The internet is always evolving — and SEO does, too. Many of the strategies our SEO agency used in the past have fallen out of favor (some are even frowned upon by Google). Your business has changed over the last few years; why shouldn’t your marketing strategy follow suit?
Search engine optimization involves numerous tactics, which can make it hard to keep up with the latest trends. Though there are components that still work well — like writing optimized content and obtaining backlinks through link-building — there may be trends that are completely foreign to you.
That’s why we’ve compiled some of the most effective SEO trends of 2020 in today’s post. Because if you want to find SEO trends that actually work, then you need to know what SEO agency owners are actually talking about.
So here are the SEO trends that search experts are following for 2020. How many of these trends are totally new to you? Are there any that your organization has already made a priority?
Mobile First Indexing
In 2017, Google announced that webmasters should expect mobile first indexing to become the norm. That means your website’s mobile experience will determine where you land in the SERPs. Google receives more than 63,000 searches per second on any given day, but an increasing number of those searches are coming from devices other than laptops and personal computers. Today, at least half of all internet traffic and searches are from mobile devices, which means it’s imperative to ensure your website is mobile friendly.
If you currently have a separate mobile version for your site or it’s not responsive (meaning your site doesn’t automatically adapt to the device on which it’s being viewed), you’ll need to consider making some major changes right away. That’s because Google will soon index your mobile site before anything else (if it hasn’t already — check your Google Search Console for recent notifications). So if your site doesn’t perform well when it’s viewed on a smartphone or a tablet, that’s going to affect your rankings in a more substantial way very soon.
Businesses that concentrated more on their desktop sites are going to be in big trouble, both with Google and with consumers. Not only will ignoring mobile users hurt your standing in search, but you will also be leaving a lot of money on the table since more and more web users are shopping on their phones. Not sure if your site is responsive? You may need to hire an SEO agency to make certain everything runs smoothly, regardless of how your site is being viewed.
Accelerated Mobile Pages
Speed is always going to be an important factor in SEO — and it’s only becoming more so these days. Some sites still rank well despite their slow load speed, but for the majority of sites, speed plays an essential role in search results. This is particularly true on mobile devices, since (as we mentioned above) more web users are conducting searches on their phones. Google wants to provide fast, relevant results to its users, which is why the Accelerated Mobile Pages project (or AMP) was launched.
After noticing how many sites were abandoned due to slow loading times, Google has offered this option to the world. Typically, the sites that use this option are media outlets and publishers, as the results are often geared toward top stories. Google displays web results with AMP designations first to users. These pages load at lightning speed, which makes users happy. It’s also good for the websites, as their bounce rates are reduced and potential conversion rates are higher. While not every website needs to be part of the AMP project, it can be a good way to address SEO problems associated with loading speeds or to potentially get your posts more prominently featured in search results.
When you conduct a Google search today, you don’t see just organic results and pay-per-click ads. You’ll also notice:
- Local map packs: The nearby business listings that appear below the map
- Featured snippets: Specially selected excerpts and questions that appear at the top of organic search results
- Knowledge graphs: Highlighted information about a specific organization or individual, often gathered from multiple sources, to give web users a quick overview of the subject of their search.
- Related questions, shopping results, image packs, and so much more.
These results are known as SERP features, and they stand out from the rest of the ranked links you’ll find when you conduct a query.
Since Google search results look very different these days, websites need to make an effort to stand out. One of the ways to do that is to go after these SERP features. Being included in these features means substantially more web traffic, so you’ll need to track your rankings as they relate to these features and figure out ways that you might be included in the ones that are relevant to your industry. Focusing on onsite optimization is really the best way to do this; Google needs to see that the information you provide is accurate, useful, and relevant in order to be included in SERP features.
We mentioned that many users are doing the majority of their searches on mobile, but we didn’t specify how they were searching. If you think everyone is typing out their queries on a keyboard, think again. More searches are being conducted via voice now, thanks to Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa. You might be surprised to learn that around 40% of adults use voice search features (and that percentage is even higher for teens) to find the results they’re after.
It’s an interesting wrinkle for SEO analysts to deal with, since it means there’s a greater need for optimized content that keeps common questions in mind. You’ll likely need to provide answers that begin with “why,” “when,” “how,” and “where” on your site if you want to appeal to those who are searching via voice. If you have content that clearly answers these kinds of questions, your site is going to rank higher in search results than competitors who don’t think about these users at all.
However, one major note about the importance of voice search to SEO:
Virtually every article about top SEO trends has included voice search… for the last three years. While voice search — and the long-tail keywords that come with it — is an SEO trend worth knowing, so far its effect on the industry has been limited.
Secure Links (SSL)
Links play a colossal role in SEO. Having high-quality backlinks is still very important. Internal linking is, too. But you may also need to take a look at your own web address to ensure your rankings don’t tank.
Secured website certificates have been a key factor to Google for a couple of years now, but if you don’t have an SSL (Secured Sockets Layer), your site could suffer as a result. Having an SSL certificate means that you have an encrypted, secure connection. Not only does that mean you’re physically able to protect the personal information of your customers, but it really adds to your overall brand credibility. In a sea of websites, consumers want to know who to trust; by having that little lock icon at the top of the browser window, you’re confirming to customers that you’ve got their back.
Not having an SSL certificate can negatively affect your SEO because Google (and even different web browsers) want to ensure that the websites in top ranking spots truly have customer protection in mind. Some browsers like Chrome have started flagging websites without the “https” in their web address as potentially unsafe. Fortunately, it’s a relatively easy fix — but it’s one you can’t afford to ignore much longer.
Your blog posts aren’t the only type of content that need to be optimized. Videos are increasingly showing up in search results, which means you need to focus on video SEO, too. Of course, that means if you don’t currently have videos on your site, you may need some. Since YouTube is actually one of the leading search engines, video represents a huge portion of online traffic. A study conducted by Cisco predicted that 82% of all consumer internet traffic will be attributed to video by the year 2021.
If you have optimized video on YouTube, you’re going to show up more prominently in search results. You may even obtain more backlinks this way. Google has started displaying video results in mobile search queries more frequently, so now is the time to start prioritizing this type of content (and ensure that it’s optimized for search).
Long-form optimized content is nothing new, but it’s gaining steam in 2020. Content of 1,500 words or longer performs better in Google search rankings. These kinds of posts are typically rich with information (and opportunities to optimize). They also keep web users on pages for longer, receive more social shares, and obtain more backlinks. It almost goes without saying that these pieces are of higher quality and act as a real asset for websites. While that doesn’t mean that shorter blog posts don’t have a place in 2020 SEO trends, it does mean that businesses may want to consider adding these longer posts into the mix.
Relevancy Link Building
Like long-form content, link building is not a new concept. But it’s still a highly effective one that’s being used more frequently in SEO strategies. Backlinks still matter quite a bit — and if improving your backlink profile is a top priority to you, then link building needs to be part of your strategy.
Today, it’s important for link building strategies to be highly focused; it’s often far better to obtain one high-quality and relevant link than it is to obtain 20 not-so-relevant links from sites with lower domain ratings. Your profile of backlinks should be appropriate for your specific industry. For instance, our Dallas SEO agency will benefit most from backlinks from other SEO and SEM marketing sites. Manipulative link building (or worse, link buying) is a no-no, but link building is still very much a part of SEO. You need to create content that is truly helpful and interesting so that your site will be more likely to receive backlinks from reputable link creators in your niche.
As you probably know already, a successful SEO strategy is comprised of many different pieces. Backlinks, onsite optimization, high-quality blog posts, page speed, and other components all come into play. When used together, you and your SEO agency can create a comprehensive strategy that will translate into success.