This is the time when SEO Specialists from all over the world are cramming to reconcile which 2019 strategies they can carry over to 2020 and which didn’t work.
As with the years before today, some SEO strategies and tactics may no longer be useful or relevant in the years to come. To see how the SEO landscape is changing for the better, it’s best to do an SEO recap.
Core SEO updates in 2019
Before that, though, let’s take a look at the two major – and confirmed – Google algorithm updates this 2019.
Please be reminded that the search giant established the standard naming convention for the core updates. Hence the simplistic names as below.
March algo update
The first broad core updated happened on March 13. Initially named as Florida 2.0, the update targeted improving the search results.
According to Google, the core update was a quality update, with volatilities that can be observed in several days. So if you’ve seen a surge in traffic after that, it was Google appreciating how you keep your website purely (or majorly) white hat.
June algo update
Then, Google announced a similar core update with that of March. Nonetheless, instead of quality, the June 3 update included several ranking factors.
Google chose not to discuss what these factors are. The SEO gurus all over the world assumed it was related to relevance.
There was also a core update in September but it was considered “weaker” than the June update. No significant ranking drops were recorded.
2019 SEO trends we’ve seen
Now on to the 2019 SEO trends that took up the time—in terms of both experimentation and implementation of the SEO specialists.
Structured data markup
The Search Engine Journal considered structured data markup as a key SEO strategy in 2019. Well, it was.
Structured data is directly related to AI (artificial intelligence). Markups helped in finding the information as fast as possible. AI can process contents quickly, including its topical relevance of the elements within the page—visual and textual.
Structured markups, therefore, are an additional layer to ranking signal, in addition to information architecture, tags, and metadata. This made it relevant as a trend and strategy this 2019.
E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness)
Establishing and increasing E-A-T, which is a component of the search quality rating guidelines that Google itself created, have been intense this 2019.
While the guidelines are for the raters and not necessarily for the crawlers, it helped SEOs understand how Google understands the contextuality of the term ‘quality.’
Also, this compels the content creators to distribute and promote various pieces of content while being mindful of the brand or company and its people, product, and service’s reputation.
Simply stated, Google relies on the authority of the content and the brand behind it when powering the organic results.
Voice-enabled devices experienced tremendous growth in 2019, and so is voice search.
While the year cannot be considered as the year of voice search just yet, SEOs cannot deny the ever-increasing number of voice-based queries. It was also predicted that at least 50% of online searches will be voice searches.
There are very specific sets of keywords that voice searchers use, and they fundamentally start with how, what, where, when, why, who, and certain adjectives like best, top, new, good, free, and easy. Action words such as do, make, list, and define also make the list.
So whether 2020 will become the year of voice search we will never know until we get there.
The year 2019 is all about machine learning thanks to Google’s RanBrain. RankBrain is a machine-learning AI to determine the most relevant results to the users’ queries.
The idea behind machine learning is relying on the ability of the machines to teach themselves based on the inputted data. This drives the results pages to display based on intents behind the query instead of answering the question directly.
This had been relevant to SEO content wherein the exact matching is becoming more irrelevant because contextuality matters more now.
In 2019, the users have discovered new ways to discover information—through a visual search.
There are two underlying concepts here. First, Google Image is becoming a search engine on its own. Second, optimizing the images has never been this important.
Other than that, at the page level, visuals are not occupying new purposes. The perfect example is the shoppable post wherein you can simply hover to an item to find which online stores they are available.
SEO trends in 2020 to watch out for
Some of the 2019 trends will still be applicable for the 2020 SEO strategy development.
Nonetheless, there are other trends to watch out for this coming year.
Brand as a ranking signal
Based on a recent analysis of Google trends, it was found out that the search engine uses online brand mentions in its search algorithm. Brand is, therefore, a ranking signal.
How strong a signal it is we don’t know yet. The most important thing right now is to treat your brand as an entity just like how Google treats it.
Own your brand mentions, especially the unlinked ones. Claim them. The process will also impact your site’s authority.
It also means protecting your reputation as you possibly can. Google may not necessarily track the complaints published online about your brand.
But it can analyze the sentiments around your brand and rank your website accordingly. More negative reviews may mean lower organic rankings for your website.
With this, make sure you mention your brand name whenever the right opportunity arises. When we say the right opportunities, it means positive product reviews, among others.
Then again, try to make an unpleasant experience by addressing the complaint or concern diligently.
Formerly Google Feed, the revamped Google Discover is what it is—an opportunity for the users to find fresh and valuable content. The only difference is that these are presented to the users without even searching for it.
Google Discover also displays results based on the topics that the user previously searched for. Other factors affecting the displayed items are the behaviors of the client when searching on mobile devices.
Since these are interactions-oriented, it may change how the users act reciprocally with search and web.
Featured snippets and other SERP features
Google results pages evolve, and they evolve fast enough to accommodate carousels, videos, knowledge graphs, questions, ads, and the 3-pack results. Some SEO gurus even call them “position zero.”
Optimizing for these features is paramount more than ever.
The idea is that the real estate screen is getting smaller for organic results, so your website must appear in any of these other than the actual results to rack in higher rankings and more traffic.
In case you still don’t get it, ranking and traffic coexist. Period.
SEO foundations to keep in 2020 and beyond
Then again, there are evergreen SEO factors; meaning: they won’t lose their relevance in 2020, 2021, and beyond.
When you get your on-page SEO right, you are one step ahead in the rankings game.
Some websites are seeing profitable results from simply optimizing their landing pages. The reason is a healthy backlink profile is still one of the most important ranking factors, if not the most important factor. It’s not just a signal but a factor.
On-page SEO is non-negotiable.
Aside from on-page SEO, the technical side of optimization must not be ignored. Some technical elements are also a ranking factor such as speed and social proof.
Apart from its relevance to ranking, a fast loading website is also important in creating the best user experience (UX) for the site visitors.
If there are two websites and two things are equal, Google will rank the website that loads faster higher than the slow loading website.
Indeed, speed is a differentiating factor!
Accelerated mobile page (AMP) or
Providing the said experience on mobile is an equally compelling motivator to convert pages to AMP.
AMP is a web-publishing platform that targets optimizing the mobile browsing experience. It means loading the pages on mobile pages as fast as possible.
Progressive web app (PWA)
PWA, on the other hand, refers to a web application making use of the latest technologies. It makes the website appear app-like.
PWA has home screen worthy and has a low footprint. With the features that it can integrate seamlessly, it can increase engagement, improve conversions, and lower costs.
SEO and social are a formidable force when combined. Social integration simply means connecting website-level activities with social platform activities.
It may mean putting social icons on the blog post for easy sharing or leading the subscribers to visit the website. These activities should be synergized too.
In sum, the SEO landscape is ever-changing. Keeping abreast of the changes is the key to making the 2019 strategy a success. All these changes require a well-planned strategy, enabling much better experiences online.
Over to you, which among the 2019 SEO strategies you implemented has been the most useful? Let us know.