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10 Most Important 2020 SEO Trends You Need to Know

10 Most Important 2020 SEO Trends You Need to Know

10 Most Important 2020 SEO Trends You Need to Know It’s time to take our annual look at what’s ahead for SEO professionals in 2020.

What SEO strategies and tactics will work and help you dominate in the SERPs and earn more revenue in 2020?

This is the question we ask every year here at Search Engine Journal.

This year, I asked 58 of today’s top SEO professionals for their thoughts.

Here are the top 10 trends you need to know in 2020, according to the experts.

Want all the SEO trends now? Download our new ebook: The Biggest SEO Trends of 2020, According to 58 Experts

Trend #1: BERT & User-Focused Optimization

In 2019, the launch of Google’s new BERT algorithm got a lot of attention. Naturally, every SEO professional wants to learn how to optimize for BERT.

Well, rather than focusing on how to optimize for that specific algorithm, take a page from Kelly Stanze, Search Strategist, Hallmark, who will be focusing on user-focused optimization and the technical delivery of content.

In short, that means reassessing user access points to search and aligning content with that.

With the incorporation of BERT this year into the ranking and featured snippets algorithm, Google has taken a huge leap forward into making search really about intent matching rather pure string matching, according to Eli Schwartz, Growth Consultant and Advisor.

What does this mean for you?

Focus on how our users talk about their issues, problems, and needs at each aspect of the buyer’s journey much more, according to Keith Goode, Sr. SEO Strategist, IBM.

Always focus on your customers, said Sam Hollingsworth, Director of Search, Elevation Ten Thousand

Trend #2: High-Quality, Optimized Content

Anna Crowe, Assistant Editor, Search Engine Journal, said there is one thing that has been and will continue to be the lifeblood of SEO:


“Content affects everything in SEO,” Crowe said. “From your site structure and internal linking strategy to the types of links you build.”

To succeed in 2020, you will have to write something that is relevant and valuable, said Tony Wright, CEO, WrightIMC.

“This means that SEOs need to learn how to write or hire people who know how to write,” Wright said. “Google’s editorial discretion isn’t perfect yet – there will still be content that ranks that shouldn’t. But the day is coming when the best content will win.”

Make it your goal to have the best content on the web for your topic, or at least an important subset of your topic, said Eric Enge, General Manager, Perficient Digital. By doing so, you will be future-Google-proofing your business. 10 Most Important 2020 SEO Tips

Levenson said to adopt a deliberate and methodically organized cluster of content that delivers comprehensive and intuitive topical experiences while meeting business objectives.

“Know what answers the user needs next,” Levenson said. “Boiled down:

  • Understand who your audience is and how they search.
  • Understand the intent behind the questions they are asking or problems they need to solve.
  • Give them solutions or answers in the formats they prefer via on-point, quality, and authoritative content.
  • Execute in this fashion for every stage of their journey to create a satisfactory topical experience that serves their needs again and again.
  • Iterate because just because you do it well once doesn’t mean intent won’t change or someone else won’t do something better.”

Trend #3: E-A-T & Your Unfair Advantage

In 2020, Google will continue to look at the overall reputation and E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) of a given company and the individuals who publish content on behalf of that company, said Lily Ray, SEO Director, Path Interactive.

“Companies that struggle with a poor reputation, customer service issues or other trust issues will have a harder time competing,” Ray said. “These trust issues not only manifest themselves as reviews and feedback about your brand, but they also take the form of technical or security issues on your site.”

Ray expects that it will become increasingly difficult to receive organic visibility for YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) queries without the proper expertise and credentials to write on those topics.

Alexis Sanders, SEO Senior Manager, Merkle, shared a few ways to have a digitally-based competitive advantage:

  • Supply chain excellence (e.g., delivering within 2-days (or less) with relevant status updates).
  • Customer service (e.g., ability to answer the user’s question with minimal friction).
  • Digital charisma / branding (e.g., Having users seek you out, because they want to do business with you? Do most of your reviews look more like love letters?).
  • User experience (e.g., is your experience more convenient / useful / simple?).
  • Price.
  • Niche products.

Trend #4: UX & Technical SEO

The biggest trend that smart SEO professionals should focus on in 2020 for greater success is UX – user experience, according to Brock Murray, Co-founder, seoplus+.

“This includes the overall experience from the initial interaction in the SERPs, to the overall landing page experience, and even the experience after they leave your site (think remarketing, drip campaigns, personalization for returning users),” Murray said. “Think about how you can help your users have the best possible experience while truly pondering what value you can provide to them during their visit. ” 10 Most Important 2020 SEO

Technical SEO is a key piece of the UX discussion, according to Goode.

Trend #5: Mobile SEO

Surprised to see mobile SEO as an important 2020 trend? Don’t be. As Wright put it:

“Almost every prospect coming into our shop has a mobile site that is a mess,” Wright said. “To survive in 2020, you need to implement 2017 tactics and fix your mobile.” 10 Most Important 2020 SEO Tips

What’s that mean?

“Build sites for mobile-first, then make them compatible for desktop,” Kindred said. “That way those sites don’t have to be optimized for speed after launch.

Kris Jones, Founder / CEO, LSEO.com, said if you don’t have a mobile-friendly and mobile-optimized website, you need to take action immediately. You can’t wait any longer.

“All of your online reporting must reflect insights into your mobile performance as a priority,” Jones said. “Instead of visualizing a person sitting at a desktop computer you have to realize that most of the time people will find your website via a mobile device.”

But mobile SEO doesn’t stop there. Study the mobile SERPs.

“SEOs need to be looking at real, mobile search results, to know what they are up against, what kind of traffic they can expect, and what kind of optimization will actually be successful at impacting the bottom line,” said Cindy Krum, CEO, MobileMoxie

Trend #6: Structured Data

We know high-quality content will be important in 2020. However, algorithms still don’t fully understand context.

So we need to give search engines “hints” to better understand and deliver results, based on a searcher’s intent, said Jeremy Knauff, CEO, Spartan Media.

“This means structuring the data in a way that helps search engines to better understand not only what is on a page, but also how each element relates to other elements on the page, and how that page relates to other pages within the website,” Knauff said.

Ultimately, you want to be understood, found by your customers through any channel and be well-positioned to take advantage of future features from Google and other structured data consumers like Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and AI Chatbots, said Martha van Berkel, CEO, Schema App.

Trend #7: Entity & Knowledge Graph Optimization

The search of the future increasingly is about real-world objects, said Bill Slawski, Director of SEO Research, Go Fish Digital.

“Google is finding ways to include entity related information in search results through things such as augmentation queries,” Slawski said. “You can optimize entities that your site is about by doing things such as optimizing those for Google’s Knowledge Graph and making sure that they appear in Knowledge Panels.”

Trend #8: Link Building & Brand Building

Want to acquire top-tier links in 2020? Shannon McGuirk, Head of PR and Content, Aira Digital, said it’s time to move link building from the dark ages into a consumer-first approach for 2020.

That means focusing on three types of journalistic writing:

  • Planned editorial: Topics that are covered by journalists every single year at a given point (e.g., Black Friday, Valentine’s Day).
  • Planned reactive editorial: Features written by journalists on a topic that ties to a seasonal event or theme that we know is being covered due to time frame, but we don’t know the exact story until editors or journalists write it on the morning of their editorial meeting.
  • Reactive editorial: Features written in the here and now that are unplanned and can’t be predicted and are dictated due to a news story breaking.

Carrie Rose, Co-founder / Creative Director, Rise at Seven, said link building will be more about brand building in 2020.

Trend #9: Focus on Visibility, Not Just Blue Links

Zero-click searches have been a big reality in 2019. On-SERP SEO will only continue to grow in importance in 2020.

Thus, adapting to zero-click searches will be key, according to Cyrus Shepard, Founder, Zyppy. 10 Most Important 2020 SEO

“More and more brand marketing is happening on Google itself, and not necessarily on your website,” Shepard said. “Smart marketers will need to learn how to adapt and take advantage of this by getting more strategic about the information shown in search snippets.

Shepard said this includes basic tactics to increase actual clicks over impressions, such as featured snippet optimization, using newer schemas (e.g., FAQ and HowTo), image targeting, and favicon optimization.

Trend #10: Programming

In 2020, you should tap into programming languages like Python and R to eliminate your most time-consuming and redundant tasks, according to Britney Muller, Senior SEO Scientist, Moz.

SEO automation will free you up to harness the power of marketing fundamentals:

  • Branding.
  • Creating great customer experiences.
  • Storytelling.
  • Speaking your customer’s language.
  • Listening to your target market & providing thoughtful/timely responses.
  • Providing easy to consume content (in the way in which your users want it).
  • Being human.

As Paul Shapiro, Head of SEO, Catalyst, put it: Programming makes SEOs better SEOs. And we’re starting to really see increased adoption.

“There are real advantages to moving beyond Excel for analysis. It permits a more sophisticated analysis of your own data, as well as the ability to:

  • Incorporate other data sources for insights.
  • Apply machine learning to solve complex problems.
  • Make decisions that normally would be difficult and require human input (for which there is limited time to provide human input).”

Want More SEO Trends & Insights for 2020?

This only scratches the surface of what you’ll find in our new ebook, The Biggest SEO Trends of 2020, According to 58 Experts. Ready for more?

Click here to download The Biggest SEO Trends of 2020, According to 58 Experts 10 Most Important 2020 SEO 

You’ll get more uncensored and unfiltered insights and tips straight from these SEO experts on how to succeed at SEO in 2020:

  • Areej AbuAli
  • Loren Baker
  • Jason Barnard
  • Alina Benny
  • Taylor Berg
  • Ashley Berman Hale
  • Andy Betts
  • Fabrice Canel
  • Claire Carlile
  • Jackie Chu
  • Brodie Clark
  • Anna Crowe
  • Dave Davies
  • Frédéric Dubut
  • Eric Enge
  • Shelly Fagin
  • Duane Forrester
  • Aja Frost
  • Greg Gifford
  • Casie Gillette
  • Keith Goode
  • Sarah Gurbach
  • Brian Harnish
  • Sam Hollingsworth
  • Motoko Hunt
  • Kameron Jenkins
  • Dixon Jones
  • Kristopher Jones
  • Ryan Jones
  • Grace Kindred
  • Jeremy Knauff
  • Cindy Krum
  • Jessica Levenson
  • Carolyn Lyden
  • Jenn Mathews
  • Jesse McDonald
  • Brian McDowell
  • Shannon McGuirk
  • Corey Morris
  • Britney Muller
  • Brock Murray
  • Helen Pollitt
  • Lily Ray
  • Michelle Robbins
  • Carrie Rose
  • Alexis Sanders
  • Jes Scholz
  • Paul Shapiro
  • Cyrus Shepard
  • Eli Schwartz
  • Dan Shure
  • Grant Simmons
  • Bill Slawski
  • Aleyda Solis
  • Kelly Stanze
  • Dan Taylor
  • Martha van Berkel
  • Tony Wright

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