Search engine optimization (SEO for short) is simply the process of obtaining website visitors (or traffic) from “free” or “organic” search results in search engines like Google or Bing.
All major search engines have primary search results that are ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users. We call these organic results, because they are free and not driven by paid advertisements.
Search engine optimization helps maximize the number of visitors to a particular website or page by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of organic results returned by a given search engine.
The internet has evolved a lot since those early days, and major search engines such as Google now process far more “off page” information when determining their search results, not least by using semantic processing, collating user data, and applying neural networks for the machine learning of patterns, trends, and personal preferences.
Even still, the core ideals of SEO remain the same as they always have – that of ensuring pages have the correct tags for targeting keywords, not just for natural search results, but also for PPC (Pay Per Click) and other marketing campaigns, where call-to-action (CTA) and conversion rates are essential indicators of success.
Google makes hundreds of changes to its search algorithms every year. While most changes are minor, they could affect your search ranking. These are some of the SEO trends to expect in 2020.
- Voice search: People search how they speak
“Google, can you find the nearest taco place near me?”
As voice search becomes increasingly popular, more people will type search queries the same way they speak.
Notice that most of these search queries are long-tail and very specific? Users want an accurate answer to the exact question they asked.
Users who search long-tail keywords are in the consideration stage and are more likely to convert than someone in the awareness stage.
- Featured snippets will continue to dominate search results
A featured snippet is a summary of an answer to a search query. Google displays it at the top of the SERP result, above paid and organic ads.
They’ve been around for a few years and have led to significant changes in Google’s search engine result page. Almost half of all searches result in no clicks because users get the answers they need directly from SERPs.
Aim for question-based search queries and keywords. Use questions from the “people also ask” section as it offers insight on related questions for a more in-depth answer.
- More marketers will leverage influencers for SEO
17% of businesses spent over half of their entire marketing budget on influencers. The statistics highlight the importance of influencer marketing for companies, especially those in fashion, beauty, ecommerce, travel, and lifestyle.
Online users are overwhelmed with ads. They are looking for authentic information they can trust. Most times, the source of that information are reviews from influencers. They are more likely to trust information from an influencer than an ad.
Working with an influencer helps you generate traffic, increase your online visibility and amplify your content reach. Partner with influencers in your niche who already engage with your target audience. The backlinks you gain from influencer sites also show authority to Google and enhances your SEO efforts.
People will want digital experiences
Page load speed is an important ranking factor. Great content means nothing if your web page doesn’t load quickly or you have a complex user interface.
Successful businesses understand that building a long-term relationship with customers hinges on customer experience, and customer experience invariably affects search ranking because only users who have a good user experience will spend time on your website.
Focus your user experience on helping customers find the information they need. Make it easy for visitors to proceed to the next step.
To provide the best user experience, you’ll need to wear the visitor’s shoes to identify roadblocks that cause poor experiences. Do not use complex words they do not understand. Lack of clarity in your messaging also increases the bounce rate and negatively impacts your site’s SEO.
- Video will be the new king of content
Google loves video. It’s a crucial part of your SEO strategy and digital marketing efforts. According to a Forrester Research, video is 50 times more likely to show up on the first page of SERP than a web page with plain text.
Create helpful YouTube videos that support existing content on your website. It’s not a guarantee for first page results but you’ll enjoy higher traffic when Google indexes your video.
Embed videos on your website to get more traffic. Remember to optimize your video to your blog’s width. Add copy on the page to help Google understand what your video content is about.
- Content length will determine search rankings
Only high-quality content can help you beat the competition to page 1 ranking. But you will also have to consider quantity alongside quality.
However, your content must have comprehensive answers to the question the user asked as well as questions related to the main search query.
Lengthy articles increase dwell time, which tells Google that users enjoy your content. You build authority and Google increases your ranking for the search query.
- Mobile search will continue to take over
Google moved to mobile-first indexing on the 1st of July 2019 to improve the mobile search experience.
You can’t get far on search engine results if you haven’t optimized for mobile. Think beyond responsive designs to rich snippets. Besides incorporating long-tail keywords for on-page SEO, modify the content structure and representation for technical SEO.
Today’s SEO is a holistic process that requires both offline and online marketing strategies to succeed. Invest in SEO as a long-term strategy for lead generation and stay on top of the latest SEO trends to avoid getting left behind.