This article has been contributed by Irene Warren.
If anyone told you that 2020 marketing techniques would revolve around a virus, you would’ve laughed in their face. But today, we’re taking the term viral marketing in its literal sense.
Yes, the digital marketing space has changed. We’re now seeing marketers promoting different products and services in a way that’s relevant for the new situation. Lately, I’ve been getting dozens of emails from services that will “help me survive quarantine.”
However, in terms of SEO, not much has changed. It’s still as complex as it ever was. We still don’t fully understand it. So how can we conduct a successful SEO campaign during these difficult times?
Thankfully, there are a few unarguable truths about SEO in 2020. Let’s list the tried and proven practices that will help you get more organic search traffic.
What Are The SEO Facts of 2020?
1. User-Focused Optimization is More Important than Search Engine Optimization
When Google introduced its latest BERT algorithm, it confused marketers even more. The search engine webmasters made it highly unlikely for SEO practitioners to be able to optimize for rankings using old techniques like keyword stuffing.
The new algorithm is very good at understanding natural language. So, all those meaningless keywords that made no contextual sense should be abandoned once and for all.
The webmasters had a clear goal; improved intent matching. They want the results to match not the keywords that the user types, but what they want to find; their intention.
It changes how SEO practitioners develop content. We should focus not on keywords, but on intent.
- Figure out what your target audience wants when they search for content that you can provide. They want solutions. Your content should clearly provide them.
- Use a website rank checking to see the difference that each change makes. You can alter older articles to focus on user intent more. But don’t forget to check your analytics to identify the actual difference that your changes make.
- Target specific questions with clear answers. You can understand the average user’s intent by conducting surveys. Ask your current audience what drew them to your website. Ask what they were looking for. Then, use those insights to develop new content.
2. E-A-T Is the Real Deal
Domain authority has always been a big deal in search engine optimization practices. You wanted to make your website look authoritative, so Google’s bots would give it credit.
Many marketers still try to achieve higher domain authoritative through link building practices. Yes, link building is still important. However, aim to get intuitive links. You should focus on producing high-quality content, which great blogs would want to link to.
For example, if we search Google for the term “universal basic income,” we won’t get articles whose authors engaged in link-building practices. We’ll get the ones of real value, which naturally get links from good websites.
At this point, Google values domain authority through three concepts, known as E-A-T:
This is what Google’s webmasters say: Websites without important value for the users get the lowest rating. For the ones that have a beneficial purpose, Google measures the expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. The bots will check the author’s expertise, the website’s authoritativeness, and the creator’s and website’s trustworthiness.
In other words, you build authority by making your website the true authority. Links still matter, but they are no longer the determining factor. This is what you should do:
- Build your authority as an expert, or hire someone with expertise on the issues you cover. You can interview industry leaders or collaborate with writers who hold a relevant degree.
- Pay tons of attention to the bio, so you’ll clarify the creator’s expertise.
- Create high-quality content with data and insights that others would link to.
3. Snippets Are More Important than Ever
Let’s do an experiment: type “how to write a brand story” in Google.
You’ll notice that the first results do not contain the actual keyword. Google understands that by “write a brand story” you also mean “tell a brand story” and “create a brand story”. So Google understands your intent and gets you towards websites of real value, which answer your needs.
This proves the previous two points.
However, we notice something else: a snippet.
When you click on “About Featured Snippets” under the result, you get Google’s explanation on how snippets work. They come from web search listings. Google’s algorithm chooses the most relevant listing, which can be presented as a list of clear steps.
Of course, you want to get featured here! If someone wants to check out a single result from the list, this will be the one. It’s the result that gets the most attention.
To try to secure a snippet position, you want to provide clear answers to frequently asked questions. You can use questions as article topics. Use short lists to categorize the answer and provide clear steps of action.
4. Visuals Are Getting More Important for Your SEO Strategy
Google Lens is not nearly as popular as it will be in the close future. It’s an app that lets you do visual search in the real sense of the word. You just point your phone at something from your surroundings, and you ask Google what it is.
If someone wants to buy a coat that they just saw someone wearing, Google Lens can guide them to precise shopping results. If you just got a new plant and you don’t know what it is, you can use the app and Google will tell you all about it.
Let’s be real, the app isn’t very sophisticated yet, so it’s still not being used much. But Google will keep developing it, which is the factor that exposes the future of online search: it will get visual.
Let’s talk about an older trend that proves the point: Pinterest. If you’re searching for a haircut, you’re more likely to use Pinterest than Google. It gives you more relevant, cleaner results that you can download and show to your hairdresser.
Visual search is incredibly useful for websites sharing recipes, information about nutrients, landmarks, directions, clothes, hairstyles, makeup and much more.
There are a few things you can do if you want to follow this SEO trend:
- Make the image a central element of your page. Feature it higher up on the page, and turn it into its most noticeable feature.
- Make it unique. Stock photography is cool, but it won’t make your site noticeable enough. You need extremely relevant photographs and visuals, which grasp the point of your content.
- Don’t focus solely on photos. Infographics and graphics are also cool.
5. Voice Search Is No Joke
It’s so much easier to say “Hey Siri, how do I write a brand story?” than to open Google and type the same phrase. People are not getting lazy; they are getting practical. Siri, Amazon Echo, Voice Pod and other voice search services require minimum effort to deliver relevant results.
Voice search optimization is the future of SEO practices.
- Focus on answering the questions that your target audience asks. You can use these questions as subtitles.
- Don’t focus on short keywords. Voice search is more about phrases. People use complete sentences, which they would be too lazy to type in the search engine. So instead of “how to write a brand story,” you should focus on a more logical phrase: “how do I write a brand story?”
SEO Will Keep Evolving
SEO is an ever-evolving concept. We focus on particular strategies only to find out that they no longer work. But be honest: isn’t that the most exciting thing about what you do?
As much as we despise Google’s algorithm changes, we welcome them as a new challenge to conquer. So far, 2020 has been a really interesting year for digital marketers. And we’ve only seen the start of it.