I am not a native “SEO-are”, but have worked with advanced B2B sales and marketing all my life. To get into the forefront of SEO, we learned from the best – we simply hired skills and people who were much smarter than ourselves. This made us quickly end up in the position we did today! We have managed to build a team of nearly 70 people who, at strategic or operational level, exclusively work with SEO and Pull marketing. I myself have the privilege of only 3 years after we penetrated Pull-marketing and the SEO terrain work as a digital strategist for some of the country’s foremost companies – and this on a global level, for example Sweden’s absolute largest company in the engineering and marine industry, a global bark in heavy vehicle industry and another player who is world-dominant in the recycling segment.

Another thing that is extremely important to know before you read further is that I hate the concept of “SEO” (paradox I know). It is a concept that is used high and low and that only means that you meet the search engines’ requirements – but the customer then? Is it not our job as a marketer to satisfy our interest groups and meet their demands? I think we “SEO-are” should be customer-oriented, and really. Time to bury the term SEO and start thinking within Customer Experience Optimization and Pull marketing . So at least I and our company think when we work with our customers.

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Now it is soon a new year that offers new opportunities, time to think about what we can expect from SEO, Customer Experience Optimization and Pull marketing in 2019, dear child has many names … Or how was it ??

Several trends that we have seen in 2017 and 2018 will continue to grow in 2019. Below, I list five trends that I think are hard on and which we marketers / entrepreneurs must keep track of and implement in order to be at the forefront even in the future!

1) AI and Machine Learning

Everyone talks about Artificial Intelligence (AI), it’s a revolution that will change most things and for me, AI is a natural trend to keep track of.

It’s nothing new that AI and Machine Learning have already changed Google’s algorithm and the way search engine rankings work. Google and other giants make billion-dollar investments in AI to (1) optimize their services and eliminate inefficiency and (2) increase Customer Experience Optimization or UX that they themselves choose to call it.

AI and Machine Learning facilitate searches and the way searches are done by letting users find contextual results. With AI, Google focuses on focus on keywords to focus on topics and context. This will lead to a more personalized experience of the search itself. The emergence and development of voice search and digital assistance provides a good foundation for developing artificial intelligence and rewarding SEO strategies that follow trends.

Google’s deep learning algorithm, Rankbrain, is predicted to forever change how SEO works. Rankbrain is seen by some in the industry as a threat and the term Artificial Intelligence Optimization has been a buzzword in 2017. In 2018 we can expect more changes where AI and Machine Learning are an important factor. Google seems determined to develop the area, indicating that more and more innovations will happen.

Tip: Think “topic” and not just “keywords”, think “pillar-pages” and not keyword-mapping in the traditional way. Take a meeting with your SEO provider and ask to revise your keywords and start focusing on “topics” and then build context through relevant words and sentences.

2) User Experience, Customer Experience Optimization or UX

Users, users and users! Google is clear that the user should be in focus and this suggests that it will be even more important with a smooth UX design. Here, Google wants to, but today the algorithm has problems with really understanding all the data on the web or, above all, the lack of data on a website. That is why it is hard to make optimization for search engines today, but now the user is becoming increasingly important.

A good user experience obviously increases the chance that a visitor on a website stays longer, Google discovers this and makes websites with good UX rank better in the search results. Think of your website as a store, you enjoy it so you stay. You start with the obvious. Step one in the UX work is to review the home page’s basic foundation such as speed, its readability and how easy the site is. Take a closer look at your homepage’s users and how they behave to gain insights about what improvements need to be made.

For example, if visitors come directly from Google searches but only stay on the website for 30 seconds, it probably means that the content and user experience are not good enough – then optimize your code and / or content. The fact that visitors leave your site (Bounce rate / bounce rate) and do not thrive naturally damages your ranking for the page in the search results and ultimately the number of conversions – poor store results in less sales. Another important aspect is mobile usage. It feels crazy to have to write this in 2018 – but many are still not adapted to the current situation. Mobile usage will not decrease and it will become increasingly important to adapt the user experience of your website for all types of devices.

Relevance and personal experiences will be more important for SEO. User Experience (UX) is an important puzzle piece for driving traffic and creating more committed visitors. Getting increased traffic to the website is an important factor, but the main focus should be on more conversions and an increased involvement from the visitors.

3) Relevant links, back-links and off-page

In 2018, I have met many customers who want to replace a systematic, ethical and well-designed link strategy. Instead, they try to reach out to influencers  and completely stop working with SEO links. This is completely crazy and something I definitely advise against. Do not misunderstand me, influencer marketing and other creative digital works are canon combined with a structured, ethical and tailor-made link strategy.

Link building will continue to be an extremely important factor to be reckoned with in the future, however, it will become increasingly important with a strategy that gives a high quality of these links – quality over quantity. There is no point in investing in a strategy with many lower quality links, if they do not add value and help you increase the authority within your company’s specific niche. This does not always mean that the very best links come from the most popular pages. It is still very important with links that are relevant to the industry in which you operate. Here, too, it is about context and topics – it becomes easier for the algorithm to understand that you are working in, for example, the construction industry if you have back links from sources with high DA (domain authority) that talk about the construction industry.

It is also a good idea to have links coming in from a text or the page’s visual content as these links with the correct anchor text weigh much more heavily than a back link via the same page that is not relevant. For example, if a supplier has your logo including a link on their website.

A large part of a successful link strategy for SEO IN 2019 will be about relationship building by creating valuable contacts that generate strong links from “right” type of websites within a text, for example, you can guest blog on your customers’ site, or if you send one case to a supplier who publishes this on their site.

Challenges in link strategy:

One of the challenges for 2018 will be guest blogs and how to integrate them into their linking strategy without harming the company’s reputation. In May 2017, Google warned websites that leaned too much on guest blog links. In 2018, we can expect Google to further punish spam links. This means that higher demands are placed on a more diversified link strategy with back links instead of single links.

4) Google answer box takes position zero – Featured snippets and issues

Featured snippets and issues are a hugely effective way of positioning themselves as numbers zero among the search results. To get a featured snippet at the top of the search results, you need to look at a number of factors that are different from the traditional methods of reaching the top of Google.

Google shows featured snippets in about one third of all searches. This clarifies the need for a strategy to optimize the content of your website to meet Google’s requirements for these. Graphs and tables are great tools to use; it’s also a good strategy to create a list of frequently asked questions and answers that make it easier for Google’s crawlers to find the right content that appears as a featured snippet.

A similar way to get to the top of the search results is to create content that works as a quick response or quick answers in Google Answer Box . Google Answer Box is an improved type of featured snippet that responds to a specific question. Usually, this type of content contains a question such as “how do I do _____?” Google’s ambition is that you who are searching should be as few clicks as possible from the optimal answer to your question. If you succeed in owning a question in Answer Box you can expect an increased click through rate (CTR), our own statistics show an increase of up to 50%. This shows the importance of understanding the search behaviours and how to optimize their content to participate in Answer Box. Thus, a strategy for Answer Box can increase both your website’s authority and the number of conversions.

5) Visual searches

Visual searches are an interesting area and the combination of technical innovation and user experience can revolutionize how we use search engines. The Internet becomes more visually focused and there are great opportunities in exploring the power of visual searches. The tech giants Google, Pinterest and Bing have already invested in developing powerful search engines for visual searches in an effort to capitalize on this new trend.

An SEO strategy during 2018 will have to take into account the way we consume visual content and how search engines go beyond text only to explore new search habits. As the visuals are of a higher quality, it is possible to create a higher involvement from the visitor. Neuroscience and innovations mean that opportunities are created in an interesting market with high competition. Make sure that you or your SEO provider produce visual content that you then systematically market and thus generate valuable and relevant Back links.

 Final word: SEO in 2019

The technology fades and the craft takes over, the algorithm becomes smarter through AI and the customer is at the centre. 2018 looks to be a tremendously exciting year for SEO, Customer Experience Optimization and Pull marketing. Traditional techniques are still effective, but your strategy will be decisive and the playing field will change.

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