A new decade brings many changes for marketers, and SEO is no exception. With constant updates to Google's algorithms and changes to consumer trends, the world of search engine optimization is constantly evolving. Here’s how you can prepare to improve your company's ranking and visibility online in 2020 and beyond.
1. Create High-Quality Content for Higher Rankings
Users expect online subject matter to match their unique needs and interests. Consumers are demanding fresh, higher-quality content that will quickly provide the answers to their questions. Offering solutions in formats that are simple to read with plenty of links will keep users on your site longer so they're less likely to bounce, while supporting your internal linking strategy and providing SEO value.
With these expectations and opportunities in mind, keyword research must always be done first to develop a meaningful content strategy to match what users are looking for. Begin by learning more about your specific audience and how they perform online searches. This way you can craft keyword-rich content centered around search intent, answering user questions and allowing you to establish valuable connections with target audiences. When doing keyword research, stay organized by creating a spreadsheet with two columns: one with primary keywords and one with secondary keywords. Under primary keywords, list important topics that you know your audience is searching for. Under secondary keywords, fill out the long-tail keywords related to each topic based on available search data. Try to use several different keyword research tools during this process, since it will help you obtain a more comprehensive understanding of user search behavior so you can build better lists.
In addition to tailoring content to user interests, it’s important to make sure that content is also targeted to their geographic location. To improve rankings in local search results, increase references to your service area and link to brick-and-mortar location pages.
According to SmartInsights
, "46% of searches on Google already have local intent, and the authority of local businesses will continue to be a key factor for higher rankings in 2020."
Signals will determine what is referred to as “entity engagement” on the web. This includes the number of positive ratings and recommendations, as well as the amount of people looking for the location of your business on Google Maps. All of these entities help Google determine your business's popularity, so it can properly prioritize the placement of your Google My Business listing within search results.
2. Cater to Google’s Algorithm through BERT and E.A.T. Principles
Google believes that their language processing system, BERT, will make the most significant leap in five years, and it will be one of the greatest leaps forward in the history of search. In fact, SEO marketers who apply BERT models will increase their chances of ranking on the first page with featured snippets in Google SERP.
To cater to Google's new focus, your content will have to align with user intent, as BERT digs deep into the context of individual words within searches so it can be more, well, human. BERT looks for a few main aspects in the page copy to determine if the content is both successfully optimized and relevant, which will ultimately contribute to ranking performance. The writing needs to match the natural flow of a language, use correct grammar and contain factual information. The content itself needs to be relevant to the search query but also concise. BERT favors on quality over quantity, so as long as the content is considered valuable to the user, and not overly wordy, your page will be successfully optimized.
Another principle you should pay attention to with your SEO strategy this year is E.A.T., which is short for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. This strategy reminds marketers to focus their pages around having expert authors, jurisdiction to discuss the subject matter, and plenty of reliable links that point to the page from other trusted sites. If your SEO strategy includes catering to BERT and E.A.T., your site should remain competitive given the many changes occurring this year.
3. Optimize for Mobile and Voice Searches
With 6.95 billion mobile device users worldwide and 60% of Google searches performed on mobile devices, it's absolutely essential to build your site to be both mobile-friendly and desktop compatible to support this large group of visitors.
When it comes to optimizing for SEO in 2020, you must consider the mobile audience in your SEO strategy. Review your site analytics and study the mobile SERPs to learn what users are searching on their mobile devices so you can better understand your audience’s search activity and the overall competitive landscape. SERPs have quickly transformed to be much more useful, delivering the information searchers are seeking without even having to click on your page (which is referred to as zero-click searches). This means structured data, like featured snippets, the "people also ask" section, and schema, are increasingly important to your overall SEO success.
Many people also use their mobile devices to perform voice searches; in fact, 20% of all mobile queries are voice searches. That means, from a content perspective, your writing should align with how your audience speaks when doing these searches. This includes incorporating specific phrases, such as these top 25 keywords that over 20% of voice search queries are triggered by. Also, to benefit your site from a voice search perspective, you can add Speakable markup (currently in beta). This markup is used by Google Assistant and can return up to three relevant articles to the user, as well as provide audio playback to answer topic-related questions.
4. Increase Media Content with Interactive Videos and Images
Another 2020 SEO trend is the increasing importance of media on websites, including interactive videos and images. Because of consumer interest, Google is putting more authority behind this type of content, making it extremely valuable for SEO. Now, when you do a search, you will notice featured images and videos are included in the results as well – not just in the designated tabs. This means that any media on your site or other digital platforms should be optimized as it can provide an opportunity to increase visibility in search results. For this and brand reputation reasons, any media you produce should be of the highest quality.
When uploading videos to your page or social media accounts, make sure to select the preferred thumbnail image so you can pick one that will persuade visitors to go on-site, as well as update the alt tags so Google can read a description of the image. This will also make your image content ADA conformant, ensuring those with disabilities can access it via screen readers.
If your company is posting videos on its YouTube page, this also presents SEO possibilities. The video uploader with YouTube provides the ability to add title and description tags, which you should optimize with keywords related to the subject of the video. Rankings within YouTube search results are slightly different, as platform-specific algorithms rely on the number of subscribers a page has and video engagement. If you have a lot of subscribers (and therefore rank well), try to draw that audience to your website, so you increase visibility to key pages.
A new decade of SEO
As users and trends evolve, so must our marketing strategies and tactics. 2020 brings many changes and opportunities when optimizing websites and other online assets for SEO. If you need any assistance or would like to learn more, connect with our experienced SEO strategists today.