What’s in store for SEO in 2020? We look at the 5 key trends to focus on for search engine optimization in 2020.
1. Quality content
Of course, quality content is nothing really new, however, the level of significance it holds is certainly increasing.
According to Search Engine Journal, content is the single thing that has been and will continue to be at the heart of SEO.
“Content affects everything in SEO,” she said. “From your site structure and internal linking strategy to the types of links you build.”
The main objective is to create the best possible content out there for your industry or niche. With this, you will then be able to compete for long-tail searches, which is still crucial, but you will also be increasing your site authority, and encouraging more demand for your content.
Global SEO Strategist at IBM, Jesse McDonald, and SEO & Content Strategy Consultant, Jessica Levenson, both stated that 2020 is the year to move away from the focus with keywords. “Stop targeting individual keywords, chasing pageviews, and ‘spraying and praying’ with content.”
Jessica Levenson mentions that SEO content writing ought to be topic-focused, looking at an entire conversation instead of targeting a single keyword. This outlook is practical and focused on knowing what answers users need next:
- Understand your target audience and how they search
- Understand the real intent that is behind the search query
- Provide answers in the formats they prefer using authoritative content
BERT – Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers – has been described as the largest change to Google search in the last five years. To put it briefly, Google is utilizing BERT models to gauge a better understanding of search queries, and this update has affected featured snippets and rankings.
Search intent is now paramount in 2020. Google is now more concerned about what the user intended to find, as opposed to exactly matching the search phrase entered. As a result, SEO content now needs to be written based around user intent, instead of just repeating search phrases.
Rather than using keyword research tools, it is better to look at suggested queries such as Google’s ‘People also ask’. This is because these are what Google knows through its machine learning that users are actually looking for.
Audience and market research in 2020 is also going to become more important. It’s worth remembering that SEO is not just about Google. Frédéric Dubut, Senior Program Manager at Bing, has stated what most people are suggesting, saying that keyword research could well potentially become obsolete.
“There’s no sign of [natural language processing] NLP and deep learning research slowing down anytime soon, and you can expect search engines to shift even further from keywords to intent in 2020,” Dubut said. “Both practitioners and tooling providers will need to shift their efforts towards ‘intent research’ and fulfilling user needs.”
Having more of a focus on intent is sound for everyone. It provides the web user with what they actually want and ultimately helps to capture and convert customers.
In reality, BERT is actually a positive update, this is because it is essentially going to help web visitors on a deeper level, and is actually going to increase engagement between customer and brand, which in turn will strengthen relationships and encourage valuable loyalty.
Rather than focusing purely on content that answers questions prior to a sales transaction, we’re also going to be addressing queries that arise afterward. By doing this we will build trust. Customers will look at brands as supportive and reliable.
According to the Search Engine Journal, the largest trend that SEO experts should focus on in 2020 is actually user experience, with technical SEO also being very important.
Ultimately, it is all about components that enhance the user experience.
- Uncluttered pages – easier to navigate and faster to load,
- Page speed – quick loading sites have been prioritized since Google’s Speed Update of 2018
- Mobile friendly – around 60 percent of searches are done via mobile, so positive mobile user experience is crucial.
- Well formatted content – content readability is a vital SEO on-page ranking factor.
Mobile-first really means putting web design first for mobile user experience, and then building it fit for the desktop user.
Again this is nothing new, but it is still very crucial for SEO trends 2020. Combining it with the newly boosted importance of content marketing, the significance is greatly increased.
Whilst you should be designing your web pages around mobile, you also need to consider the mobile audience when you are writing those vital blog pieces and articles. Here’s what to think about:
- Have you spaced out your hyperlinks enough so they won’t be accidentally tapped?
- Do your sentences and paragraphs actually flow well on a mobile screen?
- Have you checked any images to make sure they aren’t getting in the way of your text?
- Are videos taking much time to download and frustrating the user so they click away?
It’s very important to consider how much time do you spend for personal use looking at your desktop computer, compared to your mobile? Now you know why mobile first is crucial not just for web design, but for content publishing too.
In 2019, sharing and back-linking was cited as a hint to Google that content was worthy of ranking and this is exactly why brand building is going to be a major trend in 2020.
A strong brand that is trusted will attract fans to share content, which will help to build links. So a key trend of search engine marketing in 2020 is brand building.
In conclusion, it now looks like all facets of marketing are crucial for SEO. The more you build your brand both online and offline, the greater the trust, the more likely you are to see better rankings.
Jamie FitzHenry is the founder of Grizzly, a bristol based digital agency specialising in Web Design, SEO & PPC.