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7 SEO Trends to Watch Out for in 2020

Jan 7, 2020
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SEO is an industry that is constantly evolving. As we launch into a new year, you are probably looking for new ways to get the edge on your competition and grow your site's visibility. In this video, I'll share 7 SEO trends that you need to pay attention to for 2020. 


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Video Transcript: 

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All right, so it's a new year, which means we've got new things to look out for when it comes to digital marketing and more specifically to this video SEO. Let's get started.

BERT and User-Focused Optimization

The first one is BERT and user-focused optimization. In 2019 we saw the release of BERT, which is one of the new elements to Google's algorithm. Now, BERT has scared a lot of people and a lot of people were saying, "Well, how do I optimize for BERT? How do I do this for BERT?" The reality is you should never optimize for a part of the algorithm. You should optimize for your users.

You should be focusing on their needs and understanding what they're doing, how they're searching, and making sure that the content that you're creating, the experience you're creating for them is going to match their intent. That's the best thing any SEO can do to ensure that they're going to get the results that they're looking for. Don't take too much time and focus on what's happening on BERT because there's a lot of different elements. Remember, you know, when BERT rolled out it only hit like 10% of the queries total.

Google will probably use it a lot more. This is kind of like another part. They've got RankBrain, is another element of the algorithm. There's a lot of things going on under the hood, so don't focus solely on BERT. Take some time to really understand your users. They should always be your focus. Then use the other aspects of SEO and technical optimization to make sure that your content is the way that the search engines want it.

Contextual Content

Next is contextual content, so content is king, right? We've heard that for years. The problem is most people just started creating content. They didn't really care about the types of content they're creating or they didn't put a lot of effort into creating the types of content that users wanted to see. Now Search Engine Journal where I kind of got the idea for this video has a really good SEO trends blog.

It's got 10 different trends, so I changed mine a little bit. I agreed with some of the ones that they had on there as well, but when they talked about content, I really liked how they broke this down and these are the things that you need to understand; who your users are, who the audience is, and also how they search.

How are they writing queries? You can do that from keyword research. You can do that from suggestive search right there within the Google search bar. You can also do that looking at people also asked for, just kind of getting an understanding of how your users are actually searching. The second thing is to understand the intent behind those questions. Are they trying to solve a problem? Are they trying to fix something that's broken? Are they trying to better their lives? Like why are they making that search? And then you have to give them solutions or answers in how they prefer it. That may be a blog, that may be a video, that may be a podcast, that may be an e-book. There's a lot of different types of formats that you can deliver it. Maybe it's bullet-pointed, maybe it's not bullet-pointed.

Understand how people want to digest your content. Then you want to execute this in every stage of the journey. That way you start it at the top and you move your way all the way down the funnel into that buying stance. The last thing you want to do is iterate. Just because you do something once doesn't mean you can't do it better, or that the user's intent may change from process to process, or maybe their intent at the top of the funnel is this, but it's slightly adjusted its way down the funnel. Don't just set it and forget it. That's never a good process when it comes to marketing in general or really running a business, but make sure that you're taking that extra time to iterate and understand what's happening, that your content is in the right context. That's really, really important.


E-A-T, eat. It stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness. This is something that's been talked a lot about ever since Google started publishing the Search Quality Guidelines. They've put a lot of effort when they're training the people who are doing those search quality checks to look for sites that have expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Google has other signals that they look at as well. This is, you know, where the whole backlink thing comes from, and looking at high-quality authoritative sites pointing to other authoritative sites. That's kind of how you get that, that link equity in the past. The link juice.

But they're also going to be looking at overall reputation. Do you know what you're talking about? This is really going to play a big role in the category of your money, your life. YMYL is what that will be abbreviated as most of the time.

These are sites that can impact your financial state or your health and wellbeing, so medical sites, lawyers, health insurers, life insurers people, those areas you really have to prove yourself. You have to prove that you are really trustworthy. You know what you're talking about, you have authority in this subject and it's going to be hard to rank in those categories. It's going to be a lot more challenging, especially as Google begins to understand some of the metrics more. And they're not going to want to just put anybody in those positions, because it can provide either a lot of benefit to somebody, but really the reason why they want to protect those is they could also really hurt somebody if people don't know what they're talking about, and they give them really bad advice.

Technical Search

Technical search is continually going to be on the rise. Technical optimized sites will help you earn better visibility. Solid foundation is no longer optional. You know a lot of people, they'll set up a WordPress site, they'll put in a WordPress plugin for SEO. They'll do their titles and metas. They'll start creating content and they'll go off to the races and they'll feel like everything's good, but what about your load time? What about your speed? Speed still matters. Google's doubling down. They're continually putting effort and looking at sites and speed. That's why they've continued to expand tools like the Lighthouse extension, which allows you to see a speed report and how your server's interacting, and how fast your content's getting up there.

This is not an option. If you want to rank, and you want to rank well, and you want people to stay on your site, you have to optimize for technical search. This means how your site's being crawled. This means how your canonical tags, the framework of your website from the foundation to the framework, everything you're doing is technically optimized to make sure that it's easy for the crawler to understand. It's fast for the user to use and that all of your content is being indexed correctly.

Structured Data

Structured data is extremely important, and it's going to continue to be important. It's an area that I think SEOs should invest in. It's an area that I've been investing in quite a bit. As Google begins to leverage artificial intelligence and things like machine learning in their algorithm, structured data can give you an edge. But it has to be implemented correctly. This means you can't count on a plugin to do it for you, or just willy nilly take something and copy and paste it into your site.

You have to test it with the structured data testing tool. You have to make sure that it's showing correctly and make sure you don't have any errors. You've got to make sure that you're feeding the database, you're feeding the crawlers, you're feeding Google, Bing, all the search engines, the right data in the right structure, structured data for purpose. It's supposed to be structured, it's supposed to be correct. It's supposed to add that extra element to help them better understand what it is you're talking about, and how to categorize what you're talking about. This is an area you should definitely look to optimize around and to put a lot more weight on.

Semantic Search

Semantic search is something that was ushered in years ago with the transformation into what we now know as Hummingbird, which is kind of the engine behind Google. Dixon Jones, an influencer in the SEO industry for quite a while, had this really great quote to say in that Search Engine Journal article I linked to earlier. He says that, "In 2020 internal linking will become a force, but again based around things, not strings." What he's talking about there is Google wants you to link, and create groups of links and connections around things around what we would call an entity.

What semantic search does, it begins to break down and understand what that entity is. It's a computer trying to understand things, so think person, place, thing. This is a little bit more too of what structured data does, it's breaking down person, place, thing and give a little more text to it. Semantic search is creating that contextual connection. Through your content, through your writing, through your internal linking. He goes on to say, "Understanding the unique knowledge graph or web presence will empower us to be able to link to those concepts together within our control. This will benefit the users and the crawlers alike." Again, you're creating these groups, you creating these hubs of content that are connected together through internal linking through the right types of content. It's making it more contextual, which helps build the semantic indexing of your site, and helps Google to better understand what it is you're all about.

Brand Building

The last thing is brand building. SEO touches all levels of a company's marking efforts online. Whether people are searching just for your URL, your brand, what you're doing topically. A lot of brands get a lot of search traffic from branded keywords. You have to own your brand. You have to have a good brand story, you have to define your brand, and you also have to make sure that you're getting that brand in front of people who are engaging with you. This plays a little bit into link building. Instead of just going out and blasting links or buying bunches of links, making sure that you're building your brand story with key authoritative people in your industry.

This is going to help build your authority, it's going to help build your trustworthiness, your expertise, like we talked about before. It's also going to help make sure that you get the right links pointing to your site, and it's going to make sure that your site's just going to have the right story online, that your brand story is going to be told through the correct channels. You can yell all you want from the top of the mountain, but if there's nobody down hearing what you have to say, then you're on the wrong mountain. You've got to shift and find the right community for your brand. This can't be ignored. This is where SEO has a lot of technical elements, but also on the only creative elements. By putting those together, making sure that you're making the right connections and the right communities, you're building those right engagements. You do have valuable links, not just for the sake of link building, but also for the sake of making sure that the right people are hearing your story.

If you have any questions about any of those topics that we talked about today, or maybe you have some trends of your own, some things that you're focused on for 2020 I would love for you to comment below. Love to continue that conversation with you online. Thanks a lot for watching, and until next time, Happy Marketing.

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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