SEO in 2020 – Trends, Predictions, Tips & Strategy

30 / Dec / 2019 by Ankit Gupta 9 comments

As the New Year is around the corner, everyone is looking for expected trends for their respective industry in 2020. The same is the case with the SEO industry. The Google Keywords tool is showing the following keywords that people are searching across the world:

  • SEO trends 2020
  • SEO 2020
  • SEO strategy 2020
  • SEO tips 2020

There are thousands of blogs flooded with topics like top 3/6/8/10/12 SEO trends in 2020, SEO tricks in 2020, SEO strategy in 2020, etc. Everyone is writing to catch the eyeball, show their expertise and thought process. Many SEO professionals implement a lot of such SEO strategies and predictions based on their belief and followership of various thought leaders in the SEO industry.

The common question for all the SEO professionals remains the same “What SEO tactics and strategies will work to dominate the SERPs and earn more revenue in 2020?”

So, let’s dive into the SEO trends and predictions for 2020

1. Featured Snippets

In recent years, Google has evolved to deliver a better search experience for the user, like through Featured Snippets. These usually appear above the first organic result, commonly referred to as “Position 0” among the SEO community.

featured-snippets-2020

These featured snippets get generated on most of the queries you’ll ask on Google, especially the ones having how, why, are, will, does, do, can, is, should, etc as a preposition.

According to a study by SemRush on a variety of questions, featured snippets generates tables, lists, and paragraphs. 52.2% of queries generate “lists” for queries with a preposition “how”.

featured-snippets-2020-semrush

How to rank for featured snippets in 2020

In order to rank your content into these featured snippets:

  • Write FAQs for the most searched terms
  • Use tabular format to present the data
  • Use listed and unlisted bullets within your copy
  • Write shorter sentences
  • Structure of your heading tags in a hierarchy
  • Set up the structured data wherever applicable

It would be very difficult to find topics or key phrases where no snippet gets generated. If you find one, you would be lucky. You would need to compete with the existing ones, writing better and informative content from them.

2. BERT & Voice Search

Let’s first understand, what is BERT?

It Is a neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP) that helps Google to understand context on the word-by-word basis and then to deliver better search results.

google-bert-2020-trend

With the incorporation of BERT this year into the Google’s ranking and featured snippets algorithm, Google has taken a huge step forward into making search about intent matching rather pure string matching.

By 2020, around 50% of searches will be voice-based so there will be less typing involved. This will give rise to a higher number of long-tail keywords and hyperlocal searches.

Raman Mittal, CMO, TO THE NEW, echoed that, search engines are shifting to intent-based results as opposed to keywords. It’s an era of machine learning and natural language processing.

The BERT algorithm update along with RankBrain will predominate in 2020 while understanding the natural language through voice searches and processing the SERPs based on machine learning. So, your content becomes the next crucial thing.

3. Content for Readers, not Machines

Though it sounds just opposite to what I mentioned above, however, producing engaging and meaningful content for your readers will only help you 2020. When we write the content without the focus on SEO keywords, we write what we think that justifies the topic. Since BERT is all about natural language processing, better is to write in a conversational natural language.

The goal of the content created should be changing the mentality to more of a topic-focus is to create content that addresses an entire conversation holistically as opposed to just focusing around a single keyword or phrase on a page should be targeting. Include stats, surveys, or an industry study, to get more backlinks from bloggers and journalists.

Content Clusters

While designing the content strategy, in a holistic view, the content should be structured in content clusters.  A great example of a site that uses content clustering is Hubspot

 

hubspot-content-cluster-2020

The ultimate objective is to have different sections of your content around specific topics creating a hub and spoke structure. In this model, you can connect other content pieces around the same topic together. Having such a model in place will help search engines to understand the core topic and rank the page accordingly.

Content-Length

The content length had also been a topic of discussion during the past few years and it will also be there in 2020. Many kinds of research have shown that writing at length yields a better ranking on the search engine result page.

I certainly agree with this as if you would write about a topic in detail with all the research content, you will automatically reach to a good content length without sounding verbose. Just try to cover all the aspects of the topic you are writing about. While detailing out your thought process, you will naturally use synonyms to make the context clear both for users and search engines.

Video Content

Another top SEO trends of 2020 will be to include video content in your SEO strategy. According to Forrester Research, video is 50 times more likely to show up on the first page of SERP than a web page with plain text. Also, 62% of Google’s universal searches include video. The video content can include a question, a detailed answer with a storyline of the incidence and situations that can be linked to your audience.

You can either host a video on your web server or on YouTube.

Hosting videos on your website will require a video player to be installed on your server. In addition to it, you should add essential video schema markups to your videos. You can check a list of all the parameters you can use with video schema markup on this page, It would be great if you can add a video transcript to your post so that search engines understand them better.

YouTube SEO is an altogether different space. YouTube videos can appear in Google Search results, video search results, Google Images, and Google Discover. Please refer to various blog posts for YouTube optimization.

FAQ Pages

You should also focus on FAQ pages for content creation in 2020. Google, in May 2019 announced new search results for FAQs in search and Google Assistant. It is designed for pages that provide a list of frequently asked questions and answers on a particular topic. Adding this structured data helps Google show questions and answers directly on Google Search and the Assistant. Here is the documentation for search and Google Assistant.

4. Technical SEO & UX

Technical SEO is all about crawlability; how well the search engine spiders can crawl and index your website pages. It is called “technical” as it is all about optimizing the infrastructure of your website having no relation with content and website promotions.

All the best practices of technical SEO need to be followed to rank your website in 2020 to generate more revenue. Here is a quick list of elements of technical SEO:

  • Setting a Preferred Domain
  • Navigation and Site Structure
  • SSL and HTTPS
  • Website Speed
  • CDN Optimization
  • Optimize Your URL Structure
  • HTML optimization
  • Mobile Friendliness
  • Structured Data Markup
  • Robots.txt
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Canonical URLs
  • Optimize 404 Page
  • XML Sitemap Optimization
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
  • Pagination and Multilingual Websites

Technical SEO approaches search engine readability, and UX targets your website’s visitors. Both share a common goal of giving users the best experience. However, there is a very close relationship between technical SEO and UX; the contradictions!

When we consider UX, we mean better load speed, easy navigation, and faster response to user actions. For all these.  JavaScript-based frameworks suit the best, however, at the same time, they contradict with getting crawled by search engine bots.  Either we need to have server-side rendering or pre-rendering services for page-level crawling with apt on-page elements.

5. Mobile SEO & AMP

These days more Google searches happen on mobile devices, hence optimization for mobile is crucial. It’s your choice whether you implement your mobile site through separate URLs, dynamic serving or having a responsive design. Each of them has its own pros and cons.

In 2020 and years after, mobile SEO will win the world. After the mobile-first index, Google crawls the mobile version of your web pages and attributes the mobile page structure and content to position you on SERPs. So, having a great mobile page should be the highest priority. If your page doesn’t load well on the mobile screens, you will lose ranking in both mobile and desktop results. Google recommends that your site should load in under a second for mobile users.

For various industries, mobile SEO will prevail in 2020 as a crucial part of their SEO strategy. It will primarily be focused on the transactional websites having different functionalities which depend upon the user actions.

Here are a few quick actions to optimize your website for mobile devices in 2020:

  • Speed-up mobile loading
  • Structure your content which is easy to read on phones
  • Use HTML5 For Video and Animated Content
  • Configure “Viewport Content” Tag
  • Use smaller header images
  • Use negative spacing between text, buttons and design elements
  • Use social sharing buttons as a tab bar

Please note that Google puts tablets “in their own class” and states: “When we speak of mobile devices, we generally do not include tablets in the definition”. In other words, according to Google: mobile=smartphones.

Accelerated Mobile Pages are stripped-down versions of webpages designed to load quickly on mobile devices. In fact, AMP pages load about 4x faster than their non-AMP counterparts

For non-transactional (display content-only) websites, the AMP pages will be crucial. On mobile devices, AMP pages will rank higher due to faster loading speed. The main aim of the AMP project is to prioritize speed and readability. AMP pages are developed with lazy loading of images which means that the images will load upon scroll only. Also, AMP pages are heavily cached on Google’s server to display the content as fast as possible.

6. Local SEO

With the rise of “near me” queries, everyone is looking for local SEO. The local SEO industry will grow multifold in 2020.

DID YOU KNOW? According to Google, 46% of overall searches have a ‘local intent’.

Catering to the local reach has become crucial for most of the businesses. The rise in demand for local providers and opened up new business opportunities for the brands.

There are three core elements of local SEO

  • Proximity: How close is your business to the searcher? You would need to have a physical presence of your business listed on Google My Business in the area of your target audience. In some cases you won’t be able to do so however, Google picks up some businesses based on their online reputation. In such cases, you can mention all the possible service areas.
  • Relevance: How relevant to the search query are your products and services? You need to expand the description of your products and services in your Google My Business listings. You can list each of the products and services in respective sections with a brief description. You can target a few long-tail keywords in these descriptions.
  • Prominence: What do other consumers say about your products and services? In 2020, reviews will play an important role in local SEO for businesses. Having more positive reviews will help in achieving ranking higher on the local search results. As a best practice, you should also post replies to the reviews you receive. If it’s a positive review, thank them and in case it is a negative review, try to sort out their problem. If they get satisfied, ask them to change their review on your business listing.

Other important factors of Local SEO in 2020 will include NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) syndication, citations, local reviews on social business pages, local directories, and supporting content.

7. Backlinks, Influencers & Branding

SEO is generally classified into Technical, on-page, and off-page SEO. While considering off-page SEO the first thing strikes us is backlinks. I have noticed on different forums that people are asking if backlinks will hold any value in an SEO strategy in 2020?

The answer is yes, however, there will be a change in the definition of quality backlink. Quality backlinks in 2020 will be the ones earned from natural backlinking by publishing quality content. It’s a paradigm shift towards the topics centric approach we need to attain to earn backlinks.

At the same time, influencers and branding elements will also play a major role in your SEO strategy in 2020.  Influencer marketing had always been a trending topic over the past few years and it has shown value as well. Branding and influencer marketing goes hand-in-hand where you promote your brand on various publications and collect the share of voice from real people.

Branding helps you get brand mentions and influencer marketing helps you to get backlinks.

Brand mention – If you are getting mentioned by your business name or brand name by the people but they do not link (hyperlink) back to your website, it will still help you to rank high in Google search.

8. Google E-A-T and YMYL

Back in 2015, Google released its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines and this gave us an idea of what is deemed to be a high (or low) quality website, from Google’s perspective. After updating it’s search quality raters guidelines handbook on September 5, 2019, E-A-T and YMYL came from a very important for the SEO world

Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) content is the type of content that, if presented incorrectly or deceptively, could directly impact the reader’s safety, health, happiness, or financial stability. In other words, If you create a YMYL page with incorrect information, it could affect people’s lives.

Google takes this content very, very seriously.  Make sure that only experts write such YMYL content pieces.

In section 2.3 of Google search quality rater guidelines, Google has defined the following YMYL topics.

ymyl-google-2020

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness. Similar to YMYL, it’s Google’s way to protect searchers from low-quality content that can impact the searcher’s health and safety. The content quality evaluation mechanism will not only review a website’s E-A-T but also the content creators E-A-T too.

Google now wants to see how authoritative the author is particularly if it’s a YMYL subject. This means that we now need to build author E-A-T as well along with the website. This can be done using the author boxes for blog posts with links to the authors’ social profiles. You should also use author schema markup, i.e. structured data markup that tells Google about the author, making it easier to connect the author with any other authority signals

Conclusion

So, that’s how I’m preparing for SEO in 2020.

SEO is crucial for businesses irrespective of their industry. SEO trends in 2020 will continue to be similar year after year as search engines work on the sole objective of serving the right content to search query resulting in user satisfaction. If you are thinking the same way, you are on the right track.

Now it’s your turn: which of these factors you will try first? Are you going to handle technical SEO, focus on local SEO, or streamline your content creation process first in 2020?

Let me know your thoughts by leaving a quick comment below

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comments (9)

  1. Sachin Kauhsik

    Fantastic information – thank you @Ankit. It was very insightful and detailed post but I would be interested in your recommendation on what’s the best way to get natural backlinks and get higher rankings in SERP.

    Reply
    1. Ankit Gupta

      Thanks, Sachin. When we say “natural” backlinks, it refers to getting links from the people/websites on their own. Anyone would refer/link to your webpage only when you have relevant content for their audience. So, the key is meaningful content. I hope you got the answer :)

      Reply
  2. John Martell

    Nice read Ankit, you have incorporated all the SEO trends I have been reading across. What are your thoughts on backlinks for small businesses. Will they have any impact?

    Reply
    1. Ankit Gupta

      Thanks, John.

      Backlinks will also have their importance in 2020, especially for small businesses. Depending upon your industry and competitiveness, the quality of backlinks will vary. As I have mentioned, researched content earns more backlinks, at the same time you should also aim to acquire quality links (non-paid) from different websites.

      Reply
  3. Adedapo Olatunde

    What a great post! Now I can be fully prepared for the next things to come from Google and use them to my advantage.

    Reply

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