The chaos of early SEO is largely over, thanks in large part to Google’s efforts to curb black hat practices intended to bring in traffic at any cost, frequently leading search users to content entirely irrelevant to their search. With major algorithm overhauls throughout the past decade, Google hasn’t exactly leveled the playing field for businesses (those with more money can buy a level of visibility that others can’t), but at least it gives smaller operations a chance to vie for user traffic with relevant and engaging content.
In 2020, Google continues to steer the course of SEO efforts. While you’ve probably honed your keyword strategy by now and you’re on board with Google’s mobile-first initiative, you’ll find that there are always ways to improve and ride trends to your advantage. What’s on the horizon for SEO in the coming year and how can you get maximum returns from your efforts? Here are a few strategies to consider.
If you haven’t heard of zero-click searches, you’re in for a nasty shock. You’ve no doubt seen Google answer boxes popping up at the top of search results for a while. These aim to provide users with the most relevant and popular data for simple search queries in a bite-sized format. Remember, Google’s goals are different from yours – they want to provide answers in the quickest and most convenient way to keep users happy.
Now called snippets, these prominent boxes display the data (or at least a portion of the data) users are searching for right on the SERPs, meaning users never have to click through to a website to have their query answered. This may seem like bad news for any business spending money on SEO to gain page rank and increase website traffic.
However, there is something to be gained from securing featured snippets – mainly exposure. When you nab a featured snippet spot, you’re still getting coveted top placement on SERPs, and if you structure your snippets correctly, you can not only highlight specific data, like your company name, URL, and other enticing data, but you have the opportunity to compel clicks by providing a sneak preview of data that makes search users want to know more.
To be honest, website security and SEO don’t generally overlap, but if you want to make the most of your SEO efforts, it’s high time you made the switch to HTTPS. As of early 2017, many browsers started flagging websites without this security protocol as unsafe, warning users that visited them that the sites were not secure. As of 2018, it was estimated that only a little over half of websites had converted to HTTPS. To spend money on SEO only to have users bounce because your site is listed as dangerous is a terrible waste, and one that you should address immediately.
With more and more people browsing by mobile and using hands-free tools, you cannot avoid the prevalence of voice search and how it impacts the language of search queries. It will affect your keyword strategies, so it’s wise to focus on this growing segment of the search market in 2020.