2020 SEO Trends – and how to approach them

As artificial intelligence affects the SEO world more and more thoroughly, it will take a lot more effort to adjust to the new trends. Now, while the trends tend to change not each year but on a monthly or even daily basis, those changes are not always that significant.

However, when talking about the next year, the environment is about to change a lot. Meaning that the solutions to the SEO challenges we all had up to now should change significantly. At least from a strategic perspective. Read on for the details on 2020 SEO trends we gathered consulting dozens of SEO managers and business owners.

Ranking No 1 doesn’t do the job anymore

Adding more featured snippets, more maps results and a people also ask section – being ranked No 1 doesn’t mean you will get ANY clicks. Why? Well, simply, if you type an important keyword in your browser, you will see that, for some keywords, the order of sections is:

  • Paid search– Google Ads
  • Featured snippet– a snippet from the best-optimized section of an article that answers the question the best
  • Google maps – GMB
  • People also ask – And when you click on each question, the section expands
  • Organic result No 1
A screenshot of Google search
Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google LLC, used with permission.

As you can see (in the example above the featured snippet is missing, but you get the picture), a significant percentage of users won’t even see a link to your website, if you don’t appear in the first 4 sections (or 3, when talking only about organic search). Those sections are not necessarily in this order, but they all frequently appear above the organic search results, which means they should be taken seriously.

Plus, Google is testing providing answers while typing the query, without even linking to the website with that answer. Therefore, there are some new rules, and it is strongly recommended that you adjust your website to them, given that it could soon be a choice: adjust or vanish!

What should you do?

  • Focus on your brand – for example, if someone sees your brand on each of the sections we mentioned, and once they visit the website find everything they need, you will be a brand of trust and therefore the first choice for your niche in the future!
  • Optimize your content in accordance with the BERT update – Make sure that your site perfectly matches what your potential customers search for on the web.
  • E-A-T (your competition) – This is strongly connected (but not limited) to the previous matters. Be the one, be the best, and be the perfect fit everywhere and anytime!
  • UX – users matter the most is probably a phrase that will do it when it comes to what Google wants to find on your website lately. Make your website easy-to-use, fast-loading and responsive.
  • Optimize your GMB – there’s nothing better for a local search than being among the top 4 results on Google maps. Google My Business helps you achieve that.

1. Brand development – Perhaps SEO trend No 1 for 2020

Google puts a strong focus on providing precisely what the users seek for – using artificial intelligence and machine learning. Be the brand that satisfies both Google and users.

What should you do?

  • Storytelling – make your brand a story. Communicate with your customers and clients from every corner of your website. Let them think of you whenever a problem/an answer/a need appears. This means that they don’t necessarily need to convert the first time they visit your website, but to remember your brand as the brand that solves the kind of problems they might have. And they will convert once they might need your services.
  • Brand awareness – invest more in building your brand and making people learn about it whenever searching for anything somehow connected to your services. Every single blog post should let people know that you are the brand number 1 in your niche. This includes the design of your pages and posts, the order in which you create content, how you address your crowd, what you offer and how you reply to their queries.
  • Build trust – Here are a few things you might want to do:
    • Be always accessible – be there for your customers whenever they need you
    • Offer valuable products/services – explain why they are that valuable, get reviews from previous customers, get recommendations, etc.
    • Be transparent and honest – make it a new year’s resolution for 2020 SEO – don’t use catchy phrases, don’t try to persuade your customers, but rather let them know whether or not your product/service is the right fit. If not, don’t be afraid to let them know that. Having someone trust your call might make them a customer in the future. Having a customer that isn’t satisfied with your product/service brings negative reviews, negative marketing, etc.
    • Be consistent – with your strategy, with the quality of products/services, and with the approach to the customers.

2. Content optimization for 2020 – adjust it to the BERT update

BERT – Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers

Google Bots will now use machine learning to understand the context and the true meaning of a query – making sure to provide the users with the best match answer. It means that the top focus will be the context of an article rather than keywords, internal or external links (just to be clear – these will still remain important ranking factors, but will not be the main anymore). However, this isn’t perfectly rolling yet, and it seems that it will take a while until it reaches its full potential – but ignoring it wouldn’t be a smart call.

Although this is a big deal, and it affects the content in more than 80 countries worldwide, this actually isn’t such a new thing. Google has always insisted that the most important thing when writing articles is that they should be informative, interesting and to provide value for a given query. BERT update is only a logical consequence of Google’s intentions. So, id you haven’t adjusted your copywriting sector to such a policy, you should definitely do that as soon as possible. And, although we said that this algorithm isn’t rolling out perfectly, it does affect lots of searches already.

Another logical answer to why this happened is – Google has already decreased the value of all the sites that have a high bounce rate with low dwell time. (Bounce rate – the % of people who didn’t take a second action on your site; Dwell time – the time between clicking on a link to your site and clicking the back button). So BERT is just a natural consequence.

How to approach your content optimization in accordance with the SEO forecasts for 2020?

  • Find out what your potential website visitors want
  • Create informative and high-value content
  • Create shareable content for long-tail keywords related to your main focus – let the website visitors share your links on social media
  • Optimize the content for search engines (but with an emphasis on user intentions rather than simply follow SEO copywriting guides)
  • Pay attention to the data (bounce rate, avg session duration, pages per visit, etc.)
  • Update the content that doesn’t do well
A team making content strategy
Change your content strategy – adjust to 2020 SEO trends

3. E-A-T in 2020: Focus on standing out EVERYWHERE

E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness

Being an expert, an authority and a brand people trust always and everywhere is a must.  So, how to approach E-A-T in accordance with 2020 SEO trends?

  • There are no less important websites, less important links or less important articles. Whoever seeks an answer or a solution to a problem, and finds a piece of content connected to your brand, must be completely sure that you are an expert in that matter.
  • Since 2019, Google included no-follow links and links from forums as hints. Therefore, more positive hints you have, the more potential value is added to your site. But the opposite also seems to be true – the more bad context connected to your brand makes it more probable that you will have difficulties to rank. And, in the following year, Google might add a true value even to these kinds of links that it used to ignore before. So, when building links in 2020, take this kind of website into consideration as well. 

4. 2020 UX: Focus on both bots and users

UX: User Experience

This prediction of 2020 SEO trends is strongly connected to the BERT update. Putting users in the center of everything changes how things work. Adjusting your website to the visitors (especially making it stand out for your potential customers) is a must.

We recommend that you take Google guidelines very seriously, and then adjust them to the particular needs and requirements of your website crowd. This way you will both satisfy your website visitors and search engines, which should be a win-win game.

How to improve the UX of your website in 2020?

  • Make CTAs visible and easily accessible
  • Point out important segments of the content (of course, the content should be informative, interesting and engaging, as we mentioned before)
  • Don’t annoy the visitors – it means you shouldn’t spam them with popups, disturbing CTAs, etc. Calls to action should be visible and stand out, so the customers can find them easily, but shouldn’t disturb them if they don’t want to convert.
  • Optimize your website – let it load quickly (don’t forget to use AMP for mobile version)
  • Make your website easy to use – the visitors should find everything quickly and easily, having to click 2-3 times to your lowest page in the structure at most
  • Optimize your website for different devices – mobile (more than 50% of all website visits come from a mobile), desktop, tablet. If you are still optimizing your site for desktop first – you should change that, having in mind that Google crawls the mobile version first since 2019.
  • Pay attention to the technical aspects – the code optimization must be near perfection. You should include (besides the regular optimization)
    structured data – point out important information about your business, use the code for featured snippets and people also ask section (but implement it carefully, as it might negatively affect your website if it’s poorly conducted). As this changes a lot more often than before, we recommend that keeping an eye on this becomes a regular activity of your digital marketing strategy in 2020.
    adjust your code for ratings (there were some changes Google made this year, so the ratings stopped appearing for most of the websites)
    make your sitemap XML file perfectly adjusted for Google bots
    check your website ratings on Google tools every now and then (think with Google and Page Speed). If Google says something isn’t good enough, then you should probably fix it, given that Google is the search engine most of the people try to optimize for. But don’t limit just to HP, but check the ratings for all important pages on your website

5. GMB profile optimization – what 2020 brings us?

GMB – Google My Business

Adding map results for more and more queries, Google tends to make your profile a lot more valuable for your business. Having that in mind, you should approach managing your GMB seriously. Here is what we recommend you should do:

  • A business title should be your brand name or brand name + location (both practices are present, and none of them appears to be better than the other)
  • Set up your service location – if you serve clients from your physical location – or set up your service area – in case you don’t. Take this seriously, because Google bans profiles that set up the location and don’t serve clients there.
  • Add an optimized business description – Optimized in terms of: what is your business, what it covers and where you operate, rather than optimized simply in terms of adding keywords.
  • Add products and/or services – providing exact info on what you offer and what it includes makes it more probable that the customers will call you or visit your website and eventually convert
  • Create posts – There are different options: sharing posts from your site, creating simple posts, image posts, offers, discounts, events, etc. Be only aware that from December 2019 Google creates posts for each image you add on your GMB profile, and it is impossible to delete those images. (in the past, GMB managers used to add images to GMB and could decide whether or not they would use them in posts, but it changed)
  • Analyze the data from your GMB:
    • From GMB profile – insights on new visitors, new search appearances, direction requests, phone calls, etc.
    • From Google Analytics – adding a tracking code to your website links on GMB allows you to track the traffic on your website that comes directly from your GMB profile

How to approach 2020 SEO trends?

Build your brand, be consistent with the content strategy and follow Google guidelines and Google updates almost strictly. Don’t be strict only when Google guidelines badly affect UX. For example, Google recommends using AMP for mobile versions, but some features might not work in the AMP environment. This is when we would suggest keeping UX (in terms of website usability) at max, even if the site loads a bit slower.

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