The world of SEO is a constantly shifting thing, so here is my SEO trends for 2020 to help you through this year.
SEO trends for 2020
1. Favicon in Search
My first SEO trend for 2020 is Favicons added to search results. You may have noticed that back in 2019 Google introduced a new format in mobile search. The addition of a small icon, known as a favicon beside the website name. Well, at the beginning of January of 2020 Google launched this addition to Desktop search as well.
This change got somewhat of a mix response, many didn’t see the point but others liked the fact they could recognise a brand they recognised more quickly when looking through search results. This change was an interesting one, and while it had absolutely no effect on your SEO, if you had one or not, I for one thought it brightened the place up a bit.
But it seems I was alone in this opinion as it seems that as I right this Google is backtracking on their decision to implement favicons across all search. Google announced on the 24th of January that it will experiment with some elements of the new look in response to user feedback.
It seems that many people found spotting Adverts withing search result now more difficult than before, something that was not Google’s intention.
So whether Favicons are here to stay is anyone’s guess but it certainly has been an interesting start to the year.
2. Zero click searches are becoming the norm
Thanks to the introduction of featured snippets, rich snippets, Google’s Local Pack and so on, more than half of all search are no “zero-click search”. Meaning that the users are finding what they wanted from the search results alone and are not click on anything else after that.
I know what you are thinking but don’t panic
Think about what these kind of searches are, they are people looking for phone numbers, address or the answer to a quick and simple question. This particular click was very unlikely to convert anyway, and if anything this may have helped to reduced your bounce rate that may have accumulated through people having to come onto your site for this quick information, only to leave quickly after.
If you are really worried and have seen a significant drop in your users, identify what keywords will actually bring you clicks. Use a professional SEO tool along with Google Search Console to analyse your CTR (Click-through rate) and consider changing to more fruitful keywords.
3. Rich and Featured Snippets
With the rise of zero-click searches, the content that can be found within SERPs itself is more important now than ever. The best way to stand out is with Rich or Featured Snippets.
What are Rich Snippets
Rich Snippets are pieces of information that are shown alongside the title and meta description of a page in SERPs, such as stars for reviews, price of products, calories of a recipe and more. While these may not make you rank at the top, they certainly will help and are more attractive within SERPs. Your result will be more noticeable, though, even if your position in a SERP will remain the same.
What are Featured Snippets
Featured Snippets are an entire block of information that is shown at the top of SERP, they bring great CTRs, but gaining a featured snippet for your site is difficult.
To gain either of these you will need to make sure your data is structured. There are few guides online on how to do this but if you are not familiar with the nuances of SEO it may be best to get a professional to check this for you. However, here is a guide to Structured data.
If done right structured data becomes the foundation for your marketing, however, there are rumours that if implement badly structured data can cause you to be penalised. Google’s advice, do it right or don’t do it at all.
4. Voice Search
in 2016 20% of mobile search queries were made using voice search either on mobile or on home voice assistants. That figure has now risen to around 35%.
Meaning Rich and Featured snippets are being called upon again. So get on that Structured Data!
Try to target long-tail keywords, these are closer to everyday speech pattern and try to ensure your content matches this. Meaning that Voice assistants will more easily read and use your content. The best way to optimise for voice search is to create a detailed FAQ focused around longtail keywords.
5. Mobile SEO
Mobile is not going away and it still at the top of my seo trends even now. While this trend has been around since 2017 there is still a huge amount of websites that are not mobile-friendly, it’s surprising how many either don’t work or look terrible on mobile. Well in 2019 Google announced that all website will be indexed using it’s “Mobile-First Index”, meaning that Google will look at all website on mobile-first when determining the rank of a page. To put it simply, Google is deprioritising desktop sites and considering mobile versions as the main pages of websites.
You can check if your website has been switch over to Google “Mobile-First Index” by accessing your Search Console.
6. The changing face of local SEO
You remember the Zero-Click search we spoke about earlier, well the majority of these searches are local, meaning that you get a so-called “Local Pack” at the top of the organic search results.
As mention before most people are now using mobile to access the internet and these local pack will often take up and entire page on mobile, meaning they are prime real estate.
So how do you get to the top of Local Search
Well, put simply, Google My Business. This fantastic (currently free to use) platform, allows you to create a listing that shows up on Local Packs, Google Maps and alongside search results when people directly search for the name of your company.
Google My Business allows for you to cover a vast number of searches containing keywords such as “near me”, “address” and “phone number “. It also allows you to gain quick Featured Snippets at the top of SERPs for things such as your address or phone number.
But this is only the beginning, most searches will not end on a Local Pack so you can neglect your traditional SEO in favour of this, instead, you should allow both to work together simultaneously. So, having a solid backlink profile is paramount. A specific part of Local SEO is the backlinks you gain need to be what Google deems locally authoritative. You need to build the backlink in a way that is focused on Local SEO.
Use professional tools to track your Local SEO progress and find the correct keywords to use. Make sure to keep on top of the competition as well and take note of any changes in rankings.
7. Neural Matching, RankBrain and BERT
Through the last few algorithm updates, Google has been aiming to improve its users’ experience with search, avoiding keyword-stuffed webpages and content that is aimed towards bots instead of humans. With Google latest algorithm update BERT writing quality content that is aimed toward entraining humans over impressing bots will be more important than ever.
Google uses three mechanics to understand a website’s content. These are:
- The first is Neural Matching – this figures out the meaning of a query, – what question is really being asked?
- Second is RankBrain – this algorithm uses data collected on the user’s behaviour to adjust search results to better match them as an individual
- Lastly, we have the new boy on the scene. BERT – This algorithm is used to analyse the structure of a sentence to better understand and the context of a query.
What do we do?
When it comes to Neural Matching and BERT there is not much we can do to optimise specifically for these algorithms. Neural Matching is Google’s foundation and BERT just wants you to write quality content.
Unlike the other two RankBrain should be planned for carefully. You need to start thinking about the intent of your keyword rather than just ranking for everything or anything in your industry. Now and more and more in the future intent matching (matching your keywords with your customer intent) is becoming paramount for maintaining and gaining rank. To understand intent correctly you need to research user flow and user behaviour alongside the channels and queries that are bringing people into your site. Luckily for us Google Analytics provides all this information for us. As well as industry comparison so that we can keep our finger on the pulse of what is happening in our industry right now.
Don’t be scared of changing your keywords out for new ones, stay ahead of the game and don’t miss out because right now, simply ranking without matching intent will cut you off from a huge number of SERPs
8. Brand Building should be a priority
You may be thinking why is this on a list of SEO trends but branding is more than just the little image at the top of your website, that we call a logo.
Brand awareness and brand building should be at the forefront of any SEO campaign. Google is becoming more aware of the voice that is used online, how you describe yourself and your services. This voice needs to stay consistent as it has become a signal for Google’s trustworthiness scale.
Link-less mentions are becoming more and more important, with Google and Bing both confirming that those are used as ranking signals. This is when someone uses your company name with no actual link to your website. Google deems websites with more mentions as more trustworthy.
But it’s not just about Google remember that your brand is visual too, while your brand voice influences Google, your brand image influences humans, the more they see it the more they recognise it. Give them good experiences with your brand as they more they trust you the more likely they are to interact with your brand. Whether that is sharing your content, talking about you online or actually buying your services or products.
As I said SEO is constantly shifting things, every time SEO think they have it in the bag the rules will start to change. Now, having a Google My Business listing is as important as having a website. To get the best result possible you need to stay ahead with a hand always read to adjust our work to match the rules of this ever-changing game.
If you are looking for more help or advice with your SEO check out our SEO page or contact for a free meeting.