International SEO: our 2019 predictions



International Digital Marketing Manager


The search landscape has changed dramatically since Search Laboratory first opened its doors in 2005, and as technology advances, we can expect to see the search marketing industry continue to evolve at a rapid pace.

At any given moment in time, the ‘gold standard’ of SEO differs across the globe, as different countries adopt best practice techniques at different rates and different products or services become available (or wildly popular) at different times. It is important that brands operating on a global scale are aware of market-specific trends in each market as to go in blindly means they risk falling behind native competitors.

We’ve asked our international digital marketing experts what they predict the main SEO trends will be in 2019, both in their respective markets and worldwide.

Global SEO in 2019

While individual markets will have their own unique trends, there are certain elements of SEO we expect to see growing worldwide.

Content marketing will be more important than ever

This year, brands will need to invest heavily in content marketing and ensure that a well thought out strategy is in place, if they are to stay ahead of their competitors.

Quality content for traffic and conversions has been a focus for years now, but we will start to see brands collaborate with experts and thought-leaders to provide genuinely useful content, with the main aim of educating and engaging customers, rather than making sales. This is partly in an effort to excel at building their expertise, authority and trust (remember Google’s E-A-T?), but also to be able to stand out in their industry. – Charlotte Corner, International Project Manager

While content has been a core focus for marketers, their approach has been somewhat fragmented: SEOs writing meta-tags, content marketers writing long form content, social media marketers writing social copy… This year, we will see more marketers create all-inclusive content marketing strategies that encompass everything from meta-data optimization and informative guides through to videos and thought-leadership pieces. ­– Erika Varangouli, International Digital Marketing Manager

UX and SEO will be tied together

Almost every single Google algorithm update over the last five years has indicated that creating a solid user experience is at the top of Google’s agenda. Brands wanting to rank well (and stay there) will need to align their SEO and UX strategies together, ensuring that everything from landing pages to creative campaigns are designed to offer a five-star experience to users. ­– Erika Varangouli, International Digital Marketing Manager

Links: relevancy over quantity

Gone are the days where any link would do, and credible search marketers have been focusing on quality over quantity for a while now. This year, we expect PRs and marketers to create link building content that serves a purpose and stays true to the brand, rather than creating campaigns solely with the purpose of achieving links. – Charlotte Corner, International Project Manager

Featured snippets and the rise of voice search

The rise of virtual assistants and voice search is apparent across most of the markets we work in, and this trend will continue to increase in 2019. For the markets where Google is the dominant player, the number of search results returning featured snippets will also increase, as Google seeks to give users the best experience. Brands can take advantage of this trend by optimizing their content for voice search but will need to start now as the landscape is about to get more competitive throughout 2019. – Erika Varangouli, International Digital Marketing Manager

Marketplace optimization will get more attention

Paid media specialists have been active on marketplaces for a while now, but this year we will see more emphasis placed on improving organic performance. In the US, more product searches (47%) are started on Amazon than they are on Google (35%). SEO specialists will start to implement Amazon optimization strategies in the same way as Google, and we will see Amazon investing even more in AI and becoming more transparent with how their algorithm works to get an even bigger piece of the market. – Erika Varangouli, International Digital Marketing Manager

Spanish SEO in 2019

There are still lots of Spanish newspapers and magazines that are print only, and 2019 will see more of these set up websites to gain a wider reach. Spanish publications prefer to create their own content, rather than rely on third-party sources, so marketers will need to ensure they are building strong media relationships and creating content collaboratively if they are to achieve links. – Ana Mirambell, International Digital Marketing Executive

Smartphone and tablet devices accounted for 45% of Spanish traffic in 2018, so digital marketers will be focusing on ensuring their websites are mobile-friendly as the gap between mobile and desktop closes. Engaging content, and video in particular, will be key in 2019. – Ana Mirambell, International Digital Marketing Executive

German SEO in 2019

Last year, the German market saw an increase in negative SEO as German brands sought to improve their own rankings by sabotaging competitors. Preventing these attacks through vigilant link monitoring and link-risk assessment will be a big focus for German search marketers in 2019. – Jennifer Isele, International Digital Marketing Executive

German companies have been slow to adopt content marketing as a digital marketing strategy, but this is set to change in 2019; 78% of German companies said they would be investing in content for SEO over the next three years. – Jonathan Lohbeck, International Digital Marketing Executive

While we expect to see more German and Austrian brands focusing on social media to establish strong brand identities, it looks like Facebook activity will decrease. Brands have said they will be cutting their Facebook budgets in 2019, taking it from the number one social media channel, to number five. ­– Gloria Gavrilovic, International Digital Marketing Executive

Mobile search is huge in Austria: 55% of Austrians use their mobiles to make purchases online, and 65% use their phones when shopping offline to see if they can get products cheaper online. This year we expect the main focus for marketers will be making sure their websites are mobile-friendly and offering a seamless experience between offline and online. – Katharina Forchhammer, International Digital Marketing Executive

Dutch SEO in 2019

Google Home was introduced to the Netherlands in October 2018, and it’s predicted that smart home assistants are going to be increasingly popular with Dutch users throughout 2019. Optimizing for voice search will be a big focus for Dutch brands, ensuring content is conversational and aiming for the holy grail: featured snippets. – Elisabeth Dean, International Digital Marketing Executive

Italian SEO in 2019

We’re seeing more companies in Northern and Central Italy improve their digital marketing knowledge and skills. As more brands and agencies start to build links through content marketing, and journalists and publishers start to understand the value of links, we expect that it will become more difficult to earn links organically. Digital PR, newsjacking and building strong media relationships will become a core focus in 2019 in order for brands and PR agencies to get around this. – Dalia Filippi, International Digital Marketing Executive

Influencer marketing will become even more prominent in Italy in 2019. We’ve already seen an increase in the number of agencies working with influencers, and they are starting to adopt a more controlled approach to these collaborations, ensuring that influencers are adhering to advertising regulations. – Dalia Filippo, International Digital Marketing Executive

French SEO in 2019

60% of French people use voice search regularly, and it’s predicted that half of all queries will be carried out through voice search by 2020, so creating and adapting content to be voice search ready will be a prime focus for French marketers in 2019. – Audrey Maffre, Senior International Digital Marketing Executive

Mobile optimization will be another core area for digital marketers, mobile searches in France are exceeding desktop searches. Creating content for mobile devices, and ensuring websites are mobile friendly, will be key. – Audrey Maffre, Senior International Digital Marketing Executive

Chinese SEO in 2019

SEO in China differs somewhat to the rest of the world, as Google has no presence. However, there are some similarities – creating an integrated experience across all touchpoints, optimizing for voice search, and quality content are all key priorities for marketers in China for 2019. – Anita Klinkosz, International Resource and Project Manager

WeChat will continue to be a dominant player in China in 2019, and brands will need to ensure that they are using the platform for more than just social media. Promoting their products and services, selling directly through the ecommerce shop within the WeChat app, and engaging with their audience will allow for countless opportunities to reach a bigger audience. No 微信 means no brand. – Anita Klinkosz, International Resource and Project Manager

Voice search in China is even more important than in the Western world, as it can make user experience much smoother compared to typing queries – because of the specifics of Chinese character-based language and typing methods. We expect to see more development in voice-activated technology this year. Brands will need to optimize their content to include more conversational, voice search friendly terms, or risk being left behind. – Anita Klinkosz, International Resource and Project Manager

Despite differences between markets, some trends are clearly universal; creating quality content, optimizing for both mobile and voice search, and creating a good user-experience are key themes that brands and marketers across the world should be including in their digital marketing strategy.

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