The SEO landscape is very dynamic. Sure, some things stay unchanged: put relevant keywords in your titles, make it a priority to optimize for mobile users, etc.
But other things continue varying in a never-ending spiral. In 2019 Google, along with other huge platforms, is trying more and more to be the end destination of their users’ journeys.
This, more than anything, defines major SEO trends for 2020, since now we need to find the best ways to stay effective within the framework created by Google.
“We must move from numbers keeping score to numbers that drive better actions.”
Thanks to such SERP features as featured snippets, Google’s Local Business, Knowledge graphs, and so on, more than half of all searches are now “zero-click searches.” That means that the user’s request is answered on the SERP itself, without them having to click away anywhere.
In the situation where zero-click searches are so prevalent, the information shown on the SERP itself is now more important than ever. Two great ways to stand out is to get Rich or Featured snippets.
Rich snippets — those that, in inclusion to title and description, show images, stars for reviews, prices for products, etc. — are easier to get, but they will also bring lower CTR improvements compared to a Featured snippet. Your result will be more noticeable, though, even if your position in a SERP will remain the same.
Featured snippets — an entire block of information that is shown at the top of a SERP — bring great increases in CTR. But getting one is quite a bit more tricky.
A huge number of the aforementioned zero-click searches are local searches for which the results are shown on the SERP itself, in so-called Local Packs. For mobile devices, a single Local Pack might take up as much space as an entire SERP shown to a user.
So, having a solid backlink profile is paramount. Look up what kind of backlinks your competitors get, and try to get those for yourself.
A specific feature of local SEO is that you need to have not just any backlinks, but the ones that Google deems locally authoritative.
And of course, keep in mind to track your local ranking performance. Keep in mind that the least change in location will influence the kind of results that the user will get. To look up rankings for keywords down to a street and a house, you should use a keyword research tool like Rank Tracker.
For years now Google’s been using learning algorithms to improve their users’ experience with search and help avoid keyword-stuffed webpages. In 2020, this will be more important than ever with Google’s latest algorithm named BERT.
Now, as far as we know, Google uses three mechanisms: first is Neural Matching, which figures out the meaning of the query. Second is RankBrain, which adjusts the SERP’s relying on the collected data about users’ behavior. The third, the newly-implemented BERT, is the algorithm that is used for analyzing the structure of a search to better understand the context in which keywords are used.
One prominent trend for any marketer working today is that organic social is pretty much dead. While paid advertising still works brilliantly for social, the fact that more and more companies are doing it creates a real trend where ROI for paid ads will be decreasing.
It’s obvious at this point that paid ads will become more prevalent and expensive for everybody who wants to grow through that avenue. In these conditions, brand awareness and brand building come to the forefront of digital marketers’ efforts. On the other hand, linkless mentions are becoming more and more important, with Google and Bing confirming those are used as ranking signals.
We need to always keep our hand on the pulse, then, and adjust our work to the new challenges we’re facing, to provide the best results possible for our clients.