April 4, 2019
Another year, another batch of Google algorithm updates and new search trends for us all to get our heads around. Travel PR’s Digital Marketing Manager, Mandy, takes a look at the latest online developments…
On 12 March 2019, Google confirmed that it had released a core algorithm update, although it has not specified any fixes or changes that need to be made to your website in order to optimise its response to this. In fact, Google Search Liaison tweeted: “…each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results. Most have little noticeable change but help us continue to incrementally improve search.”
Although details about the latest algorithm update from Google remain vague, there is little doubt that online search is becoming more sophisticated. More than ever, it’s essential to stay abreast of each development and to respond to it, to ensure that our online marketing efforts are not in vain.
Here are a few search trends to look out for in 2019 and some tips on how to optimise for them:
Supported by the launch of voice-based digital assistants such as Siri and Alexa, voice search is now a significant part of all online searches. Currently, 26% of the UK population uses voice search, but this is estimated to increase to 50% by 2020.
To optimise for voice search, you will need to ensure that your content includes easy-to-understand, engaging language. Long-tail keywords, such as the example below, will become increasingly important as people tend to use longer search terms when speaking rather than typing. For example, rather than focusing on optimising your content for the phrase “family holiday”, you might consider instead “what are the best family beaches in Greece?”, making sure you then answer this question thoroughly throughout your article. Designing your content to answer queries that your audience might have is the ideal to aim for. This might not bring a higher volume of traffic to your website, but capturing traffic from long-tail keyword queries tends to deliver a higher conversion rate. If you aren’t sure what your audience might be searching for, you can conduct keyword research using tools such as Moz or Answer the Public.
Image and video search are often overlooked in SEO, which is a big mistake in 2019. More people are searching in multi-media categories than ever before, specifically hoping to find an image related to their search or a short video to answer their query.
Use descriptive, relevant keywords for the alt attributes* and file names. You might also consider an appropriate caption, as seen in the example below. The text you include in the caption box is the only part that will be visible in the post.
*An alt attribute (sometimes referred to as alternative text) is the behind-the-scenes text associated with your image, which Google then uses to categorise your image, to allow it to appear in searches.
Most images that come from a phone or camera are too large for the web, slowing down page loading and creating a less-than-optimal user experience, so they will need to be resized. If you are exporting from Photoshop or Lightroom, optimising images for the web is simplified with auto settings. Otherwise, for most ‘full page’ web images, you want the image to be 80Kb-100Kb at most. You might have to do some research to find out what size works best for your website theme, while keeping the quality as high as possible. This article from WordPress might help.
Add metadata to your videos. Metadata is basically data about your data. In the same way as with images (above), Google won’t know how to categorise your video unless you add text to the various available fields when you upload it. Adding useful descriptions and tags will help guide search engines and viewers to your content. Your video titles should be as descriptive as possible, while keeping within approximately 70-80 characters. Also, be sure to select an appropriate thumbnail image for your video. The thumbnail image is what will be displayed when your image is static, so you want it to look appealing, like the example below:
There is a lot of talk about artificial intelligence (AI) lately and it can be a divisive topic. However, when it comes to content creation, it’s making things a lot easier. With AI embedded into Google’s Rank Brain algorithm, the intention behind a query becomes just as important as the query itself. This means that someone searching for “Italian holidays” might still manage to find your article about restaurants in Rome, even though you haven’t specifically used the words “Italian” or “holiday” within your content. This type of AI embedded into search engines is not new, it’s just becoming more sophisticated.
It might sound like a broken record, but the short answer is to provide detailed, quality, topical content that provides a positive user experience. Forget about targeting a single word, think instead about logical keyword grouping and topics. Provide answers to questions associated with the topic. For example, if you want to promote trips to Greece during the October half term, you don’t need to write about the top ten reasons to visit Greece in October. Instead, you might consider sharing a captivating article, with high-quality images, about educational, family travel to historical monuments in Greece, working into the article the message that it would be best to go when temperatures aren’t so hot.
Although acquiring backlinks to your website remains important to your search rankings, the complexity of the Google algorithm means that sentiment and context also matter. Google’s search quality guidelines state that reputation and trust matter when it comes to rankings, meaning that brand mentions (even without a link) can boost SEO.
Mention your brand name online whenever you have a natural opportunity. Share your expertise and try to answer customer queries or comments related to your brand. Engage with happy clients as well as the not-so-happy clients. Consider leveraging influencers who might be a good fit with your brand or are already talking about your brand. For example, it might be worth hiring a top influencer to help spread brand awareness to a very large audience, or working with a micro-influencer who has a small, but highly engaged, audience in your niche. User-generated content is another tactic to get your brand mentioned – so, don’t forget to encourage your clients and fans to shout your praises.
By: Mandy Haakenson