This gives Google the right to call the shots when it comes to SEO.
The websites that get the biggest share of Google Search traffic are those that rank in the first ten - the “first pagers”.
The juiciest spot on Google Search is the featured snippet. According to spyserp.com, around 54% of clicks from the search engine result page comes from Featured Snippet.
Now, the biggest news in the SEO world is the introduction of Google BERT.
In 2020, search results are becoming intent focused rather than keyword focused. This means the “first ten” table is reserved for those with helpful and solution-oriented content.
In this article, I’m going to give you the trends and tips why you should use SEO or get better with it in 2020. Ride along.
SEO Trends for 2020Heard about BERT yet?
I’m not talking about the golden yellow guy in Sesame Street; I’m talking about Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT). Yeah, too many big words.
BERT is a digital assistant that focuses on the context of the query to give very fitting results. It uses Natural Language Processing to understand the intent in the question. Thus, search results are now ranked with regards to how fitting they are to the intent in the question, and not just by the keywords applied in the content.
Take a look at the example given by Google below. A search query “parking on a hill with no curb” would return results that aren’t exactly fitting before BERT. The same search after BERT gave a perfectly fitting result in the featured snippet.
With BERT, SEO is user-focused and content is targeted towards fulfilling user needs.
Google Search just got smarter with BERT. Instead of interpreting every word in the query differently, the algorithm focuses on the entire phrase. The words before and after the keywords help to provide contextual meaning.
Consider one of the examples that Google gave. The query “math practice books for adult” was searched before the use of BERT and afterward. Before returned with math practice books for 6 - 8 graders. It left out ‘adult’. After showed display result that was in line with user intent.
How to be Optimized for Google BERT
Google’s Danny Sullivan who is also a co-founder at Search Engine Land pointed out that “there’s nothing to optimize with BERT, nor anything for anyone to be rethinking. The fundamentals of us seeking to reward great content remain unchanged.”
Well, this doesn’t mean there is nothing to do. Google has advised that to rank well, the content creator must keep the user in mind and create content that satisfies user search intent.
In simple words, create content for humans and not just some phrasal combinations for robots. Place your focus on helpful and clear content.
Sarah Gurbach of Seer Interactive recommends that to rank well with helpful content “go and sit down with your customers, talk to them, ask them to tell you about their journey to make a purchase, how they used search, what they thought of your site. Use that data in every decision you make.”
For Global Websites…
BERT is signaling the end of the road for websites with poorly translated content that hasn’t been edited for the local tongue.
According to Mokoto Hunt, President, AJPR, “the time is now to invest in good localization of content… it is not about the placement of keywords, it is about how well your content is written for the local audience.”
Featured Snippets - the Position ZeroLike I mentioned earlier, the featured snippet is the juiciest position on Google Search. With 54% of clicks from featured snippets, you should incorporate this for your 2020 SEO strategy.
It has been revealed by Ahrefs’ study of 2 million featured snippets that 41% of questions have featured snippets.
It is however not the case that featured snippets necessarily come from the number 1 search result. Studies revealed on Search Engine People has it that 30.9% of featured snippets rank number 1. But they must be on the first page.
Ahrefs’ pointed out that 99.58% of all featured snippets come from the pages that rank on the first page. According to Backlinko, if you don’t rank in the first 10 - the first page - you have a zero chance of ranking in the featured snippet spot.
Advantages of the Featured SnippetsØ It helps to get better results for mobile and voice search. Featured Snippets come as a reply to the question asked.
Ø It drives more traffic to user-focused content.
Ø Google relies on searches and feedback of users to tweak algorithms and provide results.
How to Rank on a Featured Snippet SpotUse a “Snippet Bait” on your Pages
A snippet bait is the 40 - 60-word block of content that is targeted to feature on the snippet spot.
According to research by SEMrush, 40 - 60 words make the most fitting word count for a featured snippet.
Try to provide definitions and facts from research within the 40 - 60-word count. Be factual and make use of numbers, lists, and tables. You’d be surprised that Google loves brief facts.
Posts in question-and-answer format get featured as snippets easily. Because answers are clearly provided and can be easily handpicked by the algorithm, Q&As can help you with traffic.
Work on the Format of your Content
Backlinko reports that paragraph snippets make up 81.9% of all featured snippets. However, other formatting matters.
If you want to rank for list snippets, it is preferable to use “H2” and “H3” subheads for every item on your list.
Also, if you want to feature in table snippets, you have to create a table that Google can easily extract data from.
Optimize for Voice SearchAccording to a PwC report, 71% of people prefer to use a voice assistant to search than type out the queries. Google reveals that 41% of adults perform at least one voice search every day.
Perhaps more revealing is the report that 20% of all mobile searches are done by voice. And this percentage is projected to grow in 2020.
However, you have to be optimized for voice. Research carried out by Backlinko reveals that Google tended to source voice search answers from the top three in the search results.
Optimizing for voice is quite easy. You need to work on Q&As.
Most voice searches are question-based. Queries like: ‘How do I fix my phone?’ OR ‘Who is the 34th president of the United States?’
Google search algorithm would supply the answer from a page that contains the question and the answer.
Optimizing for voice goes along with optimizing for mobile. The bulk of voice search is done via mobile.
A little on Mobile
What this means is that if your pages aren’t optimized for mobile, you may lose out on a lot.
Google wants to supply pages that are well-fitting to mobile users and would push those not fitting to other pages. This is why you need mobile web pages.
For ranking and indexing, Google introduced the Mobile-First Index in 2019. This helps Google to use the mobile version of a page for ranking and indexing.
Video Search Continues to Rise
Statistics from Cisco reveals that online video will make up 80% of online traffic by 2021. 80% is huge. And guess what; this is 2020.
Hubspot research reveals that 43% of internet users want more videos. Thus, give them videos.
Google video search also has 'featured snippets’.
Here are some tips to help you drive traffic with videos
- You can easily claim a space on the featured snippet if you organize your video content into sections. This helps Google understand the content in your video and use different clips from the video.
- Optimize your videos for SEO by including keywords in the title, descriptions, and tags.
- Providing transcripts with your videos would do a lot of good.
- Don’t forget YouTube. YouTube is the world’s number two search engine. As more people want video content, optimize your video for YouTube. And, of course, have your channel.
More Tips for SEO in 2020Do Keywords Research
It is not enough to write a helpful article; do some keywords research. This would help you figure out the keywords that appear in queries the most and you can apply them.
You can get keywords from topmost Google searches. OR employ an SEO expert.
As you are looking at writing for intent, don’t throw keywords altogether out the window.
Optimize Old Content and Add Links to it
Yeah, BERT has started to change a lot of things. Notwithstanding, work on those contents again. Provide Q&As. And add links to them in new articles. This would help Google and users find more of your content.
Adding links to highly reputable websites also help your credibility with readers. You’d gradually be evolving into an authority in your niche with this.
Make Your Contents Readable with Headings and Subheadings
This helps you with SEO. When you include headings and subheadings, the algorithm easily finds the part of your content that is fitting to the search intent.
More, readers would find it easy to read and share an article that is easy to read. Headings and subheadings make content easy to read.
Use Long-tail Keywords
Voice search is taking over and voice queries are usually longer. This is why you should use long-tail keywords.
The old robotic keywords are suddenly out of fashion with BERT. Instead of “tallest landmark Paris”, you have Google easily answering “what is the tallest landmark in Paris?”
Long-tail keywords help you fit within the intent the algorithm is trying to satisfy.
Content is King
In 2020, E-A-T would screen out a lot of content.
E-A-T means: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness
Google would rely more on the individuals and the reputation of the companies publishing content to determine the most fitting search results.
Grace Kindred, Junior Technical SEO Analyst, News UK, told Search Engine Journal that trustworthiness will be super important for publishers in 2020. According to her, “There will be a strong focus on quality content and fighting against fake news.”
Certifications and credentials would be more attractive to the Google algorithm.
Provide content filled with research from authorities and provide links to them.
Be an authority yourself and provide research papers. You’d be surprised how much bloggers and journalists love to read these papers.
Encourage Comments and Foster a Community
Comments help with ranking. Google has pointed out that “Comments are better on-site for engagement signals for SEO than moving to social.”
Grow a community and see your pages rank fast on Google.
Final wordsA lot of changes are taking place in 2020. It is either you are with the trend or your contents become dusty articles of yester-years.
Focus on providing solutions and be strategic with it.
BERT has come to stay; voice search will increase; mobile is dominating already; video search is fast-rising; Google wants to supply contents from authoritative and trustworthy sources.
All these mean that Google is improving user experience and so should you.
There is a lot to benefit from generating traffic from Google - it is free and unlimited.