SEO has become of increasing importance for individuals and companies who promote their platforms or products via digital marketing.
The most fundamental reason for this is that most user-driven traffic comes from search engines. Without SEO, websites would be left to place an overwhelming amount of emphasis on paid leads and other forms of promotion which are significantly more expensive. In a nutshell, the goal of SEO is to position your platform to be in the right place and the right time so you can be easily found by users searching for the services, goods or information you provide.
According to Search Engine Land, as of last year an average 51% of visitors made their way to a particular website by organic means. This means that organic SEO-driven traffic was more important than paid searches (PPC) which were recorded to drive an average of 10%. By comparison, social media came in at a mere 5%.
Why SEO is Your Most Vital Digital Marketing Tool
The main reason as to why SEO is so important is because it is responsible for the largest influx of leads to any given website. This is influenced by three factors: organic traffic leverage, local searches, as well as reputation and trust building.
The process of organic traffic is just that – organic, intuitive and natural. Moreover, most users will skip over the ads listed up top and scroll directly to results that Google brings them organically. Keeping this in mind is key.
Trust is important in any relationship, especially in the buyer-consumer one. In fact, many customers will avoid buying things from brands or businesses they don’t know. Instead, they depend on search engines to curate the cream of the crop. This means that the further a website is from the first page of Google, the less trustworthy it appears. Alternatively, once a website is on the first page, its reputation begins to improve significantly.
Finally, local searches are especially important to those businesses that have a brick and mortar model. Helping users find your location or the one nearest them is a very helpful feature.
Having all of this in mind, these are the biggest SEO trends in 2020 that will dictate what adjustments you will need to make in your digital marketing strategy during the current year.
Trend #1: Growth of Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence
We are already beginning to see a growth of natural language processing (NLP) and AI. This trend has carried over from last year and into 2020, it means that search engines, especially Google, will be able to understand and define what users really want in a much more accurate way compared to what we’ve been witnessing up to now.
Major news outlets such as TheGuardian and even social networks like Quora use NLP and Semantic AI. But these technologies can be leveraged to benefit smaller platforms like personal blogs, medium-sized content magazines and e-commerce websites to boost user engagement. More specifically, NLP can be used to:
- Improve the structured data markup on specific pages with large public graphs;
- Leverage semantically-rich metadata;
- Experiment with word-vectors to find topics you might want to cover in order to become relevant on a specific topic;
- Analyze the competition to quickly track which concept is driving the changes in the SERPs of Google.
To take off using NLP and AI for the benefit of your business, it’s recommended to start improving the data markup on the webpage, implement semantically-rich metadata to direct content recommendation results to the site and never forget to use synonyms of keywords to get smart redirections. SEO is an iterative process, so, it’s always a good idea to perform a technical audit from time to time to review and improve your SEO strategy and achieve the very best results.
Trend #2: Increase in Mobile and Voice Searches
As a refresher, it’s important to note that mobile search is categorized as the act of accessing and using a search engine from a handheld device or smartphone. Needless to say, the kind of information users search on mobile devices differs from computer-based. One example of the difference, is that users searching for something on their mobile devices are more likely to require something that is location specific and close to where they are at the time of their search. Also, mobile searchers tend to be looking for quick and concise information presented in a way that is easy to read or take in given the constraints of a mobile screen. As a result to further accommodate user convenience, voice searches are also increasing at a steady pace.
If you are implementing voice searches, the way to go is to create conversational content capable of catering to simple questions. Here, it is very helpful to optimize the content using long tail keywords and to anticipate possible user questions that will be answered by using your content.
Trend #3: Locally Oriented Queries Come to the Fore
In addition, locally oriented queries have become more and more important, as they go hand in hand with mobile searches. This means having location clearly indicated on your website and map embedding capabilities will be especially useful for people trying to find your business. Local SEO is a crucial part of the SEO that needs to be taken into account, mostly for companies operating online.
Local SEO is the best way to put your business on the map figuratively and literally. To do so, it’s necessary to have what is called the 3-local pack: locations, reviews, and prices because that information is displayed in the Google SERP organic listings. Schema markups are a great way to get your local SEO in check. Adding this microdata will create an enhanced description of your webpage.
Trend #4: Intent and Content-Based Keywords
“Since the total percent of organic clicks in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) is falling, SEO specialists will have to combine pure optimization with other online marketing strategies and to use whatever they can to increase the number of clicks (Featured Snippets, Rich Snippets, Local Packs, etc.). All other standard SEO strategies remain very important, but they need to be implemented in different ways.” says Tomo Rakocevic, SEO specialist at Scopic.
For example, keyword research is still one of the most important things, but instead of focusing on just keywords, those working in SEO now need to take into account the use of “entities”, “topics” and the intent behind these keywords. On-page SEO also continues to play a role, but the nature of it has changed as well. Inserting keywords in the text is not enough. Rather, SEO specialists have to understand the context and the relationship between terms and optimize the article in a way to fulfill the user’s expectations in the best possible way.
As always content and keywords continue being crucial to increase the relevance of a webpage on Google. The best approach here is to structure the articles, splitting the information. How-to sections, listings and so on are always useful. It will increase the possibilities of having the new content chosen as a featured snippet.
Trend #5: User Experience is King
This trend will continue for as long as search engine technologies advance. What it means for those looking to implement an SEO strategy is that while technical SEO remains an important part of the workflow, the focus has now shifted to website loading speed and mobile friendliness. In other words, a website that is hard to read or takes too long to load will inevitably struggle to maintain good search engine rankings.
User experience, in general, is very important. SEO experts must always have a firm grasp of what users want. This means that website structures must be simple but efficient.
Giving the fact that great user experience is a must, make sure to have accessible web pages through any device by using mobile optimization. Users are more demanding every time about the website’s performance so it has bugs, fixing those immediately is absolutely necessary.
Trend #6: Authenticity Wins the Race
Finally, off-page optimization is still one of the most important variables, but with the growth of AI, relying only on the power of backlinks is not enough. So, what is? Basically, the biggest trend in SEO 2020 is for content to be as natural as possible, focusing on users and their intent, not search engines, and combining all of these aspects when creating an SEO strategy. A holistic approach is the only way to go in the current climate.
Every topic will require some research and you should have sources from which you are referencing information. However, making sure that your articles have a unique twist or insight, is one of the most important aspects as far as search engine optimized content goes.
SEO will continue to play an integral role in digital marketing strategies no matter what field you’re in or even what products or services you promote. To stay ahead of the game, make sure to keep your content true to the topic you’re trying to address, see that your website does not have any problems loading, and that it is readable on mobile devices. Have keywords in mind when you develop written content, but try not to inorganically insert them. Finally, if your business has offline locations, make sure they are properly indicated on Google and that your website has corresponding listed addresses along with embedded maps.