What will ‘SEO 2020’ look like?

Many business owners want to drive quality traffic to their site.

For those that manage to get their website to the top of the search engines the rewards can be big. In most cases, just a small increase in site traffic can result in increased revenue and sales.

However, as the online world constantly evolves, business owners can be forgiven for feeling a bit overwhelmed. With so many different tactics to consider and with so much conflicting advice on hand, it can be difficult to commit to a strategy.

So, what should you as a business owner do to succeed in the SERPs in 2020?

Let’s take a look at the top SEO trends for the year ahead and consider what you might do to respond.

The insight could really pay off.

Trend 1. Google’s focus will be on meeting customer intent

With its recent ‘BERT’ algorithm update announced in October 2019, Google is reinforcing its vow to continue humanising search through natural language processing.

The update to the algorithm means Google is able to understand natural language better than ever before. It’s also crawling a broader number of page elements to establish the context of the web page content.

  • What it means:

This latest move by Google demonstrates in no uncertain terms that web pages should primarily be created for human beings, and not just as a way of getting recognised by spiders and bots.

  • What you can do:

The way you are able to use your website to interpret and fulfil customer need will be the key to gaining a competitive edge in 2020. Identify your most lucrative target market and create web pages that solve their problems and answer their questions.

Trend 2. SEO activities will benefit from the support of a solid, integrated marketing programme

With a re-emphasis on user – or customer – intent, SEO activities should not be carried out in isolation in 2020, but rather as part of a broader marketing strategy.

  • What it means:

A strong brand evokes loyalty and trust, which in turns translates to more site visits, more publicity and – crucially – more links. Each of these factors contribute to your site’s domain authority and ranking.

  • What you can do:

Rather than seek silver SEO bullets that will shoot you up to the top of the SERPs, it will pay to take a more holistic and consistent approach to your marketing efforts in 2020. Switch from a technically focused SEO attitude to a people orientated SEO attitude and meet your customers on their terms.

Trend 3. There is an increasing importance on quality – not quantity – of content

Google’s algorithm calculates ‘dwell time’, which ascertains how useful – and valuable – your site is to users.

  • What it means:

You’ll want to hold onto site visitors and encourage them to interact with your site for as long as possible so that dwell time on your site is increased.

  • What you can do:

Imagine your site is a book. Acknowledge how much time and effort you’d put into creating that book and give your website the same treatment. From the grammar to the tone of voice; accuracy of information to chapter order and image quality; you would make sure your creation delivered exactly what it was intended for before sending it to the publishers.

Do the same for your website and you’ll be on track to creating a valuable, user-orientated resource.

Trend 4. Reputation matters – so build it.

Google will continue to consider your businesses’ ‘expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness’ (EAT) in 2020 when ranking your site – as well as that of the individuals who contribute and publish to it.

  • What it means:

Using several interlinked factors, Google attributes a quality score according to the credentials of a web page’s content creator. It also looks at patterns to try and ascertain if something is true as part of the ‘trust criteria’ – if the same statement appears on other authoritative sites for instance.

  • What you can do:

Develop a network of experts with proven credibility and expertise in related fields and ask them to contribute to your site in some way. This could be as a guest poster, commentator, associate or other.

Be candid and open about your achievements as an individual and business.

Create a detailed ‘About Us’ page or resume that outlines who you – and the people you work with – are.

Trend 5. Online and offline will combine

From supply chain excellence to the deliverance of innovative, quality products and services; your conduct and offline existence matters – even in the realm of the digital world.

  • What it means:

Reviews are a big indicator for Google. Poor service whether experienced on or offline can easily result in Google demoting your site from the SERPs. Customers will often turn to their social media accounts to vent their frustration and this can be detrimental to how Google ranks your site.

  • What you can do:

Seek to delight your customer at every opportunity – but make sure you can consistently meet the expectations you set to avoid dissatisfaction. Recognise the fact that online and offline worlds are two sides of the same coin rather than mutually exclusive from one another. You can’t grow a viable business by succeeding in one, and failing in the other.

Trend 6. Link building will – more than ever – look like PR

Link building will continue to be an important part of SEO in 2020. What is changing, however, is that the context of the hosting web page will matter more. It could assign some traditional practices to history.

  • What it means:

Modern day link building will take on an approach that is more akin to traditional PR than tactical SEO. This is because Google is aiming to give higher rankings to websites that provide genuine interest and value rather than rewarding low grade content and practices.

  • What you can do:

Adopting a PR mind-set rather than an SEO mind-set when it comes to link building is by far the preferred approach. You can do this by following editorial calendars; sending out timely, newsworthy stories and contributing to online features and relevant, third party blogs. The links you get are then symptomatic of good practice.

Trend 7. Tried and tested technical basics will still apply

Ongoing, technical SEO maintenance and best practice should be carried out with vengeance if you are to beat your competition in the SERPs.

  • What it means

Whereas the shift towards a more humanistic approach to SEO is gaining ground, creating a structured and well organised site that helps Google crawl pages to ascertain their context is vital for good online exposure.

  • What you can do

The Google Search Console is a sophisticated and free SEO tool that will help you get your site shipshape. Set up an account and submit your sitemap to make sure it is crawled regularly. It’ll help you spot broken links, check your site’s loading time and identify crawl errors.

Get the Free Guide to SEO in 2020 for Small Business Owners

For more helpful tips and advice into how you can approach SEO in 2020, please visit www.masterplanmarketing.co.uk/SEO and request a free version of my 20 page guide. It’s full of practical suggestions that’ll help you get underway.

About the Author:

Helen Bailey is a qualified marketing consultant with years of multi-discipline marketing and promotional experience. She recently completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Marketing from the IDM.

She has run – and continues to run – marketing campaigns and programmes for a number of B2B and B2C clients across a range of industries including graphic arts, energy and environment, recruitment, construction, retail, coaching and software.

Helen started out in SEO in 2009, link building and running digital PR campaigns for a successful comparison site business. Her endeavours saw her earning links and coverage on prestigious sites such as those belonging to the BBC, The Telegraph and The Independent.

Learn more at www.masterplanmarketing.co.uk.

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