With people getting smarter about their lives and their devices (pun intended), going old-school with SEO tactics won’t give you any favorable outcome in 2020. If you’ve been in the SEO industry for a decade now, you can probably tell how a vast number of SEO practices, such as keyword stuffing and sneaky redirects, are obsolete today. The dynamic nature of the SEO industry is perhaps the reason why there isn’t any fool-proof formula to rank number one in the search engines.
In pursuit of offering the best user experience, Google is continuously making changes to its algorithms. Unless you keep up with these Google algorithm updates and incorporate them into your SEO strategies, you’ll end up facing huge traffic decline, or even worse, a penalty! SEO in 2020 is all about playing it smart right. If you want to outrank every other site this year, then follow this definitive SEO guide of 2020.
Focus on the E-A-T of a Website
The term E-A-T came into focus in 2014 with Google Search Quality Guidelines. EAT refers to Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness in regards to the website content. It is an essential factor in determining the page quality of a site, i.e., the value of a website.
EAT is closely related to YMYL pages. YMYL stands for Your Money Your Life. These are web pages with content that can directly affect the health, wealth, and happiness of a user. Financial sites, medical sites, etc. are examples of YMYL sites. So websites that rank high for YMYL sites will have high EAT as well because people find the information extensive, trustworthy, and meeting their queries.
In 2020, the purpose of writing new content is just not generating traffic and leads but increasing user awareness by giving the right information by experts in their respective fields.
BERT Update and Its Effect on Visual Search
In October 2019, Google rolled out what it considers as the most significant update in the last five years- the BERT algorithm update. BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It is an open-source pre-trained Natural Language Processing (NLP) Model that can interpret the intent and context of long search queries and understand them like humans.
BERT brings focus to long-tail keywords, which can be implemented more naturally within the content. This means that the BERT update will also refine the search results for voice searches that are usually longer than text queries. Out of all voice searches, 20% of them are local searches. The future of online search is going to be dominated by audio and visual searches. Comscore already predicted that by this year, 50% of all searches would be voice-based. So, if you still haven’t optimized your site for voice search, you cannot expect to make it to the top of the SERP.
Voice searches are generally 20 words long on average and tend to be mostly question-based. So, when optimizing for voice search, you have to focus more on location-based keywords. If you want your content to rank for voice search, then you need to implement structured data on your site. This will help Google to understand your content better and show it in the search results. Structured data do not directly affect your rankings, but it definitely boosts your visibility in voice search results and improve chances of getting your content in the featured snippets.
Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
Since most of the search queries take place on mobile devices today, you have to ensure that your site is mobile-friendly. To offer the best mobile experience, it is essential to get a responsive theme for your website, choose a reliable web host, work on the page loading time and optimize the website for navigation, configure pop-ups and create AMP pages.
Optimizing Site For Rich Snippets & Featured Snippets
Structured data is essential to boost your site traffic. Structured data helps Google to understand your content better and show it in the search results for relevant queries. With a rich snippet, you can see essential information about a website such as its rating and number of reviews in addition to the meta title, URL, and description in the SERP. Rich snippets shouldn’t be confused with featured snippets.
Featured snippet content is the content that you see above Position 1 on Google. When a user looks for something on Google, a partial search result appears in Position 0 or just below the search box. This is called the featured snippet. These often appear as paragraphs, tables, or listicles, so try to present your content in similar formats wherever possible. Since featured snippets aim at answering user queries, look for keywords that have informational intent and aim to answer as many questions as possible.
To accommodate all types of related queries on a topic, go beyond keyword research, and use tools like AskthePublic to understand what users are looking for. You can also explore social media sites like Twitter and visit Q&A forums like Reddit and Quora to see what people are looking for. Try to answer each of them as elaborately as possible, and support your answers with images and videos. Another element to consider to rank in the featured snippets is the answer length. Don’t go for long sentences, instead write crisp content and divide the content into small paragraphs. You should also add FAQ sections in the content, as this will boost your chances to rank on featured snippets.
Reoptimizing Old Content
Every site owner will have a couple of blog posts that they have written with much effort but failed to generate good traffic through them. Don’t let your efforts go down the drain. Reoptimizing old content is one of the most effective SEO strategies you can implement on your website. Reoptimizing old content requires you to update the content with the latest information and removing the outdated one.
Analyze the web pages that are ranking for the particular topic and update your blog post accordingly. Conduct keyword gap analysis and find new keyword opportunities. If your old blog posts lack images and videos, try to optimize the content with enough visual resources. You can even choose to add podcasts and audio clips. Take a note of the content structure. Add proper headings and subheadings, add new content sections, and update the meta title and meta description.
Reoptimizing old content will help in keeping your content up-to-date and improving the overall ranking of your website by generating more traffic and leads. Reoptimizing and republishing old content also saves you from scratching your head to find new content ideas every week. When you republish the old content, it is a lot less work than working on a blog post from scratch. When you rework on old blog posts, you are also reworking on the already existing search authority instead of trying to build viewership from the bottom.
Strive to Offer Better User Experience
In 2020, any website that can offer a great user experience will be given priority by Google. So, if you have a website that you want to rank well organically, you should first focus on the UX. The first thing that you should focus on is site speed. Optimize your site for quick loading. According to studies, an increase in page loading time can increase the bounce rate as well. A mere 3 seconds delay in the page loading time can increase the bounce rate by as high as 9%.
Next, you need to focus on your site navigation. There shouldn’t be any ads or pop-ups that block the page content. This may lead Google to penalize your website. Adding a breadcrumb trail is an effective way to define the navigation path to the end-users. Content-wise, it would help if you first focused on improving the quality and then work on the content structure. Avoid writing content that isn’t well-researched. Break long paragraphs into bullets and subheadings for the ease of the users.
You should also use images and videos across your site wisely. Instead of using stock photos, invest in professional designers and artists to create original images. While adding hyperlinks within the content, ensure to differentiate it with the rest of the content by highlighting it or using a different text color. Keep the font colors and designs consistent across the website and rule out all the 404 errors from the site. To ensure that your site is running smoothly, run SEO audits every few months.
The ever-changing SEO trends are something that every SEO person looks forward to every year. With new Google algorithm updates in 2019, there are going to be many changes in the current SEO scenario. Still, the motive behind such updates is going to be the same: improving the user experience. So keep striving to improve the quality of your web content and be open to incorporate changes that will work for the mutual benefit of the users as well as your business.