SEO continues to retain its importance in the era of rapid changes in digital marketing. As these SEO trends show, however, there are gradual changes taking place within the SEO ecosystem itself. Every marketer needs to take into account these trends when strategizing in the near future.
While some of these trends take forward developments that we have seen in the last few years, others are likely to demand a major rethink on how you work with keywords, structured data, content, and other key aspects of SEO. In each case below, we have backed up our predictions with relevant data to help you with better understanding.
SEO Trends to Keep up With in 2020
- Featured snippet optimization
- Voice search optimization
- AI & Machine Learning
- Page speed optimization
- Video content
- Image SEO
- Long-tail keywords
- Structured data markup
- Quality and reader-driven content
20 Key Trends in SEO
1. Featured Snippet Optimization
Ranking first for a search term and also having position zero translates to 31% more traffic than just having the first position without the featured snippet.
Research by Ahrefs shows that, given that your page ranks 1 in Google search results, if you also own the featured snippet, you get 28.2% of all clicks, as opposed to 19.6% of all clicks if a competitor owns the featured snippet. These and other stats prove the value of winning the coveted position zero or the featured snippet’s spot in search results. One of the most important future trends in SEO is to provide clear answers to commonly asked questions in order to get boosted to this top spot and generate more organic traffic.
(Ahrefs, Smart Insights)
2. Influencer Collaborations
92% of consumers trust recommendations from other people over brand content.
People want authenticity, even if it comes in the form of reviews from those they don’t know personally. It is no news that marketers are increasing their influencer marketing budgets. But how does influencer marketing connect to SEO? As recent trends in SEO show, partnering with an influencer can increase the value of your content, adding to its reach and generating more traffic for your site. Equally valuable are the backlinks such partnerships help generate. Backlinks are one of the most important factors taken into account by Google in ranking a webpage. Thus, increasing use of influencer marketing to aid SEO will be a common trend in the near future.
40% of Google’s page one organic search results feature an HTTPS site.
Website security would be one of the top SEO trends simply because Google has been encouraging webmasters to migrate to a secure website for some time, with a higher weight given to HTTPS sites over HTTP ones. However, there are other critical factors. HTTPS sites are also regularly associated with higher CTRs, higher conversions, and lower bounce rates. When people are giving their personal information to a site, they are a lot more conscious of the security features. That your site is HTTPS and so works on an encrypted connection is the first sign of security you can provide to your visitors, thus providing them comfort to visit your site and interact with it.
4. Voice Search Optimization
By 2020, 50% of all searches will be conducted via voice.
One of the most important emerging SEO trends in recent times is voice search optimization. With the growing popularity of smart voice assistants and voice search features on smartphones, the way of searching is undergoing a change. For one, search terms are becoming more conversational and targeted. Accordingly, if you want your website to do well in voice SEO, you will have to make the necessary alterations to keep up with these changing dynamics.
5. Mobile Optimization
89% of people are likely to recommend a brand after a positive brand experience on mobile.
This one’s a no-brainer. With the consistent rise in mobile devices’ share in web traffic, optimizing your website for a positive mobile experience is one of the most critical SEO trends of 2020. Just having a mobile-optimized website is not enough, either. Given the lower patience of mobile users in comparison to desktop internet surfers, your site’s interface should be easy to understand and answer people’s queries promptly. Only then will you be able to score well in the Google mobile page index and rank high in search results.
6. Content Is Still King
Content marketing costs up to 41% less per lead than paid search, generating over 4X more leads per $1000 within 36 months.
If you follow SEO news, you would have noted that Google algorithm updates continue to favor high-quality and consistently updated content. Customers still think favorably of brands that invest in a sound content marketing strategy, which means that your content should not appear to be a sales pitch. If your content helps customers with useful information, you can be assured of high rankings in the near future. Adding innovative formats like video, podcasts, infographics, etc. is even better.
7. AI For Keyword Optimization & Personalization
Top-performing companies are more than twice as likely (28% vs. 12%) as their peers to be using AI for marketing.
The artificial intelligence market is expected to be worth $190 billion by 2025, and the impact of AI on marketing is among the newest SEO trends that will revolutionize the business. Apart from helping find and track the performance of influencers and assisting in personalization, AI will also have a direct impact on SEO in areas like using better keywords. After all, when Google is using AI and machine learning for so many of its offerings, ranking high in Google search results will require marketers to become adept at it, too.
(CMO, Search Engine Journal)
8. Page Load Speed Optimization
The average bounce rate for page load time of 2 seconds is 9% but rises to 24% if page load time exceeds 3 seconds.
While page speed had been a ranking criterion for desktop search for a few years, in 2018, Google updated its algorithm to make it a criterion for mobile search as well. Thus, another one of 2020’s critical SEO industry trends will be bringing down the page load time for that slight extra edge in ranking. With scores of statistics showing that users are growing increasingly impatient with sites that take a long time to load, the speed factor is also important in regards to conversion rate optimization.
9. Video Content
Video marketers get 66% more qualified leads and achieve 54% higher brand awareness compared to those who don’t use video.
There is sufficient data to prove that visual content has greater appeal and recall value than plain text. One of the continuing trends in SEO in the coming few years will be the increasing use of video content to keep visitors engaged with websites longer. Marketers will also become more adept at video SEO, optimizing their content for indexing and ranking on search engine results through the use of tricks like engaging thumbnails, transcripts, and proper meta descriptions.
10. Image SEO
More than one-third of all keywords now contain Google Images.
It might be difficult to explain the above statement in the space available here, but the implication is that not only are images appearing more often in the top 10 now, but they are also showing up higher in the SERPs than before. In other words, one more of the top trends in SEO is the growing importance of image SEO. This growing importance of images means you have to ensure your images are added to XML image sitemaps, are named right, have descriptive title and alt-tags, have contextually relevant terms surrounding them, and most importantly, are optimized so as not to slow down your site.
11. Bing Optimization
82% of US businesses haven’t claimed their Bing listings, which is used for 1 in 5 US web searches.
Since Google continues its strong position in the search market, trying very hard to rank on other search engines may not make much sense for many businesses. However, given the consistent growth of Bing and DuckDuckGo, one of the less conspicuous SEO trends is going to be the growing awareness that ignoring these other search engines isn’t very smart in certain niches. For instance, Bing has a particularly high search market share in the northern Great Plains region and the Rust Belt, and its algorithms can be favorable to some websites that may not rank very high on Google.
12. Dynamic Content for Personalization
91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that provide greater personalization while 80% of frequent shoppers only shop with brands that personalize their experience.
Consumers’ expectations of personalization are not limited to ecommerce anymore but extend to every aspect of digital marketing. This trend presents both opportunities and challenges for SEO agencies, as personalization in SEO generally means employing dynamic content. If you have tried using dynamic content options like iFrames or locale-adaptive web pages, you would know that it can impact your pages’ indexing and ranking. Therefore, how SEO experts achieve a balance between offering more personalized content to their visitors and maintaining a high rank in search engine results will be interesting to see in the coming months.
13. Local SEO
82% of shoppers have done a ‘near me’ search, with the figure at 92% for Millennials.
There is increasing evidence that people are using their mobile devices to look for local businesses. This makes the adoption of local SEO one of the more important SEO strategy trends in 2020. Local SEO is slightly different from the efforts to rank high in general search results, with one of its prime aspects being making proper use of your Google My Business profile. A surprisingly high number of businesses still don’t have their GMB profiles updated, which means letting go of valuable sales opportunities. In 2020, we expect marketers to become savvier in this department.
14. Long-Tail Keyword Optimization
Long-tail keywords account for 70% of all web searches.
Smart SEO in 2020 involves identifying the right customer base with purchase intent for your business and targeting it using specific keywords. SEO statistics consistently show that highly targeted long-tailed keywords see less competition (making them less expensive) and provide higher conversions. As it becomes more critical for SEO and content experts to focus on user intent of the keywords they are targeting in the creation of content, we expect more focus to be given to long-tail keywords.
(Neil Patel, Wordtracker)
15. Structured Data Markups
Structured data use can help increase CTRs by as much as 30% but is found only in about one-third of the commonly crawled web now.
The importance of using structured data markup to provide rich snippets is well known for nearly a decade now. However, as the SEO market gets more competitive, its wider use has become among the more prominent current SEO trends. After all, structured data markup is what makes it possible for your content to appear in rich results and Knowledge Graph cards in Google’s search results. The use of structured data also becomes more important given the increasing use of AI by Google to improve its search results.
(Search Engine Journal)
16. PWA (Progressive Web Apps)
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are associated with an over 60% increase in mobile traffic and over 130% increase in engagement.
While PWAs do not have a direct role to play in SEO, there are corollary benefits to having an engaging PWA on your website, making it one of the latest trends in SEO. PWAs are associated with time-on-page increase and reduction in bounce rates, which has an obvious positive impact on the search rankings of your site. As long as you can deliver a great user experience that can rival that provided by competing native apps, a PWA is one of the surest methods in 2020 to boost organic traffic to your website.
17. AR (Augmented Reality) for Image SEO
There are expected to be 1B augmented reality (AR) users in the world by 2020.
The increasing use of AR on multiple platforms gives rise to one of the more interesting trends in SEO to lookout for. How is AR related to SEO? For one, the use of AR in apps like Google Lens and Pinterest Lens requires marketers to strengthen their image SEO. Other AR apps would need you to shore up your local SEO. Finally, AR is likely to give a strong push to user engagement on social media as well as directly on websites, which has an obvious positive impact on SEO.
(New Gen Apps, Neil Patel)
Global spending on blockchain solutions is expected to rise to over $15B in 2023 from less than $3B in 2017.
Blockchain will not only impact sectors like finance and technology but will also become one of the latest SEO trends to leave a major imprint on digital marketing. Blockchain works like an immutable, decentralized ledger, providing greater security and transparency to the exchange of assets. These features will help ensure the legitimacy of important SEO aspects, such as differentiation of web traffic between humans and bots, easier detection of black hat methods, detection of paid backlinks, and even better keyword research.
19. Omnichannel Marketing
Marketers using three or more channels in campaigns see 250% higher engagement rates compared to those using single-channel campaigns.
Omnichannel marketing is yet another among new trends in SEO, which aims to provide consumers with a seamless and integrated experience through multiple channels. Expanding your marketing efforts to acquire customers through different methods means that your content gets shared more often and you are seen as trustworthy and authoritative by Google. Marketers will become more conscious of this direct benefit to SEO in 2020, moving from multi to omnichannel marketing.
20. RankBrain Optimization
RankBrain now processes 100% of Google’s search volume, up from just 15% a few years ago, and is the 3rd most important ranking signal in Google’s algorithm.
While it doesn’t necessarily mean that RankBrain influences every query, its growing importance is one of the key SEO trends that marketers need to be conscious of in the near term. As far as optimizing your website for RankBrain is concerned, you just need to double down on some of the points covered separately above. This includes focus on quality and reader-driven content, using keyword-specific titles and topic-specific descriptions, and employing natural language instead of keyword-loaded text.
If you have been reading carefully, you would have noted that the essence of these trends for 2020 is largely about doing much of what you had been doing in SEO, but in a much smarter manner. Even the relatively newer SEO trends like AI, AR, and voice search require you to work on providing top-quality content, use targeted keywords, and focus on overall user experience, aspects that you would have taken care of to some extent in 2019. However, even if you haven’t, we are sure that these trends will inspire you to get going and achieve much better SEO in the years to come.