Performing competent SEO practices requires the mentality of trying to hit a moving target, like a hockey player who skates to where the puck is going instead of where it currently is. While it’s impossible to fully know the future and every change Google is going to implement over the next 12 months, it is possible to align SEO endeavors with emerging trends to give your business the best potential marketing success in 2019.

Let’s take a closer look at the top emerging digital marketing trends of 2019.

Voice Search

Voice search isn’t a fad, and it’s becoming more sophisticated every month. Not only do mobile devices like iPhones and Androids allow users to query search engines and interact with apps via speech, there is a booming market of smart speaker devices, like the Amazon Echo, Sonos One, Google Home Mini, and countless other brands and models. Additionally, there are more and more personal assistant personalities and applications every year, like Amazon Alexa, Siri, Cortana, AIVC, and Google Assistant.

In fact, smart speaker users are expected to increase to approximately 74.2 million people in the United States alone. Clearly, this is a trend that needs to be incorporated into any competent digital marketing strategy. Even though optimizing for voice search doesn’t really exist as it’s own ranking factor, it can have positive ancillary effects on your organic rankings if you succeed in providing a positive user experience.

Furthermore, as voice search technologies and popularity continue to increase in the coming years, we don’t know how Google will change its algorithm in response to future trends. It’s better to stay ahead of the curve by incorporating advantageous voice search optimization practices into your content now.

Optimize for Featured Snippets and Knowledge Graph

Google, or any search engine, for that matter, is so ubiquitous and so frequently used we tend to take it for granted. Most people don’t realize how much Google has changed over the years because the ranking algorithm is something of a black box. Furthermore, small incremental changes aren’t noticed by the average user. For example, consider how archaic the Google SERPs looked in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

Older versions of the SERPs did little more than provide a list of links to websites based on your keywords. These days, however, Google strives to answer users’ queries as fast as possible with advanced features like Google Maps, contact information, a store’s hours, and featured snippets. Featured snippets help provide a better user experience because the user receives the information they were looking for more quickly, without having to actually visit a site.

Featured snippets come in several forms, including tables, paragraphs of text with bold text, conversion calculators, word definitions, and lists. As time moves forward, Google continually adds new forms of featured snippet types to the SERPs, and optimizing content to give you the best chance of being showcased in featured snippet should be a goal of every digital marketer.

Trim Down Pages’ Loading Time as Much as Possible

It seems that with each passing year things only speed up. There’s more competition for eyeballs on the Internet now than ever before. Between distractions like social media platforms, instant messaging, video calling, interactive messaging apps like SnapChat, banner ads, and a whole host of other factors, users have become extremely impatient.

While it isn’t perfectly clear whether or not technology is attributing to shorter attention spans, we are aware that distractions and impatience can cause a user to bounce if your pages don’t load quickly enough. For instance, consider the statistic promulgated by Google that 53% of mobile users will bounce if a site or page takes longer than a mere three seconds to load.

Three seconds may not sound like a long time, but in Internet-years, three seconds is an eternity. Furthermore, consider the following statistics collected from the same study regarding the correlation between loading time and bounce rate (note that these statistics include both mobile and desktop users):

  • 1 – 3 seconds: 32%

  • 1 – 5 seconds: 90%

  • 1 – 6 seconds: 106%

  • 1 – 9 seconds: 123%

The fact that the chance of a user bouncing is 100% somewhere between the five and six second mark may seem astounding at first, but just think back to a time when you bounced from a site because it was too slow. Did you wait longer than five seconds? Strategies like AMPs, mobile versions of your pages for mobile users, and image compression will help bring your site up to speed for 2019. Remember, every little bit helps, and you should always be looking for ways to shave off loading time.

Amazon Dominates eCommerce Queries and Keywords

Amazon technically isn’t a fully-fledged search engine, but it has gobbled up a massive share of keywords that were traditionally queried into a true search engine like Google. But given Amazon’s immense popularity and domination of online sales, ecommerce shoppers’ search behaviors are changing. Now, instead of first searching via a Google query for an online product, users will go straight to Amazon.com and query it directly. By the end of 2018, Amazon had overtaken Google with regards to product search, capturing 54% of queries.

Naturally, an up-to-date marketing strategy for any businesses who engage in ecommerce means shifting focus from organic Google rankings to Amazon optimization. If the trend continues to develop, by the end of 2019 Amazon will garner an even greater percentage of product queries. At the very least, you should acknowledge that there’s an approximate 50/50 split between Google and Amazon product queries and react accordingly.

Final Thoughts

SEO is one of the most important, yet least understood, pillars of digital marketing that can drive leads to a small business – in some cases, for free. Failing to implement SEO best practices means lost opportunities to convert leads and gain revenue.

If you don’t know where to begin, I recommend checking out my 17 Point SEO checklist to make sure you’ve got your ducks in a row. Lastly, if SEO makes your head spin, I’d recommend reaching out for the help of a qualified professional; the success of your business depends on competent marketing.