In December of 2019, we were all thinking about how great 2020 will be. We were brainstorming our New Year’s resolutions and making predictions about the year ahead of us. No one could imagine what 2020 would actually turn out to be like.
The pandemic revolutionized the future of work, shifted our lifestyles drastically, and forced businesses to move their operations online, temporarily. Search trends got turned upside down and everyone started relying on the internet more than ever before. The world of digital marketing continued to update and grow business-as-usual: Google released many new features and even a core update in May.
Today, we want to see what predictions came true about SEO and digital marketing trends – did anybody guess the future? This is the prediction article from December 2019 that we will be referencing to analyze the current and new 2020 SEO trends:
Let’s start with UX & Technical SEO
Our COO and co-founder, Brock Murray, suggested that user experience should be the biggest focus of 2020 for SEO professionals: “This includes the overall experience from the initial interaction in the SERPs, to the overall landing page experience, and even the experience after they leave your site (think remarketing, drip campaigns, personalization for returning users),” Murray said. “Think about how you can help your users have the best possible experience while truly pondering what value you can provide to them during their visit.”
On May 28, Google announced that user experience will now become a key ranking factor! If a user has a poor experience on your website, Google can perceive that and lower your site in the rankings. This is an algorithm update and it is called Google Page Experience. The estimated roll-out date is somewhere in 2021 so there is a lot of time to prepare your website to ensure optimal user experience. To prepare, complete UX audits and follow the customer journey – is everything as simple and intuitive as it can be? Does your website have full functionality on both mobile and desktop?
Another trend that materialized in the form of new Google updates is mobile SEO.
We know just how important it is to ensure a mobile-friendly website for your users and this includes mobile SEO too. When people are looking for something, most of the time they are using their smartphones and even completing purchases right then.
In the December article, this is what was stated: “SEOs need to be looking at real, mobile search results, to know what they are up against, what kind of traffic they can expect, and what kind of optimization will actually be successful at impacting the bottom line,” said Cindy Krum, CEO, MobileMoxie. We’ve known for years that mobile search is very important and it’s only grown.
To place a focus on mobile, Google has been prioritizing evaluating mobile content before desktop content and deciding your fate in the rankings then. The search giant took it a step further and on March 5th announced mobile-first indexing for the whole web. Now, Google will analyze your mobile content first and thus determine your website’s rankings across all devices, regardless of how beautiful your desktop version is.
The recommendation from Google to rank well based on your mobile site is the following:
We recommend making sure that the content shown is the same (including text, images, videos, links), and that metadata (titles and descriptions, robots meta tags) and all structured data is the same.)
BERT & User-Focused Optimization + Voice Search
“Content will truly have to be written to user intent rather than just strings that a user might search,” Schwartz said. “Keyword research tools may even become less relevant with the primary dataset for content creation coming from suggested queries. In 2020, the really smart SEOs will get up from their desks to talk to customers so they can find out what their audience really wants from them.” The value of intent in keywords is undeniable.
The intent is huge as more and more users are leaning into voice search alongside typed search. Whether it’s asking your Google Home a question, asking for directions while driving, or getting the next step of the recipe with full hands in the kitchen, voice search is becoming more and more powerful. 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, per comScore. Isn’t that crazy?
This is where intent comes in – when users use voice search, they have to be hyper-specific to get the answers they want (e.g. “where can I buy almond flour in Ottawa”, “how do I clean my vacuum”).
This means long-tailed keyword searches with high conversion rates – the user isn’t in the awareness stage anymore but right at the bottom of the funnel. Optimizing for these hyperspecific and hyperlocal queries should be a goal of yours.
Many of the predictions for this year are coming true! We can see clear trends – user experience is massively important, BERT and natural language processing will continue improving our search experience, and this means you will continue to need effective content, mobile-first. Stay tuned for more trends and updates!