As the year 2020 inches away, you may already have a blueprint on the direction you need your business to go in 2020 and the rest of the decade. You probably already have goals to be achieved before the year ends. When it comes to marketing goals, having a solid SEO strategy is absolutely key. But as the internet is always changing and improving, the SEO strategies change. With things constantly changing, how can you know the best SEO trends for 2020 and into the new decade?
Again, to achieve your business goals, you need to understand SEO trends for 2020 and beyond. To facilitate your business growth, you need to keep up with emerging trends. Some aspects of SEO will never change, such as title tags, garnering quality links, and writing quality content. There are, however, some significant changes in SEO that might take grow your business or see it stall.
Google (obviously being the largest search engine) and all its algorithm fluctuations should be your priority when you are optimizing your online business. As such, any step you take towards making your business more visible should consider what Google wants for companies to rank high.
Now, let’s discuss some of the top trends to pay attention to when optimizing your SEO game!
Zero-Click Searches Continue in 2020
In 2019, “zero-click” searches were a big thing. These are searches where a user gets an answer to their search queries even without opening any link on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
Zero-click searches, also known as “featured snippets”, did not start recently. However, Google realized that there are so many user queries and decided to make zero-click searches the norm. You probably are familiar with zero-click searches whenever you type a question into the search bar.
If, for instance, you searched “what is SEO” on Google, you will see the definition of SEO on the knowledge graph on the right side hand of your SERP without opening any page. Sometimes, a snippet appears as the first result on SERP to answer your question in full. You will also see additional questions you might have on the “People also ask” box.
Essentially, users looking for a quick answer will never click any page as the answer is offered at the top of SERP. While this means you get fewer clicks, there is no need to worry.
Although the number of page clicks has reduced even as the number of actual searches has increased, this does not mean that you will have fewer visitors on your site. To increase the number of visitors to your website, you will need to optimize pages that give you clicks. Here, you will need to do thorough keyword research to find keywords that bring you actual clicks.
Keywords that bring more clicks have less “question” terms such as when, how many, what year, what is a, and so many more. While these keywords are still vital, they should not be the focus of your SEO. To focus more on bringing visitors to your business and possible conversions, purely informational queries should be moved to the bottom of your to-do list.
SERP Features to Work Wonders in 2020
While you should focus more on organic traffic from search terms that end up in clicks, some of the keywords that could end up in conversions suffer from zero-click searches.
Today, users read less than they used to. A few years ago, users would skim through articles and through the SERP. Today, users move their eyes so fast, looking for specific content. This, and the fact that businesses get fewer clicks, means that getting featured will be more important from now onwards.
Even if you show up as #1 on SERP under featured snippets, you will still get fewer clicks. So, instead of working on getting into #1, work to get your business into the knowledge graph away from all other results.
A knowledge graph appears on the right-hand side of Google’s SERP. That box is not for Wikipedia alone – any business can get into that box. The knowledge box featured snippets, and “people also ask” box are opportunities. The fact that these features appear out the normal SERP makes them stand out – you should, therefore, see them as opportunities.
If you appear on any of the SERP features occasionally, your business will look more authoritative. This way, you are likely to rank high for the keywords that bring clicks.
Do Some Keyword and Competition Research
Using a keyword research tool such as Rank Tracker, SEMrush, or AHREFS, check which of your targeted keywords are SERP features. You also need to check out your competition and see which keywords they are ranking for and which among those keywords are SERP features.
Sometimes, to see what works and what doesn’t, you will need to see what your competitors are ranking for and whether it works. If your competitors get a SERP feature for a given keyword, head to their website and see how they have structured their page and their content.
In most cases, you will note that the page feature is structured in a specific way according to what Google feels is readable and valuable.
For featured snippets and knowledge graphs, you will need to use structured data markup. You will need to use a tool such as WebSite Auditor to see if your website has structured data markup. When you use structured data, you not only rank higher but also enhance readability and user-friendliness. By so doing, you increase your chances of getting a SERP feature.
To get into the “People also ask” box, you will need to consider structured markup data. However, you will also need to organize your optimized content in a simple Question and Answer format or as FAQ. For that, state the question in h2 or h3 and then outline the answer as clear as possible.
There is no guarantee that you will get into a SERP feature. However, your efforts will pay one way or another. While working on getting a feature, do not forget to include a meta description that tells users what your page is all about. You should not overlook a SERP feature seeing that the potential gains are enormous.
High-Quality Content Still Reigns (Write for Humans, Not Robots)
No SEO strategy beats high quality, optimized web content.
All Google algorithms insist that you have to write for humans if you intend to win. Unlike other SEO trends that come and go, quality content has been the lifeblood of SEO for as long as it’s been around!
To succeed in 2020, therefore, Google and other search engines expect you to write relevant and valuable content. GOOD content wins. Granted, businesses need to have a team of SEO writers and creatives who can write or outsource articles to people who can write valuable content. Even though Google’s editorial discretion might rank some content high that doesn’t deserve to rank high, at the end of the day, quality content will always win.
Every day, you need to focus on creating the best content on the web for your niche. This way, you will likely get more conversions from the visitors who come to your site. Google is focusing more on E.A.T content (Expertise, Authoritative, and Trustworthy). People want to read things that will add value to their lives and teach them about their burning questions. If you only write about keywords and statistics, a small number of readers will retain interest.
The launch of the BERT update means that Google is getting better at understanding the context of your blog post. BERT update, which is short for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, allows the search algorithm to understand exactly what a searcher needs. This means content that focuses more on Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, will rank higher. It also means A.I. on the web now better understands how humans naturally process language, whether through reading or conversation. Therefore, search engines will be smarter in noticing content that talks directly to readers. Instead of simply keyword stuffing or “cheating the system”, the content that really helps people will start to come first.
The E-A-T Principle is Simple:
- Expertise – your page needs to have quality content written by an expert or showing your company has expertise over the topic
- Authority – your site needs to command authority on a given topic, combining examples to assist your content
- Trustworthiness – you need to have sources, collaborations, or links from trusted sites
With the E.A.T principle, you need to create content that succinctly answers the searcher’s queries. Google will disregard out-of-context searches. Even though you might have written great content for years, you still need to keep honing your skills and finding better ways to keep your content fresh.
Some easy ways to write great content include:
- The Content: Everything you write should be original and detailing all the information your users need. Even if you prefer brief content, you can still write quality content. If you deal with list articles or tutorials, ensure that your work has all the steps needed to carry out a given task or your list does not omit important details.
- Value: How does your content help your visitors? Every blog post and page on your site should give value and serve a clear purpose to help the readers solve a problem.
- Conversational Tone: Your work needs to be grammatically correct. However, you do not need to write in a tone that pushes away the reader, unless you specialize in term papers and research work. A conversation tone keeps your readers reading!
- Editing: Typos, misspellings, punctuation errors, and misused words are a turn-off for your readers. You lower the authority of your content with every typo that appears on your work. Today, there are many tools, such as Grammarly, that you can use to edit your work before publishing.
- User Experience: Will your site visitors enjoy reading your content or will they spend the first few minutes bypassing ads and popups? To enhance the user experience, publish all your content on a single page to avoid forcing your reader to keep clicking “next.”
- Schema Markup: To help Google and other search engines understand your content better, include schema markup.
With the E.A.T principle, the authority of the website and that of the writer are scored when ranking a website. Other simple ways to create great content include:
- Understanding your audience and their search behavior
- Understanding the needs of your audience and the intent behind the questions they ask
- Give solutions or answer to their questions without wrapping the solution in fluffy words (!!!!)
- Give your readers an experience that makes them want to come to your website time and time again
- Keep making your content better and more targeted
Brand Building: One of the Best SEO Trends in 2020
Conventional link building and spamming don’t work anymore. A few years back, webmasters talked of skyscraper link building until millions of SEOs started building links, and the concept died. Today, most major businesses have “no-follow” tags to prevent link spamming.
Most websites today get link requests from so many SEOs and webmasters. However, unless the recipient recognizes your brand name, they will most often ignore your email as spam no matter how well structured your email is.
Because this type of cold emailing does not work and you cannot add links in comment sections of reputable brands because of the Nofollow attribute, you need to concentrate on brand awareness. Instead of sending cold emails, focus on creating lasting relationships with the blogs and websites in your niche. Hint: social media is also a huge asset to pour some energy into, as well. Again, concentrate on making your clients interested, and satisfied.
Where Do You Start?
Along with creating a lasting relationship with blogs and websites, you need to create a personal relationship with your audience. A personal relationship with your audience might take longer to cement, but it will grow your brand more. It requires engaging your audience on social media and responding whenever you are mentioned. Today, even linkless mentions matter with Google and Bing considering using these mentions when ranking businesses on SERP.
In 2020, you will need to create quality link profiles. You can use social media to track every mention of you, your brand, or your products. These mentions will help you establish a lasting relationship with your audience and with other blogs and websites. A tool such as Awario can help you when you are doing content marketing. The tool tracks keywords, which can be goods or services, or the type of content you publish. This way, you are able to:
- Engage those interested in your brand directly. Here, you can inform prospects of campaigns and promotions going on in your business. It is also a chance to cement relationships more by turning a faceless business into a personality.
- Building brand awareness across different social platforms by providing information and customer care publicly.
- Find where your competitors get mentions and work to get a mention in similar communities.
Ensure that you do not spam businesses you want to work with or your prospects, as this will create a bad image for your brand. When reaching out to those you need to develop relationships with, write short emails that communicate your needs precisely. Avoid praising your targets a lot as the email might sound spammy.
When searching for businesses to associate with, only go for websites where YOU CAN OFFER VALUE in exchange. If the keywords you target are similar to what other business targets, you can work with that business. SEO is shifting from competition to collaboration. Sharing is caring, and the easier you can share your expertise with other companies’ audiences who care, the better your reputation (and following) can grow.
Mobile SEO is Still Essential
The number of people doing a mobile search is increasing. As such, Google and Bing, among other search engines, are concentrating more on mobile-friendly websites. It is easy to make your site mobile friendly, seeing that most website design templates and tools are responsive. However, there are so many aspects of your websites that need tweaking to make them friendlier to mobile device users.
If your website is not mobile-friendly, you need to take action today as you cannot afford to wait longer. For novice webmasters, designing sites for mobile-first and then optimizing them for the desktop will help you as you do not have to optimize them for speed later on.
You can see how well your business is performing by looking at insights and stats. How many people come to your site through mobile, and how is your bounce rate? Instead of imaging your audience as people sitting behind desktops, visualize them as people accessing your website on the go via a mobile device.
People search more on mobile devices. As such, as a webmaster or an SEO expert, you will need to understand mobile SERP and how it impacts your business. This way, you will know what you are up against and how much traffic you expect when you optimize your site for mobile. Looking at your competitors will also help you understand the kind of optimizations that work best with mobile users.
SEO rends for 2020 will see you automating some of the most mundane tasks and concentrating on tasks that require you to do more than press a button. In SEO, some tasks are redundant yet time-consuming.
When you automate tasks, you are left with enough time to concentrate on:
- Creating brand awareness
- Offering better customer services
- Tell stories
- Speak to your customers in a language they understand
- Listen to your prospects and your customers
- Provide well-researched content
- Be human in your interactions
So many businesses are adopting SEO automation as a way to achieve more by doing so little. Here, you will need to tap into programming languages such as Python. In 2020 and beyond, automation will be one of the major SEO strategies for local SEO, regional SEO, and mostly technical SEO.
Even as you automate, you need to employ more advanced tools to analyze data. If you need a sophisticated analysis of data you collect, you need advanced tools.
When using sophisticated tools, you can incorporate data from different data sources for insights, apply machine learning in a bid to solve sophisticated problems and make a decision with much ease.
Data and Data Analysis Mastery for SEO Trends in 2020
Where do your visitors come from? What device are they using? How long do visitors stay on your site? What is the bounce rate for the site?
When you collect data, what do you do with it? In 2020 and beyond, tracking user behavior will determine the SEO strategies applied to rank a site higher. Besides knowing the strategy to use, you need to use the right tools to research keywords to use and optimize your website for better ranking.
Today, there is no digital marketing agency that does not rely on data. To succeed in data and data analysis, you need to select your data sources carefully and analyze the data using data science. This way, you will understand customer behavior, so you can deliver more targeted content, products, or services.
Data science will be part of SEO in 2020, and it will help webmasters make concrete decisions. It helps the webmasters:
- Understand the combinations that will have the most significant impact
- Create campaigns that align with the needs of potential consumers
- Understand what prospects want by identifying their pain points
- Check most crawled and less crawled URLs
- Sort through pages that crawlers should not index
- Identify all sources of unusual traffic
- Analyze the primary sources of traffic and concentrate more on these sources
- Check site loading time, bounce rate, response errors, indexing, and redirects
Concentrate More on Your Customers
Google and Bing want to know that users get what they need, irrespective of SEO trends 2020. As such, you need to concentrate more on offering the best to your prospects and your customers. If you sell digital products, create better products than the competition. If you offer services, make your services unique and better than what is already in the market.
Most importantly, remember that content will always reign. In 2020, video content and video marketing will continue to rise, according to Zenith Media. The number of people watching videos online every day is increasing. Again, the average time spent watching videos online has increased from 67 minutes to 100 minutes per person per day. As such, you not only need to write well but also create engaging videos.
Every day, a new SEO tool is developed. Some of these tools are free, and others premium. Using SEO tools such as keyword research tools will make it easy for you to optimize your site for search engines. If you feel overwhelmed by all these trends or you need to concentrate on creating more products, you can hire an SEO expert to tweak your site for you.
What other SEO trends in 2020 are you excited about? Let us know!
Reach out to Owl SEM if you want to see how we took local service businesses and increased their leads by using healthy SEO practices!