Towards the end of 2019, Google introduced a new algorithm that partly started off possible trends for the next year. Keeping a keen eye on the trends will help website owners improve their ranking and if they are already up there, they can keep a step ahead of the competition and not see a surprise drop in their ranking.
We saw a number of trends in 2019 which included mobile-first optimization as more internet users accessed the internet using mobile devices and Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant all caused a bit of a wave in the way a percentage of users searched for different things. Some trends are likely to remain trends even in the next year and some may not play a very important role even if they may still matter. Let us take a look at the hottest ones to look out for.
It is now official, there is a position higher than 1 and everyone is already trying to get there. 2020 will see more competition to be in position 0.
- Featured snippets can get you to position 0 and already many SEO experts have been learning how best to use this new feature from Google.
- It is mainly about having quality answers to frequently asked questions.
- This trend is already driving more than 50 percent of the clicks and you would be crazy to ignore it.
- For content creators, featured snippets are a great opportunity to showcase their website and get to a position that is even higher than position 1.
The rise of the virtual assistant has come with the rise of voice search. This is going to be a big trend in 2020 and it will definitely affect SEO. How?
- Well, voice searches are different from text, they are more conversational. Search queries are also a lot longer which means websites will be targeting long-tail keywords.
- Content will need to be able to cater for voice searches as more than half the searches in 2019 are already being carried out using voice search.
- In targeting voice searches, we will need to replace keywords with entire phrases that Google would be able to work with easier and users will find what they want easier.
According to research, 4 out of 5 searches are for services or products nearby and 50 percent of the searches will result in an action to either visit the physical location or make an order. In 2020 this is not likely to die out, it will instead become more popular.
- Local search success has been made possible by the increasing use of mobile devices which makes it easy to whip out your phone and search for a local coffee shop near you and then use Maps to find the shop.
- Local searches will also be driven by reviews about places and products. You can see recommendations from reviewers and star ratings before you go to a business.
- According to a search by Bright Local, over 80 percent of online users trust reviews as much as recommendations from a friend. This means more websites will be optimizing for local searches with more reviews, location maps as well as taking advantage of local listings. SEO experts will be very busy with this one.
Search Intent and Keyword Context
Google released a new algorithm in 2019 which prioritizes search intent. It is part of its attempt to teach machines how humans speak so that search results are more accurate. In 2020 this is predicted to become a big deal as SEO experts discover ways to optimize for search intent and keyword context.
- For many websites, it is already clear that searchers are usually searching for 3 categories of results. Go-Know-Do in other words, Navigation-Information, and Transaction.
- When creating content, these are 3 categories that will determine how the content is structured and the keywords that will be used. Search intent will carve out new trends in the way keywords are used just like voice search will. In fact, search intent aims at teaching machines conversational language just like voice search does so the two will be a very similar trend.
This will probably be one of the trendiest SEO efforts in 2020.
- Google has made no secret of the fact that it likes structured data and website owners would love to be in that position just above number 1. That means structured data like FAQs and snippets among other structured data.
- Some SEO experts would advise that if there is one thing that you should do on your site in 2020, let it be getting your structured data right. The thing about it is it will help Google and users find what they are looking for easier and that will obviously help your SEO ranking.
A recent survey showed that fewer people are clicking on search results even when the results are among the top 10. About 40% of search results are going to waste and that number is on the rise. Why? Simple, humans are creatures of habit and that means they will click on results they recognize, so this means the big brands that are known are what they would click on. If you are a small fish in the web waters, 2020 is the year to start acting like a big fish. Branding is not just an option for SEO it is a must. So many companies noticed that in 2019 and they are bound to work hard at the brand building in 2020 because that is the only way to survive.
In 2019, Google released the BERT update and almost immediately there was a buzz about it with many SEO experts noting that it will change the SEO landscape. Google may have tried to downplay its implications, but no one is falling for that, BERT is big and it will indeed be a major trend in 2020. This BERT algorithm helps search engines to understand human natural speech and that means that long search queries will get more accurate results. Optimizing for BERT is already a big deal for any business that takes their online presence seriously. Content needs to be even more relevant because Google will not be fooled by a few keywords stuffed into your content. Large text can be deciphered better and questions by searchers will receive better answers — this is going to be BIG.
UX & Technical SEO
You may have already noticed that most of the trends in 2020 focus on user experience. Well in the past a lot of the SEO trends were more about pleasing the search engines. As time goes by, the two have become linked so 2020 will see user experience meet technical SEO. Trends like mobile-first, knowledge graphs and BERT are evidence of that. SEO experts are advising their clients to ensure that they produce content that will be useful for the user, and then perform technical SEO to ensure that they have a good experience as well as meet all the expectations of search engines like Google so that they can have more clicks. 2020 will have the two working closely together for the best results and no one can ignore them and expect to be ranked positively.
Knowledge Graph Optimization
Information is one of the things that searchers are looking for. Google is aware of that and that is why we see the top 10 search results being pushed further down and getting replaced with what people really want. Knowledge graphs are an essential part of SEO and that is a huge trend for 2020. Franchise brands are eyeing knowledge graphs as a great source of traffic. The great thing is that people can even claim knowledge graphs created by random people and they can even correct the information there for example on Wikipedia. 2020 is likely to see more competition for the top spots using knowledge graphs.
Back Links are Still Important
If anyone is claiming we can say goodbye to backlinks, then they have no idea what they are talking about. SEO in 2020 will still need to embrace backlinks as an off-page strategy for SEO. This helps to add credibility to a website and if you are trying to build your brand, they are a great way to do that. Search engines will still use backlinks when ranking a website and ranking high is a trend we will see every year. Website owners are expected to spend millions of dollars in 2020 to get credible backlinks that are related to the content. Like any other trend, quality is important and more websites will be looking for quality links.
2020 will be another busy year for SEO professionals as they try to get pages ranked high. The focus though will not change. Great content that focuses on the user will carry the day. It will become increasingly hard to fool Google with keywords since its focus is on providing the user what they want. You may also be on the lookout for the rise of other search engines that will dictate the SEO industry to an extent.