Here are 9 important trends you need to know in 2020, according to SEO professionals.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is continuously changing and website operators are responding by reviewing and updating their websites to stay ahead of their competitors. There are so many aspects to consider when reviewing what is best for your website so we have created a helpful overview of the key SEO trends and best practices for 2020.
Organic search results are being pushed further down the search engine results pages (SERP) due to AdWords ads responding to commercial searches, picture ads for shopping, Google Images, ‘People So Ask’ boxes and Featured Snippets.
Featured Snippets can combine snippets of information from multiple sites that are relevant to the search entered, therefore providing the user excerpts Google (or other leading search engines) interprets and combines to provide a compact, easy to digest response to the search. This could include images from one site and written information from another:
From the users’ perspective Featured Snippets enhance their search, however, how reliable and accurate is the information that’s being provided? Google recognises this is a potential issue and is currently working on a knowledge graph of queries to improve quality, utilising data already on pages such as Wikipedia as verification.
In 2019 a strategic approach to optimising your website’s SERP position is more important than ever. The key to optimisation is creating content that contains both the knowledge questions users are asking in search engines and the information they are looking for in response.
There are two good content strategies that will enable Google to catalogue and include your website in Featured Snippets:
- Constructing website content to include questions and answers your target audience are likely to ask
- Include tables with structured information that’s responding to your target audience’s questions
With well structured content that is responding to your target audience even smaller websites can compete in the SERP rankings and appear above organic searches.
The key to website optimisation in 2019 is understanding what your target audience is asking in their searches and how these knowledge questions are likely to be structured.
Rich snippets are an important tool that can significantly raise your website’s click-through-rate (CTR). Google uses structured data to create rich snippets such as rating stars, service or opening hours or specific event information. For example:
Google can produce meta-descriptions from existing website content but constructing your website so that the information is marked appropriately will help Google find and use this data in rich snippets.Google’s website schema.orgis a good source of information on how to mark up content.
Google only uses data from ‘inner pages’ not the homepage of websites. To create short, relevant and eye-catching rich snippets, content throughout the website should be formatted and marked with this in mind.
User experience plays an integral role in search engine optimisation as it’s really about optimising the search results for the users.
The key areas to consider when optimising user experience are:
- Loading speed– most people leave a website within 5 seconds if it’s not loading, which can end up losing you potential customers and rankings. There are tools such as gtmetrix that will help monitor loading times and those such as PageSpeed that can help measure the performance of your website.
- Error-free website – users find errors frustrating, they expect a technically flawless experience. Avoid applications such as Adobe Flash that may not work for all users.
- Mobile device optimisation– the increased convenience of using smartphones and tablets correlates with the increased use of mobile devices for searches. It is therefore ever more important that websites render correctly across multiple mobile devices.
Accelerated Mobile Pages – AMP
AMP and Progressive Web Apps can can be a useful tool in mobile optimisation, making mobile pages load faster. While they are currently an integral part of Google SERPs, it is expected they will become more popular in 2020.
However, there are limitations. AMPs are mostly pure text, the lack of images and structured content is what enables them to load faster. This means that AMPs may not be suitable for all types of website. Certain websites, for example news websites, will find AMPs an essential tool to increase page speed but websites with multiple images and more structured content may find AMP isn’t as effective.
Google analyses website text content in response to user search queries and their algorithms are constantly improving and developing. To achieve top rankings in SERP it is imperative your website’s text content is relevant, unique and kept up to date with new developments.
In 2019 Google will continue to improve their algorithms’ ability to analyse and interpret text content, utilising new technology such as Rankbrain. To keep up with changes Google implements, regularly review your website’s text content. Word counter analysis can be a useful tool when analysing text content to ensure it is relevant in relation to what and how users are presenting search terms.
It is important to use dynamic content, do not stuff keywords into your text content as this can have a detrimental effect on your Google SERP.
With the emergence and ever increasing popularity of digital assistants and smart home devices, voice searches have been steadily increasing in the last few years and will continue to do so in 2020.
Voice searches make up one in five of every search on mobile devices and for younger users this rate is much higher.
To optimise your website content to meet the differences in the structure of voice searches, consider the different language that is likely to be used. These tend to be more complex words than with text searches and more fluid language.
There are some useful tools on the market that can help guide you on common language used in voice searches;
- Google Trends
- Google Suggest
Google’s Mobile First Index
Google implemented the Mobile First Index in 2018, this means that Google now shows preference to the page version that is optimised for mobile devices.
Mobile device optimisation has only been used by Google as a determinant in their SERP rankings since 2016. Since then it has become increasingly significant for websites to ensure they are optimised for mobile devices and in 2020 this has become essential for a website to succeed.
Prominence of Link Building
Links to your website remain as important as ever in 2020, this was substantiated by Gary Illyes from Google last year when he spoke at a conference to confirm Google still view PageRank as an important ranking factor.
Link building can be achieved through both ‘backlinks’, links directly to your website presented on third party websites, and ‘linkless backlinks’, mentions of your website or brand on third party websites but no direct links.
It’s important that any links created are high quality and add value, particularly when building links through third-class and fourth-class article portals or unmotivated guest posts.
The best way to create effective link building is through dynamic, interesting content that your users will want to share.
When creating or reviewing a website it has always been vital to view it holistically, ensuring text content, images and video interconnect seamlessly and all add value. Images improve user experience when strategically placed and relevant but in 2020 image searches will be playing a bigger role.
Users are searching for images more often and this trend will continue to increase in 2020, Google has responded by improving their image search functionality. Ensure your website is ahead of your competitors by adding high quality, relevant images that draws users away from Google images pages onto your website.
Artificial intelligence is a hot topic and is still being developed, however, with Rankbrain Google created a self-learning algorithm in 2015. This advancement enables Google to answer search queries that haven’t been searched before, which make up around 15% of search queries.
In 2019, Rankbrain has advanced even further and is capable of answering ever more complex questions. Leading to better understanding of how users will ask questions in search engines and how they can best respond.
Summary: The Essentials for 2020 websites
- Structure your data so Google can create Featured and Rich Snippets and increase your CTR and SERPs.
- Create a flawless, error-free website that can be indexed easily by search engines.
- Improve loading speed of your website to improve user retention.
- Ensure your website is optimised for all mobile devices.
- Broaden your view of link building to include linkless backlinks, guest posts and your own dynamic content.
- Strategically create both text and image content to respond to user’s needs.