The year 2019 has given us some of the most important evolutions in technology and algorithm changes that we’ve seen in years. Cheap SEO tricks, like keyword stuffing, just won’t work anymore. As you are about to see – Google is getting even more intelligent.
The Google search algorithm considers more than 200 factors when ranking a webpage, but these are the six we find most important in 2020:
First of all, it is time to take a good look at the quality of your content and to start optimizing it for users rather than for Google. Content gives users a reason to visit your site.
People visit a website to find a solution to a problem. So, you need to give a solution and educate people before making sales. You also have to find the simplest way to provide answers to queries.
This is the number one approach that Google is looking for to satisfy users’ needs. This approach will help you compete for long-tail searches (about 70% of all search queries), and it will allow you to build your site authority. It is finally time to move on from obsessing over keywords and focus more on topics.
What does this mean for you?
-understand your audience
-understand the intent behind the question or problem
-provide real value
-give answers and solutions
-provide unique content by making better versions of existing content
-update your articles regularly
-give readers a reason to share your content and link to your website
-include other types of media, not just text
-semantic search optimization will gain more importance
-although longer content performs better, always put quality over quantity
-create quality content over and over again
2. BERT and a smarter Google
What is BERT?
BERT is an acronym for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. The BERT algorithm lets you type longer and more conversational queries and get more accurate results, so you don’t have to worry about correct keywords. As understanding language is a complicated task, Google will need some time to learn more about it. As Google users have begun using voice search more, queries are becoming more conversational.
On the one hand, there is not much you can do to optimize for BERT, other than write great content. On the other hand, there ARE some things you should be doing.
BERT enables Google to understand the contextual meaning of the query, using an AI system called natural language processing (NLP).
If BERT is functioning well, Google should even be able to recognize synonyms. The goal is to deliver more relevant results to users.
What you can do about it:
-create relevant, specific, and informational content
-context before keyword density
-use natural language
-don’t optimize for algorithms but for readers
-focus on answering potential questions (to get into Featured Snippets)
3. Content for E-A-T
What does E-A-T stand for?
It is an acronym for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. This is again nothing new to marketers, but in 2018 and 2019, it gained more importance in Google’s algorithm. E-A-T isn’t a ranking factor, but Google’s guideline for the quality of the search results. This will make it difficult for companies that have a poor reputation or customer service to compete.
What steps do you need to take?
-obviously, make sure that your articles are written by people with real expertise and credibility
-make sure your writers have content published on other trustworthy sites and on the same topic
-support facts with data from trusted sources
-create an “About Us” page with relevant information
-third-party references are always welcome
The most challenging part of this is finding relevant and trustworthy content writers, but it is essential in 2020! Start by creating new content that meets these standards; then, continue revising old content for the same purpose. Start with pages that have experienced a drop in performance due to the EAT algorithm and continue with pages that you think would benefit most from it. That way, you will gradually bring up your ranking!
4. Voice Search
There’s been a lot of talk about optimizing for voice, but until people start using it for searching and buying products, there is no value in optimizing for it.
According to Microsoft’s 2019 Voice Report, it looks like 2020 might be the year the marketers take voice search more seriously. The report lists some of the most common tasks people are using personal assistants for:
Searching for a quick fact – 68%
Asking for directions – 65%
Searching for a product/service – 52%
Searching for a business – 47%
Researching a product/service – 44%
Making a shopping list – 39%
Comparing products/services – 31%
Price comparison – 30%
Adding items to a shopping list – 26%
Making a purchase – 25%
With more than half of users using voice to search for a product/service, it looks like it’s high time to take voice optimization more seriously, expecting that the usage will increase over time. This seems to be in alignment with Google’s featured snippets and zero-click searches.
5. Technical SEO
Brands simply cannot let technical issues get in the way of search engine rankings anymore. Great content is useless if users can’t find it. At the bare minimum, watch out for broken links, link quality, page speed, and mobile-friendliness. For example, besides crawling and viewing your website from a mobile perspective, Google will also check the speed of your site. If it is not fast enough, it could cost you rankings.
For example, Unbounce’s 2019 Page Speed Report found that only 3% of marketers consider page speed and improving the mobile experience to be priorities, which represents a massive opportunity for you to get a critical advantage over your competitors. The good news is most of these checks can be done automatically.
6. Programmatic SEO
All of these trends present new opportunities, but finding them quickly enough in 2020 is going to be of crucial importance. With featured snippets showing up on 86.6% of desktop searches and 73.3% of mobile searches, you should be looking for a way to get there first.
To identify these opportunities, you must take a programmatic approach to SEO. Software, like Apollo Insights, analyzes searches, results, and pages to find new ranking opportunities, trends, gaps in your content, content that could be improved, etc.
For search marketers, 2020 is going to be a pivotal year in the industry for the years to come. The opportunity to get into organic search is getting smaller, and the first marketers to react will have a significant advantage. We’re already seeing an example of this with the increase in featured snippets – a trend that will only grow in the upcoming years.
Generally, Google’s algorithms are now more capable of understanding abstract concepts, like trustworthiness, the intent behind problems and questions, and human language, than it was when its quality guidelines were first published in 2015. The bar has been raised high, and Google will enforce its own rules more effectively. This means that only the strongest will survive.
By now, these guidelines should have given you a relatively clear idea of what Google is looking for in 2020. Due to the competitive nature of SEO, many companies will fall behind – don’t let this be you and get on board as soon as possible!