Understand Your Audience & User Intent
Its all about the customer. What is best for the customer? Does your customer prefer text? Images? Video? or Audio?
Knowing this will be more important than ever in 2020 and doing research is key.
You need to understand what the customer is expecting to see when they query a keyword or phrase and you need to give them the answer by displaying the correct content on your website. They should see what they expect to see and not websites that have no service or product they are searching for.
If your website content is perfectly written and optimised, but it’s done for the wrong audience, it won’t grow the business and the customer will have wasted their time.
Tomorrow’s high-ranking website is all about targeting the correct audience for your business. Enhance your audience’s journey and you’ll be rewarded by Google.
It will be more critical than ever for SEOs and content specialists to focus heavily on the user intent of the keywords they are targeting while creating quality content.
To adjust to this shift in 2020, you may have to change the way you’ve been doing your keyword research. “When doing keyword research in 2020, it’s imperative that you check the SERPs to see if websites like yours are ranking for a targeted phrase.
Stop matching keyword phrases and start making sure that your content comprehensively answers questions your audience is asking via search.
Beyond Google Search
I think that 2020 will be the year that, once again, SEO will not just be about how to optimiSe for Google, but we will have to take into account other engines.
As Cindy Krum, CEO of MobileMoxie, pointed out, SEO is about showing up wherever and however people are searching – not just getting the first blue link. So you must learn how to drive traffic and engagement for other mediums other than just websites.
If potential customers are searching for apps, you need to rank in app stores. If they are searching for podcasts or videos, you need to rank where people search for videos. Strong brands are brand that show on every medium. Think beyond driving users to your website by ranking number 1.
Structured Data Markup
Use structured data whenever possible. With AI becoming increasingly important for Google, structured data is becoming more important. If Google wants to move from a mobile-first to an AI-structured data is key. No matter how good your AI is, if it takes too long to ‘crawl’ the required information, it will never be great.
Start looking at and understanding structured data, schema, active and passive search behaviors, and how they can connect to behaviors that signal intent so that the behavior of search becomes a much larger effort of find-ability.
Contextual relationships between topics and behaviors, supported by structured markup, is the critical trend we need to start understanding, testing, and implementing for 2019. Using information architecture, tags, metadata and more recently, structured markup, we’ve had the ability to give search engines signals to understand this topical and supportive content structure.
Google is intensifying its focus on evaluating content quality and at the depth and breadth of a website’s content. Websites that provide exceptional depth in quality content coverage will soared in rankings this year. Google rewards sites that provide the best in-depth experiences continuing in 2020.
If you can answer a question, get a lead, make a sale, help with SEO (link building), reputation management, social proof or community building purposes with a piece of content, then your a winner.
Increase Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness
Establishing and growing your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness – better known as E-A-T in Google’s search quality rating guidelines – will be another key trend in 2019.
Although the E-A-T guidelines are written for Google’s algorithm raters, rather than Google’s algorithm itself, it helps us to understand where Google is heading in the short term, You cannot rank so easily writing authoritative content unless you are already an authority on a given subject.
Hire experts to author, leverage data from known entities, and ensure credentials and credit is given to both, with appropriate affinity to the promoted brand. Like Google, Bing also wants to reward E-A-T.
Invest in Technical SEO
Websites continue to grow in complexity every year, making technical SEO a major area of investment in 2020 and beyond.
Some key areas of focus on the technical side of SEO will be:
- Speed: Sites will finally start to become simpler and faster as SEOs discover that Google is rewarding sites more than once thought for speed.
- Progressive Web Apps (PWAs): For 2020, you should start thinking about how your website could live on as a PWA in the future. How can your PWA become a keepable experience your users would like to put on their home screen?
On-page optimization will continue to be important in 2020.
We are still seeing incredible results from nothing more than on-page SEO tactics for many companies that come in the door. Links are still very important, but the biggest bang for most companies’ SEO bucks is ongoing on-page optimization. Because on-page SEO isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it tactic.
- Ensuring internal site search is providing relevant results.
- Shortening conversion process.
- Ensure that repeat customers can restock commonly purchased items simply.
- Customer support responds to questions related to the business.
- Consider use of chatbots to lighten the load for basic, common questions and procedural tasks.
- Users are easily able to navigate to physical locations.
- Providing users with their stage in fulfillment funnel (think: clear, visual process forms).
Well, is this year the year of voice search? Once again, not quite.
I think more companies will look into a voice optimization strategy next year.
Although voice search got lots of attention in 2018, voice search is just a piece of a bigger shift, from specific “results” to “answers” as part of a longer “conversational search journey.
This will only gain more prominence and importance in 2020 – and the shift has already started.” While ‘voice might be an easier way to request answers in some scenarios, it certainly isn’t the ideal format to fulfill the intent in more complex answers. Voice search is a game changer for multinational and multilingual websites.
Machine learning is about to explode in 2020.
We’ve seen machine learning in search with RankBrain, Google News groupings, etc. we haven’t really experienced the true power of what it can be. This is the year that changes. We can see the prep work coming with some of the layout changes the engines are pushing out and their drive to answer intents rather than questions. This is the root of machine learning’s impact on search.
But machine learning won’t just be something to watch on Google and the search engines. Companies need to adopt machine learning to develop unique content for SEO, beginning with a set of data based on specific variables. Machine learning, coupled with the need for analysis and reporting, as testing new strategies and implementation is imperative to understanding successes and failures.
Optimize for Featured Snippets & Other Google SERPS
In addition to optimising for your own website, you must also optimise for the Google search experience in 2020.
Answer boxes, recipes, the knowledge graph, carousels, and who-knows-what-else will take an even bigger bite out of organic traffic. Exposure is as much about visibility in the SERPs as it is about clicks.
That means optimising for featured snippets (a.k.a., position zero) and other Google search features will continue to be an important trend.
Answer boxes for our own site and client websites. Every time this happens, it results in a significant spike in organic traffic.