As an SEO agency, a good portion of our daily to-do list is watching out for digital marketing trends making their way into the mainstream. Any decent marketer knows that the rate at which you adopt new trends can make or break a business, but there’s also something to be said about the speed that some of these changes can appear.
Sometimes, it can seem that the things you do for SEO today won’t be applicable or effective tomorrow, as Google comes with a new algorithm change that completely reshapes the way we think about search engine rankings.
For smaller businesses, the effort is even greater, as they usually lack the human resources and financial resources to invest in digital marketing in order to achieve the success they crave. But not all hope is lost. Instead of getting lost in the technicalities of SEO, you have to keep in mind the bigger picture, like those essential elements that will shape the future of SEO.
Here are some of these elements, and how you can add them to your SEO strategy.
1. Content marketing Is Here to Stay
“Content is king” is a buzz phrase in the SEO industry, and likely will continue to do so. In the olden search engine optimisation days, it was all about the keyword, but there was a problem in the way websites adopted keywords to their content. Instead of focusing on the keywords that are relevant to their site, some platforms started what is known as “keyword stuffing” in which they simply added as many keywords as possible to the pages just to rank better.
These days, keyword stuffing gets you on Google’s no-no list, but there is another way to adopt good, relevant keywords to your site that makes both users and search engines happy: high-quality content.
Content marketing can take on many forms, but in essence, it is the creation of content and distributing it to your target audience. Content must be relevant, informative, and add value. Otherwise, you’re back in the “keyword stuffing” days, only instead of keywords, you’re stuffing your site with content.
But how can you write high-quality content in 2020 to hopefully rank better in search results? The answer is as simple as it is complicated:
Write content for humans.
High-quality content is written with the intention of people actually reading it, not just as a way to add a keyword to a page or show Google your writing skills. In 2020, content should be:
● Personalised, Feel Like It Is Addressed Directly to Users
You have a target audience. You know who that audience is. Then, you write for that audience, with the style, voice, and type of information you know they prefer and engage with. If people like how and what you write, they will keep coming back to your site, and Google will take notice.
● Well Researched to Showcase a Brand’s Authority on the Topic
If you write 400-word pieces exclusively and don’t spend more than 20 minutes on them, you’re not writing content, at least not content that can hold any weight in the search engine optimisation world. High-quality content requires a lot more effort, as you research the topics you need to cover, the high ranking keywords you could incorporate, and add your own personal brand touches to underline your authority.
● Innovative, and Not found on Competitor’s Websites
Whenever possible, big industry trends should not be avoided, even if we’re talking about recurring themes and events that everyone talks about. But, for content marketing to pay off in 2020 and moving forward, brands need to start thinking like a thought leader, and not a follower.
This means starting to bring fresh perspectives to the conversation, and show your target audience why they must turn to you, and not your competitors for information.
2. Mobile Will Hold a Lot More Weight
Up until now, every marketer was talking about the importance of a mobile-friendly website, meaning a website that remains fully functional on mobile devices, just as it is on desktop versions.
Being mobile-friendly is also a ranking factor for Google and other search engines, but moving forward, simply having a functional mobile version for your site won’t cut it anymore. Mobile search is continuing to grow, with around 52% of current global website traffic coming from mobile devices.
Around 60% of Google searches are done on a mobile device. Five years ago, it was nearly half. Because of the obvious growing trend in mobile popularity when it comes to surfing the web, mobile-friendly will likely be replaced with a mobile-first mindset.
Google has already been doing it from July 2019, when it said it will use the mobile version of the website to decide its ranking of it, but so far only new websites are subject to this change. As mobile surfing trends grow more, it’s likely more established sites will also have to start giving more attention to their mobile versions.
3. Focus Will Be Put More and More on Structured Data
Now, let’s move on to a component of technical SEO. Structured data is a standardised way to mark up the information about a webpage. Search engines use it to understand what the page is about, which helps improve their search result rankings.
Not only that, but structured data also takes your content one step closer to be featured in Google’s feature snippets, which are the small previews in the SERP that give users the information they searched for without them having to click on a link.
These featured snippets appear in a special box at the top of the search results, with the content on top, and the source link at the bottom. If a user searches for something with Google Assistant or another AI assistant, the featured snipped might be read out loud as well.
These types of featured snippets that can appear are:
● Paragraph snippets
● Numbered list
● Bulleted list
● Table snippets
● Youtube snippets
These previews obviously add to user experience, but they also help with raising brand awareness. Plus, a featured snippet isn’t necessarily taken from the top result of a SERP but from the piece of content with the best-structured data that allows Google to automatically extract the snipped format from it.
Because of this, you could be potentially getting a lot more traffic to your site even if you’re not holding the number one spot on the search results. The snippets will only feature a synthesised version of your content, which for some queries may be enough, while other users could end up clicking on your link to find out more.
4. Link Building Efforts Need to Intensify
If you want to improve your marketing strategies moving forward, link building needs to be included in your plans. It involves getting other websites to link to yours. Google, as well as other search engines, consider these links like votes from other websites, showing that your page is relevant and high-quality.
Think of yourself browsing a website you trust, and somewhere in the content, there is a hyperlink to an external source. You, as a user, trust that website to link to other high-quality, and reputable sources, right? So if you need to find out more, you are likely to click on that link knowing you’ll be taken to the right place.
That’s essentially what link building does: it adds authority to your website. Users trust you more because they’ve found your link on a website they know and commonly browse, and the more links from high-quality websites you have, the more likely you are to rank better in the search results.
But, as you may already suspect, link building takes time and lots of it. One sure way to guarantee trusted websites pay attention and link to your site is to simply follow the tips regarding content marketing – make great, high-quality content that showcases you as a thought leader in your industry.
Other methods of link building that may take less time can include:
● Guest posting
● Partnering with websites
● Paying for advertorials, though these can prove less effective as users generally do not trust the content that was clearly paid for.
Like with other SEO efforts, there is little you can do to speed things up without ending up on Google’s bad side. But in this case, slow and steady wins the race.
5. Local Search Will Grow
SEO in 2020 is putting a lot more focus on local search results. When a user is looking for information about something local, be it a service, product, business, or other, Google looks for local keywords that can help it quickly match the results to the query.
In fact, since Google knows where users are located, the query itself may not contain the location at all, but if the intent is clear, local results are delivered.
In practice, that means the queries “best pizza deliveries in town,” “pizza delivery now, ” “pizza delivery Melbourne,” and “pizza near me” can potentially bring the same results for a user.
For local businesses or businesses that operate even partially in a specific area, that means they need to focus their efforts on local SEO practices to appear in these searches. In practice, this means:
● Researching local keywords relevant to your business;
● Setting up profiles on Google Maps, Apple Maps, and other such listings;
● Create content for local SEO (such as pages dedicated to a specific location;)
● Focus on link building for local sites.
Local SEO is an essential digital marketing effort to businesses who want to reach a local audience, such as restaurants, local service providers, or even bigger companies with local headquarters. Moving forward, a lot more attention will likely be given to nurturing local audiences and getting them to interact with these businesses.
6. Lastly, It’s About User Experience
A good, long-term approach to SEO should never be about ways to make your website friendlier for search engines. It should be about user experience.
The target audience should always be at the core of everything you do when it comes to your business’ online presence, from the type of content you offer to even how your site looks and feels. In the end, that’s the thing Google and other search engines care about: the type of experience you offer users.
Let’s think of it from their perspective. Google knows that each site they bring to the SERP carries an unspoken Google approval. Users click on these links knowing the content they will find will be:
● Relevant to what they are looking for and
● High in quality when it comes to content, but also the website functionalities themselves
If Google would offer any website in their queries, users may stop using the service altogether. They wouldn’t keep going to the search engine if they were met with irrelevant content and not secured websites time and time again. Google knows this, and because it wants users to keep coming back, it added these ranking factors to their algorithm.
In the End, Where Are We Headed?
SEO in 2020 is the most user-focused it’s ever been, and will likely continue on this path for a long time. Businesses have the difficult task of knowing their audience to the point of not just providing with products and services they want, but also offering these things on the type of website a user actually wants to browse.
If you need some assistance reshaping your 2020 marketing strategy, Australian Internet Advertising is the Google partner you need. Book a free 30-minute strategy session with our Search Engine Optimisation Experts now or call us at 1300 304 640 to find out more about how we can help your Australian business improve its SEO efforts.