With the final months of 2019 behind us, now is the perfect time to evaluate the effectiveness of your online marketing strategies and take steps for improvement in the new year. Your online strategies help guide new users to your website, answer important questions while they’re there, and take action to use your products and services. While it’s essential to ensure that your website is attractive and user-friendly, your social media presence is dynamic, and your email marketing campaign is fresh and effective, don’t forget analysis of one of the most important elements – search engine optimization.
One of the key features of search engine optimization, or SEO, is just how often it changes. Trends seem to come and go even more frequently than the seasons, and they’re not just influenced by the whims of the millions of users that perform searches every day. Instead, think of SEO trends as the industry’s response as the major search engines – Google, in particular – make tweaks designed to help users meet their needs efficiently.
Key Trends For 2020
While many things remain consistent in the SEO world, like keeping your website mobile-friendly, using relevant keywords, and providing good content, some key changes lie ahead. This list outlines some key changes Google has made and the best way to respond to each:
Streamlining Simple-Know Searches
After the deployment of the BERT algorithm and other directed changes, it became clear that a major focus for Google in the upcoming year is positioning itself as the first and final destination for many simple-know user searches. Put another way, search engines want to provide answers to user queries without requiring another click into a website that ranks for those keywords. As expected, this had many in the industry feeling a little nervous.
However, think of what users are looking for that can be found right on the search engine results page (SERP). In most cases, these queries consist of questions about opening hours, phone numbers, and other information that can be satisfied in a few words. Many of these tend not to result in conversions, so you may be able to save yourself the time of over-optimizing for simple know queries about your business.
Optimizing for Snippets
In Google’s quest to reduce the number of clicks necessary to answer user queries and meet user needs, it began including Featured and Rich snippets on the SERP itself. Rich snippets show the url, title, description, and also give extra information like ratings, shopping information, and a selection of thumbnail images, while Featured snippets give a block of information designed to help meet the user’s needs without proceeding to the landing page. Since these blocks show above even the top search result for the query, getting a snippet is a big deal.
Many times, Featured and Rich snippets are populated by content from the top ranking website for the search term. However, this isn’t always the case. To optimize your site for snippets, perform an SEO audit to ensure your data is structured, and analyze the content competitors feature in snippets to find keywords that rank for the snippet. Most importantly, ensure your content answers the most common questions users may ask about your product or service.
Prioritizing Expertise, Authority, and Trust
Google has always included analysis of your overall reputation, as well as your expertise, authority and trust (EAT), in its guidelines for its teams of human raters. However, this and other search engines promise an additional focus on EAT in 2020. For queries with implications for financial, health, and other crucial topics, the search engine is showing an additional focus on prioritizing websites that prove all aspects of EAT.
Ensure your website appears as trustworthy as it is, and dedicate time to removing security issues, technical issues, and other elements that diminish its quality and perceived authority. In addition, Google places importance upon the presence of company information, bylines, and other evidence of authority. Particularly for financial and health topics, ensure that your content is high quality and posted by someone with verified, visible authority on the subject.
Changing the Way Search Engines Do Local
As mentioned, Google and other major search engines have begun striving to meet as many user needs as possible through zero-click searches, placing answers directly on the SERP without the need for additional click-throughs to other pages. So-called “Local Packs”, which include a map of the user’s location and the three to five nearest businesses meeting those needs, now take up as many as one third of a desktop screen, and the entirety of a mobile SERP before scrolling.
Optimize for local packs by creating a Google Business Profile page for your company, which covers all of the most pertinent questions answered in the local pack like opening hours, address, phone, and other simple know queries. In addition, ensure your website contains keywords that commonly appear in local packs, like neighborhood, major cross streets, city, county, state, and others. In addition, you’ll want to ensure you have inbound links to your site from local authorities.
While Google has been steering towards these changes for years, your attention on as they emerge will remain key as we enter the new year. Vizion Interactive can help you determine what to prioritize when it comes to your SEO optimization. Want more tips for digital marketing success in 2020? Check out our 2020 digital marketing experts post!