Key things we learned about SEO in 2019

As the new year begins to appear on the horizon, now is a great time to look back at SEO in 2019.

Still regarded as one of the most important aspects of digital marketing, SEO is something every business should invest in.

Whether you do so internally by increasing your own knowledge in SEO, or call on the services of an external marketing company, here’s what you need to know about the evolving SEO landscape in 2019.

The big Google updates

There were three key updates to Google’s algorithm this year. And, as usual, no one but those at the heart of the search giant’s company knows much about their intricacies - but we do know when they happened.

Crucially, this means we can also take some educated guesses as to their impact.

-  Florida 2. This was a broad algorithm update, and many believe one of the biggest undertaken in recent years. From what we know, it was designed to help Google improve the accuracy of search queries to web pages - i.e. to improve the user experience.
-  June Broad Core Update. This was a big one, too. We know that, because there were a number of authoritative websites such as the Daily Mail that lost rankings as a result. If you think you might have been impacted by this update and you’re still suffering, there’s some great advice here.
-  September Broad Core Update.  As far as we can tell, this update focused on nofollow links, which are used to let Google know that a link might not be trustworthy. The update means that Google will not treat links of that kind as a “hint” as to whether they should be included or excluded from results.

Google will always be tight-lipped about its updates, but at the very least, knowing when they take place will help us all keep an eye on significant changes to search rankings during those times.

Hello, BERT

We’ll give this particular 2019 Google SEO update its own section, because many believe it is the biggest change to their algorithm in the last five years.

BERT will probably considerably shape the way SEO is undertaken during 2020. It’s designed to help Google better understand search queries and will probably result in a change to the way featured snippets and search rankings are treated.

What does it stand for? Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. We’ll dig into exactly what that means in future blogs!

Quality content

One of the biggest and most satisfying learnings from 2019 was that quality content really does matter.

This is a topic that has been endlessly debated, but we’ve always believed quality content is vital if you want to rank highly on Google.

Long content (2,000 words minimum), has been particularly successful this year in terms of driving people towards websites. But Google chose 2019 to provide content creators with four questions that should be asked every time new content is created:

  1. Is it of sufficient quality?
  2. Does it demonstrate true expertise?
  3. Is it presented nicely?
  4. How does it compare to competing content?

The fact Google issued these guiding questions this year is testament to how important quality content is - and we love that.

Local SEO is crucial if you’re local

Sound obvious? Not necessarily - local SEO has only really achieved greater prominence this year.

If you’re a local business, local SEO is vital - simple. We know this, because it’s thought that nearly half of all smartphone searches involve local intent. People want to find your business, and if your website isn’t tuned for searches related to locality, you’ll never be found.

We also learned this year that local SEO is relatively simple. In fact, it’s based largely on common sense; you need to offer driving directions, product range detail and availability and opening hours. That’s the bare bones of local SEO, but you get the idea.

Wrapping up

This year was a big one for SEO. Crucially, though, those big Google updates probably won’t make their full impact known until 2020.

That means next year will be key for many businesses and, if you want to retain and improve on your search rankings, make sure you stay tuned to this blog!

Web Design Northampton by New Edge