There was a time when search engine optimization (SEO) primarily consisted of inserting keywords into content in any way possible.
However, this often hurt readability and decreased the overall content quality. Users became frustrated because websites cared so much about using keywords, but not enough about bringing genuine value to visitors.
Modern SEO is substantially different, and many of today’s top-ranking sites focus on offering trustworthy, useful material. Here are the top 10 SEO trends that you may be missing in your current strategy but should consider implementing.
1. Optimizing for Voice Search
Voice search is becoming more common in today’s society. A 2019 study from Microsoft found that 72% of respondents used voice search on their digital assistants. Also, 31% used voice commands on IoT devices like their vehicles.
Even if you have done some work to optimize for voice searches, it’s smart to ensure your decisions are still on point regarding the ways people will likely search. For example, you can make progress in voice search optimization by thinking about the questions users might pose.
Moreover, “near me” searches are increasingly common. Instead of a person searching for “Italian restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia,” if they live in that city, the individual would likely say “Italian restaurant near me” in a voice search.
2. Hiring Lesser-Known Influencers to Help SEO Rankings
Influencer marketing ties into modern SEO because it builds trust in an audience. Hiring the influencer with the most followers may not be the best approach to take, however. There is a relatively recent push to hire micro- and nano-influencers for SEO assistance. A micro-influencer has from 1,000 to 100,000 followers, and a nano-influencer has under 1,000.
Micro-influencers usually come across to their audiences as highly authentic. Nano-influencers often focus on niche topics and work hard to nurture confidence within their audiences. If you’re thinking about bringing influencers into your SEO plans, a bigger follower count does not always lead to better ranking results.
3. Using Embedded YouTube Videos to Achieve SEO Goals
Video marketing has taken off in recent years. You may have overlooked using videos to help with SEO, but using them could pay off. Think about embedding YouTube videos into your content. Doing that makes Google view your content as valuable because people spend more time consuming it.
However, always assess whether video makes sense for your current strategy. If your content explains how to pitch a tent, a video could help someone quickly grasp what to do. If the piece is about factors to evaluate when choosing a college, however, people may not feel as compelled to watch a video.
4. Focusing on High-Quality Long form Content
Numerous studies aim to determine whether there is a link between longer content and higher rankings. A recent effort by CanIRank showed that longer content helped sites rank higher, but the company cautioned that length alone is not the sole variable that matters.
The content must be high-quality, too. Does it give answers that readers likely want to know? Is the content well-researched to encourage people to trust what they learn from it? Have you taken the necessary steps to organize the material so that it has a logical flow? Being mindful of those things can help you succeed with long-form content, leading to higher rankings, plus other benefits.
5. Shifting From Keyword Research to Intent Research
No matter how long you’ve worked in digital marketing, you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with keyword research. It was one of the longstanding SEO trends most companies deemed necessary to make their pages rank well. Knowing what people would likely type when performing a search query and using some of those phrases naturally within content did work, but things are evolving.
The focus is now on so-called “intent research,” which means figuring out what the user desires to learn from each search attempt.
According to Eli Schwartz, an SEO growth consultant and advisor, Content will truly have to be written to user intent rather than just strings that a user might search. Keyword research tools may even become less relevant with the primary dataset for content creation coming from suggested queries. In 2020, the really smart SEOs will get up from their desks to talk to customers so they can find out what their audience really wants from them.
Indeed, queries that auto-populate when a person does a Google search, as well as the Searches Related To section at the bottom of the results, can guide an SEO professional or marketer. Of course, getting direct feedback from your audience is an excellent approach to take when possible.
6. Building Your Site With Mobile Users in Mind
Hopefully, mobile-friendliness is not something your company wholly ignored until now. There’s always room for improvement, though. Mobile searches are often the preferred way for individuals to find content online. That’s not surprising if you consider that a report from Zenith Media projected that people around the world would collectively spend 4.5 trillion hours using the internet on a mobile device by 2021.
Some things you can do to increase mobile-friendliness include:
- Using a menu that moves as the person scrolls.
- Integrating “thumb-friendly” navigation that caters to how people hold their phones.
- Limiting the number of fonts used and hues in your color palette.
- Giving people the option to switch between a mobile and desktop version of the site.
Google acknowledged that a site’s mobile readiness is a search signal for queries performed on handheld devices. Mobile traffic is going up overall, so now is an excellent time to ensure you’re adequately assisting that audience segment.
7. Adapting to Zero-Click Searches
Research shows that zero-click searches comprise a significant percentage of overall attempts to find information. These searches occur when a person immediately locates the information they need without going into a website’s link on the search engine results page (SERP). For example, if the answer an individual wants shows up at the top of the results as a Featured Snippet, there is no need to keep looking through websites.
Some shopping and video-based queries also support zero-click searches. They show content snippets directly below the search box, making it easier for people to find information faster. Adjust your SEO strategy by learning about the main categories of questions that often show up as featured questions. Many of those are “How,” “Why” and “What” questions. Also, when you answer those queries in your copy, do so within 100 words or less to target the Featured Snippet.
8. Emphasizing Brand Building
You may not immediately connect SEO to your brand-building plans, but the two are more related than people may think. Paying attention to brand-building opportunities for SEO can help people decide that your company is more trustworthy than others they encounter in the search results. Expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness are already factors Google cares about for rankings.
But, when thinking more broadly about user behavior, you’ll probably conclude that a stronger brand could make more people choose your site out of the SERP list. Humans are creatures of habit, and brand recognition could help you succeed with a modern SEO strategy.
9. Understanding Personalization in the SERPs
Something else you may not realize about the state of SEO today is that the content a person sees within the SERPs varies depending on several factors. These circumstances include the individual’s location, as well as their search history.
Personalization became more relevant long ago, and it will keep trending in 2020. SERPs differ depending on the user’s location, device, history of previous interactions with search and websites. For SEO specialists, this means that you need to better understand the needs of your user and the context in which the user is doing a search, what they expect to see in response to a query.
We examined the need to look at user intent earlier, and personalization is a related trend. You must understand the factors that could affect the SERPs a person sees, then tweak your SEO strategy to continue to rank well despite the variations present.
10. Implementing Multilingual SEO
Does your website serve international users? If so, addressing their needs goes beyond offering translated content. You should also include SEO terms from their native languages. Proceed with that approach after figuring out where most international visitors originate.
Moreover, if your site has translations, do what you can to ensure accuracy and correct spelling. Mistakes can make your overall credibility go down, hurting your SEO results in the long run.
Improve Your Results With These SEO Trends
SEO is an evolving practice, so it’s essential to keep pace with how things change. Being aware of these trends and showing a willingness to try them could bring you impressive results throughout 2020 and beyond.