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SEO trends to watch in 2019

By Nick Maynard | SEO Performance Specialist

March 6, 2019 | 5 min read

Search Engine Optimisation is getting tougher and by definition, best practices are already yesterday’s news. So, how do you stay ahead of the curve and beat the competition? Ridgeway answers the biggest questions facing SEO in 2019.

1. Are backlinks dead in SEO?

Google’s ambivalent relationship with backlinks continues to be increasingly complicated. On the one hand, backlinks are a fundamental driver of Google’s core ranking algorithm. On the other, Google is being forced to work overtime to target manipulative link-building techniques. Love them or hate them, backlinks are here to stay.

Google’s getting smart at identifying questionable backlinks (aided by a worldwide team of over 10,000 Search Quality Raters) which means that SEOs are going to have to be even smarter to stay beneath the radar. The future of link building is all about quality content and building relationships with bloggers and influencers. The days of paid posts pushing you up the rankings are long-gone and today, content needs to be epic in scope and endorsed online.

Backlinks count but reputation also matters for rankings, so when you’re producing content, think about how it can be used to generate brand noise as well as backlink links. At a recent search conference, Google’s Gary Illyes announced that brand mentions are being factored into its search algorithm thereby giving birth to the concept of linkless backlinks.

2. How does JavaScript impact SEO?

JavaScript is one word that strikes fear into the heart of any sensible SEO and with very good reason. While Google & Co. claim to have conquered crawling concerns surrounding sites using JavaScript, there’s still work that needs to be done.

Admittedly the major search engines have got much better at crawling JavaScript, but they can only follow links if they are physically present on a webpage.

JavaScript pages can either be rendered by the server (server-side rendering) or rendered by the browser (client-side rendering). With server-side rendering, all html elements are present on the server so links can be followed and content can be crawled. With client-side rendering, web pages are generated on the fly so links can’t be followed and content can’t be crawled. Consequently, server-side JavaScript is search-friendly while client-side JavaScript isn’t.

Google is working hard to upgrade Chrome’s client-rendering capabilities, but it’s going to take time so webmasters with invisible websites need to act now. One solution is to use a prerendering service ( is our favourite) which employs middleware to deliver a static html snapshot of a page if requested by a crawler. As more sites are being built with client-side JavaScript, prerendering services are going to become big news in the world of SEO.

3. Can UX design really help with SEO?

Google has long been championing the importance of user behaviour and UX design is now a key part of SEO. By building your website around users’ needs, rather than being a pushy publisher, you’ll enjoy much more engagement and be well rewarded. Not only does more time spent on site mean more opportunities to convert, but you’ll also be sending Google the right kind of search signals.

4. Is website speed important for SEO?

It’s impossible to overemphasize the importance of speed in SEO and as search becomes increasingly mobile then load time becomes increasingly important. Google has recently changed the way they calculate speed score by incorporating data from the Chrome User Experience Report (real-world data pulled from Chrome browsers) and the change has been reflected by the inclusion of new speed metrics in their PageSpeed Insights tool. Google’s clearly on a mission to accelerate the web and they are giving webmasters the tools to get the job done. If the promise of an algorithmic boost for fast pages isn’t enough, then consider the statistics that as page load climbs from one to five seconds, the probability of bounce increases by 90%.

5. How does mobile first indexing affect SEO?

Now that 60% of search queries are carried out on mobile devices, it’s hardly surprising that Google has switched to a mobile-first index. The move means that Google will now use the mobile version of a site for indexing and ranking rather than the desktop version. While Google maintains they have one single index for serving search results, they do admit that mobile-friendly content performs better for those who are searching on mobile. From a SEO perspective, it means that mobile versions should be given priority and not be treated as the poor cousins of their desktop counterparts.

At Ridgeway, we take search seriously and we know how to get the most out of a website. To find out more about how we can help supercharge your search results fill in our contact form or contact us on 01993 227 227 to speak with a member of our team.

Nick Maynard is the SEO Performance Specialist at Ridgeway

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