The Benefits of SEO in 2019 (It's never too late to optimize!)
Are there benefits to focussing on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in 2019? Is it too late to start implementing these practices if you haven’t already?
The short answer there are absolutely huge and long lasting benefits to practicing SEO in 2019 and if you haven’t started down this road yet— you need to start as soon as possible.
Before we dive into defining and evaluating modern SEO practices, here is a quick caveat to this article and why we think it is worth your time and money to read it (you can also skip ahead if you’d like):
This article is going to have some really seemingly boring aspects to it—but I promise that if you can read to the end (or use our nifty buttons provided throughout the article for quick skimming) you will gain valuable insights into what SEO is, how you can and should implement it, and how it correlates to the world of digital marketing as a whole. If you run, or are a part of any business or organization that has any sort of web presence at all, you really should take some time to sit back and take in all of this free information. It could save you a ton of resources and give way more purpose to your website(s). With that, let’s dive in.
First thing’s first: Let’s make sure we define what the words “Search Engine” and “SEO” mean
Here is a simple understanding of what a Search Engine is:
Search engines, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and even Youtube, are basically high-speed, ultra-user-friendly libraries for consumers or researchers to quickly and safely find exactly what they are looking for. After you search for something (search phrase or keyword phrase), the search engine will direct you towards a SERP (search engine results page) containing exactly what you are looking for. They weren’t always this way however! Through immense trial and error— over years of algorithm updates and adjustments—search engines like Google have successfully created a safe and trustworthy resource for the internet users to find exactly what they need and when they need it. But this begs the question: How do search engines like Google and Bing decide what “ranks” well (i.e, getting a first page Google result without advertising) and what doesn’t?
We’re glad you asked. The answer is SEO.
Now, let’s (simply) define what SEO is, and isn’t.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the act of enhancing or modifying your website and pages to rank higher on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for organic keywords and queries. While SEO is the best focus for companies looking for long-term ROI, SEO is not as easy as it sounds, it doesn’t always produce fruit quickly and can be a sometimes be a daunting task for companies that have made a mess of their web presence already. You have to think about everything from URL structure, to page loading times, mobile usability, structured data, and way more. But don’t let us lose you on this! Wherever you’re at on your SEO journey, it is always possible to learn more and implement healthy strategies one step at a time. A healthy understanding of SEO doesn’t have to start at the most advanced stages, and you probably have a working knowledge of this already, without even realizing it!
Let’s take a look at three different types searches we performed to test results for the same search phrase.
Here’s 3 simple search examples to help understand the fruit of SEO
With how prevalent online shopping is now, let’s use a treat yo’ self clothing example from something that has been on my wallet’s radar recently. Let’s say you were shopping for a ‘puffy jacket’ because everyone wears them now and you feel left out (I’m not crying, you’re crying). You would immediately “google” something like: “best puffy jackets for under $____” or “where to buy puffy jackets”. What happens next? Google will then provide you with almost instant results (or even start by offering suggested searches based on popular traffic) from pages hosted by various websites that offer the most relevant, high-quality, accessible and trusted/safe answers for the specific keywords included in your original search. There is so much to dissect in even just this phase of the SEO process— but we’ll keep it as simple as possible for now. We will start with our desktop search first, then to mobile typed and finally our mobile voice search. (By the way, voice search is slated to be a top game changer in the coming years for SEO. Make sure you start allocating resources and time to figuring out how you can implement voice search optimization for your digital properties as soon as possible.) Anyways, let’s get into our search examples to show the benefits of focussing on SEO in 2019. Use the buttons below to quickly scroll to the test results you desire to see most, or keep scrolling to read the report in full.
Let’s look at results from a real Desktop search test we ran to help illustrate what we mean:
As I searched for “best puffy …” Google offered me the suggested search of “best puffer jacket under 100”, which I obliged to. The first result came close to exactly matching Spy’s #1 ranking article, which uses almost my exact query as the center piece of their listed content.
The first listings that you’ll notice are advertisements that have bid on my keywords. But, for this lesson’s sake, let’s ignore the top arrow showing you ads. Though these ads are specifically tailored to your query and based on relevancy as well, they are not strictly organic results. Let’s dissect the image above to infer some of causes behind Spy earning their #1 ranked spot for my suggested search (keyword phrase). I’ll touch on topics that may seem foreign or confusing at first, but you’ll get the hang of them as time goes on.
Relevant and accurate title tags and meta descriptions
The title tag (in blue) and the meta description (text underneath green url) are perfectly describing the landing page behind this link to me as the user, as well as being perfectly written to show Google that their page is the most relevant answer to provide to me as a searcher. Think of title tags and meta descriptions being the Title of a book and a sub-title that neatly wraps up the books main mission. The title tag and meta descriptions of your webpages should always be just as intentionally written, to describe exactly what is on the other side of your link. Don’t “keyword stuff” these portions of your listing. You will be penalized and your work will be wasted. You’ll notice that they have exact matching keywords, as well as terms related to the actual keywords used.
URL structure and security
Looking at their listing url, you can tell that Spy has thoughtfully structured their website and thus we can infer that search engines can easily crawl their website. That is a huge scoring factor in ranking high on SERPs. As an added bonus, they hold an SSL certificate (https) which signifies that their site is more secure than their http counterparts. Though an SSL only gives a slight bonus in SEO score, we sadly live in a day and age of rampant identity theft. Any added and valid security feature that you can offer to search engines and users will always help you remain on the good side of both parties.
Clickthrough was honest and clear
When visiting this first link, I was directed to a page that perfectly matched my desire to research the best puffy for under 100.00. This gives validity to Google’s suggested search, as well as Google’s #1 recommendation for starting my buying journey. The landing page wasn’t cluttered with excessive ads or misinformation— a great recipe for organic success.
Interestingly enough, our mobile text search didn’t yield the same results for the first listing as our desktop search did. Take a look:
Interestingly enough, it seems that Spy was beat out by another competitor’s website for the first listing when the same search phrase was used on a different device. This should be a huge red flag for anyone that is serious about getting their website in top spots for search engine results pages. How did this happen?
The answer is Featured Snippets.
Any time you search for something and you get a short, direct answer (usually accompanied by photo or video), that is Google providing you with a featured snippet. Google rolled out this nifty little feature to be added onto what their “bot” is capable of. When they crawl your site, part of their algorithm to promoting pages is seeing if your content answers common questions. The bot looks for the answer, but also to accompanied by things like rich media, bullet points, numbered lists and even short paragraphs to help validate and summarize the answer you have claimed to provide. You can’t control when or if Google features your website to be a featured snippet for certain queries— it is entirely up to their algorithm. But, if you play by their rules across the board and give your audience great and unique content- you’ll increase chances significantly.
Let’s take a look at our mobile voice search results next.
And finally, the results of our mobile voice search:
Well, it looks like Spy is right back on top for the best result (provided by Siri). How did they earn this spot here, but not on the mobile text search?
Spy implemented Mobile Optimization.
We can’t stress this point enough. Websites that a search engine promotes for mobile users are going to be, well, mobile friendly. Though this seems like a no-brainer, many websites have still not fully allocated appropriate resources towards creating a mobile first digital ecosystem. We’ll touch base on this more below. But please, take note of this for your own website and see how you rank on mobile vs desktop.
So, what does this all mean? What can we walk away with from these case studies, so that we can take action with our own web presence? We’re glad you asked. We decided to come up with a few basic and low-hanging-fruit kinds of SEO techniques for you to employ across your own digital assets. Continue to scroll or use the button below to jump straight there!
Here’s a very short list of just some of the organic ranking factors from a 30,000 foot view:
Is your website built with a healthy sitemap in mind?
Google has a nifty little “bot” that goes through your website link-by-link until it has a full reading of your site. Hopefully your site doesn’t have any errors in its sitemap. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, we can help. Just like in the examples above, make sure that you have set up proper title tags and meta descriptions as well. These should never be key word stuffed, but should only offer relevant and natural text that you yourself would prefer to help you consider clicking through to the suggested page.
Trustability and building domain authority
Is your website trustworthy in the search engine’s opinion?
I know you’re thinking, “Trick question! Search Engines aren’t really people and can’t have opinions’.” Well, while Elon Musk may disagree with you, that’s not the point we are trying to make. Regardless of your view on AI, search engines like Google, Bing and Youtube have been developed by very savvy coders to rely on extremely advanced algorithms that are both hyper enforcing and methodical. A huge factor in getting Google’s favor is by being considered a trustworthy website. How? Through methods like building up healthy backlinks, in-links and offering really high-quality and shareable content (along with SEO, we do content really well too).
Don’t serve spam to users
We have nothing against eating spam— but reading it? Pff, take it away!
SEO in the past used to have some pretty shady tricks to rely on (often referred to as ‘black hat SEO’) and in turn, search engines have fired back with some very intelligent algorithms to sift through the garbage and give us the goods. While many people have complained about this— we don’t think strict rules for SEO are a bad thing! Stricter algorithms means a more quality experience for the user, and that is what should be most important to anyone. Imagine if I searched ‘best puffy under 100 dollars’, clicked on the spy link and then was redirected to a page where that phrase was copied 1,000 times in a white font at the bottom of the page and all that was visible to me was an ad for some shady timeshare scheme. Believe it or not, that didn’t used to be all too uncommon.
User experience and a mobile friendly design are must haves for ranking well in 2019
A huge factor in ranking is measuring how well your audience interacts and responds to your content. Is your website or landing page well designed? Does your page load quickly and efficiently? Does your font increase readability? Are your images neatly arranged, compressed and offer alt-text? These are key factors in ranking well, especially in 2019. We have so much content at our finger tips, so creating content that is high-functioning and well received are huge factors for ranking in the modern search era.
Also, if your site isn’t mobile optimized, then you are wasting a ton of time and money. There is a massive swing to more and more users being mobile-first for device preference. So, if your website is only visually and logically presented for desktop, but then looks like some strange kind of letter from the Zodiac Killer on mobile— you’re going to have a ton of issues in ranking. Remember, search engines like Google are all about supporting the user’s experience, not a company’s agenda. This is a huge problem that we’ve found with companies even recently— and not just small businesses either. If your website needs optimization work, we’d really encourage you to check out our Web Optimization service.
Here’s the honest solution to ranking well in your niche:
Treat your target audience as you would like to be treated. Offer your readers or customers content that matters and is helpful. Don’t create a blog post or video just to try and play the “keyword game”. Because many industries have saturated the internet with “tip of the ice-burg” content, it probably won’t rank well. Create content that is as helpful, easy to read, aesthetically pleasing and fast loading— just as you would prefer if you were in your target audiences’ shoes.
“…search engines like Google are all about supporting the user’s experience, not a company’s agenda.”
The adjustments that websites have done to them should always be intentional and with search engine performance in mind.
Though the work and results are “organic”, Search Engine Optimization is not “free”, easy or necessarily quick at getting you the results you are looking for. Because of this, many companies have primarily shifted their budget to emphasizing paid ads. Here’s the problem with just relying on paid ads though: what happens if your budget gets cut? What if a competitor has massive resources to start stealing more and more of your market share and you just get out performed? That’s when many companies wished that they had put more resources into SEO— but like many of us, companies and organizations tend to try and build their storm shelter during a hurricane.
Here’s our final conclusion on implementing SEO in 2019 and what it should look like:
Modern SEO will see the best results if you partner with search engine algorithms by utilizing their preferences as foundational building blocks for your digital actions. Shift your budget and mindset for creating content that is high-quality, natural and beneficial to your audience. Also, don’t forget that voice search is very much on the rise- get ahead of this curve now! If you do these things, users will find your information very helpful and you will be promoted in the SERPs (search engine results pages). The ROI that you will receive from high ranking organic resources far outweighs the risk/reward of solely relying on paid ads. While we live in a world of instant gratification— savvy companies will see the wisdom in investing for the long haul and will definitely reap the fruit of their labor in the end.
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-The Poppyfield Agency