SEO is a dynamic and challenging field for professionals. The technology is evolving leaps and bounds and with it comes myriad of challenges for those who want to keep up the pace. Recent advancements in Google’s ranking algorithms and its content processing technologies have altogether changed the game of SEO. Technologies such as voice search, and visual search are also adding to the avenues of ranking on SERPs. In view of these changes, Keenly Digital has hand picked 5 top trends that will dominate the Search Engine Marketing for the year 2020, and onward. These trends are there to stay, so it is advised that the same should be followed by SEOs for online success.
1. Voice Search is Going to Dominate SEO in 2020.
Voice search is not the latest of the Google’s innovations. However, the unprecedented improvement in Google’s ability to recognize and match voice based key phrases with web content is a thing to watch. According to SEOexpertBrad, 58% of the voice searches made on Google voice search in 2019 were about finding a local business nearby. This is quite telling that people have become accustomed to using voice searches, in fact they are finding it easy to speak rather than writing on their small screens.
What it means for the SEO experts is that they should look forward to writing the content in conversational flow, rather than giving a robotic expression with stuffed keywords. When people search for voice, they usually tend to speak longer sentences. So, the web content and page title should cater to those queries. For instance, most of the questions start with Who, what, where, and How. So, a query would be like, who is the president of the US? Who wrote the Alchemist? Why do I feel pain in my legs after exercise? Therefore, it is imperative that you answer these questions directly.
It must also be clear to you that your chances of ranking in the voice search results are low if you do not rank on the first page of that term already. The chances are the highest if you are already in the top three results, and if you rank in the featured snippet for that search term (Source).
2. Search Intent will be Defining the Rankings
Gone are the days when people used to manipulate Google’s rank algorithms with keyword stuffing. Google is fast replacing Lexical Searches (That looks for literal matching of searched keywords with web content) with semantic searches (which focuses on search intent of the user). Consider that a keyword “Absolute” is the name of multiple businesses e.g. a Hand Sanitizer brand, a Cleaning Service, a Firing Range, and an Aesthetic Clinic etc. Now if you are already searching for Hand Sanitizer, it would be stupid of Google to show you a Firing Range when you type Absolute in the search. It means that based on your previous activity and behavior, Google already knew your search intent, and showed you the most relevant result. If it was based on lexical search, it would have shown you the meaning of Absolute, instead of any business, or even if it were a business, the result would have been the one with exact match keywords arranged in a structured way.
Therefore, it is absolutely necessary for you as a SEO expert that you focus on context of the content rather than stuffing keywords in headings unnecessarily. Also, hire the writers who know how to create a sense of the content. Always remember that Google rewards you when you make things easy for its users and crawlers.
3. Google’s Natural Language is Going for a Kill
Google is serious about showing its users the most authentic and relevant content. As its indexing and processing is shifting away from literal match to semantic match, one thing that’s coming out of it is Google’s natural language. This is the language that Google is developing naturally through machine learning. Google processes millions of searches on daily basis, so it stores all those search key phrases and matches them to the web pages people visit following those keywords/phrases. After repeated questions and answers, and tracking user behavior, Google is now able to understand what we actually intend to search. These advancements were not possible, but for the two artificial intelligence tools/algorithms: Rank Brain, and Humming Bird.
Rank Brain is Google’s latest artificial intelligence-based innovation that is designed to recognize and process words and phrases to improve search results. As an extension of the Google’s search intent program, Rank Brain has the ability to think independently. This feature allows it to handle search queries at high sophistication level.
Another technology that is improving day by day is the Hummingbird by Google. It is also an assistive algorithm that processes the website content as a natural language. This helps Google understand the context of the website content which it uses to put it in the relevant category and then load it in the search results when a user makes a query relevant to the keywords and context of the website content.
4. The Mobile-First Indexing is Changing the SEO Game.
Mobile first indexing means that Google prioritizes mobile indexing of web pages rather than desktop indexing. If you are familiar with old Webmaster Tool of google, you’d know that Google used to give people an option to fetch as google for mobile and desktop indexing separately. Now it has changed, after the July 2019 update, Google automatically fetches and indexes pages in their mobile versions.
This decision makes sense because most of the people now use mobile phones to access google and find answers to their queries. Nobody bothers opening a desktop to find ‘sushi,’ in their town.
This warrants an immediate mobile optimization of the websites which perform poor on cell phones. We recommend using a lighter version of your website for mobile view. For this, you can remove unnecessary and bulky background videos, animations, and unused code. If you are still unsure as to how your website performs on mobiles, run a speed test on Google Page Speed Insights, and make amendments recommended by the Google.
5. Visual Search Technologies are the Future of SEO.
Visual search has become a new norm following the ability of search engines to analyze and process images and videos. With Google Lens been used over one billion times, and Pinterest hitting 600 million views each month, visual search is taking off. According to Backlinko 2020 is the year when visual searches will become one of the predominant searching method.
This appears to be true given the ability of people to use just a mobile phone camera to take image of a product, text or a QR code to get search results on it. Mobile phone companies, such as Samsung and Huawei have already rolled out built-in apps to find product info using cell-phone cameras. Google lens, Microsoft Lens, and Google’s reverse image search are all indicating a shift towards visual searching.
To cope with the changing SEO dynamics, what you need to do is to optimize your web images for search results. For instance, you can add proper alt-attributes, title attributes, captions, and description for images that you upload on your web.