It goes without saying that technology, along with its tools and software, is changing and evolving constantly at rapid speed.
You might be ahead with your competition one day but completely obsolete the next.
You could be on position zero now, but failing to update your content regularly, you will lose the throne in a matter of literally as quick as 30 seconds.
As a business or a site owner, not only should you keep up with tools that improve your site for the current algorithm, you should also optimize for future updates.
Google and Youtube, the top search engines that everyone is trying to populate, update their algorithm almost every 6 months. And what their algorithm favors will always remain a mystery to many.
That being the case, the web becomes more than just an information superhighway but a place populated with SEO wiz all trying to deduce the equation that is Google.
SEO is a puzzle; a game without a walkthrough, with rules changing as you play.
With SEO, tips and tricks are just shots in the dark. One can only try to optimize their sites for these search engines to hopefully show them on top search results.
However, if we try to look from Google’s perspective, using already existing updates that lay out some clues, we can decipher which direction they are going.
So let’s get down to business, attempt to pin down the beast that is SEO, and explore new tools in 2020 that will change the game.
Considering the wider population of people browsing the internet through their mobile phones, it just makes complete sense to optimize your site for mobile.
Mobile optimization is the process of adjusting your content so that it looks good on the mobile providing optimized user experience.
This is an absolute practice that everyone is already implementing in their sites. The trend will only go fast and upward in the years to come.
In 2015, Google has already rolled out the mobile-friendly update penalizing sites that aren’t mobile-friendly.
Before this update, Google will show mobile-friendly websites if you’re searching from a mobile phone and show desktop results if you’re searching from desktops.
Today, however, Google only shows results that are mobile-friendly regardless of the device used. This is what they call the mobile-first indexing.
If your site is not optimized for mobile, you get lower chances of ranking in the search engine.
Users specifically favor sites that are mobile-friendly, mobile-optimized, as well as responsive.
While these terms are used interchangeably, they carry different meanings.
A mobile-friendly website is a minimized version of your site. It looks at the readability of your site.
A mobile-optimized site is mobile-friendly but also reformatted with a single column layout, a thumb-friendly navigation, minimal features, requires minimal typing, etc.
A responsive design considers how your site displays across different devices.
Not only is this important for users, but this is also a factor that Google looks at when choosing which sites appear first in the engine.
Simply going to Google Search Console and checking Mobile Usability is not enough.
You can also use the Fetch as Google tool, and other mobile optimization practices to implement in your site.
VOICE SEARCH/VOICE ASSISTANTS
Voice search and voice assistants are relatively new tools that allow a user to speak into a device to get search results from the web.
When we talk about voice search, the first thing we remember is Siri.
What once was a silly little feature in Apple devices is now enhanced with natural language processing technology giving a more accurate answer to our queries.
Voice search has become increasingly popular with the rise of voice assistant technologies like Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Microsoft Cortana.
Rather than typing in a screen, the user just asks the voice assistant to look for “the best pizza place in New York.”
The voice assistant will then provide the most accurate answer it could find in a matter of seconds.
How does this affect search engine results, you ask?
In 2013, Google launched Hummingbird, a misnomer for an algorithm update as it completely revamped how search works.
Hummingbird heavily focuses on user intent, human search interactions, as well as conversations and meaning.
When we type in the word “weather,” Google recognizes our intent of knowing what is the weather like today or the next few days if we specified it.
Since it heavily focus on semantics and user intent, it puts voice and voice assistants as a top player in search.
One one hand, more and more people are using voice assistant devices in place of desktop or mobile phone to search because it provides quick results.
In fact, almost 20% of Google queries are coming from voice search.
On the other hand, Google favors sites that provides quick results.
If you’re optimizing your sites for voice search and voice assistants, you are in the right direction.
If you don’t see the urgency of optimizing your site for voice search, just remember that in the next coming years, when everyone is using voice assistant tools,
there will only be one search result that will matter.
There are things you can already do now to optimize your site for voice search.
The first is to aim for google featured snippet that will likely be the first answer that voice search will pull in search results.
Adding alt tags in images will also help in optimizing your site for voice search.
You can also improve on page speed, social engagement, word count, and reading difficulty.
ENTITIES AND KNOWLEDGE GRAPH CARDS
String Entities Optimization and Knowledge Graph Cards are not quite popular yet.
But both will play a huge role in search engine optimization for the next few years.
This has to do with Google knowing that they are expected to be mind readers.
When I look up the word “stingray” Google shows results about a flat-bodied sea creatures with long spines on their tails.
However, as a user, what if my intent was to buy a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray?
The difference of stingray as a sea creature, a Chevrolet car model, as a Stingray phone tracker, or Stingray multi-platform audio service, is shown as entities.
Entities appear in knowledge graph cards, is the big block of information that you see on the right side of google search results.
Knowledge Graphs is Google’s way to compile related and useful information about one specific query.
Take for example, if you look up the keywords “Albert Einstein.”
On the right side of the results, you will see the date when Einstein was born, and the date when he died. It also shows the schools he attended, his publications, and even other theoretical physicists that other people look for.
Knowledge graphs are a remarkable part of the search experience as it intends to become a one-stop-shop for information.
Google favors sites that provide complete information about one topic.
This is why Wikipedia generally always ranks first in Google. It provides a complete reference for anything.
When you look up a celebrity name, it will provide a summary about the celebrity, life and career starting from the date they were born. The results even includes their personal life, beliefs, relationships, list of films where they appeared, etc.
Guess what sites these information is coming from?
You guessed it right. It’s from Wikipedia.
If you own a business, like a restaurant, for example, you will gain more from Knowledge graphs.
You have to register in Google My Business to get a Knowledge Graph card.
This will show your store address, office hours, phone number, reviews on your business, your menu, and even your social media pages.
String Entity and Knowledge Graph Cards is Google’s way of showing well-refined and narrowed answers through the use of semantic web technology and structured data. Basically, it shows up results depending many factors called “signals” and this definitely include user search history.
The future of SEO render keywords obsolete and will only depend on machine recognizable entities.
If this doesn’t make sense yet, just think of it this way:
If you are not defined as an entity in Google’s search, you definitely don’t exist as a Knowledge Graph. Therefore, you also won’t exist in top search results.
CHATBOTS AND SOCIAL MESSAGING APPS
Chatbots have become an increasingly popular marketing tool.
Companies are using it in their marketing strategy specifically for the younger generation of customers.
Users prefer messaging an online chatbot to communicate about a brand rather than endlessly scanning pages to find information.
Also, chatbots and other instant messaging apps allow users to chat in real-time, any hour of the day.
It makes search faster and more personalized.
Just by using chatbots to answer user queries will help you rank in search engines.
As simple as that.
Now here comes the tricky part:
You can use chatbots for SEO ranking only if you’re able to enhance the user experience.
Your chatbot should be able to provide a closer to accurate, if not completely, as well as prompt answers to customers.
To be able to rank high in Google using chatbots and social messaging apps, your chatbots should provide value to your services and customers.
It should also be able to serve its main purpose, that is, to completely replace human customer service.
It should be able to provide a knowledgeable response better than humans but also less like a computer.
We can see a pattern in these examples.
Google is trying to have an even wider reach than it already has. So it puts together updates with the user in mind, focusing on intent, quick search results, and excellent customer service.
Now that you have the tools that will change SEO in 2020, make sure that you are implementing them as early as now.
This will help you stay on top of your game, and hopefully on top of Google’s search engine results, too.