What's in store for your website's search engine optimization (SEO) in 2020?
The first thing you need to realize is that Google owns search and we have to live with it. According to Statcounter, in North America, they have almost 89% of all searches.
[Google] says their aim is to serve their users the best possible results, but we can’t help but note that coincidentally, we’re seeing Google answering more and more questions directly through SERP features (“zero-click searches”) while also driving up CTRs for paid listings.
So, our content is used to answer questions directly in the SERP, and we get nothing in return (except maybe for a bit of brand value).
Slowly but surely, Google’s eating up the SERP, and decreasing the CTR for organic listings.
I know this has been the trend for a while, but recent developments for the SERP features — as well as the results of a recent Rand Fishkin study on CTRs — are alarming. ~Steven Van Vessum, Search Engine Journal
Is Keyword Research Still Important?
Not so much. Before you used to use the Google keyword tool to find the keywords and phrases for your particular business. You went for the ones with high search volume.
Search volume is not a good indicator for search traffic.
You can have a high search volume for a keyword, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you get a high number of clicks. ~ Search Engine Journal
Now, because of featured snippets (see below), the answer will usually appear on the top of the SERP (search engine results page) and there's no need for the searcher to go any further.
For Google, search intent is very important. They're goal is to bring up the freshest, most relevent content in response to what a user enters into the search box. When creating content -- blogs, videos, graphics, podcasts, etc. -- focus on answering the users' questions. This means you need to put yourself in your target market's shoes.
What are they going to enter into the search box to find you?
Understanding where your audience is coming from will be crucial in 2019 to come up on the first page of Google.
There are 4 types of intent queries:
- Informational: How to...? What is...? How much...? How high...? Where is...? When was...?, etc.
- Navigational: Branded Queries: Where's the nearest Starbucks?"
- Commercial investigation: What's the best ____?
- Transactional: Download, buy, order, get...
How do you find which ones will work for you? Look at your competition's SERP results. Play with different query searches. See where you come up in comparison to your competitors. What phrase did they rank for?
Google partnered with WordPress
This goes to show that Google recognizes WordPress as the premier website platform.
With its 59 percent CMS market share equating to 29 percent of all websites running WordPress, a partnership with the platform makes perfect sense for Google to advance its goals of a stronger, better, faster web. ~ The Need for Speed
And they recently introduced a new Google plugin for WordPress.
Create Quality Content
Truth: there's a lot of content out there. Don't sacrifice quality for quantity. Your content needs to be epic and stand out.
- Create content that solves your target market's problems.
- Content should motivate and connect with people. The Importance of Great Content in SEO
- Use the right language to move the user through the page. They need to keep reading and want to read more.
- Good marketing content will lead them to convert -- whether it's to download a freebie so you get their email address and put them into a marketing automation system or going straight to the sale (ecommerce sites).
- Good content will increase your and your site's authority on the topic. You want to be known as an expert in your field. Think EAT: Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness.
People buy from whom they know and trust.
Links are still Important
- Internal links: your navigation, linked keywords to other pages and posts within your website.
- External links: quoting sources, social media profiles, and other relevant sites.
- Expert Tip: Make sure all of them open to a new tab so that keeps the visitor longer on your site.
"Hey, Google, Siri, Alexa..."
Whether they're asking their phone or their "smart speaker", voice search use will increase. People are going to ask questions or they are seeking something local. The idea is to come up in the SERP and be the first one the smart speaker finds with the correct response to the query.
What do you need to do to come up in those search results Featured Snipppets?
- Snipppets are answer boxes in reply to questions asked in Google Search.
- Research which keywords will trigger a snippet: Most of these keywords will implicitly or explicitly ask a question.
- Structure your content: Most answer boxes are pulled from paragraphs, tables or lists in your content. For paragraphs, make your answer short and to the point. Also, ensure your answer appears at the top of your article.
- Be accurate and correct: Google wants to reward websites that offer up the most accurate and complete answer to the question.
- Put the question in a "H2" heading tag.
- For example, for the query, "What is SEO?", this is what comes up:
Google My Business
If you're a local brick-and-mortar, make sure your Google My Business (GMB) listing is up-to-date with your company's information, hours, phone, email address and that you're verified local. You can also post to GMB and it will come up in Google searches. See the example below:
Also, make use of the new Google Search Console.
Website Loading Speed is Still a Factor
Your website has to load FAST. Especially on a mobile device. Test your website here. It will give you tips on how to improve your loading speed.
Social Media Integration and Posting is Still Key
- Share your blog posts to your social networks
- Create promo posts with links back to your website
- Use Pinterest - pin your graphics and videos. It creates a backlink and when someone clicks twice on your pin, it goes to your website.
- Repurpose your content on LinkedIn and Medium. Write the post first on your blog, share it on LinkedIn, in a few days, copy it to LinkedIn's blog. Always put, "This post/article originally appeared on _____." with a link to the originating article. That gives the original authority with Google. Also, put a call-to-action (CTA) back to your website.
- Share relevant posts again if something is trending on Twitter.
- Send out a monthly newsletter with excerpts of your blog articles with "click here to read more" and a link back to the website.
- Talk to your target customer.
- Share it in online to niche groups and forums.
- Encourage blog commenting.
- Encourage happy camper customers to recommend/review you or your business on LinkedIn, Facebook, Yelp, Google and other pertinent sites.
SEO is constant work. You need to blog at least weekly to give Google the fresh content it's looking for.
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