Want to know how to improve your website’s SEO in 2020? Start next year with a rise in your (SERPS) search engine ranking positions with the following advice. For the last six years, I’ve produced a yearly predictive article forecasting the next twelve months ahead for SEO and sometimes more generally in digital marketing. In my 2014 SEO forecast ‘SEO 2015 – The Competitive Edge‘, I wrote – ‘If your marketing strategy doesn’t evolve with the times then you’ll find yourself decades behind your competition.’ Half a decade on and this is even more true today. There are many changes coming in 2020, and even though a lot of them, (just over 3000 on average) will come from Google directly, the most important changes are coming from users and the devices they use, to find the information they need. Google may also be entering new markets where they’ll come into direct opposition to the EU’s laws on the non-competitive nature of Search Engines again, E-A-T is now a must and the fundamentals are just as important today as they were in 2014. Let’s begin by looking at some of the challenges for most websites that aren’t ready for the changes to both search algorithms and user journeys in 2020.
Future-Proofing your Website’s Competitiveness
Most people trained in Search Strategy are writing SEO approaches for written search, and whilst search is mostly based on written input and to a large extent predictive text, this is changing, rapidly. According to Gartner, by 2020, 30% of all web browsing will be done without a screen. Due to the advent of Amazon Echo, Google Home and a raft of new devices entering the market, voice-first interactions are becoming ubiquitous. This means that marketers will need to understand the differences in the ways that particular demographics use speech as opposed to written communication. This means that both lexical choice and syntax in search are changing rapidly and we need to be proactive in order to be visible. As the market is moving more towards voice search also consider the other side of the coin as a ranking factor, listening. Listening to content might is a factor that encourages dwell time. If you use WordPress I’d highly suggest the Amazon Polly plugin, it’s a speech recognition tool that will read your content out aloud for your users. This means that people that prefer to listen rather than read will have both options. Also, be mindful of how sophisticated you intend to write about products and services. According to a study by Backlinco, the average Google voice search result is worded at an average literacy level of a 13-year-old. Always be mindful of your audience.
Anyone that has worked in SEO for any amount of time will recognise that Google’s raison d’etre is to improve the user experience by supplying people with the information they request in as shorter timeframe as possible. This has resulted in a number of updates that give live information, from football scores to election results, hotel prices to airline updates. This is fantastic for the user experience, yet not so good for businesses wanting greater time on site. Many websites hosting this information have already seen a huge reduction in traffic as Google circumvents the need to use them. This is also now affecting users’ online shopping experiences. Google Shopping is growing and at the backend, it looks like the behemoth is gaining the confidence to compete heavily with the big online retailers such as Amazon and eBay. This will be an interesting if not controversial development regarding the EU’s non compete laws around search engines as it will mean that Google could be in direct conflict with the businesses they provide a service for.
Are your Rich Snippets too good? These bite-sized paragraphs used to be the bait to entice users to click on to your URL yet now they’re more likely to prevent 18 to 30 years olds from clicking on your website, if you give them the information they need too quickly. It’s tempting to give the user the answer they need within the Rich Snippet although it could be preventing click-throughs. I personally recommend giving the user the information they request as succinctly as possible because that’s a better experience and is, therefore, a little act of positive brand building. I’d also work on your funnel strategies and then make the experience on-site as dynamic as possible. An article could be written on how this can affect approaches for Google Ads too but I’ll leave that for another time.
Last year I wrote about E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness), Google’s answer to try and differentiate great content from fake news. This ranking factor is increasing in weight and this means online PR, strong high-quality backlink strategies and authoritative stories about who you are and the people in your company are going to be important factors more so next year and beyond. Will this become a factor that leads to people making different recruitment decisions based on a candidate’s online profile? Perhaps.
In 2010 Matt Cutts exclaimed that content was king and this is still true with one small caveat, your approach. More accurately, strategic content is king. Yes! Blogs and onsite content must be planned, seasonal, industry-relevant, give value and follow all the structural advice I’ve given in previous blogs over the years. If you know your research, you’ll already be aware that 94% of nearly a billion blogs analysed by BuzzSumo didn’t receive a single backlink meaning that they weren’t combining both on and offsite strategies. If they had, their content could have massively increased in audience reach. Protip – Every time you produce an article, add the date and any article relevant questions to the title tags. Also, posts that begin with ‘What’ and ‘Why’ get more backlinks so consider that when approaching your A/B testing of titles within your content strategy.
How engaging is your website for your users? Mixed media pages are becoming the norm and this means you’ll need more varied creative elements on-site and better database recall to ensure a good user experience. Podcasts are great to include in the mix of slideshows, infographics, images, and videos embedded within your pages to increase rankings. When creating content think about your sales funnels and how the content created is focused on a specific result, traffic is good but sales are better. Stop optimising for traffic and instead optimise for conversions. This means ensuring that your keyword planning and funnel strategies are following the same approach when it comes to useful on-site activity. This will also help increase time on site which is coming back strong as having heavy weighting as opposed to Pogo Sticking from last year, (see in last year’s article). If you can produce video, do it now. Google ranks YouTube videos faster than websites meaning that you can more easily reach people with less of a comprehensive approach with video, than with webpages, for now. The challenge is the production quality and ROI because if you pay for great video content without a great sales funnel, are you even leading a horse to water?
If you’ve done everything I’ve suggested so far and your website is now the shiniest shop window on the busiest street online, what next? Naturally with all of this data guzzling content, you’ll need a better delivery system. Try using a CDN (Content Delivery Network) to load your HTML files. These networks use groups of strategically located servers around the world that could be the edge that helps you deliver your content quicker than the competition. Page Speed has been an important ranking factor for some time, the faster your page loads, the higher you rank. Using a CDN will mean your information will be served from wherever is closest in the world to wherever your audience searching from.
All these factors are only useful when you can completely analyse and monitor your website, and to do this properly you need to ensure you have someone fully trained on Search Console and Google Analytics. These are the basic SEO tools that all website managers should fully understand, if you don’t, make sure you’re working with a marketing firm that does. If you use WordPress, another basic tool with great impact is Yoast. It’s both easy to use and effective. A rarity!
There you have it. Some new ideas that could help you rank both quickly and affectively above your competition if you’re diligent. Please comment below, let me know if you found this blog article useful and if you have any other ideas about SEO practices for 2020. I’d love to read your thoughts and ideas. If you’d like to discuss anything above or need help implementing anything please feel free to contact me.
Thank you for reading,
Enjoy your start to a new year and a new decade,
I’ve been writing SEO articles for 6 years. SEO practices are more in-depth today than ever before and it takes consistent training and practice to develop the skills needed to understand the best ways to support businesses trying to reach more customers. If you want to improve your website’s Search Engine Ranking Positions yet don’t have the time or expertise, work with us at Mantra Media, we have an incredible SEO track record, supporting new and established brands to reach their SEO goals. Even if you’ve had bad SEO in the past, we can help. For a free SEO analysis of your website contact Nat – Nat@mantrahq.com