SEO & Content Marketing Techniques To Nail In 2019
Google’s SERPs have changed a lot of in recent years and the search engines challenge of adapting for voice technology is one of many reasons why we can expect things to keep evolving rapidly.
Search habits are also constantly on the move as people’s needs and expectations from content matures. It’s easy for marketers to say things like “voice search is the future; you better start optimising now” but this doesn’t really help anyone in a practical sense.
So here are the SEO and content strategies you really need to get down in 2019.
Optimising for featured snippets
Featured snippets are the only existing result format in Google Search that can be applied to voice search. Besides that, they’re also a new space where you can get your content shot straight to the top of results pages.
A lot of marketers are calling this “position zero” and it takes a different kind of content to get featured here.
Above all, you need to be answering questions for the kind of queries that return definitions, instructions and step-by-step guides. Queries that begin with:
- What is…
- How does…
- How to…
- When was…
As you can see in the image above, Google likes to give users a preview of the instructions included for step-by-step guides and you can optimise your content to fit this format with subheadings marked out as numbered instructions.
The tricky thins with featured snippets is there’s only one spot to rank for – welcome to the new age of competitive search (the same goes for voice search).
If you’re struggling to get your content featured for your initial target keywords, head down to the “People also ask” box that normally appears under featured snippets.
Every time you click on one of these questions, more appear and you can click through to see the results page for each question. This generates more related questions and this cycle just seems to keep on going, which means you can use these questions to pinpoint the best opportunities for you to rank in featured snippets.
Getting on top of structured data
Structured data is a scary concept if you’re not comfortable with code but it’s becoming an essential requirement in modern search. Either get to grips with it or get someone in who can do it for you – either way, it’s worth doing sooner rather than later.
Structured data gives Google information about your content which helps the search giant to rank it for more relevant searches and give users a better idea about what your content has to offer. More relevant searches mean higher quality traffic for you and the rich results Google creates with structured data makes your search listing significantly more clickable.
Higher rankings, better quality traffic and more click-throughs – what’s not to like?
Let’s say someone’s looking for a specific product because they’re interested in buying it – something like “Buy Fuji X-T3 in the UK”. This person doesn’t want to read about the camera, they don’t want to find US stores selling it and they’re not interested in reading any more reviews.
They want to find this camera in stock, at a UK shop.
So by using structured data to mark up your product pages, Google can present that as precisely that: product pages. Which means users know you’ve got exactly what they’re looking for (either in Google Search or Image Search) and they’re going to click through because they know you’ve got what they want before they even land on your site.
That’s a camera hungry customer you’ve just won.
You can also mark up pages as articles to capture more readers, videos to win more viewers, Q&A pages to feature your best answers and all kinds of other formats designed to generate more traffic.
Optimising for “zero click” searches
Zero click searches are those scary instances where Google shows an answer right at the top of the results page so users don’t need to click through to a site to get what they need. Things like:
- Definition searches: Dictionary and encyclopaedia-style searches.
- Data searches: Dates, times, currency conversions, etc.
- Map searches: Local search queries, geographical searches, directions, etc.
- Corporate searches: Searches about companies and brands.
Unlike featured snippets, which give users an idea of what a piece of content has to offer (with the aim of encouraging them to click through), there are times when providing an instant answer is the best user experience.
The problem is, zero click searches mean no traffic and this is terrifying for SEOs – especially when 34.4% of desktop searches and 62.5% of mobile searches result in no clicks.
Zero click searches have grown by 11% on mobile and 9.5% on desktop over the past two years, according to research from Sparktoro and this is only going to become more common as voice search matures.
By optimising for featured snippets, you’re already going to be doing a lot of what you need to do for zero click searches. Likewise, by getting on top of structured data, you’re also going to be giving Google a lot more info about your content and making it easier for the search giant to rank you in zero click searches.
Next, you need to analyse which zero click searches actually matter to your strategy because you might not care about users who are curious about the weather in Nepal. For the zero click searches that do matter, get your brand seen during as many of these interactions as possible and count these as a first step towards getting yourself seen by the right audience.
Above all, don’t panic about zero click searches. People who can get the answer they need without clicking through to a site aren’t about to buy anything.
Product content in favour of thought leadership?
Here’s an interesting one for you: according to The 2018 State of Digital Content report from Altimeter, product-focused content that helps people make buying decisions outperforms though leadership content that positions brands as industry experts.
Essentially, it comes down to helping people make better buying decisions rather then telling them how much of an expert you are. This applies to B2B as much as it does general consumer content as well. After all, business leaders need to buy all kinds of software, hardware and services to make things happen – and they want to get the best product/service for their money like everyone else.
This doesn’t mean you should ditch though leadership content if this is what you’re prioritising though. While 29% say product-focused content performs best, thought leadership content isn’t far behind with 25% of content marketers saying it performs most effectively.
It might be time to test some more product-orientated content, though, if you’re not already.
While all the usual advice about optimising for mobile and getting ready for voice search still apply in 2019, they don’t give you any practical tips you can implement and get results from. In this article, we’ve given you actionable SEO and content marketing strategies you can and should implement in 2019 that will help you get better results this year – and for many years to come, as technologies like voice search become more prevalent.