Content marketing and online audience building rely heavily on unique content that benefits the user. However, this content needs to be created in such a way that search engines can easily index the pages and assign the website a ranking. This process of search engine optimisation (SEO) changes regularly as Google updates its algorithms to deliver the best websites to its users. We follow these changes to implement best practices for all our clients as we grow their online audiences.
Let’s take a look at what SEO strategies are likely to work in 2020. These will help you to build an invested online audience and climb the search engine results page (SERP) rankings. Around 60 of the most experienced SEO professionals have shared their insights into this year’s trends. If you need help implementing these strategies, consider partnering up with us to assist.
Here are the results:
1. Google’s BERT algorithm
Google launched its most recent algorithm, dubbed BERT, in 2019. With this update comes a new way to optimise websites that suit BERT and keep the Google rankings as high as possible. One of the ways websites can benefit from BERT is to ensure that their content remains strongly user-focused that delivers the right information in an easy way.
This means having a well-designed website with carefully crafted content. When we write content for websites, brands and clients, we compile all client information that we receive and utilise it to contribute to achieving these SEO goals.
“With users having more options than ever in how they search for things, it’ll be even more important for SEOs to bear in mind the fundamentals of clean architecture and content delivery,” says Kelly Stanze, a search strategist at Hallmark.
Google launched BERT in an effort to make search more about matching the intent of the user rather than pure string matching. It will assign websites a higher ranking if their content is more relevant and useful to the user. “Content will truly have to be written to user intent rather than just strings that a user might search,” says growth consultant and advisor Eli Schwartz.
Frédéric Dubut, the senior programme manager at Bing agrees that keyword search is slowly becoming obsolete. “There’s no sign of [neuro-linguistic programming] NLP and deep learning research slowing down anytime soon, and you can expect search engines to shift even further from keywords to intent in 2020. Both practitioners and tooling providers will need to shift their efforts towards intent research and fulfilling user needs,” he suggests.
2. High-quality, optimised content
For many years now, high-quality content has been the lifeblood of good SEO. If your website has informative, unique articles, graphics, videos and pictures, then its search engine rankings are likely to be high.
“Content affects everything in SEO, from your site structure and internal linking strategy to the types of links you build,” says assistant editor at the Search Engine Journal, Anna Crowe. In 2020, websites will still need to focus on valuable articles and videos that offer easy-to-digest information for the user. Having professional content creators (writers, editors, videographers and designers) is a must.
“Google’s editorial discretion isn’t perfect yet – there will still be content that ranks that shouldn’t. But the day is coming when the best content will win,” explains Tony Wright, the CEO of WrightIMC. “This means that SEOs need to learn how to write or hire people who know how to write.”
All website owners need to prioritise their content and establish themselves as experts in their field through their articles, videos and information. Not only will your website become an important destination for information, but it will also be relevant to search engines for the long-term future.
“This allows you to compete effectively for long-tail searches (which still remains about 70% of all search queries), will help build your site authority and demand for your content, and can be done in a directly ROI-positive way,” says general manager of Perficient Digital, Eric Enge.
3. Expertise and trustworthiness
In 2020, search engines will continue to place a heavy emphasis on the expertise and trustworthiness of a website or company. “Companies that struggle with a poor reputation, customer service issues or other trust issues will have a harder time competing,” explains the SEO director of Path Interactive, Lily Ray.
“These trust issues not only manifest themselves as reviews and feedback about your brand, but they also take the form of technical or security issues on your site,” Ray argues. Trustworthiness will be an important aspect of online marketing and audience-building in the coming years.
“There will be a strong focus on quality content and fighting against fake news,” suggests Grace Kindred, a technical SEO analyst at News UK. “It will be more important than ever to focus on the trust value of authors (verifying authors and showing their authority for particular subjects) and sites as a whole,” she says.
There is now a need to pull the offline world into the online sphere in order to establish authority. “All those offline events, conferences, awards, partnerships, etc. that Google cannot see suddenly take on enormous importance. Pull them online and push them to Google to feed its need for understanding and credibility,” suggests Jason Barnard, the owner of Kalicube.pro.
4. User experience and technical SEO
One of the biggest trends to note for 2020 is enhancing the user experience (UX) and improving the technical SEO of the website, as a whole. “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,” says the co-founder of seoplus+, Brock Murray. “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,” he adds.
This trend encompasses site speed and page speed, too. A slow website is frustrating for the user and can severely affect its search engine rankings. “This, for many, will reignite conversations with developers and in some cases lead to systems requiring almost complete redesigns of page templates and reengineering of how assets are loaded,” explains the SEO account director at SALT.agency, Dan Taylor.
5. Structured data
Although high-quality content will remain a vital factor for SEO in 2020, the search engine algorithms do not fully understand context. They are programmes that do not understand nuance and the bigger picture of certain topics. Therefore, structured data on websites will be an important SEO trend to note this year.
Website owners and SEOs will need to provide the search engines with hints in order to better understand the content and deliver results based on the user’s intent. “This means structuring the data in a way that helps search engines to better understand not only what is on a page, but also how each element relates to other elements on the page, and how that page relates to other pages within the website,” explains Jeremy Knauff, the CEO of Spartan Media.
Structured data will also allow websites to be easily found through various online channels, such as social media platforms and other websites. “Done right, structured data becomes your marketing data layer. It will allow you to publish your content for any machine/search engine/voice assistant/chatbot with context to provide service to your customers across any surface and at any moment of interaction,” explains the CEO of Schema App, Martha van Berkel.
Beware of apps and plugins that are supposed to automatically structure the data on your website. “New types of markup are continuously being added or improved upon. I expect to see a lot more manual penalties related to poor implementations of structured data. Don’t automatically trust some plugin you’ve installed to structure your data correctly,” warns Shelly Fagin, the SEO brand ambassador, for SEMrush.
6. Link-building and branding
Linking has also been an important component of SEO for many years. Having internal links on your site and backlinks to your site from external pages has been a sign of useful and high-quality content. However, link-building now needs to become consumer-focused. This will help to build the brand of the website and establish trust and authority with the user.
“The responsibility will fall on SEOs to build links and media placements that drive traffic and push brand, not just links that help with search rankings. Now our link-building activity has to be on-brand, or there’s a realistic chance that there won’t be any brand-building activity at all,” says Carrie Rose, co-founder and creative director of Rise at Seven.
Building a brand around a website will encourage people to make purchases or request your services. “Customers are getting smarter and they expect more when it comes to marketing. The more they trust you, the more they are willing to share your content (links), talk about you (value), and buy your products (revenue),” states the senior director of digital marketing at KoMarketing, Casie Gillette.
These SEO trends are likely to pave the way for website performance in 2020 and beyond. A new decade has begun and the need to make your website relevant to your target audience is now more important than ever. There are simply too many websites to compete with if you do not have a proper SEO and content strategy in place.
If you’d like us to help you grow your website audience through content creation and SEO implementation, get in touch with us today. To find out more information – including our price list and how we can set up a partnership with your business to help you succeed in the online space – send us an email or give us a call.
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