Google, along with other major platforms, is intending to be the end destination of their users’ journeys. This, more than anything, defines major SEO trends for 2020 and we need to identify the best ways to stay effective within the Google framework. Here we look at 5 major SEO trends to consider for 2020, and how best to address them. 1. The new normal - Zero-click searches
More than half of all searches are now “zero-click searches”, meaning that the user’s query is answered on the SERP itself, without them having to click away anywhere. This is thanks to such SERP features as featured snippets, Google’s Local Packs, Knowledge graphs etc.
What to do... Consider what kind of searches these are - it’s people looking for your address and phone number, or people looking for an answer to a simple question. These types of clicks probably wouldn’t convert anyway, and so shouldn’t be fretted over.
You can use tools such as Rank Tracker in conjunction with your Google Search Console account to analyse which key words actually bring you clicks. This will save you a lot of time and effort optimising the most effective keywords instead of those containing “when,” “how many,” “what year” etc, which whilst are vital for content, should not be the focus of SEO efforts .
2. Prioritise optimising for Rich and Featured snippets
The information shown on the SERP itself is now more important than ever now that zero-click searches are so prevalent. Two good ways to stand out is to get Rich or Featured snippets.
With Rich snippets (those that, in addition to title and description, show images, stars for reviews, prices for products, etc.) even though are easier to get, will bring lower CTR improvements compared to a Featured snippet. However the result will be more noticeable, even if your position in a SERP remains the same.
Featured snippets (an entire block of information that is shown at the top of a SERP) are much more tricky to get, but do bring great increases in CTR
What to do…
You will need your data to be structured in order to get both of these types of snippets. You can use WebSite Auditor to check this.
You can also use Rank Tracker to find opportunities for Featured snippets. Don’t just research the keywords you’re ranking for. Look out specifically for keywords for which your competitors already have a Featured snippet, rather than just researching the keywords you are already ranking for.
It is worth noting though that nothing, including ranking first, actually guarantees you getting Rich or Featured snippets. However, the potential gains are definitely worth optimising for them.
3. Local SEO is evolving
A large amount of zero-click searches are local searches for which the results are shown on the SERP itself, in so-called Local Packs. For mobile devices, a single Local Pack might take up as much space as an entire SERP shown to a user.
What to do...
It is a good idea to create a Google My Business page for your company. This will mean you are covering a vast number of searches containing keywords such as near me” or “address” and “phone number” in one go. However a large number of searches will not end on Local packs as people who want to compare products, look up more detailed information, etc. will still go on your website. This is where the traditional SEO practices become important. Therefore make sure you have a solid backlink profile. Have a look what type of backlinks your competitors get, and try to get those too.
You also need to bare in mind that you can’t just have any backlinks for local SEO, but the ones that Google deems locally authoritative. Also remember to track your local ranking performance regularly - you can do this by using a keyword research tool like Rank Tracker
4. Meet BERT - Google’s latest algorithm
We know Google has been using learning algorithms to improve their users’ experience with search and to help them avoid keyword-stuffed webpages. In 2020 BERT is the latest algorithm that Google will use to analyse the structure of a search to better understand the context in which keywords are used.
What to do….
There isn't much to do other than make sure you write good content. Along with Google’s other algorithms Neural matching and RankBrain, you just need to account for them seriously. RankBrain for example means you need to not just rank for whatever keyword, but intent matching is paramount for creating successful content. If you just rank without content, you will be cut off from a huge number of SERPs.
To understand the correct search intent, you need to keep your hand on the pulse of what’s ranking right now. Using Rank Tracker software, monitor the results to see what content exactly Google considers relevant for the searches you want to rank for.
After properly determining the intent behind the search queries you want to rank for, create the content to match your users’ intent in their search.
5. Make Brand building a priority
Most marketers would agree that organic social is pretty much dead. Yes paid advertising still works brilliantly for social, but as more companies are doing it, ROI for paid ads is decreasing. So for anyone that wishes to grow their business through that avenue, will see paid ads becoming more prevalent and expensive. This is when brand awareness and brand building come to the forefront of digital marketers’ efforts.
What to do...
Concentrate on building relevant mentions. In 2020, just as much attention needs to be paid to we need to pay as much attention to building quality link profiles, as handling and managing linkless brand mentions. You can monitor every mention of not just your brand, but the type of service/product you provide by utilising “social media listening”. You can then engage with your clientele directly and also build brand awareness through publicly providing customer care.
In conclusion, it is clear that SEO is ever evolving, and every online business needs to keep their strategies as fluid as possible in order to cater for these new trends, and stay as optimised as possible.