We had a listen to a DeepCrawl webinar last week – a cheery conversation about ‘The Future of SEO’ with Ashley Hale of DeepCrawl and John Mueller of Google about what search might look like next year. I’ve summarised a bit of what we learnt below:

What’s the next big thing from Google?

It probably gets said every year, but a lot changed in SEO in 2018. The mobile-first index rolled out this year, after much anticipation, and there was a new Google Search Console interface, a big ole speed update in July and new search features like Google For Jobs rolling out around the world.

But what’s the next change? Mueller promised new features into the new Google Search Console, and improvements on the old features that were there. The URL inspect feature is everyone’s new favourite, and John has let us know that Search Console is going to be more insight driven, and less about raw data tables.

What should SEOers get better at?

Working with JavaScript based developers was the first thing that came up. Specifically, communicating a search engine’s needs to a JavaScript developer.

Another interesting recommendation came from Mueller, and that was relating to AMP features. Small websites which need to be fast should use aspects of the AMP framework. This was another ‘communicate with your devs’ situation, as SEOers don’t tend to make or implement technical changes like this.

What can SEO do more of?

Structured data came up a lot in conversation, both in the sense of ‘what’s next’ and ‘how can SEOers be better’. Structured data is a blanket term for things like Schema.org mark up: a way of communicating to Google (and other search engines!) what the words on your webpage mean. There’s structured data for pretty much everything, and it helps informs some of the rich snippets and funky features that Google pulls out in search results.

Knowledge panels, top story carousels, event carousels, and the Google For Jobs feature all use a little bit of structured data. It’s an easy way to get more info into search results, and your brand seen, without relying on the all-important click.

Mueller did explain a unique problem that Google has when it comes to rolling out these structured-data-reliant features. If no one has implemented the structured data, the feature won’t stick. Without the data to populate the search feature, there’s no point rolling it out. But it’s a catch-22: SEOers won’t be encouraged to implement the structured data if there’s not going to be a return on that time investment.

The recommendation is instead to mark up important things, whether there are search features or not. Googlebot still uses that information to help rank content, and it could make all the difference in search visibility – whether it’s a special feature or not.

 

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