The joy of SEO is that it never sits still. No business can afford to let its website gather dust while it remains unoptimised for search engines for years on end.
So, what exactly does 2020 have in store for SEO? What can businesses do to get a headstart with SEO in 2020?
We have highlighted some of the existing and emerging trends that will impact SEO in 2020. The next decade is upon us.
Zero clicks are becoming more common as Google changes how the search results look, and ultimately work.
This means you need to expect less people to actually click-through to your site. They will get what they need from the search results for certain queries.
For instance, if you ask Google a mathematical equation, it will solve it within the SERP. Any websites ranking for these will miss out on a click as people have gotten the answer.
The same goes for weather. Why would you click BBC Weather when Google is giving you the weather at the top of the SERP without doing anything further? You can close the tab or shut your phone without moving on from Google, having gained the information you were looking for.
And this might be the case for someone looking for your address or phone number.
Take the below example. Why would you click to read more after already having all the information you need on the best sleeping position?
BERT and other such algorithms
Google has become more complex and intelligent over the years. It’s no longer a matter of simple page optimisations to rank number 1. Google uses over 200 factors in order to determine where websites rank.
Google has a ton of algorithms to determine where pages rank. And it’s been adopting more complex algorithms to determine where sites appear.
BERT is the latest algorithm that works alongside Neural Matching and RankBrain.
Neutral Matching attempts to work out the intent behind queries, while RankBrain collects data about how people interact with search results to inform rankings. BERT has been implemented to better help understand the context of what someone has searched.
This means that you need to create content and optimise your pages to closely match the intent behind search queries, rather than simply adding lots of keywords to pages you deem to be important.
Ensure your page answers the intent or is directly related to what someone is attempting to find on Google.
Rich snippets and featured snippets
As zero-click searches rise, this makes snippets more important. 12.3% of search queries now contain a featured snippet of some kind.
These are essentially search listings with richer information included. Rich snippets show extra information around your search result, such as reviews, prices for products and otherwise. This gives you more real estate in the SERPs, and attracts searchers to click on your result over competitors.
Featured snippets are what appear in a big box of information right at the top of Google. Getting this is not simple, but essentially these are what add to zero-click searches more often than not.
Featured snippets often answer the search query directly. You can’t guarantee you will get these – but if your content can answer particular search queries succinctly, you stand a chance of getting a featured snippet at the top of Google.
However, if you do get this, it depends on your aim on whether it is a win or not. People may see this, and then not click through to your site.
You must also ensure your data is structured with structured data markup.
Voice search continues to rise in popularity. While it’s been a trend for many years now, it’s not reached mainstream adoption. By 2020, 50% of search queries will come by voice searches.
But as more people have purchased home voice assistants such as Amazon’s Echo or Google Home, it means more people are not typing out search queries.
This influences what people are searching. People are more likely to ask a question via voice, rather than entering more brief keywords or phrases to get an answer.
Google is combatting this with its algorithms, by attempting to decipher how to answer the questions people are asking in a voice search.
In 2020, more than 50% of searches are predicted to be initiated via voice searches.
Video will play a bigger role
While searches and voice searches alike will be on the rise, videos are becoming more popular and more prevalent in the search results.
Videos are often offered at the top of the search results – but more people go straight to YouTube or other platforms to begin their search.
If someone has a query that can be answered with a more visual video, then they might be fodder for YouTube.
So you should be optimising your videos for SEO in the search results and YouTube itself. You need to use keywords in headlines, descriptions and anywhere else appropriate.
Alternative search engines
Google has dominated the search engine space for many years now. It’s become a verb. That’s when you know a brand has hit the big time.
Bing has become more popular, but there are still other alternatives.
In this digital age, dominance creates dissonance within the public. Google and Facebook have become such powerhouses that it’s frightening. Privacy is a big concern, so we have seen an uplift in brands promoting security and anonymity.
DuckDuckGo is one such search engine that does not collect information on users. It still has ads in the search results – but these are purely based in search terms. As of January 2019, DuckDuckGo receives 1 billion searches per month, and in November 2019 it was receiving 48,709,105 queries per day on average.
How does this impact SEO? Well, if any of these take off, then you may need to do optimisations differently. Search engines basically work the same, but Google is more advanced. You may be #1 on Google, but for instance if your audience is privacy-savvy, perhaps they won’t be using Google. If you’re targeting China, worry about Baidu. Russia is Yandex. The list goes on.
It’s easy to forget other search engines other than Google exist. YouTube and Amazon count as search engines in themselves, as essentially they are serving up listings based on search terms. With more people starting their shopping experience on Amazon and similar shops, you may need to look at alternative ways of getting your brand found.
If you want to get your business found on Google and the other search engines, we offer ongoing SEO services and strategy creation.