No matter the industry or the size of the company, ranking in the top ten of search results is an important part of ensuring your business’ continued growth. In order to do that, utilizing the best practices and knowledge to make sure your content is hitting the right marks is imperative to ensuring that your name is getting out there. As we move further into 2020, SEO is more important than ever to make sure you stand out among the ever-expanding amount of competition.
However, it’s not just enough to hit the basics. Nowadays making sure that you are focused in your efforts is key to ensuring that your content is reaching the most eyes and hooking them so that they keep coming back.
Preparing for the Future of SEO
While we can’t know for sure what the year will bring (unless you can predict the future), there are SEO trends and habits worth following to maximize your chances of search dominance. Advances in technology both on the consumer and on the search engine ends of the spectrum are changing the way people search, and keeping on top of them can yield great benefits to your placement in the top rankings.
Snippets Drive Massive Clicks
Oftentimes referred to as Position 0, Featured Snippets generally appear above the number 1 slot in search rankings. They present a great opportunity to generate organic traffic, and get more eyes on your site, even if you are not ranking in the top position in the search. The best way to do this is by providing accurate, easy to understand, and concise answers to commonly asked questions on your website. Something between forty to sixty words is ideal. Google will then use a variety of factors to determine the quality of the Featured Snippet and will place it at the top of search to maximize its visibility if it finds that it is of a high quality. This is made easier by creating snippets focused around content you already rank for, as almost all Featured Snippets are from the first page of a search.
Ensuring Website Security
This one seems like a no brainer, but it is an important step that some overlook to their detriment. With new viruses, hacks, compromises, and a whole host of other data breaches occurring every year, making sure that your users are safe and feel safe while browsing your website is critical. Google wants to provide people using it an experience that is as safe as it is accurate to their needs and will prioritize websites that match with that ideal. So, while it isn’t technically hard SEO, it is something beneficial that will help. Enabling things like HTTPS protocol as well as taking the necessary steps to protect any collected user data will provide benefits to search placement.
Optimizing for Voice Search
Something that seems to be more important as time goes on, voice search is becoming increasingly relevant for SEO. In a test conducted by Google in 2014, they discovered that as many as 41% of adults, and 55% of teens were using voice search daily. With the increase in use of items like Amazon’s Alexa and other virtual assistants over the past few years, this number is set to only increase with time. Taking the time to tailor your content to take advantage of voice search ensures you’re keeping yourself competitive. The most common way to do this is to include a question and answer in your content. As a vast majority of voice searches are question based, Google is more likely to pick a web page that contains both the question and the answer. If you have a ranking Featured Snippet, then it is even more likely to choose your content, meaning that both forms can help one another out.
Mobile UX Is More Important Than Ever
Much like website security, user experience is something that while not directly related to SEO has a dramatic input on it. More and more people are searching on their mobile devices, and of those people 88% of them are searching on their smartphones. This is important to consider as more and more people use smartphones. The appearance of your site on mobile can cause people to leave if it is not easy to use and navigate and if people are constantly leaving your website because of this, Google may start to lower your page rankings. Ensuring that websites are optimized with a mobile version can improve reach and ensure people are staying on your website for longer.
Driving High Quality Content Over Keyword Spamming
Search algorithms are always changing, and more importantly, always getting more advanced. Long gone are the days where just having keywords frequently pop up leads to great search placement. Users want helpful, relevant content that is current and up to date with the latest understandings and methodologies of what they are looking for. Keep that in mind when writing content and make sure you’re hitting these marks to better entice your target audience.
- Make your content well researched and informative. People are often searching for directions on how to do something, or to answer a question. Having content that addresses these searches and is both correct and easy to understand can lead to more clicks as people get what they are looking for.
- Utilize strategies relevant to expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) to ensure your users, and Google that your content is as safe as it is well written. This includes guest posts from professionals, quality links to relevant article content, ensuring your content is not only well written, but coming from an accredited individual, and having a well maintained and informative home page and about section.
- Try to keep your article from sounding too much like a sales pitch or is too filled with spam material. Users have gotten more savvy to content that reads these ways and are more likely to not engage with it if they feel they are just being sold something and not given anything meaningful.
Push for Better Keyword Intent
Now you may be asking yourself, what is keyword intent? To put it simply, it is the understanding of what a user is looking for when they utilize a search engine. Though people may not always be specific with their search queries, there is always a general intent behind what people are looking for. Ensuring that the content you’re writing, and the keywords you are using line up with what people are looking for in the SERP is important. Do research on your keywords to see what people are looking for, what ranking content is like, and then work to provide similar but better content to outpace the competition. As search algorithms get more sophisticated, ensuring your content is optimized for search intent is going to become even more important as users are going to determine which content matches their desires best and click on those sites.
Adapting to the Ever-Changing Algorithm
Integrating all of these methods into your content is important for boosting your SEO, but adaptability is one that will ensure no matter what happens, you’ll be able to keep ahead of the competition. Search and SEO are always in flux, and no doubt the year will bring with it new revelations on how to place highly in SERP. Much like growing your business in other aspects, knowing when to stick to the plan and when to change course is just as valuable when creating optimized content for your website.
For now though, it seems like these trends are becoming more like hard facts. With search becoming more sophisticated than ever, and things like Click-Through Rate (CTR) and Dwell Time having more importance to determining search placement, making sure your content matches up with what people are looking for and provides value to their search is going to pay off in the long term.
After all, much like how you go back to a shop that delivers great product and service, so too are people going to come back to your website if its one they find value in.