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As we look forward to the second coming of the roaring ’20s, we naturally begin to make plans and envision what the year will have in store for us. While most would say it’s more fun to think about the parties we might attend or the new hobbies we will attempt to master, the SEO nerds find enjoyment in trying to predict where the industry will take us. If that is you, or you are just curious about what may impact your business in the new year, please read on as we discuss the SEO trends that we see being influential in 2020.

Trend 1: Google will continue to be Google

The Continued Shrinking of the Organic Landscape

This is a hard one to talk about as SEOs, but if we’re reading the tea leaves correctly, Google will continue to steal market share inside the SERPs – making the ever-shrinking organic landscape even smaller.

What this means for us is that SERP features will continue to be important in order to capitalize on this valuable real estate, and schema markup will continue to be necessary to do so. This falls in line with Google’s encouragement for websites to use structured data in order to feed the SERP features; they’ve even incorporated some help into Search Console.

Google Ecosystem Push

Earlier this year, Google made a change to Google Search Console and created a new section under Performance for “Discover.” For those who don’t know, Discover is a feature within Google Search that helps users stay up-to-date on their favorite topics and does not require a search. Users get to the Discover experience in the Google app, on the Google.com mobile homepage, or by swiping right from the homescreen on Pixel phones.

https://www.blog.google/products/search/introducing-google-discover/

This is an indicator that Google thinks (or hopes) Discover will be important in the near future. Not all of Google’s predictions or bets pay off (think Google+), but it’s important to take note when they pop up. This new way of discovering content leverages data that Google has about users to show them content they may be interested in without the need for a search. All of this works together to keep people within the Google ecosystem.

This puts more emphasis on understanding your target audience and ensuring all of the content you create to meet their needs is readily available to Google. To capitalize on this opportunity, consider creating persona-based content that addresses your audience’s broader interests but ties back to your core offering and search demand. Have you thought about your strategy for leveraging Discover?

Trend 2: Speed and User Experience will continue to grow in importance

The Need for Speed (in Mobile)

It’s nothing new to say that Google cares about user experience and that specifically includes site speed. Based on the focus of algorithm updates, new features and Google’s public announcements about the importance of speed, it’s safe to say that in 2020 you’ll need to optimize towards your site’s overall speed – particularly on mobile. The way people interact with the web is continuing to favor mobile, so it only makes sense that search engines will favor that experience as well (queue mobile-first indexing). A slow site experience is exaggerated on mobile devices, so Google will continue to use speed as a ranking factor. Your site should not fall behind benchmarks if you want to continue to grow your visibility.

Personalization will see a resurgence

As we discussed before, Discover is a new way for Google to deliver personalized content to its users. The more you are able to tailor your content to your target audience, the more likely it will be that Google will show this in search – either through Discover or in the search results. Based on this, we’ll likely see a focus on user-centric design and persona-driven content that is potentially modularized. This is not a new concept but may become more important in 2020.

Trend 3: Non-Traditional Search Engines and Voice Search

Voice Search 2020?

This may be one of the most divisive topics among SEOs right now. We’ve all heard the stat: ComScore estimates that by 2020 50% of all online searches will be voice searches.

So, it’s safe to say that in 2020 voice search will continue to grow, but what does that mean for businesses? Unfortunately, in 2020 at least, voice search will likely remain information-oriented and struggle to provide value to businesses outside of limited brand awareness.

The limited value is compounded by lack of data available. Marketers will need to continue to push the big guys to share the data (we’re talking to you, Google and Amazon) in order to be able to see or demonstrate any of the value received from voice search.

Non-traditional search engines rise in popularity

This will likely be a necessary response to Google’s antics. As organic market share is likely to continue shrinking, there will be a need to go to other platforms where your target audience can be found.

Each of these non-traditional engines will have their own nuances in order to succeed. When prioritizing and strategizing around these engines be sure to take into account their unique algorithms and optimization best practices.

  • Amazon
    • For ecommerce sites with Amazon listings, optimizing your listings for organic search within Amazon will help improve your visibility in the largest product search engine.
  • YouTube (OK, we know this is Google-owned, but it’s not Google Search)
    • If you produce video regularly or have a large video library, YouTube is a natural platform to deliver this content.
    • Leverage video search data to identify and prioritize opportunities.
    • Depending on your strategy, this may be more geared towards the upper part of your sales funnel, but be sure to thoughtfully consider linking back to your site.
  • App Stores (again, we know the Play Store is Google-owned, but it’s not Google Search)
    • If your business has an app, you may already be doing app store optimization (ASO).
    • If you aren’t, ASO is a great way to earn extra visibility for your brand within the app store.
  • Pinterest
    • Millions of people use Pinterest for inspiration. For lifestyle brands, this can translate to direct sales.
    • Consider leveraging Pinterest to inspire your target audience as well as promote your latest line.

These are just a few ideas around how to combat the ever-changing search landscape. Consider expanding your definition of “search engine” by understanding where your target market “hangs out” online.

How to Prepare

It’s great to understand what may or may not be coming in 2020, but what does this mean for your business?

  1. Continue to be customer-focused. Most of what we discussed hinges on ensuring your customers are satisfied through both their experience on the site as well as the content they engage with. Continue to keep your customer top of mind, and you’ll continue to succeed in 2020. This includes meeting site speed benchmarks and creating persona-based content.
  2. With that said, consider building out or updating your customer personas. The success of step one is dependent on a thorough understanding of your target audience. The more information you have about your audience, the better prepared you will be to create experiences that will resonate with them.
  3. Leverage search engine results page analysis. As the search results change, adjust your strategy to capitalize on new opportunities and minimize any losses. Use data to understand how users are interacting with new features like Discover as well as long-standing features like featured snippets. Incorporate this data into your overall strategy and ensure your content is optimized and structured for continued growth.
  4. Expand your visibility through non-traditional search engines. Get ahead of the curve and create a strategy for platforms like Amazon and YouTube. This will decrease your reliance on Google and ensure that as Google continues to decrease the organic landscape, you will be somewhat insulated if it impacts your industry.

There is so much opportunity ahead in 2020. What do you think will have the biggest impact on the new decade?