In total, there are as many as 1 trillion searches among search engines online each and every month of the year. Interestingly, research shows that 93 percent of all online customer journeys begin with an online search. SEO is important in 2020. Still, others are doubtful.
Does SEO Matter in 2020?
As we enter 2020, there’s some chatter amongst internet marketers saying SEO doesn’t really matter anymore. They say AI has become better at giving results and Google has gained self-interest, favoring sponsored posts, snippet answers optimized for voice searchers, and YouTube videos where Google collects money from video ads. Moreover, it makes SEO too difficult to care about when you could pay for ads. The truth is, SEO is an integral part of marketing, and combining it with pay-per-click ads and other marketing tactics is critical for a well-rounded marketing plan. The more organic traffic you can drive through SEO, the lower your cost of customer acquisition becomes since lead generation is automatic and free.
2020 SEO Trends Affecting Your Strategy
The SEO landscape is constantly reacting and adapting to change, and the better you can adapt, the more your business can benefit from effective SEO. Here are five SEO trends for 2020 that will get you up to speed:
1. Informing Your SEO Strategy by Researching Your Competitors
As millions of new web pages continue to go up day after day, competing in your niche requires understanding how competitors succeeding in SEO are doing it. Doesn’t it make sense? The fastest way to get the latest SEO formula is not from a blog post, but from studying how your competitors get organic traffic with SEO.
Get data about them using a free web tool like SEMrush.com or hrefs.com. Track what keywords, backlinks and other sources are bringing in traffic for them, and at what volumes. You can also track cost-per-click on the keywords that are bringing them the most traffic, so that you can approach your competition with both your SEO strategy and your ad strategy in unison.
2. Adapting to Changes to Google’s First Page of Results
Google is always changing the game, but now it means SEO isn’t just changing tactics, but actually getting a lot harder. Google is displaying more sponsored results (Google ads), YouTube videos and other content on the first page of Google instead of listing several organic links like the old days. It wants to generate revenue from companies paying for clicks, so more ads are displayed than the one or two at the top like before. Especially considering around half of all searches are voice searches using AI tools on smart devices, Google seems to care less and less about the front page beyond it generating ad revenue.
Nonetheless, getting clicked on by computer and mobile searchers (anyone seeing Google’s first page on a screen) does happen, of course, and it will continue to in 2020. SEO still matters, because you can get those rankings and get clicks. On the first page of Google search results, after the sponsored ads, you’ll see a list of questions under where it says “people are asking,” and when you click on a question, you get a snippit of an answer and a link to the website the text came from. To optimize your blog posts for these snippits, start writing your blog posts with more Q&As. When you ask and answer specific questions people are already searching in Google who are likely to be interested in the product or service you offer, you’re bound to get chosen for a snippit answer on the front page of results.
3. Optimized Web Content Is Longer and More In-Depth
As we enter the new decade, blog posts, and even social posts, need to be longer and more in-depth than ever. Niche down your blog and each topic you write about until your pool of competition is small.
Create mind maps to brainstorm topics you can cover that would help your ideal audience. Think of content that can help existing customers get more out of your product or service. Include as many helpful details as possible, holding your target customer’s hand until they become a paying customer. You can never run out of topics to blog about, because you can always niche down further, or respond to specific questions you get or can think of within your topic.
4. Voice Search Optimization Is a New Branch of SEO
Analysts have been saying for a while now that half of all searches on search engines will be voice-commanded searches. Half of all searches don’t even give you the chance to get clicks because AI tools like Amazon’s Alexa and Siri on iPhones are reading off a piece of text from your site or a competitor’s.
While some skeptics say voice search is rendering SEO obsolete, it’s nowhere near the truth right now. There are SEO strategies you should be using in 2020 to make the most of this trend. In fact, part of your business’s SEO strategy should be a strategy dedicated to voice search optimization. Here are some tactics:
Give Your Business a Physical Location, Even If It’s Online-Only
Get found as a local business in local search, since the majority of mobile searches are local searches. One way to do this is to edit your Google My Business profile with your accurate business details using relevant and local keywords your target customer may be searching.
Create Content Optimized for Voice Search
The chunks of texts AI tools use for answers show up as featured questions and answers at the top of Google’s first page of search results. One idea is to create an FAQ page with all the questions and answers you can think of relevant to your business’s niche. Another way is to title blog posts as questions your target customers might ask out loud to their device to solve a problem you can assist them with. Answer the questions in your posts in clear, concise paragraphs with relevant headers.
Create YouTube Content and Have a YouTube SEO Strategy
Provide information helpful to your target customer in the form of YouTube videos. Google shows a side-scrolling display of YouTube search results at the top of Google’s front page of search results. It’s easier to rank at the top of YouTube than it is at the top of Google Search, and Google displays YouTube search results higher on the page than organic web search results. Use strategies that rank you higher on YouTube search results, such as copying the video transcript into the description box, including as many tags as YouTube allows, and creating keyword-optimized video titles.
5. Semantic Optimization Is Overthrowing Keyword Optimization
Since the earliest days of Google’s search algorithm, keywords have mattered a great deal. Today, AI deep learning technology is rapidly driving innovation in how Google and its search engine competitors achieve accuracy. The latest search engine algorithms don’t require users to enter the right keywords to get results they’re searching for. Instead, they analyze the question asked or typed into the search engine using semantic analysis tools. These look beyond keyword matching and seek to understand the meaning and context of the question or phrase. This enables them to display more accurate results for users. Keyword optimization doesn’t need to be as much of a focus as they once were.
Again, it doesn’t mean SEO isn’t important anymore. The truth is, semantic optimization makes it easier for high-quality, authoritative and helpful content to rank at the top of Google. This benefits Google, Google’s user and your business. Not only do you rank higher, but also, you have loads of valuable content enabling you to make important connections with customers.
Quality and quantity both matter in today’s content marketing arena, in which all the big spenders outsource freelancers and marketing managers who ensure that batches of multichannel content is put out each day. One way to maximize the amount of omnichannel content you’re putting out to improve your website’s SEO is to have content you make on one channel be re-made and repurposed into content for each of your other platforms, such as your email drip campaigns, blog posts, Instagram livestreams and so on.
Current Trends to Leverage in Your 2020 SEO Strategy
As you devise new and better strategies for website SEO in 2020, consider how you can leverage each of the five trends listed here. Effective marketing strategies still depend on a solid SEO strategy as much as ever. Don’t scrap everything you know about SEO, but do learn about the recent changes. As some online marketers and SEO managers complain AI is making SEO strategy obsolete, the ones who look at each current trend and decide how they can capitalize on it will have the competitive advantage.