1. Zero-click searches
Thanks to such SERP features as featured snippets, Google’s Local Packs, Knowledge graphs, and so on, more than half of all searches are now “zero-click searches.” That means that the user’s query is answered on the SERP itself, without them having to click away anywhere, and consequently brings no traffic to anyone.
Don’t panic. Consider what kind of searches these are: if there are people looking for an answer to a quick and easy question, those particular clicks probably wouldn’t convert anyway, and so shouldn’t be fretted over.
Identify what keywords can actually bring you clicks. Using Rank Tracker in conjunction with your Google Search Console account, you can analyze what keywords of the ones you’re optimizing for actually bring you clicks.
If you focus on the customer’s intent, you’ll clearly understand where you fit on that path,” Forrester said. “By providing the best answers for questions on that path, you can more reliably capture and convert customers.
2. Rich and Featured snippets
In the situation where zero-click searches are so prevalent, the information shown on the SERP itself is now more important than ever. Two great ways to stand out is to get Rich or Featured snippets.
Rich snippets are those that, in addition to title and description, show images, stars for reviews, prices for products, etc. They are easier to get, but they will also bring lower CTR improvements compared to a Featured snippet. Your result will be more noticeable, though, even if your position in a SERP will remain the same.
Featured snippets — an entire block of information that is shown at the top of a SERP — bring great increases in CTR. But getting one is quite a bit more tricky.
Getting both of these types of snippets requires, most of all, that your data be structured. Turn to WebSite Auditor and check if the data on your site is already structured.
If it isn’t, check out this guide on how to use structured data.
Use Rank Tracker to find opportunities for Featured snippets. Don’t just research the keywords you’re ranking for. Look out specifically for keywords for which your competitors already have a Featured snippet.
Always keep in mind that nothing, including ranking first, actually guarantees you getting Rich or Featured snippets. At the same time, the potential gains are absolutely worth optimizing for them.
3. Voice Search Optimization
Before the existence of innovative smartphones, people searched by plugging words into search engine boxes on their desktop computers. Keywords were born from this behavior. With the growing use of mobile devices, voice searches are becoming a popular trend among internet users. These searches are not only done on phones, but they can also be performed on home voice assistants such as the Amazon Echo, Samsung Smart TV, Voice Pod, etc.
Knowing how to optimize your website for voice search can help you generate more organic traffic if you understand and implement conversational searches into your SEO strategy.
Voice search mainly happens on mobile devices. It is obvious that your site has to be mobile-friendly. Google recommends a responsive web design. Most WordPress themes are inherently so.
Want to test if your website complies with Google’s guidelines?
You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool.
If everything is fine, you will get a message that says, “Page is mobile-friendly.”
Your site also needs to load fast. You can plug your site in PageSpeed Insights to gather details on your load speed.
Once you have fixed your design and speed, move on to the content.
You might remember that people read in an F-shaped pattern on desktops. On mobile, the story is different. Our reading habits are rapidly evolving on mobile, but we know that the content needs optimizing for aiding scannability. That means you need to leave a lot of white space, use short sentences, choose simple words, small paragraphs, and engaging sub-headings.
4. BERT Is Here
For years now Google’s been using learning algorithms to improve their users’ experience with search and help avoid keyword-stuffed webpages. In 2020, this will be more important than ever with Google’s latest algorithm named BERT.
Now, as far as we know, Google uses three mechanisms: first is Neural Matching, which figures out the meaning of the query. Second is RankBrain, which adjusts the SERP’s relying on the collected data about users’ behavior. The third, the newly-implemented BERT, is the algorithm that is used for analyzing the structure of a search to better understand the context in which keywords are used.
As far as Neural matching or BERT go, there isn’t much we can do about those algorithms — Neural matching is really Google’s inner kitchen, and BERT really requires you to write good content.
But RankBrain really should be accounted for very carefully. The goal here is not simply to rank for whatever keyword. Now, and more and more in the future, intent matching is paramount for creating successful content.
Because right now, simply ranking without matching intent will cut you off from a huge number of SERPs. Content will truly have to be written to user intent rather than just strings that a user might search. Keyword research tools may even become less relevant with the primary dataset for content creation coming from suggested queries.
To understand the correct search intent, you need to keep your hand on the pulse of what’s ranking right now. Using Rank Tracker software, monitor the results to see what content exactly Google considers relevant for the searches you want to rank for.
After properly determining the intent behind the search queries you want to rank for, create the content to match your users’ intent in their search.
5. Brand Building Is Your Forefront
One noticeable trend for any marketer working today is that organic social is pretty much dead. While paid advertising still works brilliantly for social, the fact that more and more companies are doing it creates a real trend where ROI for paid ads will be decreasing.
It’s obvious at this point that paid ads will become more prevalent and expensive for everybody who wants to grow through that avenue. In these conditions, brand awareness and brand building come to the forefront of digital marketers’ efforts. On the other hand, linkless mentions are becoming more and more important, with Google and Bing confirming those are used as ranking signals.
First and foremost we need to go and build relevant mentions. And for 2020, we need to pay as much attention to building quality link profiles, as handling and managing linkless brand mentions.
Utilizing what is called social media listening, for example, will allow you to monitor every mention of not just your brand, but even the type of service/product you provide.
That allows you to, first of all, engage with your clientele directly. Second of all, it’s giving you an opportunity to build brand awareness through publicly providing customer care.
It’s helping inform the people who are actually interested in your product about any campaigns or promotions you might have going on, etc. Also you can look up where your main competitors are mentioned and start a campaign to get mentioned there as well.
By utilizing social listening tools marketers are able to build brand awareness through direct interaction with their customer base, so that should not be thrown out of any digital marketer’s agenda.
Google initiated changes might feel scary, but don’t panic! You just should adapt to changes, because SEO is still crucial no matter what..
After all, Google is a search engine that processes information based on how search users behave and it’s getting more accurate, which means that each year new trends appear that change the way information is published on the internet. This ensures that all users can get their questions answered in a matter of minutes (or even seconds).
So try or advises stay tuned for further tips!