Each and every year, more websites are being launched which means an increase in competition for those already in existence. Add to that the fact that Google frequently updates their algorithm and you have a recipe for potential disaster in the new year if you don’t start preparing yourself now.

Knowing which SEO trends to pay attention to in 2020 can help you ring in the new year with a bulletproof SEO strategy and a website that delivers.

What SEO Trends Should You Watch in 2020? 

Trends come and go, no matter what industry you’re talking about. When it comes to SEO, things can change quickly, and web-based businesses need to keep up with the times. Unfortunately, there is no step-by-step formula for building a successful website because there are so many nuances when it comes to SEO and every niche is unique. The more you know about SEO, however, the more you can cater your website to your target audience and the higher your search engine results will be.

If you’re looking to start the new year with a bang, read on to learn about the top SEO trends you need to watch (and implement on your own website) in 2020.

1. Snippets will continue to dominate search clicks

In recent years, Google has evolved to deliver an improved search experience for users and one of the new features is snippets. Snippets typically appear above the #1 organic search result and they show relevant information to the search term. Thanks to this evolution, more than half of all searches have become “zero-click searches” – that means that the user’s query is answered within the SERP itself and they have no need to click on any of the links.

What it Means for You: Before you start to panic, keep in mind that most of these zero-click searches are people searching for a business address or phone number or those looking for a quick answer to an easy question. In other words, not the kind of clicks that would convert anyway. What you can do is perform a thorough SEO analysis to determine which keywords actually convert and optimize for those.

2. Local SEO will continue to change and take up space on SERPs

As mentioned in the previous trend, a significant number of zero-click searches are local searches. The answer to these queries is shown on the SERP itself in something known as Local Packs. When viewed on a mobile device, a Local Pack might take up the entire screen. Fortunately, people who are looking for more detailed information and those who want to compare prices will move beyond the Local Pack and may still go to your website where regular SEO practices will still come into play.

What it Means for You: Create a Google My Business page for your company to cover the majority of local searches all at once. This will cover searches containing keywords like “address,” “phone number,” and “near me.” But don’t stop there – you’ll still need a solid backlink profile if you want to compete.

3. Google’s algorithm will become more important than ever with a new update

The latest of Google’s algorithms is called BERT and in 2020 it will continue to reward websites that offer a superior user experience and avoid keyword-stuffed pages. Google currently uses three mechanisms to improve the user experience: Neural Matching, RankBrain, and BERT. Neural Matching is how Google determines the meaning of a search query and RankBrain adjusts the SERPs using collected data about the user’s behavior. BERT analyzes the structure of a search to better understand the context in which keywords are being used.

What it Means for You: You should continue to write quality content but, other than that, there isn’t a lot you can do about Google’s algorithms. When it comes to RankBrain, however, there are some tips you should follow. More than simply ranking for a certain keyword, you want to think about intent matching. To gain an understanding of the correct search intent for your keywords, you’ll need to keep up with what’s ranking at any given time using tracking software.

4. Building your brand will become more important as ROI for paid ads continues to decrease 

There was a time when organic social was fairly solid, paid ads have become the trend. They still work well for social, but because more and more companies are doing it, the return on investment will decrease. If you can afford it, paid advertising will always help you grow your business but for those who don’t have the budget to compete with larger companies, brand awareness is the way to go. Building your brand should become the focus of your digital marketing efforts.  

What it Means for You: To help build your brand, linkless mentions will become increasingly more important. In the new year, you’ll want to focus just as much on building quality link profiles as you do on managing your linkless brand mentions. A strategy called social media listening will help you monitor mentions of your brand as well as the services/products you provide. This enables you to engage with your target audience more directly and gives you an opportunity to build brand awareness.

5. Social media influencers will continue to dominate digital marketing

While paid ads serve their purpose, people who use social media frequently often feel inundated by the advertising that takes up a significant portion of their feeds. Rather than clicking on paid ads, users are looking for information they can trust as well as authentic reviews. This has led to a significant increase in influencer marketing, as people are much more likely to engage with a person they know or respect than they are with an ad.

What it Means for You: According to market research, about 39% of marketers increased their influencer marketing budget in 2018 and the average annual spend was between $25k and $50k. Those numbers are increasing, and the benefits are many. Hiring an influencer can help generate traffic to your site but can also help you build backlinks and brand awareness. When developing an influencer marketing strategy, be sure to consider the type of content you want them to create and how it will funnel users back to your site. You also need to make sure they are relevant within your industry and will be positively received by your target audience.

6. Web security will continue to affect the website user’s experience

It may not seem like SEO is connected to web security, but if your users don’t feel safe visiting a web page they will leave quickly. Something as simple as a “Not Secure” warning can prevent users from even clicking through to your page. In addition to lost business, high bounce rates could negatively impact your rankings on SERPs.

What it Means for You: The best way to keep your website secure is to enable HTTPS protocol for your site. This gives your users a secure connection that is authenticated and encrypted. Google states that HTTPS “helps prevent intruders from tampering with the communications between your websites and your users’ browsers”. Because Google is so focused on providing its users with a secure browsing experience, websites with HTTPS enabled may receive a minor boost in SEO.

7. Voice search optimization will become increasingly more important

Before the invention of smartphones, users had to physically type words into a search engine box on the desktop computer to get the results they wanted. This behavior resulted in the birth of keywords and the development of modern SEO strategies. As mobile device use continues to dominate the market, voice searches are becoming a popular trend. Not only can these searches be performed with smartphones, but also with voice assistants and smart devices like Amazon Echo and Samsung Smart TV.

What it Means for You: By 2020, it is expected that more than 50% of all internet searches will be initiated through voice, so you’ll need to adapt your content to this trend. Optimizing your website for voice searches can be tricky because it is all about asking a question instead of typing in a search query. As a result, the search terms themselves become more targeted and conversational.

The world of search engine optimization is constantly changing and that is something you should expect if you’re involved in the world of digital marketing. You can’t possibly hope to master every SEO strategy out there but preparing for changing trends in the new year may give your website a much-needed boost to help you succeed.