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Algorithms used by search engines, particularly Google, are regularly upgraded. Most algorithm upgrades are simple tweaks and security patches, but many have a direct impact on search engine optimisation (SEO). This means that SEO is changing all the time. The importance of SEO strategy in 2020 cannot be overestimated.

Previous years’ online marketing trends will inevitably determine or at least have a knock-on effect on your SEO strategy for 2020. Online marketers must adapt and adjust their strategy to keep it in line with current trends and demands.

What are some current SEO trends?

It’s important to keep up-to-date with current trends and adjust your digital marketing strategy accordingly. Some of these trends will eventually become the new standards.

Algorithm updates

Google’s latest update – the catchily-titled Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, or BERT – is focused on natural language processing. This means that the algorithm will give more importance to the context of your search rather than just combinations of keywords. It is designed to mirror the way people naturally speak or write.

That means long-tail key phrases – or longer search terms – will be more important than short keywords. Natural language tends to be more descriptive and contextual than merely keyword driven. Plus, one word can mean different things depending on the context.

The E-A-T factor

Online users are increasingly relying on the E-A-T factor (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness). It’s critical to build a good reputation in your own particular industry or niche. People want expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness especially when it comes to the detail. You cannot simply over-optimise your product keywords and expect people to buy. You need to be persuasive based on evidence – and that means publishing great content, whether that’s in the form of blog posts, videos, white papers, even social media.

Technical SEO

Basic optimisation or technical SEO is still crucial in 2020 when it comes to the visibility of your website, specifically for indexing purposes. Technical SEO is the backbone of how your website is organised and seen by web crawlers, who then decide where it will rank your content and display it on results pages. Your website must be user-friendly in terms of navigation but it also has to be crawler-friendly when it comes to search engine visibility, allowing easy access to your website’s organisational hierarchy.

Google Search Console Performance Report

Components of technical SEO

Technical SEO isn’t about the actual content of the website or how you promote your business online. It’s about the infrastructure, code, and hierarchical aspects of your website in terms of search engine accessibility. It involves the following aspects of web development:

  • Specifying your domain name
  • Optimising robots.txt
  • Optimising your URL structure
  • Organising the navigation and site structure
  • Optimising the breadcrumb menus
  • Implementing structured data markup
  • Canonical URLs
  • Optimising the 404 page
  • Optimising the XML sitemap
  • Implementing SSL and HTTPS
  • Improving website speed
  • Ensuring mobile device friendliness
  • Using accelerated mobile pages (AMP)

About keyword research

On-page SEO strategy is intended to improve your website’s SERPs based on content and keywords. Researching the appropriate keywords is crucial in making your website competitive in your industry or niche. Keyword research is about finding the right combination of words and phrases that are likely to be used in an online search that will lead prospective clients or customers discovering your business.

You should have a balance between high-demand keywords or phrases and unique ones that will highlight your website. Your keywords must be properly integrated into high-quality, relevant, useful content for your website to rank. Gone are the days of low quality content produced by content mills and peppered with keywords.

Through keyword research you will be able to answer the following questions:

  • What is the information connected to my product that people are searching online?
  • What is the volume of people searching for particular information or product?
  • What is the most popular format people want to get their information? Is it a video, article, infographics, free e-book, etc.?

It is very important that you understand your target market and have a clear-cut goal for your business. You should communicate as much relevant information to your SEO specialist if you are not doing the research and optimisation yourself. 

The importance of longtail keywords 

In terms of search demand curve, longtail keywords or phrases are relatively low in search volume but high in percentage of traffic. Longtail keywords account for 70% of traffic on websites compared to chunky middle keywords and fathead keywords, with only 11.5% and 18.5%, respectively. The main reason is competition. There is simply too much content competing for a generic or popular keyword.

For instance, when you type ”phone” into a search engine search box, millions of results will appear, including Wikipedia pages. The information can be overwhelming and at the same time useless. The keyword “phone” is not specific enough.

By comparison, if you are selling an Apple smartphone from a brick-and-mortar in New York City, you might be found by someone using the longtail phrase “Apple smartphone in New York City.”

Google offers a free mobile site speed test to check the speed of your website:

How site speed affects your rankings

Since the world switched to lightning-speed broadband from tortoise-like dial-up, people’s patience online has become shorter. According to one study, 47% of people online expect websites to load in less than two seconds. The same study also found out that 40% of users will leave a website if it takes more than three seconds to load.

40% of users will leave a website if it takes more than three seconds to load

Your website should be optimised for speed both on desktop/laptop computers and on mobile devices. Otherwise, you stand to lose a lot of potential clients or customers. Speed is also a crucial factor in rankings because it determines the bounce rate of visitors. If your website has a high bounce rate, it is less likely to rank well on the SERPs.

Building Backlinks for SEO in 2020

Link building is part of off-page SEO. It is all about creating backlinks to your website. Every backlink is counted by search engines as a vote of confidence for your website. Consequently, if you have a lot of backlinks, your website should rank higher in the search results.

It used to be relatively easy to create artificial backlinks by simply creating other support websites and blogs that you then linked back to your main website. (Please don’t do this any more!) Today, backlinks that are counted have to be from established, relevant, and authoritative websites.

You can still create backlinks through guest blogging, forums, and social media but you should not over-rely on backlinks. You should instead focus on improving the quality of your content and the overall user experience.

Aside from the fact that artificial link building is now harder to implement, backlinks are more naturally generated if you simply focus on producing quality content and a good user experience. People are likely to cite your website if it is highly informative and authoritative. The following parameters are better measures of the success of your website in terms of generating leads:

  • Click-through rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Time spent on the page

Why you need a great content strategy in 2020

Most algorithm updates are now focused on quality content and better user experience. This means that – even though it now sounds like a cliché – content is still king and its potential as a marketing tool is greater than ever.

If you’re wondering about the importance of an SEO strategy in 2020, the answer is the same as it has been since SEO came into being: you need one to be able to rank well in SERPs. But this is pretty much only achievable these days if you have great content that people will like, use, and share.

Your content should be informative, entertaining, and persuasive. Most customers already know what they want to buy but they will generally always compare brands who sell the same product. If your content is persuasive, your leads are likely to be converted into customers.

Need help with your SEO? Start with a FREE SEO Audit today.

Dan Wiggins

Dan Wiggins is the director of RedCore Digital. Working with key accounts on a daily basis to ensure the long term success of our clients.