Plot twist: We have to stop treating SEO as an addition to our digital strategy but rather as the key ingredient of our business plan. But when did this shift happen and how to manage the seemingly endless process of radical updates Google is putting our SEO strategies down with?
Let’s start with the basics. As a practice of increasing the quantity and quality of your website traffic through organic search engine results, SEO was one of the main factors of your website’s high ranking from the nineties up until now. Optimization can take many forms, from selecting an SEO-friendly domain name, title tags, meta descriptions and internal links, and every part of it makes a difference. Due to the never ending evolution of SEO practices, having a close eye on all the updates can seriously elevate your digital tactic.
Google`s BERT algorithm was launched in 2019. and permanently stirred things up. Incorporation of the NLP (natural language processing) technique into the ranking alongside the featured algorithm, the search became all about the interests of users. Google announced that BERT will impact 1 in 10 of all search queries, which is a turning point not only for SEO strategies but also for an NLP outbreak. A few years ago, you could get away with creating content based entirely on singular keywords. It was made for search engines not regarding or relevance, the focus was only on getting ranking fast and building backlinks that gave clicks, but that time has passed. In the 2020 SEO game, your customer`s needs, intents and journey to make a conversion are the only important data. That will consequently lead to a more reliable approach and, naturally, be integral to the success of your eCommerce business.
In the end, everything comes down to quality content. Analyzing keywords and creating content just for the sake of increasing traffic doesn’t do the trick anymore. Writing by-the-algorithm-rulebook can`t be applied either. Keyword research, as well as pre-BERT SEO optimization tools, have been frozen in the last decade. In 2020 and years to come content should be written for user intention and with a dedication to fulfilling their needs.
Due to its main role of a better understanding of natural language, only applying BERT models increases the chances of higher ranking on the first page for featured snippets on Google. Since the dataset for content creation is coming from suggested queries, deep learning research is on the rise. This means that providing useful and unique content for actual people (like it was originally intended) and not the search engine, will create value and be awarded by the algorithm.
Google makes it’s Quality Rater Guidelines on website reputation and content purpose a priority. It wants you to rank reliable sources which basically means expert content optimized for semantic SEO. So, the content won`t rank only based on keyword optimization, it has to be accurate, smart and match the user’s search intention. Thus Google added acronyms YMYL and E-A-T to every digital marketer dictionary. YMYL is a content quality rating meaning “Your money or your life”. Meaning only correct, beneficial content will be ranked higher.
It`s necessary for users to easily find the desired content. If you can’t obtain relevant feedback from your users, try to look at your strategy through their eyes. The content you would want to consume would likely be educative, expertly written, concise and as valuable as possible. The focal point of your intention should be the way your readers will perceive your content, embodying all essential requirements.
Other than attractive and informative content, there are other recent SEO methods marketers should consider for optimization. Foremost, voice search has lately become increasingly popular.
Research from March 2019 shows that 20% of mobile queries are executed via voice, but the more useful fact is that users will type search queries the way they speak. Unlike typing where we use shorter phrases to find information because it saves physical effort, chances are, when you’re speaking, you will use the full sentence as a question. A good strategy is modifying your content to natural language phrases to rank higher. That brings us to the conclusion that users want the most precise, quick and accurate answer possible for the question they asked. This can be incorporated into your content strategy by including a relevant question in your post and then answer it compressed and simple.
However, that doesn’t mean that the article you include an answer in should be as short as possible. For example, a blog post will contain at least 300 words in order to rank well in the search engines meaning- longer articles will rank higher than shorter ones. Also, a study showed that users are often searching for information near them so emphasizing your business location or well-known city spots close to your HQ will ensure your rise in rankings specifically for the needed service or information.
Mobile SEO is also undeniably worth paying attention to. Mobile searches have exceeded desktop ones and are expected to rise even more. But what does it mean for your business? Google uses the mobile content of a web page to determine its search engine ranking, meaning potentially low-ranked content if you ignore properly adjusted mobile SEO. As Google confirmed, 40% of people prefer to use their mobiles to complete the purchasing process on eCommerce sites. The mobile-first index doesn’t affect your SERP position, however, mobile-friendliness, or mobile UX, is one of the preconditions to generate more traffic. Mobile content has to be the same as the desktop one meaning all formats including videos, images and text should be indexable. Ignoring mobile SEO can possibly do your business more harm than you think so it`s crucial not to skip UX optimization on both devices.
An amazing fact is that YouTube, Facebook, Live streaming and other online video giants will make up 80% of all online traffic by 2021. Including quality videos in your content will undoubtedly boost your SEO and Google is starting to put more authority behind it. Ensuring the optimization of your video is most important for indexing and ranking high on the SERP for relevant keyword searches.
Before airing, a video must include a relevant title, keywords, description, and tags that can boost your engagement and be organized in a structured way. YouTube is operating the same way as Google and it`s shown that most views come from YouTube suggesting your video to their users. Accordingly, optimization has to be on point. Just like the written content, in order to succeed, a video must be founded on quality ideas and great delivery.
Next to great content, links should also be a foundation of every 2020 SEO strategy. When Google introduced us to their YMYL policy, study, statistics and survey became key elements of verifying your position in SEO. From the time of Google’s PageRank Algorithm links their importance has increased. Backlinks are links from one website to another website. Google and other major search engines consider backlinks as approval from other sites that a specific page is credible and beneficial. Therefore, pages with a high number of backlinks tend to have high organic search engine rankings. Google also confirmed that links remain one of the most important search engine ranking factors. Links from authoritative pages are still holding ultimatums when it comes to importance. So ideally, getting a link from an authority site that is thematically closely related (another 2020 SEO rule!) to your site is the best option for getting more traffic. The relevance of the site is changing its course, as it’s mentioned before, so quality is given the main role. Internal linking will also find its peak in 2020 so being able to tie-up all your links together in a clear-cut connected structure of your platform will give you control and benefit the users and think-alike. Another tip is naturally building links to a website by link-intent keywords that people easily want to reference, that way shareability will be a lot more approachable.
A snippet is a chunk of text shown by Google to the user in search results. There is a difference between normal and rich snippets, and by now you can guess which one Google prefers. Normal snippets show the title in blue, the URL in green color and a description of what the page is about, but rich snippets show extra information between the URL and the description. Rich snippets allow users a broad review of information and a much more attractive and clickable look. As more people click on your result, Google will notice that people prefer your page above others which will consequently improve your rankings in the long run. You can ‘nudge’ Google to show rich snippets if you add structured data to your site (something we produce for every Neuralab web project) – meaning a piece of code written in a specific format that search engines understand and recognize as a rich snippet. The real target of your strategy should be helping your users have a great experience with your site. User-focused accessible SEO optimization can build your relevance as well as get you a high rank on SERP so implementing all the relevant 2020 SEO changes will be the only solution to drastically change your results.
We haven’t even talked about hosting, servers and site speed which is an immense factor in 2020 SEO efforts. This technical talk is outside the scope of this article, but you can read more on this topic in an interview with our developers.
Furthermore, there are other factors that we at Neuralab can do for you – UX, UI, well- designed, transparent and easy to navigate page along with high-quality content. Contact us and let us help you rank higher.