As an SEO in 2020 it is crucial to be up to date with what is going on in the search industry, what is still relevant and what is not so, what things you must do and what tricks you should avoid. This informative guide examines the 7 SEO best practices that are fundamental in 2020 and what you need to be aware of and fully understand.
Think of this guide as the long vine hanging down to pull you out of the out-of-date SEO quicksand and steer you to the SEO best practices for 2020.
In a nutshell, it covers 7 ways to stay up to date with the latest and best SEO practices for 2020:
- Foundation SEO and agile SEO – anticipating changes from Google
- Understanding user intent
- SERP features – why easily summarised content is key
- BERT algorithm update – how BERT affects SEO
- How and why video content will continue to thrive
- The rise of voice search
- The changing CMS platform landscape, why site migrations are becoming more frequent and how they can impact upon your SEO
Using Foundational SEO and Agile SEO in 2020
Google have been busy with updates throughout last year and now that 2020 is in full swing the pace of change has not slowed. So as digital marketers, we need to be on our toes for future changes that may occur.
Be prepared for future Google algorithm changes by making sure that your website has the SEO foundations covered. This includes page titles, descriptions, properly canonicalised pages, alt text, site maps, appropriately no-indexed pages and properly configured robots.txt files.
The fundamentals of SEO have been essential to ranking success way back to 1997. This was when people first realised the benefits of optimising titles and descriptions to accurately describe a page, while targeting the queries that users are searching.
Even 23 years ago, people realised that sites with great user experience were successful and pages that provided the user with what they’re looking for were the pages that thrived.
These SEO fundamentals still apply today, if not more so. Use your Meta Data to communicate to the user in SERPs and fix the basics of website user experience, like 404 pages, 301 redirect routes, thin and duplicate content.
Covering these foundations of your website’s SEO has always been good practice and will continue to be a necessity to ranking, getting traffic and having a great website.
Having strong fundamental SEO and a great user experience on your site will give you the best chance in 2020 and put you in a position to adapt and optimise for any new changes, should future Google updates come and shake things up again.
Staying agile with your SEO is a mindset and it is important to be ready and able to make changes to how you do things.
Agile SEO means staying educated on the most current techniques and anticipating seismic changes in the industry such as Google updates. It means understanding that certain techniques, whilst they may generate short term gains, are not long term building blocks of your SEO campaign. Practises that may be currently used will most likely be addressed in future Google algorithm updates and recognising that Google will always try to ensure that it delivers the best search results for its users, or nearly always anyway.
Being quick, efficient and effective when adapting your SEO practices will help you to stay up to date with the leaders in digital.
Having strong foundational SEO that you can make agile SEO decisions upon is essential to stay up to date with future changes in 2020.
Understanding User Intent
The way people search is changing in 2020, it is important to study the intent behind what people type into the search bar.
Search queries are getting longer and more complex, so when targeting terms with your content, you want to make sure you’re targeting what the user is really intending to find.
Analyse the SERP for your search query to find out the user intent, the results that you find are what Google believes people want to find when they begin their search.
If you don’t get the results you were expecting from a search query you want to target, it’s probably a different way to how people are actually searching for your chosen topic and you should try searching for it in a different way.
Another great indicator to the intent of a user’s search is by the types of content Google brings back. If the first thing that appears in the SERP is a blog, it would be a good idea to create a blog post for that search query. Similarly, if a video is at the top, think about creating some video content.
Understanding the intent of a user’s search can help you eliminate content that won’t perform.If the user is searching for something purely factual that has a distinct answer, such as “how to screenshot on pc”, there may well be a featured snippet answering this query and the user will not need to click through to any of the results. This is something known as a zero-click search and which we believe will be another increasing trend in 2020.
It is important that you optimise your content to give you the best chances to gain Google featured snippets and gain the visibility, brand authority (and traffic) that this generates.
Featured snippets favour summarised content, they work to make your content understood to the user within one paragraph or a few bullet points.
The best way to encourage Google to use your page as the snippet is to do the hard work for them.
Create a short SEO friendly summary within your content breaking down what your content covers in just a few sentences.
That way, Google will not need to scour your whole page and try and create one for itself, giving you a better chance of being selected for that top page snippet slot.
How the Google BERT Update Affects SEO
BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) is one of the latest major Google updates.
It is used to better understand large bodies of text with tasks such as entity recognition, speech tagging and question-answering.
The Google BERT update improves how Google understands the different types of searches that people are carrying out, especially the longer context-based queries.
In the last year and in 2020 particularly, people tend to search Google like they are having a conversation with a person, where previously they might search keyword phrases related to what they wanted to find.
The increasing complexity of how users search Google has prompted them to release the BERT algorithm update, using natural language processing to help them to understand context and nuances within these conversational type searches.
The BERT update is believed to affect around 10% of total searches and will allow Google to better understand certain nuances and industry terms that can have different meanings based on context. For example, before the BERT update the term ‘how much is there in a pound of bread’ could be confused between the UK pound sterling and the weight in lbs, the Google BERT update uses context to decipher which of the two the user is really searching for.
There’s no doubt that Google’s understanding of linguistics is developing and poorly written content may be more noticeable to Google and not achieve the same results it used to.
Video Content – Getting Visual with Content
People want to access content in the simplest way possible and video content is a great way to serve that need.
Offering a variety of content is a great way to reach different platforms with your content and we believe creating video content is one of the big 2020 SEO trends to get involved in.
With most training courses being delivered with video content and many of the best performing blog posts in a host of different topics including a video element, it is clear that people enjoy consuming video content alongside traditional content types such as blog posts.
All the 2020 trends for SEO point towards content being accessed and digested easily, just like the zero-click searches, video content is another step in the direction of the user digesting content in the most efficient way.
One great way to format your content is to create a video on the topic and place it at the top of the blog post, then underneath supported by a transcript of what you covered within the video.
The Rise of Voice Searches
With the rise of voice search applications such as Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, voice searches are starting to become a part of many people’s daily lives.
Voice search devices are continuing to make accessing content more efficient and easier for the user, so we, as SEOs need to adapt with this change.
It is important to optimise your content for voice searches. You can do this by optimising for more natural and conversational search terms that people will be searching for. Do you think it is a coincidence this is the exact thing the Google BERT update was released to understand? We think not… Stay agile with your SEO and start optimising for voice search!
Preparing for Site Migrations in 2020
Our final words of advice to best prepare your SEO campaigns for 2020 is to be ready for future site migrations.
It is estimated the 1 in 4 ecommerce websites use the Magento CMS. Magento version 2 was released back in 2015 and now that it is, officially, stable, Adobe, the owner of Magento, has announced that it will be stopping support for Magento 1 in June 2020. This has left many site owners fearing that their Magento 1 platform will be insecure and vulnerable this year after the support system is abandoned and no further security and software patches are made available.
From this, we can assume that an increasing number of site owners will be wanting to migrate their Magento 1 sites to either the newer Magento 2 or another alternative ecommerce in the coming months.
With the process of site migrations proving a challenging task for SEOs, it is best to be prepared and anticipate this trend.
Read our blog post on site migrations to learn how to smoothly transition from one site to another and minimise loss of traffic during the migration.
Staying prepared for updates to CMS platforms is essential for SEO, such as the recent WordPress 5 and OpenCart 3 series of updates. Updates can bring big fundamental changes to the SEO platform, so it is crucial to stay up to date and educated on the most recent versions and the differences and changes they bring.
So to summarise, these are the 7 Best Practices for SEO in 2020:
- Have solid SEO foundations and agile SEO to anticipate future changes
- Understand user intent behind searches to better tailor your content
- Optimise your content for SERP features and zero-click searches
- Recognise how Google Bert update affects SEO and content
- Use Video content in your content plan
- Prepare for the rise of Voice Searches
- Prepare well in advance for potential Site Migrations
If you follow these simple steps this year, you will be able to compete in the search landscape and be seen by the people that matter to you online. If you need any further advice, get in touch with our SEO specialists or keep up to date with our blog for the latest insights from our industry professionals.