Search engines are continually improving their algorithms to provide users with higher quality results. They do this because they want to forward them to the best information, products, and services, so they carry on using their platforms. Google even uses the term “delight” to describe what it is trying to achieve here. It wants to create incentive structures that prompt sites to create exciting content that offers maximum impact for users.
In light of these changes, search engine optimisation continues to evolve. SEO in 2020 is increasingly about enhancing page experience. Google cares about how sites make users feel, not just whether they offer relevant content. And the company’s new algorithms to reflect this priority.
Why SEO matters today mainly comes down to Google’s BERT update. This seemingly innocuous change to the underlying ranking code in 2019 revolutionised how search engine optimisation worked. No longer was SEO solely concerned with relevance and link building. It was also about the experience of using the page itself.
BERT wasn’t a quantum leap in artificial intelligence, though. Google hasn’t developed a piece of software that can evaluate the aesthetics of a page as people can. Instead, it uses a set of quantifiable signalling factors to proxy for page experience, such as how long it takes to load all the elements, and whether you have any annoying interstitials. Ultimately, the algorithm is becoming “more human.” What you write is more important than the keywords you enter.
So, with that in mind, what are the most significant SEO trends in 2020?
Search Intent Is Becoming More Important
Publishing content for search intent is one of the biggest SEO trends in 2020.
In the past, Google would take a search term and then look for pages with matching words, placing the most relevant results at the top. Unfortunately, there was no guarantee that these pages contained helpful information. The page might have had similar keywords, but the actual content didn’t reflect the reason for the search in the first place, so users faced disappointment.
Over the intervening years, Google got better at delivering relevant information, but the algorithms were still far from perfect. They couldn’t understand syntax, so users weren’t able to type a question into the search bar and get a direct answer. Recent improvements to the algorithm, though, have changed all this. Now people expect to get immediate answers to their search queries.
For businesses, this change is a good thing. Google will finally reward you for providing direct, original, and fact-checked answers to user questions. Authoritative, engaging, and relevant posts can build your brand and local SEO in ways that just weren’t possible before.
You can see these changes yourself by hopping on to Google. When you type in something like “How to unblock a toilet,” you get a bunch of helpful, useful results from relevant sites, including home blogs, plumbers, and hardware stores.
Multi-Channel Approaches Are Coming To The Fore
In general business, diversification is a vital strategy. Companies with multiple sources of revenue are more likely to survive if one channel dries up. The same applies when it comes to SEO. Having more than one funnel allows you to capture more leads and provides additional opportunities for conversion.
With this in mind, SEO shouldn’t just be about getting to the top of Google rankings. It should also be about getting to the top of other popular search engines, including Bing and Duckduckgo. Social media is important too. You can use it to funnel people to your web pages, increasing total traffic, and dwell time. But don’t overlook your web design as this also will play a huge part.
A multi-channel approach to SEO also involves performing a range of ranking-boosting activities. Links are still critical – Google affirmed this earlier in the year. But other actions are becoming more important too. Hiring quality writers to create stunning content that converts customers, for instance, is a big part of modern SEO – as is adapting web pages to reflect the page experience signals we discussed in the introduction through a quality technical SEO plan. Adopting a multiplicity of approaches is often greater than the sum of their parts.
Modern SEO Revolves Around Building Brand Authority
Google knows that the majority of users don’t like advertising – a problem for a company that gets 80 per cent of its revenue from its search advertising market. According to Inc.com, 96 per cent of customers don’t trust ads.
For that reason, the search giant wants to promote what it calls “authoritative content.” You can think of authoritative content as useful, relevant information that addresses user pain points. Not only is it original, but it intentionally sets out to solve a problem that customers have. After reading it, people should have the knowledge they need to understand something or fix a problem.
Companies (and the SEO agencies backing them up) need to think carefully about the type of content they create. It should generate “authority” by solidifying the business as the market leader in the provision of information.
Long-tail keywords related to your business entered as questions are an excellent place to start when looking for content ideas. If you’re a plumber, for instance, you could create content around queries like “how do I unblock a toilet?” or “what should I do if my boiler is leaking?” Answering questions like these provide users with the value they want and provides a gateway to your services. At the end of your posts, you can tell people how you can solve whatever problem they face and include a call to action.
Importantly, trustworthy brands do everything they can to create organic page experiences. They don’t use ads that might interrupt the flow of customers’ page experience. And they don’t use annoying pop-ups, asking users to hand over money.
So why does SEO matter in 2020?
Fundamentally, it matters because of how search ranking algorithms are changing. Old-school techniques often involved doing robotic things, like including a certain number of keywords. But these are no longer as relevant. Now, the key is to provide real value.
Doing great SEO today requires more skill than before. Even though it is less technical, it requires you to have excellent communication skills. By writing compelling tailored content, you can funnel traffic to your site and away from your competitors.