October 7, 2019 @ 2:57 PM By Mladen Maksić
Today’s customers live in a highly immersive digital world.
We all have access to endless amounts of information, which means that we can fully research the tools and solutions that we need before making a purchase. Even 94% of B2B buyers say that they search online before making a purchase.
In a world of constant searching, the importance of SEO can’t be overestimated.
The higher your website ranks in the search engine result pages (SERPs), the more traffic you receive. The more traffic you bring to your page, the more chances you have of converting that traffic into sales. The average click-through rate for a website at the #1 position on Google is around 30%.
However, understanding how to optimize SEO isn’t always easy.
As we move forward into 2020, the nature of search engine optimization is changing. SEO is taking on the new value, and new purpose.
Here are 10 reasons why SEO will be essential in the year to come.
Organic search remains a crucial component of your website’s performance and an essential part of the sales funnel. As the digital marketplace continues to evolve, businesses still rely on search engines to direct customers to their websites, product pages, and forms.
Google, as the most-visited search engine in the world, is the number one place that your visitors go to when they’re looking for solutions to their problems. Now, Google is making the SERPs even more immersive and intuitive for its visitors.
For instance, in recent years, we’ve seen the rise of rich snippets, knowledge graphs. With “Featured Snippets,” companies can now build their position as a thought leader before anyone clicks through to their page. Look at the “People Also Ask” section on Google to find related questions that you can answer about your product and brand. Don’t forget to invest in things like image packs and carousels to capture the attention of your audience when they’re searching for you online too.
Featured Snippets will take you straight to the top of the search results, even above position 1:
With the right SEO strategy, you can be the ultimate source of knowledge for your searchers. What’s more, Studies from SearchEnginePeople.com found that 54.68% of clicks on Google now come from Featured Snippets.
SEO doesn’t just enhance your chances of sales by driving more people to your page. When you appear at the top of the search engine results, you also highlight your position as an authoritative figure in your industry. People typically assume that the higher you appear on the search results, the better quality your business is.
With the right SEO strategy, you build a solid foundation for your brand using a beautiful website, a clean and effective user experience, and a discoverable online presence. As we go into 2020, most companies will need to work harder to prove themselves as a credible brand. Today, the authority of your business is judged by Google in the form of things like:
Positive user behavior (time spent on your website)
Quality backlink profiles (who you’re connected to)
Optimized on-page elements
If Google is convinced that you’re an authority, it may even display your content on the Knowledge Graph.
Knowledge Graph is one of the tools that Google created to help answer customer queries. Google gathers scattered information from around the web and pulls it together into a knowledge graph panel, which contains helpful and relevant data. To improve your chances of getting into a Knowledge Graph, you can:
Use schema markup: Schema markup is a form of microdata that you can use to tag your website elements. Using schema to tag the elements of your site makes it easier for Google to interpret and rank.
Get a Wikipedia entry: Wikipedia is one of the go-to sources of information on the web today. This site often ranks in the highest positions on Google because of its authority levels. With a Wikipedia entry, you can improve the credibility of your business instantly.
Get your business on the local listing: Showing up in the local search results with a Google local listing is a fantastic way to spread awareness about your business to people in your area, but it also enhances your chances of appearing on the Knowledge graph – particularly for local searches.
The knowledge graph instantly highlights your position as an industry leader by naming you as the go-to source for accurate information on a topic.
User experience is one of the most important metrics for any brand to measure in 2019 and the years ahead. Today’s customers and online browsers don’t just want the best products or prices; they want to rest assured that they’re going to get an optimal experience online.
Since Google wants to give every customer access to the perfect digital experience, you can rest assured that UX will be essential to SEO in 2020 and the years beyond. Google has learned how to identify favorable or unfavorable experiences and insights into the amount of time people spend on your pages.
If you’re ranking high in SEO, then the chances are that you’re ranking high in customer experience too. One clear example of how Google is prioritizing UX today is the fact that the loading speed of your website has a significant impact on your ranking potential.
Google even offers its own speed test, so you can check that the performance of your website isn’t harming your potential for better rankings.
The better the experience you can give your users, the more metrics like dwell time and CTR will improve your reputation with Google. CTR is the ratio measuring the number of impressions your page gets on the search results, and the number of people who click through to your page. Dwell time is the length of time your users spend on your web pages before they click back into the search results.
The Power of Voice is Growing
When your customers want to find information, they now have a range of virtual assistants available to help them, in the form of smartphone tools like Siri, and smart speakers like Amazon Alexa. By 2020, comScore believes that 50% of all internet searches will be performed via voice.
Now that the way that consumers interact with technology is changing, SEO is how you make sure that you continue to connect with your clients through all channels.
With SEO specifically tailored to voice search, you can ensure that your customers still find your website when they’re searching through their phones, smart televisions, and speaker systems.
The key to success with voice search SEO is structured data.
Structured data is a strategy that involves formatting HTML to use specific vocabulary and tell search engines how to understand your content. With structured data, you can ensure that your internal SEO links up with the requirements of smart speakers like Cortana, Alexa, Google Home, and more. Other key strategies involved in voice search SEO include things like using long-form question-based keywords and optimizing your site for mobile search.
Just as voice searches are growing increasingly popular, videos on the web are exponentially increasing in value also. Studies from Google in correspondence with other market leaders found that 6 out of 10 people would rather watch content online than watching television. YouTube is becoming the ultimate source of go-to information.
As new generations make their way into the digital world, they’re looking for new ways to get their hands on information through different types of media. Learning how to use quality videos as part of your SEO strategy will help you to reach a broader range of customers – particularly among younger demographics.
Another reason why SEO is so essential for 2020, is that the algorithms Google uses to evaluate and rank your content are now smarter than ever. With it, Google can learn what customers want when they search for answers online.
Through AI, Google can better understand the context of what customers are searching for. This means that it can match the demands of each individual browser to the information it finds on your structured data markup. The Schema.org semantic vocabulary is how you communicate with the search engines through back-end SEO to ensure that Google gets the right insight into your business.
Structured data is how Google understands the content and context of each page on the web. It’s also how Google decides exactly what your snippets should look like when they appear on the search engine result pages. For instance, you can use structured data to tell Google that you want your recipe page to appear with a video on how to use that recipe by using the right data. You can also tell Google to showcase your page with a star rating from your users, like in this example below:
Through structured data, a cooking website could label every element of the recipe they want to share with their readers in the page markup, so that users can find the information by searching for ingredients, calorie counts, cook-time and more. That makes it even easier for you to be found online.
As AI becomes increasingly crucial to Google’s algorithm, it will become more critical for business owners to learn how to speak to the intelligent bots in their language.
You can find a complete list of Structured data general guidelines here.
Over the last couple of years, customers have started to question just how safe their data is online. Issues like the Cambridge Analytica scandal and countless problems with breached data have forced groups like Google to start prioritizing the security of the websites that they rank. For instance, for a few years now, Google has been actively placing companies with an SSL certificate at the top of the search engine rankings, while reducing the appeal of companies without HTTPS URLs by displaying a “Not Secure” note next to their site.
In 2019, the demand for SSL certificates skyrocketed, highlighting the growing need for security in any SEO strategy. In 2020, Google will continue to show the “Not Secure” warnings for non-HTTPS sites, making it harder to gain customer trust if you don’t have your SSL certificate.
Google is also beginning to explore other security concepts on the backend, like blockchain-based safety for digital browsing. There’s a good chance that the focus on security will continue to increase as customers demand a safer and more private online journey.
Just because your clients want security, doesn’t mean that they aren’t looking for flexibility too. For instance, in recent years, we’ve seen SEO become a crucial factor in capturing the attention of not just desktop consumers, but mobile browsers too. If you don’t have a mobile-first website that’s been built from the ground up with dynamic, and responsive code, then you could miss out on crucial customers.
Mobile pages are destined to grow increasingly popular in 2020. This is particularly true as more people around the world get smartphones, and connectivity improves with the arrival of 5G. Google announced that mobile-first indexing would be the default strategy for all of it’s ranking in the years to come.
As technology becomes more advanced, succeeding in the mobile-first world will mean that it’s not enough to just have a mobile website. Your interface will need to be easy-to-read, capable of grabbing people’s attention and brimming with functionality that makes browsing on a smartphone simpler.
Ranking as mobile will also mean thinking carefully about other UX factors, like how easy it is to navigate through your site from a smartphone. Buttons need to be large enough to click on any device, and links should be simple to find.
As mobile traffic continues to increase, local search has also become a fundamental part of what makes today’s small and mid-sized businesses successful. Remember, there’s more to search engine optimization than trying to reach customers all over the world. Local SEO focuses on enhancing your appearance in a particular area, so people in your local vicinity can move one step closer to making a purchase.
Now that it’s easier than ever to ask questions like:
“Where’s the best restaurant near me?”
“Where can I get a new television?”
And get a response straight from your smartphone’s assistant, we’re seeing more people combining their digital and in-person shopping experience into a more immersive and intelligent journey. To take advantage of this new style of buying, companies need to make sure that they have the right presence in their local area. Fortunately, all you need to do to stand out in local search is:
Boost your chances of getting into a local knowledge graph by adding your company to Google local listings.
Improve your Google My Business listing by ensuring that all of your contact information and your map location is up to date.
Enhance your social media presence and make sure that you have plenty of social proof in the form of Google reviews.
Finally, while a lot of things are changing in the world of SEO, one thing remains true: content is still king if you want to stand out online. The success of an eCommerce business relies heavily on the impact of your web content. Remember that doesn’t just mean that you need a website that’s packed full of keyword-laden pages. Instead, you need a site that can deliver genuinely informative and useful content that your visitors need to read.
To make sure that you’re producing content that benefits your customers, do your research. Find out what people are talking about online with social media listening tools. Check what kind of topics come up when you enter a keyword from your list into a ranking solution like Buzzsumo.
Even paying attention to the pages that your competitors rank highest for can make a massive difference to the performance of your content.
Regardless of the industry, you’re in, SEO will continue to be a crucial factor in determining whether you’re going to succeed in today’s digital environment. In a world where the buyer journey continues to evolve and grow more complex, the search engines are still the best way to earn your customer’s attention.
The difference is that in the years ahead, SEO is likely to become increasingly complex, driven by the arrival of new technology, changing algorithms, and evolving customer preferences. The key to success is learning how to stay ahead of the curve and make the most of your digital presence. Are you staying up to date with your SEO?