Posted by TheMozTeam

With the new year in full swing and an already busy first
quarter, our 2019 predictions for SEO in the new year are hopping
onto the scene a little late — but fashionably so, we hope. From
an explosion of SERP features to increased monetization to the key
drivers of search this year, our SEO experts have consulted their
crystal balls (read: access to mountains of data and in-depth
analyses) and made their predictions. Read on for an exhaustive
list of fourteen things to watch out for in search from our very
own Dr. Pete, Britney Muller, Rob Bucci, Russ Jones, and Miriam
Ellis!

1. Answers will drive search

People Also Ask boxes exploded in 2018, and featured snippets
have expanded into both multifaceted and multi-snippet versions.
Google wants to answer questions, it wants to answer them across as
many devices as possible, and it will reward sites with succinct,
well-structured answers. Focus on answers that naturally leave
visitors wanting more and establish your brand and credibility.
[Dr. Peter J. Meyers]

Further reading:

2. Voice search will continue to be utterly useless for
optimization

Optimizing for voice search will still be no more than
optimizing for featured snippets, and conversions from voice will
remain a dark box. [Russ
Jones
]

Further reading:

3. Mobile is table stakes

This is barely a prediction. If your 2019 plan is to finally
figure out mobile, you’re already too late. Almost all Google
features are designed with mobile-first in mind, and the
mobile-first index has expanded rapidly in the past few months. Get
your mobile house (not to be confused with your mobile home) in
order as soon as you can. [Dr. Peter J. Meyers]

Further reading:

4. Further SERP feature intrusions in organic search

Expect Google to find more and more ways to replace organic with
solutions that keep users on Google’s property. This includes
interactive SERP features that replace, slowly but surely, many
website offerings in the same way that live scores, weather, and
flights have. [Russ
Jones
]

Further reading:

5. Video will dominate niches

Featured Videos, Video Carousels, and Suggested Clips (where
Google targets specific content in a video) are taking over the
how-to spaces. As Google tests search appliances with screens,
including Home Hub, expect video to dominate instructional and DIY
niches. [Dr. Peter J.
Meyers
]

Further reading:

6. SERPs will become more interactive

We’ve seen the start of interactive SERPs with People Also Ask
Boxes. Depending on which question you expand, two to three new
questions will generate below that directly pertain to your
expanded question. This real-time engagement keeps people on the
SERP longer and helps Google better understand what a user is
seeking. [Britney
Muller
]

Further reading:

7. Local SEO: Google will continue getting up in your business —
literally

Google will continue asking more and more intimate questions
about your business to your customers. Does this business have
gender-neutral bathrooms? Is this business accessible? What is the
atmosphere like? How clean is it? What kind of lighting do they
have? And so on. If Google can acquire accurate, real-world
information about your business (your percentage of repeat
customers via geocaching, price via transaction history, etc.) they
can rely less heavily on website signals and provide more accurate
results to searchers. [Britney Muller]

Further reading:

8. Business proximity-to-searcher will remain a top local ranking
factor

In Moz’s recent State of Local SEO report, the majority of
respondents agreed that Google’s focus on the proximity of a
searcher to local businesses frequently emphasizes distance over
quality in the local SERPs. I predict that we’ll continue to see
this heavily weighting the results in 2019. On the one hand,
hyper-localized results can be positive, as they allow a diversity
of businesses to shine for a given search. On the other hand, with
the exception of urgent situations, most people would prefer to see
best options rather than just closest ones. [Miriam Ellis]

Further reading:

9. Local SEO: Google is going to increase monetization

Look to see more of the local and maps space monetized uniquely
by Google both through Adwords and potentially new lead-gen models.
This space will become more and more competitive. [Russ Jones]

Further reading:

10. Monetization tests for voice

Google and Amazon have been moving towards voice-supported
displays in hopes of better monetizing voice. It will be
interesting to see their efforts to get displays in homes and how
they integrate the display advertising. Bold prediction: Amazon
will provide sleep-mode display ads similar to how Kindle currently
displays them today. [Britney Muller]

11. Marketers will place a greater focus on the SERPs

I expect we’ll see a greater focus on the analysis of SERPs as
Google does more to give people answers without them having to
leave the search results. We’re seeing more and more vertical
search engines like Google Jobs, Google Flights, Google Hotels,
Google Shopping. We’re also seeing more in-depth content make it
onto the SERP than ever in the form of featured snippets, People
Also Ask boxes, and more. With these new developments, marketers
are increasingly going to want to report on their general brand
visibility within the SERPs, not just their website ranking. It’s
going to be more important than ever for people to be measuring all
the elements within a SERP, not just their own ranking. [Rob Bucci]

Further reading:

12. Targeting topics will be more productive than targeting queries

2019 is going to be another year in which we see the emphasis on
individual search queries start to decline, as people focus more on
clusters of queries around topics. People Also Ask queries have
made the importance of topics much more obvious to the SEO
industry. With PAAs, Google is clearly illustrating that they think
about searcher experience in terms of a searcher’s satisfaction
across an entire topic, not just a specific search query. With this
in mind, we can expect SEOs to more and more want to see their
search queries clustered into topics so they can measure their
visibility and the competitive landscape across these clusters.
[Rob Bucci]

Further reading:

13. Linked unstructured citations will receive increasing focus

I recently conducted a small study in which there was a 75%
correlation between organic and local pack rank. Linked
unstructured citations (the mention of partial or complete business
information + a link on any type of relevant website) are a means
of improving organic rankings which underpin local rankings. They
can also serve as a non-Google dependent means of driving traffic
and leads. Anything you’re not having to pay Google for will
become increasingly precious. Structured citations on key local
business listing platforms will remain table stakes, but
competitive local businesses will need to focus on unstructured
data to move the needle. [Miriam Ellis]

Further reading:

14. Reviews will remain a competitive difference-maker

A Google rep recently stated that
about one-third of local searches are made with the intent of
reading reviews
. This is huge. Local businesses that acquire
and maintain a good and interactive reputation on the web will have
a critical advantage over brands that ignore reviews as fundamental
to customer service. Competitive local businesses will earn,
monitor, respond to, and analyze the sentiment of their review
corpus. [Miriam
Ellis
]

Further reading:

We’ve heard from Mozzers, and now we want to hear from you.
What have you seen so far in 2019 that’s got your SEO Spidey
senses tingling? What trends are you capitalizing on and planning
for? Let us know in the
comments below
(and brag to friends and colleagues when your
prediction comes true in the next 6–10 months). 😉

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