An Ultimate Guide for 2020 SEO Trends: BERT Update, Voice Search & More
Every day some new strategy is coming out to claim the next best thing for business success. It’s then common for business owners to question whether strategies like search engine optimization (SEO) still work in 2020.
The reality is, SEO matters and a lot today; though many of the practices and methods have changed. For instance, Google’s 2019 BERT update has lit a fire to focus more on optimizing content based on search intent rather than keywords. The update includes a language processing technology that can evaluate the way words in a search query are related to each other, giving Google a better understanding of a searcher’s intent.
Since SEO is constantly on the move, you need to focus on the right place. So what can you do to keep the game up? Well, keep analyzing, revising, changing. Stay on top of the hundreds of Google algorithm updates and keep adapting to the latest SEO trends.
That’s why, today, we’ve pulled together some of the essential SEO trends to help you make mindful digital marketing decisions in 2020. Check them out!
1. BERT is here to stay!
One of the search engine algorithms, BERT, has been creating a buzz in the SEO industry and is referred to as “the most significant update in the last five years.”
SEO makes the websites rank better in the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) by driving traffic to a particular website. With the advent of BERT, Google has taken an enormous step in making searches all about user intent.
What is BERT?
BERT stands for “Bidirectional Encoder Representations From Transformers“. It improves Natural Language Processing (NLP) that understands the context of a user search query.
BERT mainly enhances the voice search results and text to search features, leading companies to publish quality content on the website. It also analyses the text, responds to the queries of the user faster, and presents the most significant outcomes for the searches.
The latest BERT update assists Google in better interpretation and understanding of what the users are looking for. If a user types complex keywords on a search engine box, Google can process the complex queries, analyze, interpret the possible search intent and deliver the exact results.
2. Secure Websites are a MUST!
Website security must be taken seriously because online security measures directly affect your SEO rankings.
Let’s look at some ways how your website’s security could affect your SEO:
HTTPS as a Ranking Signal
You must know your ultimate goal as an SEO is not to please Google but to please users and to deliver what they need.
While this means offering them relevant, authoritative content, it also suggests delivering the users with results that are nearly guaranteed safe to interact with. An unsecured website risks online safety and has the potential to pull back all the hard work you’ve put in your SEO. Hence Google Starts Giving A Ranking Boost To Secure HTTPS/SSL Sites.
Getting Blacklisted – Beware
Without protection, the website can be hacked as someone might be placing links on your site. Search engines pick up on this spam and could blacklist your site.
Security will help protect the integrity of your website so that you won’t get penalized because of hackers. Remember, even if you clean up your site after being blacklisted, it can take a while to get back to where you were before in the rankings.
Many users visiting your site will likely be on the alert for red flags that it isn’t secure. If they see you don’t have HTTPS in your URL, receive direct notifications that it isn’t safe, or if your web pages have high bounce rates – users will leave your website right away.
And, rebuilding credibility will take time.
3. Optimize Websites for Voice Search
As the importance of evolving your company’s SEO and content strategy grows, so the popularity of voice search.
Notably, voice search was one of the popular SEO trends of 2019 and reflects that it is here to stay. Also, it is being predicted that 50% of the internet searches will be done through voice search by 2020.
SEO in voice search is engaging because searching with voice is different from typing a query. The searches are bound to become longer and more conversational.
Optimizing Voice Search
The ease of being able to voice your concerns or questions over search is unparalleled. The solutions to the query received are much quicker, minimizing bounce rates and grasping the potential consumers for a more extended period. The users are content with the answers as they match closely with the words uttered.
Voice search enhances user experience by delivering faster and more accurate search results at convenience. This is the main reason why there is an emphasis on a strategic voice search optimization now:
Keyword research is essential in all forms of marketing and advertising and is no different when it comes to voice search.
However, one must know that there is a difference as searches are likely to be more natural in voice queries. Here, long-tail keywords and conversational words will be more suited for semantic search.
Also, phrases must be a part of the strategy to target specific keywords for voice search.
‘People Also Ask’ section and Google Analytics are useful suggestive tools for tailoring your keywords to voice-based queries. Moreover, your digital platform can incorporate words such as ‘near me’ and ‘close to my location’ in the meta description, alt texts, and tags of your content. This gives a quick answer to the person’s query for nearby places ( restaurants, educational institutes, etc.) where your website becomes instantly visible.
Structured data or schema markup is one of the ranking factors used by Google’s search algorithm to decide the relevancy and position of a page in the search results. These appear below your website URL and gives a hint to the user about the additional information within the website they can redirect to.
If using WordPress, search for “schema” plugins, and you’ll find hundreds that enable the functionality. You can also execute structured data manually on your website using specific schemas from the schema.org library.
Content Optimization – Understanding the User Intent
People are usually looking to buy something or want information when they type in a search query. User intent is clearly expressed in queries such as “how-to”, “price”, ‘download” and so on. If and when the purpose is unclear, Google can also find out the context behind such search queries and deliver the best-matched results.
So how do you optimize and write your content around user intent? Ask yourself and work towards the outcomes of the following questions:
- Have you provided the most accurate answer?
- Has the response been given in a proper format?
- Is the content on the website easily accessible by Google?
- Is your website credible?
Working on FAQ pages and Featured Snippets is of great importance here as Google gives priority to direct answers which closely matches the user’s query. This means you would need to optimize your content for featured snippets, as 40% of voice search answers come from featured snippets.
The basics of being relevant and to-the-point works magic here as many people keep asking ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ about a specific product, service, or person.
Remember, short, precise answers will always be the key to solve the user’s problem in the quickest time. So, alter your content accordingly.
Page Speed and Mobile Optimization
The most crucial aspect of flaunting a powerful mobile version of any website is to make sure the pages load in no longer than 2-3 seconds. Users are always expecting prompt answers when they use vocal queries, and if a slow site works to the opposite effect, the user would get frustrated and leave.
Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is excellent in this regard. The tool checks your website’s loading time and gives a comprehensive report on concerns and suggestions to improve the page speed.
Another way to enhance your mobile website speed is by implementing an AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) feature. The feature assists your mobile pages to load spontaneously by pulling only a few necessary blocks of content.
Also, make sure to prioritize your visible content, optimize images, remove unwanted theme elements and plugins, and implement browser caching.
4. Featured Snippets Dominate Search Clicks
One of the other ways Google is updating is the SERP (search engine results page) feature like Featured Snippets. Google has methods of determining the evaluation of Featured Snippets and get boosted to the top depending on their quality.
Featured snippets aimed towards answering the user’s query without them having to click through to a definite result on the SERP. The answers are picked from the top-ranking pages and are displayed above the first organic result and below the paid ads.
Featured snippets are also referred to as “position zero” since they appear above all the organic search results. They’re also referred to as “answer boxes,” because the information is displayed inside a box.
According to Ahrefs, if you rank on top for a search term and have a position zero (featured snippet), you obtain 31% more traffic compared to merely having the first position without the featured snippet. Featured Snippets gives you the ability to generate more organic traffic.
To take benefit of this feature and drive more clicks, you will need to give precise answers to frequently asked questions on your website.
5. A Mobile-Friendly Website
Mobile SEO or mobile search engine optimization is the process of optimizing content to achieve a better ranking of your website in search engines. The process helps you improve organic traffic, which is traffic coming to your site from search results.
And, if you don’t get this right, people won’t stick around long enough to be wowed by your product or brand.
People frequently switch between devices to research and buy, so it has become more critical than ever for their experience to be constant.
That means you need to make sure people can do everything they need to on your website, no matter which device they happen to be using. An excellent place to start making improvements is the bounce rate. Since the dwell time (the time visitors spend after following a link to your site) is a significant SEO ranking factor; the more the bounce rate, the worse it is for your mobile search ranking.
Next, also make sure your website is responsive. A responsive site refers to where the design elements are resized according to the device to give users a great visual and browsing experience.
6. Influencer Marketing For SEO
Digital marketers, over the past years, have been increasing their investment in influencer marketing because it has produced excellent outcomes in search engines.
According to a Business Insider report in 2019, brands will be spending up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022.
The report also stated that Instagram is the gold standard for influencer marketing. Approximately 79% of brands tap Instagram for influencer campaigns, 46% with Facebook, 36% with YouTube, while Twitter with 24%, and LinkedIn usage with 12%, respectively.
Partnering with an influencer can help you augment your content reach and produce more traffic to your website that can eventually lead to building valuable backlinks.
Moreover, while developing an influencer marketing strategy, you will need to consider what type of content you want and how it can link back to your website.
Make sure to partner with influencers relevant to your industry and audience. And if the influencer is an authority with a robust digital presence, their backlinks could prove a gold mine for you!
7. The Ascent of Video Marketing
Success with video marketing is reaching its peak. Today, digital marketers need to be careful not to miss out on the opportunities that video content can provide for them. The 2019 report by Wyzowl reflects that 87% of marketing professionals use video as a marketing tool.
Hence, video marketing is something that can be considered as one of the most engagement-friendly digital strategies.
The video marketing platform YouTube has provided marketers with a medium of sharing information – which means direct engagement with the audience in a comprehensive manner.
Today, millennials prefer videos for either academic or entertainment purposes that make online videos a priority for many businesses. And a top-notch video can engage the audience while offering necessary business information at their disposal.
But, to reach more users, marketers have to optimize videos for appearing in top search results. For this, they use targeted keywords in their descriptions as well as verbal content to reach the relevant audience.
8. Use of Structured Data
With the rise of user-focused content, the website’s structured data is more critical than ever.
Under the Google developer guide, structured data is defined as a format to present information about a web page and to classify its content.
Essentially, a specific code of the structured data on your website allows search engines like Google to understand your content better. Search engines can also use structured data to make your search results look better – with more detail which is often referred to as rich content.
Structured data markup is created to enhance the way a search engine understands a page’s content. This makes the page more relevant to the search engine and improves SERP displays. The search engine can pull through rich data for the page – such as images, reviews, and business hours, to be displayed on the SERP. It can make your site appear more attractive to users and improve click-through rates.
The use of semantic search/semantic web is the aptest way for optimizing the structured data.
Semantics is the study of meaning in languages – especially the connection between phrases, symbols, and words and what they mean. The semantic web, or “meaningful web”, is centered on these relationships, rather than elements like keywords and backlinks. Rather than looking at strings of words and phrases, the semantic web looks at the concepts behind them.
Schema.org gives a set of such shared vocabularies, that are under active development by the community. The vocabulary can be used with different encodings, including RDFa, Microdata, and JSON-LD. Google supports the structured data in all these three formats.
9. Personalized Marketing Gaining Momentum
Today, digital marketers have heaps of data available at their disposal. From fundamental demographic personalization to psychographic personalization, you will be able to build comprehensive customer profiles.
This level of personalization helps not only in bringing in more accurate potential customers for your clients but also to produce tailored user experiences for your websites.
Personalization has proven to be mutually profitable for both the consumer and the business. It assists in delivering a rich online experience to users and achieving a higher Return on Investment (ROI) and CTR – ultimately boosting the bottom line for businesses.
Understanding your customer: It means taking a detailed look at their demographics, psychographics, and digital behavior.
- Privacy: Consumers are constantly worried about the safety of their online data and its usage. As a measure of assurance you must include a statement in your organization’s privacy policies, declaring to the consumer on what information is collected, and how it will be used.
- Real-Time: Use consumer data while customers are active on your website. This lets you deliver the right message at the right time before they move on to another site.
- Right Channel: Not all media/channels will function equally in all situations. Knowing your customer profile and where to deliver the message is essential. The right message, at the most accurate time over the right channel, is key.
10. Content-Length and SEO: What is the Correlation?
One of the debated topics is the role that content length plays in search engine performance. Many digital marketers argue that longer content is better: the greater the average content length, the higher it spots in the SERPs.
We actually can’t know whether the users who come to our websites have time for lengthy or brief answers. But what we can do is examine their search terms, clicks, session times and get a sense of the kind of content they like, and whether they have eyes for the long or the short stuff.
There are other ranking factors that are likely to earn those coveted rankings, hence it is important for content creators to remind themselves that it isn’t necessarily the length–but the topical authority that those long articles and blog posts exhibit–that qualifies them for those top spots in the search rankings.
Also, research shows that lengthier content also earns more backlinks. If you provide a long piece of in-depth, valuable content, webmasters and online writers will want to link to it as evidence of their ideas, or interests.
Long content also gives the impact of credibility and extensive knowledge on a topic. When users are reading, more content gives them something to scan through. Lengthy content always projects the authoritative image that boosts conversion rates ( but not if it lacks relevance).
When it comes to the SERP rankings or driving traffic to a specific website, follow these most updated strategies mentioned above to get better search results.
However, to improve your rank in the Search Engine Result Page, you can also take help from a reputed and well-experienced SEO marketing agency. The SEO experts will equip you with the best SEO services to help you achieve the desired digital presence.