12 Tactical & Professional SEO Goals to Consider

It’s a new year, which brings new goals and a lot of reflection. As 2019 kicks off, it’s time to consider your SEO goals — whether those are for you personally, as an SEO professional, or goals you have for projects.

We can learn a lot from each other by hearing about our collective goals as an SEO community.

Therefore, not only will you see some of my SEO goals for 2019 weaved into this article, you will also see a compilation of goals from SEO professionals around the globe.

Strategic & Tactical SEO Goals for 2019
1. Pursue the Long-Tail
“Keep finding that sweet spot on the long tail. It’s so awesome to be able to share your story, be found and drive results. Going to the relevant mass but not where everyone is rewarding,” said Christoph Trappe, Chief Content Engagement Director at Stamats Communications.

2. Stay Ahead of New Technology & Its Impact on SEO
One of my major goals for 2019 is to immerse myself in the study of new technologies that will shape our future (including our digital marketing future).

For example, I plan to study and learn as much as I can about AI, virtual reality, and augmented reality.

Kevin Chow, Director of SEO & Paid at Digital Current, has a similar take:

“A couple of things I’m looking into is seeing if AI for title tags, meta descriptions, and insights for reporting is a direction we should be moving toward.”

3. Better Understand the Impact of Voice Search
Chow also aims to understand voice more than just Q&A with featured snippets this year as he has “already been seeing voice crossing over into PPC.”

Itamar Blauer, Digital Marketing Executive at MintTwist, thinks the same.

“2019 will be a big year for SEO. With the rise in virtual assistants and voice search, sustained knowledge is vital for success this year,” Blauer said.

4. Keep Up-to-Date with Trends & Algorithm Changes
Blauer also thinks that understanding trends and keeping updated with the latest Google algorithms will provide opportunities for new ideas, great content and even better results.

Taylor Kurtz, Owner and Founder at Crush the Rankings, agreed.

“With the industry changing almost by the minute, it’s imperative to not only identify upcoming trends, but how they impact your industry. It is also important to be ahead of the curve, such as optimizing for image search, as the new Google Photo app allows you to conduct a search simply based off of a picture you take on your phone,” Kurtz said.

5. Monitor, Adapt & Pursue Featured Snippets
Michael Brown Jr., Senior SEO Manager at Jellyfish Online Marketing, feels strongly about optimizing for featured snippets.

“Zeroing in on 2019! As search real estate gets more and more difficult to acquire and with the evolution of mobile, mobile-first indexing, and voice-assisted devices, it’s clear that rankings aren’t as important as they use to be. My goal for 2019 is to monitor, adapt, and pursue current and future featured snippets as the opportunities arise,” he said.

“Getting ahead of the game by creating best practices for optimizations, staying current with Google snippet tests for areas of future opportunity, and the most obvious ‘defending’ it once acquired. 2018 was filled with Google updates that focused on modifying query intent toward informational sites,” Brown added.” My theory is that this is Google’s way of telling people that information will be the driver in SERPs, and that SEOs should divert their attention to providing more useful information so that it can be collected and used directly in zero position results.

“With the rise of data collection devices such as Google Home there is going to be a significant rise in demand for direct answers via featured snippets such as quick answer boxes. Things such as the talk pertaining to FAQ, How To, and Q&A search features all support the idea that this is a focus of Google and will only get even bigger,” he said.

6. Improve Page Load Speed
Christian Jones, Chief Operating Officer at BestCompany.com, acknowledges the importance of page load speed.

“One of our big goals this year is to improve the loading speed of all of our pages to less than 4 seconds. We plan to do so through image optimization, minimizing HTTP requests, and reducing the number of plugins and pixels on our site,” Jones said.

7. Give Links Some Attention
Kurtz also thinks that agencies should conduct more link audits than they do (i.e., once every 4-5 months).

Likewise, Hazel Joy, Travelblogger at Arrivals Hall, is looking to monitor links more.

“I run a travel blog and 2019 will be the year of the link for me. I’ll be focusing more on fixing outbound broken links and getting backlinks,” Joy said.

8. Tie SEO with CRO
Jim Knapp, Owner of JK Strategies, points out the need to make SEO and conversion rate optimization (CRO) work together.

“Working with a whole bunch of small businesses over the years, it seems like SEO without CRO is like inviting a bunch of people to a party — with a high number of RSVPs — then providing nothing for them to do once they get there,” Knapp said.

A goal without a plan is just a wish written on a napkin
Professional SEO Goals for 2019
9. Focus on Personal Branding
Meanwhile, Bill Hartzer, SEO & Domain Name Consultant at Hartzer Consulting, wants to work on his personal brand in 2019. As he puts it:

“While digital marketers are working for their agency, and working on their careers, it’s important to not forget about your own personal brand. I’ve seen the digital marketing industry change a lot over the past 15 years, and having a strong personal brand will allow you to always come out on top when the industry changes. To build your personal brand, make sure that your own social media accounts are active and the best they can be. Work on writing, speaking, and networking. Create your own personal website on your own domain name.”

10. Get More Organized
This year, Hartzer also wants to get more organized.

“Running my own business, I am organized — but there’s always something that I can work on, whether it’s making sure my task lists are up to date or list of goals for the day, week, and year are up to date,” he said.

11. Make Clients Happy
Kurtz also considers making the customer happy as a top goal.

Daria Khmelnitskaya, SEO Specialist at SE Ranking, thinks it’s a good idea to connect your own professional goals with the goals of your current project or business.

“In this case you’ll get additional help from your colleagues and management. And every year’s goal of SEO specialist is – getting more mistakes and learning from them in order to get more experience,” Khmelnitskaya said.

12. Tell a Better Story
This goal applies in multiple areas.

I want to tell a better story of how SEO is helping a client. Metrics are necessary, but simply reporting numbers is not enough. I want to get better at showing how SEO has improved a business by reaching their KPIs and meeting their business objectives.
As a speaker and teacher, I want to improve my ability to tell a story that has a deeper message and leads to learning.

Reflect on Your 2019 Goals
Now is the time to set your goals and determine how you will improve as an SEO professional.

Hopefully reading 2019 goals from the SEO community spurs some new goals for you as we start this new year!

Google is Partnering With WordPress to Develop a News Publishing Platform

Google is partnering with Automattic/WordPress to develop a low-cost system specifically designed for publishing local news.

In an announcement, Google says it has invested 1.2 million into creating the Newspack platform.

Development on Newspack begins in the coming weeks and will be available to publishers worldwide later this year.

Newspack is being developed in an effort to help journalists do more of what they do best – covering news.

“Journalists should be writing stories and covering their communities, not worrying about designing websites, configuring CMSs, or building commerce systems. Their publishing platform should solve these problems for them.”

Publishers on Newspack will have access to all plugins created by the WordPress developer community.

However, Newspack is not being designed to satisfy the needs of all publishers.

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It’s specifically created to help small publishers write more stories while also adhering to Google’s best practices.

“It is trying to help small publishers succeed by building best practices into the product while removing distractions that may divert scarce resources. We like to call it “an opinionated CMS:” it knows the right thing to do, even when you don’t.”

To better help publishers succeed, Automattic will be working with Spirited Media and News Revenue Hub.

They will work together to better understand what contributes to publisher success and measure the business impact of features and capabilities offered by Newspack.

Google’s role is to advise on the Newspack feature set, based on feedback from local publishers, and providing technical support on the integration of Google products.

Newspack is also receiving funding from the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Civil Media collectively contributing another $1 million.

Google: Mobile Usability is Not Related to Mobile-First Indexing

Google’s John Mueller clarified that content may be still moved to mobile-first indexing despite not passing the mobile usability test.

This topic came up during the January 11th Google Webmaster Central hangout.

A site owner submitted a question regarding what they perceived to be conflicting information in Search Console.

Search Console’s ‘mobile usability’ report shows the site has a number of valid URLs.

However, the information does not line up with what Search Console is telling them about pages being ready for mobile-first indexing.

Mueller responded by saying mobile usability is “completely separate” from mobile-first indexing.

Web pages can be moved to mobile-first indexing even if they’re not considered usable on mobile.

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Mueller provided an example, saying PDFs can be added to mobile-first indexing even though they are terrible to navigate on mobile.

As long as Google can crawl all the text, and it can be displayed on a mobile device, then it can be added to mobile-first indexing.

So, the key takeaway here is:

Do not look to Google’s mobile usability test, or the report in Search Console, as an indication of whether your site is ready for the mobile-first index.

Hear the full question and answer in the video below, starting at the 41:12 mark.

So, first off, again mobile usability is completely separate from mobile-first indexing.

A site can or cannot be usable from a mobile point of view, but it can still contain all of the content that we need for mobile-first indexing.

An extreme example, if you take something like a PDF file, then on mobile that would be terrible to navigate. The links will be hard to click, the text will be hard to read.

But all of the text is still there, and we could perfectly index that with mobile-first indexing.

Mobile usability is not the same as mobile-first indexing.”

Google: A Technically Well-Optimized Site Won’t Rank Without Good Content

Google’s John Mueller reminds site owners that the most technically well-optimized site won’t always have high rankings without great content.

This topic came up in a recent Google Webmaster Central hangout where a site owner asked for help with improving their rankings.

The site owner mentioned there were no issues with the site, according to Google’s tools, and wondered what else could be done.

Here’s the question that was asked:

“There are zero issues on our website according to Search Console. We’re providing fast performance in mobile and great UX. I’m not sure what to do to improve rankings.”

Mueller responded by saying this is a situation that could arise when you’re so focused on technical details that you forget about the bigger picture.

Just because everything is technically correct on a website doesn’t mean it will rank high.

Ultimately, what’s on the site still needs to be relevant to users.

Fixing technical issues may be important but, on the other hand, what’s on the site has to be useful to people as well.

Mueller recommends thinking about what issues users are having, and what questions they may be asking.

Then provide content to solve those issues and answer those questions.

Mueller also suggests seeking feedback from other site owners and SEOs via a webmaster forum and being open to the feedback they provide.

Lastly, Mueller says to keep in mind that some niches have stronger competition than others.

A technically well-optimized site with great content will still face challenges with overcoming competition who have been at it longer.

You can hear the full question and answer below, starting at the 32:29 mark.

This is always kind of a tricky situation where you’re working on your website for a while, then sometimes you focus on a lot of the technical details and forget about the bigger picture.

So what I would recommend doing here is taking your website and the queries that you’re looking [to rank] for, and going to one of the webmaster forums.

It could be our webmaster forum, there are lots of other webmaster forums out there where webmasters and SEOs hang out. And sometimes they’ll be able to look at your website and quickly pull out a bunch of issues. Things that you could be focusing on as well.

Sometimes that’s not so easy, but I think having more people look at your website and give you advice, and being open to that advice, I think that’s an important aspect here.

Another thing to keep in mind is that just because something is technically correct doesn’t mean that it’s relevant to users in the search results. That doesn’t mean that it will rank high.

So if you clean up your website, and you fix all of the issues, for example, if your website contains lots of terrible content then it still won’t rank that high.

So you need to, on the one hand, understand which of these technical issues are actually critical for your website to have fixed.

And, on the other hand, you really need to focus on the user aspect as well to find what are issues that users are having, and how can my website help solve those issues. Or help answer those questions.”

4 Tips to Incorporate SEO into Your Startup Plan

As a startup, you need your target consumers to find your business online.

One of the main ways that will happen is through search engines.

Unless your audience has heard of you already, they won’t be searching for your brand name.

That’s why search engine optimization (SEO) can’t be an afterthought for startups.

In fact, SEO should be an important consideration when planning your business.

A startup that considers SEO during the process of developing a business plan is more likely to achieve results by more cohesively building the necessary components for SEO success into the foundations of the business.

So how can startups achieve SEO success from the start?

This post will address how to consider SEO while developing your startup game plan.

1. Your SEO Business Goals
SEO can help you achieve your business goals.

The purpose of SEO is greater than simply driving traffic to your website from search engines.

Actually, depending on your business goals, an SEO strategy that brings less traffic, but the right kind of traffic, can ultimately help you more.

Here are some business goals SEO can help you achieve:

More profit, revenue, or ROI (the most obvious long-term goals).
Brand recognition.
A steady and growing source of targeted leads.
Increased business longevity.
Higher customer loyalty.
You’ll also discover which topics, motives, and problems your audience takes interest in, and which generate the most business potential.

If it is all about boosting brand visibility, for example, prioritizing content relevance will be less of a concern.

Your goal under these circumstances is merely to make your brand so familiar to audiences that they will be more likely to buy your product.

This approach is best for businesses that are built to solve problems that the audience don’t fully recognize that they have.

In other words, if your goal is to generate demand, you can shift focus away from relevance except in the most general sense, and focus keyword research and competitive evaluation on which topics will generate the most traffic quickest.

If, on the other hand, your goal is to drive targeted leads, you will want to focus less on total traffic potential and instead invest in identifying topics that have little competition and high relevance for your products and lead magnets.

Make sure that your SEO business goals are clearly defined before taking the next steps.

2. Your Brand’s Topic Generation Engine
Virtually every SEO strategy you could devise will require you to regularly generate content, such as:

Blog posts.
Guest blogs.
Tools and web apps.
Lead magnets.
This is because SEO is largely about attracting attention in the form of links and repeat traffic. You can only attract so much attention with shopping pages, product pages, and so on.

For this reason, you will need a process for regularly generating ideas and topics that form the basis of your content.

Your SEO business goals should be central to the type of content you produce.

For example, a lead-generation focused SEO strategy should place the focus on creating lead magnets that audiences would find tempting enough to provide contact information in exchange for, along with the supplementary content that would entice their interest in those lead magnets.

If, on the other hand, your primary goal were to boost traffic to your product pages you would need to develop a method for coming up with blog posts and other content that would make clicking to visit a product page the next natural step.

And visibility focused SEO strategies would require a process for developing ideas that have large traffic potential because they have broad appeal as well as limited competition and a large number of influencers who would take interest and be willing to link to the content.

Here are some ways to identify topics:

Use KeywordTool.io to see a large list of suggestions based on the auto-suggest features of various search engines (including Google, YouTube, Amazon, and more) that are related to any given keyword that you put into the tool.
Google Keyword Planner (part of Google Ads) to get rough estimates of how popular a search term is
If it is within your budget, a tool like SEMrush to evaluate keyword difficulty by evaluating the difficulty of competitors who have also targeted your keywords.
Browsing forums and social media hangouts that are regularly visited by your target audiences to identify concerns, issues, topics, interests, and subcultural signifiers that tend to generate attention and interaction, and using these topics as a jumping off point for keyword research and idea generation.
Keeping your SEO business goals front and center, develop a repeatable process to generate ideas and find keywords people search for to improve your SEO efforts.

3. An Audience of Influencers
Any solid SEO plan requires you to be able to earn links from authoritative sources (e.g., top bloggers, trusted companies and organizations, journalists).

Smaller influencers who don’t necessarily have as large an audience, but have a loyal following, can also be a valuable source of links.

Any approach to link earning should also be developed with more than the search engines in mind.

Links that help your SEO in the short term but don’t otherwise send referral traffic or increase brand exposure are wasted effort not only because you lose out on added value, but because the links themselves are also less likely to help your SEO in the long term anyway.

Earning links that meet these standards requires generating content that influencers will find interesting enough to link to.

So, in addition to generating content that targets your consumer audience, you will also need to keep these influencers in mind when you identify topics of interest.

Content that is more likely to earn this kind of intention often:

Mentions or references an influencer.
Cross-promotes an influencer.
Is the result of cooperation with an influencer.
Addresses a question, problem, or topic of interest for an influencer.
Is generally written with a handful of influencers in mind.
As you develop your startup business plan, consider ways in which your product and your business activities themselves could generate press by capturing the interest of relevant influencers.

This includes not just content you might create, but publicity stunts and actions you might take that count as newsworthy.

It is also a good idea to leverage your business expertise, and any related expertise at your disposal, to become a trusted source for a journalist or reporter.

We recommend using HARO (Help A Reporter Out) to start building relationships with reporters who are always in need of a story.

4. A Technical SEO Gameplan
One of the most common issues that come up when a business fails to incorporate SEO into its startup plan is the emergence of technical SEO issues later on down the road.

While Google and other search engines have made big strides in their ability to evaluate sites, technical SEO issues can still create problems that make it more difficult for your site to be properly indexed and to rank well within search results.

In order to combat this issue, it’s important to have the technical aspects of SEO addressed as you begin developing your site and other web properties, in order to avoid costly complications that could be difficult to fix down the road.

This is a very large topic that would require far more depth than possible within this post to fully address, which is why it is a good idea to have a knowledge technical SEO expert on staff or as a consultant during the process of developing and launching your site.

Nevertheless, here is a list of several common technical issues that often arise and become more difficult to address the longer they are avoided:

No automated or cohesive process for removing or updating pages without creating links to missing pages, losing authority from external sites that linked to those pages, or redirecting users to irrelevant pages unrelated to the original.
The inclusion of URL query strings for campaign tracking, user filters and sorting operations, customization, and so on, that generate pages with largely identical content but located at different URLs. These should be avoided or addressed using the canonical tag.
Duplicate title tags.
Insufficient original content or excessive duplicate supplementary content on pages.
Links to “infinite spaces” where a virtually infinite number of pages are dynamically created that would be irrelevant in search results.
Poorly implemented or missing .htaccess, robots.txt, and XML sitemap.
Poorly set up analytics that fails to track user actions or loses information about their referral source.
Make sure that your startup game plan addresses the necessity of clean technical SEO during the development process as well as a part of regular site maintenance.

An SEO strategy should be part of your business plan from the start.

Doing so will help strengthen the marketing potential of your business in the long run.

It will also eliminate obstacles that could essentially make your startup invisible to a target audience you want to be able to find you on search engines.

Identify your SEO business goals, develop a process for generating search engine content, identify your influencers, and be prepared for the technical obstacles SEO presents, and you will have a leg up on your competitors.