Understanding Google’s Impact on SEO trends for 2020


We may joke that Google is always listening to us, or that the company is ready to take over the internet. Well, in terms of search engine optimization (SEO) for 2020, that might just be the case. As businesses aim for more impressions, click-throughs, and conversions, Google has impacted those efforts in an attempt to be the end destination for its users’ search journeys.

In order for marketers to succeed at getting their products in front of an interested audience, they must continue to develop their SEO strategies. Here are a few topics that will be prevalent in the industry this year and in the decade ahead:

Zero-click searches
According to a study by clickstream data company Jumpshot, over half of searches made are “zero-click searches.” This refers to searches whose inquiries are solved by Google’s search engine results page (SERP); further clicks towards a company’s website are not made.

It might sound concerning to hear that Google is the final destination for users, especially when efforts have been made to attract a targeted audience to your website. However, zero-click searches shouldn’t result in an increased level of concern. Oftentimes, users are looking for a quick answer, such as your phone number. Instead, you should direct your efforts into understanding what keywords and search terms will bring you clicks.

Rich and Featured snippets
If zero-click searches are extremely common for your business, there are a few additions worth considering so that users are able to learn more about your business:

  • Rich snippets: These can feature a title, description, stars for reviews/ratings, prices, and more. However, they won’t perform as well as a Featured snippet.
  • Featured snippets, according to To The New, usually appear above the first organic result, commonly referred to as “Position 0” by the industry. To rank in these Featured snippets, you may wish to write FAQs for highly-searched for terms, write shorter sentences on your website, and structure your content with headings. This will create an improved search experience for the user.

BERT and voice search
“Hey Google, can you tell me how to get to the hockey arena?” BERT, or Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, takes natural language patterns into consideration when conducting a search. The algorithm pays attention to prepositions such as “to” and “for” in order to provide an answer that matches the context of the question, as opposed to solely focusing on individual keywords such as “hockey.” BERT impacts 10% of search queries worldwide, and is poised for growth in this smart-home speaker era.

Local SEO
How many times have you been on vacation, craving a certain food, and Googled the nearest restaurant serving that item? According to Nick Wilsdon, Search Product Owner at Vodafone, 46% of searches have a local intent. This can be a great opportunity for your business. Ensure that your local SEO efforts take into consideration the proximity (distance) between your business and the user, the relevance of their search and your product offerings, and the prominence with which you’re displayed – what are other consumers saying about you? Your reviews will help you stand out, but so will your SEO efforts!

Continue to build your brand
Sure, paid advertising is an investment. However, there are a few alternatives that, combined with paid advertising, can help your business grow:

  • Social media listening will allow you to monitor what others are saying about your brand. This also gives you an opportunity to provide customer service on a public platform.
  • Video continues to dominate. Filming demos or tutorials will show users how to use your products and give a behind-the-scenes look at those running the business. This will certainly get your brand past the zero-click result. Be sure to include product or website links within your videos.
  • Influencer marketing can combine the above efforts. Whether you’re using a company executive, local ambassador, or an industry expert, influencers are able to help your products stand out with a credible voice.

The above trends are important to know and work with in 2020 and the decade ahead. The rules of SEO and marketing will continue to change, but based on how your current or prospective clients are using search engines, it would be very prudent for your brand to position itself in – dare I say it – an optimal position. After all, if you prefer to maintain the status quo, your competitors will likely see this as a chance to get ahead.

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