as useful as asking a crystal ball for the winning lottery numbers.

Many of these predictions also appear over and over again because people often give Google too much credit. Their underdeveloped algorithms can’t keep up with the needs and wishes of SEO professionals. They just can’t.

If I was to follow suit and mention the usual generic predictions, then I’d look at the following…

Voice search. No, not yet. Perhaps not ever, at least not in the form that it’s been sold to you. It won’t change the world of SEO in 2019. Don’t believe what you’ve heard.

Visual search. Yes, it might grow. But it’s niche, so get over it.

VR/AR. I’ve seen this in lists of predictions. It has nothing to do with SEO, only the resulting experience of a search, just like content.

GDPR. This is not relevant, so the conversations about how GDPR impacts on SEO need to end now. If you have been ethical all along then it shouldn’t impact anything, including link building.

Mobile search / Mobile first. Give me a break… we saw that coming fifteen years ago, and that time has already come.

So that’s a taste of the usual predictions and an admittedly very cynical view on them. But this article results from having already seen a multitude of these articles since early in 2018, all with a view to just ranking on Google.

What’s more important to me is what should and realistically could happen. This is where we become predictive rather than pre-emptive for the sake of ranking, something that other agencies fail to do.

If you’ve stumbled upon this article then congratulations, it may provide more insight than those others.

Those other types of ‘listicle’ articles, every year, will include very little that surprises you. It’s content for the sake of ranking for it… it’s clickbait. As Rand Fishkin nicely illustrated for us here.

Instead, here’s some realistic advice for the next 12 months…

Sentiment. This should come as no surprise. Google made the switch some time ago from monitoring keyword repetition and usage to instead looking at synonyms… and then, context… and then, engagement. This year, they will begin to better algorithmically determine your content’s sentiment/intent in as much as that’s possible for an algorithm to do, and you will rank better based on how users interact with it. So it’s goodbye to content for the sake of content…

Goodbye Spam. In November 2018, Google spokesperson Danny Sullivan himself reached out to the SEO community to publicly ask for their opinion about what Google can do better in their search results. Responses varied from harsh to obvious. But this is definitely a signal that in some shape or form public feedback will begin to matter more. Google knows that their algorithm is not good enough, and robots ain’t fixing it all.

A Reality Check. SEO professionals will finally realise that Google is all about the user. This has always been the case, they are just getting better at it now. So your bullsh*t spammy techniques will stop working in 2019. Completely. You’ll wonder why. You’ll blame Google. I won’t because I played by the rules all along. Ethical SEO practices should, if Google’s engineers have any sense, finally reap their rewards across all core markets in 2019.

AI. Yes, Artificial Intelligence will change the way in which we conduct keyword research and it will change the way in which Google serve results. So you can expect your rankings to change in the next 12 month. A lot. If you ever wanted to know who decides what content ranks and where, or what gets lost in that sea of generic predictions lists, well that’s AI.

So there you have it. It’s not a detailed list of predictions but at least it’s not generic either.

So don’t be spammy in 2019, this will catch up on you even more. Be smarter than that. Watch your rankings closely because they will fluctuate a lot more. And create original, compelling content that will engage rather than be skimmed.

If you want to take your SEO and Content Strategy into 2019 and beyond in the best possible way, then get in touch. There are no crystal balls, we just stay ahead of the curve, and that keeps you ahead of your competitors… and that drives revenue.