SEO Trends for 2020: How to Get on Top of Google Search

SEO Trends & Challenges: How to Get on Top of Google Search in 2020

SEO is one of the youngest marketing disciplines out there, and it’s also incredibly fast-paced. It looks almost nothing like what it did when we started.

While the fundamental principle remains the same —SEO is about making websites easy to find and understand — the tactics involved are very different than they were 15, 5, and even 1 year ago

So what are the most important SEO trends for 2020 and how can you implement them?

Here’s what you should know for 2020, as well as key steps for implementing these trends and tactics.

SEO Trend #1: Mobile and Voice Search

We don’t yet know how big voice search is, but we do know that mobile search is going strong, and we have many sources to confirm that, including:

  • Back in 2015, Google revealed that more people were using mobile search than desktop search in 10 countries, including the US and Japan
  • In 2018, more than half of mobile traffic in the US was coming from mobile devices
  • Last year consumers spent three and a half hours a day on their mobile devices

Consumers spend three and a half hours a day on their mobile devices.
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Consequently, Google has switched its priorities by introducing Mobile-First Index, which means that Google predominantly uses the mobile version of a page for indexing and ranking. In other words, if your page doesn’t look good on a mobile device, or if the mobile version has less content, you may lose rankings in both mobile and desktop search results.

mobile first indexing example

Given that mobile device users often use voice search to find answers while on the go, it is safe to assume that voice search is getting popular, and these two trends are very well connected:

  • Both mobile and voice users are likely to be looking for answers while in the middle of the task (so they need clear, concise answers right away)
  • In both of the cases, the top result (which is often the featured snippet) is really what matters. So we are competing for the top result now, versus top 5 positions as we did a few years ago

How to Optimize Your Site for Mobile and Voice Search

  • Obviously, make your site mobile-friendly and fast (page speed is important!)
  • Adapt your content strategy to catch those featured snippet opportunities to outrank your competitors. Mobile users seldom have time to scroll, and with voice search there’s only one result being read to the user. This makes featured snippet optimization incredibly essential for your online visibilit — you are either there or nowhere.

There’s a lot to featured snippet optimization (which deserves a whole separate article which I already did), but it all comes down to:

  • Researching current featured snippets for your important queries (and learning from them)
  • Structuring your content with H2-H3 subheadings that address questions behind queries triggering featured snippets
  • Providing quick, concise answers (no longer than 90 characters) below each subhead for Google to grab and feature.

If you include these steps in your writing guidelines for your content creators to use, you are halfway there:

  • Use this writing checklist that includes both of the above (and more useful) guidelines
  • Scale your content creation process using Narrato to build a team of content creators that do a good job following those guidelines. The beauty of this platform is that it matches you to the most suitable writers automatically and, after some time, you have a solid team that knows your requirements and creates content fast. In an era when you need a lot of content, and you need it fast, this is a life-saver:

narrato

SEO Trend #2: Semantic Search and Intent Optimization

Google moved away from exact-matching keyword optimization years ago, yet our industry is somewhat slow to keep up. These days, Google doesn’t use the actual string of words that are being typed in the search box. Instead, it looks at the query context and analyzes the possible search intent to deliver results.

You can see this all around the SERPs and even in Google Suggest results. I wrote a detailed article on semantic search, and here’s one of the examples from it:

semantic search example

Notice how Google interprets the query on the fly to realize:

  • You may have lost your cat, but you may be interested in pet and animal control centers, not just cat facilities
  • Your cat may have gone missing in the town of Halfmoon but it has legs, so chances are you may be able to find the cat in the nearby towns, including Clifton Park and Rensselaer
  • You may also post on Craiglist or search there in case someone already found it—which is an absolutely awesome idea!

What does this tell us?

Google has got very good at understanding searcher intent, and old-school content creation methods that focus on a single keyword string don’t work.

We need to create content that solves problems. That’s what Google is after, and so are our potential customers.

How to Optimize Content for Semantic Search and Search Intent

Simply Searching Google to get an idea of how it is interpreting a query is a great first step. Do the same type of research I did with that cat missing query — look for other ways Google is trying to solve the problem for the user.

Using semantic research tools is another good idea. Text Optimizer is an intent optimization platform that helps you cluster any search query into related concepts and entities. It uses Google’s search snippets to come up with ideas to expand your initial copy to provide more solutions and meet Google’s and its users’ needs:

TextOptimizer example

Based on semantic research, it will even help you build sentences based on common co-occurrence analysis of the terms you select:

textoptimizer sentences

If you are using a remote team of content writers or Narrato, it is a good idea to run TextOptimizer before creating your assignment and provide your writers with the list of concepts to cover.

SEO Trend #3: SERP Marketing and Content Diversification

For years now, Google has been taking steps to become a destination, not just a discovery project. With knowledge graph, quick answers, and interactive and visual results, Google is building an ultimate resource that can give comprehensive answers to any query.

google serps

Within one search result page, we see:

  1. Google.com/Travel suggestions
  2. Knowledge graph (that includes maps, user reviews, basic facts, etc.)
  3. Related videos (This search element is interactive because you can scroll through the carousel to see more videos)
  4. “People Also Ask” results (This box is also interactive: You can click any question to read answers and expand follow-up questions. Interestingly, a question you click determines the topic of further questions that appear. I find this quite eye-opening.)
  5. The visual results including more similar destinations, related searches, and more
  6. Organic “text” results which are somehow lost in-between

This is where the concept of “SERP marketing” lies: you need to stop focusing on organic listings and start optimizing for all the other search elements, including videos, images and “quick-answer” sections (“People Also Ask” and featured snippets).

You need to take each individual search result page as a whole to achieve brand visibility there.

How to Dominate Google with SERP Marketing

There’s a lot to be done to create an effective SERP Marketing campaign. Here are some steps to get you started:

Analyze Your Current Opportunities

At IMN, we are building an ultimate SERP marketing tool that helps you determine all important content formats that needs to be created to dominate your target queries:

SERP marketing

The tool uses your current rankings to show where you are missing out. Use this tool to understand your current opportunities better and optimize for those.

Set Up Content Collaboration Strategy

Content diversification brings in both challenges and opportunities. On the one hand, you need to continually come up with quality content assets in various formats, which is incredibly hard to scale. On the other hand, you get to leverage more mediums and try more tools and tactics, which is pretty awesome.

Content collaboration is the tactic that can solve many issues and empower your marketing with more benefits, including natural backlinks, trust and shares. And the good news is there are great projects that help you build contacts to co-create content and scale it.

BizSwipe is one example that allows you to easily build B2B connections for content co-creation and marketing collaboration. You can use advanced filters and easy connection tools to find partners and influencers who can help you diversify your content strategy:

BizSwipe

Organize Your Strategy Using an Editorial Calendar

For content collaboration and co-marketing opportunities, consider using an editorial calendar solution that will help you organize your campaigns.

ContentCal is a marketing collaboration platform that can help you organize your omni-channel content marketing strategy and boost its effectiveness:

contentcal calendar

Use its “Content Campaigns” feature to schedule your upcoming content assets and put all the ideas, goals and tasks in each campaign brief.

contentcal brief

Creating a central dashboard for all your content plans to be visible for your whole team is key to consistent and effective content strategy. With ContentCal each team member responsible for a single piece of the puzzle will be able to see and contribute to the whole picture.

At the end of the day, content diversification lies at the foundation of omnichannel marketing that has multiple benefits (including cross-device compatibility, smoother shopping experience, creation of more marketing channels and more). So you may want to start working on it whether you are worried about your search visibility or not.

SEO Trend #4: Structured Data

This year has been huge for semantic data, with Google updating their initial guidelines and adding support for new types of structed data, including FAQPage, fact-check, and more. It is clear that Google is very interested in extracting more data from your pages and giving publishers more exposure in exchange.

The good news is that this gives SEOs a competitive advantage over those website owners who are not keeping up with Google’s moves.

As an example, here’s what FAQPage schema looks like in search results once you implement it:

This search snippet is interactive — you can click any question to unfold the answer, and from there, even get to the site for more answers:

How to Implement Structured Data

There are many tools, plugins and solutions, allowing any website owner to implement structured markup with no technical knowledge required. Here are a few options:

Conclusion

SEO is moving fast — it is a very exciting industry to be in. From the earlier days on, those people who were fast to “get it” found themselves ahead of slower-moving competitors. Use the tools and tips above to get ahead of yours in 2019 and beyond!

The post SEO Trends for 2020: How to Get on Top of Google Search appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

How to Use Live Video for Marketing

How to Use Live Video for Marketing

Lauren Teague, Convince & Convert Strategist and live video expert, shares her best tips on how to use live video as part of your content marketing strategy

One of our content marketing consulting clients recently asked us, “Is live video worth it for marketing?” and, if so, “how should we use live video for marketing?”

To answer their questions, I interviewed my C&C colleague and strategist, Lauren Teague, who was an early pioneer in social media live video during her years with the PGA TOUR (yes, that PGA).

In this post, she shares the three most relevant situations and opportunities for marketers to utilize live video to promote a marketing message or agenda, and the three most common mistakes marketers make when pursuing live video content. Let’s dive in:

What are the biggest opportunities to use live video for marketing?

One-time Events

The best reasons to use live video are for one-time-only events or opportunities, such as product launches, or the types of things your audience would tune into. These include red carpet events and interviews (not necessarily with celebrities), B2B shows and conferences, your customer-centric events, webinars, live, tradeshows, keynotes and more.

Not every brand is going to have an event on the scale of the Apple Developers Conference, but almost every industry has key customer events that not everyone can attend.

Think of the most important things in your industry that only happen once. We call them exclusive opportunities. These opportunities appeal to those who want to be the first to know. Play on their fear of missing out (FOMO is a real thing!) and allow them to to join in, in real-time. This creates audience demand.

Recurring Shows and Interviews with Subject-Matter Experts

Next, there are the events that allow the viewer to be front and center. Think of the opportunities that give them access: a scheduled appointment, an ask-me-anything format or recurring shows (interviews) with subject-matter experts within the organization.

Recurring Interview with Subject-Matter Experts

For these live events, consistency and continuity are key. These are not one-offs; they are regularly scheduled, real-time shows, just like those that television networks produce. Schedule a reccurring time period, like a lunch-time chat or open office hours. This very flexible format works great with B2B, B2C and industry associations.

Video for Press and Media

The third is live video aimed directly at the press and media. This is a forum to help get ahead of a newsworthy event, add your perspective quickly, and have a voice in the story being told —  rather than letting someone else (a competitor) frame that narrative. Being live in front of an audience increases authenticity and credibility. It allows the audience—the media and subsequently their audiences—to feel like they’re getting their information directly from you as opposed to a manufactured press release. The format also spurs additional media coverage and dialog. Being accessible is important to the media, and live video delivers that.

What are the most common mistakes marketers make when attempting to capture a story via live video?

I’ve seen these mistakes made over and over so please, learn from what others are doing that can be improved upon.

Simply Going Live for an Algorithm Boost

The first is to believe that simply “going live” is worthwhile just to garner an algorithm boost. That is not true anymore (if it ever was) because so much live video was crap. Crap video content is not compelling, so audiences quickly tune out. Time spent is an important metric to every social media network, and they’ll deprioritize as quickly as they incentivize.

Algorithms evolve to promote the most compelling and engaging content, which at one time did include live video – but doesn’t anymore.

Going Live Without a Plan

This is a big one — DO NOT do live video without a plan. Live video does not mean spontaneous, shoot from the hip, wing it. That won’t get you the best results.

You need to pre-test lighting, audio equipment, background noise levels, internet access and background traffic. Have a loose script or talking points to keep on message. Create a production schedule or rundown to account for any inclusions or timing elements. After all, you’re doing this to convey something meaningful to your audience, so don’t squander the opportunity and waste their time.

Even though it’s live, rehearse and have a plan. Without preparation, you can miss the chance to shine when the moment counts.

Going Live and Not Leveraging Your Video Content After the Fact

And finally, recognize live video is the starting point. Have a plan to cut, edit, and repurpose live video content to share in other social channels. Create a YouTube playlist for previously-live videos. Break the video apart into snippets and teasers to promote replay. Use audio transcripts to repost in articles and in blogs. Really think about how to atomize the video into many different smaller pieces of content, then get it out there where your audiences are already hanging out. Live video is a starting point, not the end product.

Effective Live Video Content

So, the take-away message is clear: effective live video is not spontaneous, impulsive, unplanned, and hap-hazard. Done correctly, it is intentional, thoughtful, and planned — just as with any other meaningful content marketing endeavor.

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How to Increase Website Page Speed and Maximize Conversions

How to Increase Website Page Speed

Increasing website page speed is one of the biggest challenges marketers face. It’s too technical for marketers to appreciate the work scope, yet it’s crucial for almost all aspects of marketing performance.

Over the years, it has become abundantly clear that there is a direct correlation between page speed, bounce rate and visitor retention. Furthermore, Google’s official statement is that page speed is part of its ranking algorithm (and, hence, helps or hinders your online visibility).

Monitoring and improving website page speed should be the highest priority for any website.

Let’s look at just a few numbers:

Impact on on-page engagement: Sites that load in 5 seconds (compared to those that load in 19 seconds) see 70% longer average sessions.


Sites that load in 5 seconds (compared to those that load in 19 seconds) see 70% longer average sessions.
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Impact on conversions: Studies in the UK show that 67% of online shoppers will abandon their carts on slow websites. Improving a page’s load time by one second can result in an increase of between 10% and 20% in conversion rates.


Improving a page's load time by one second can result in an increase of between 10% and 20% in conversion rates. #CRO
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Impact on customer loyalty: Roughly 80% of online shoppers who have trouble loading a site say they won’t return to the site to buy again (source).

Here is how to improve website page speed and maximize the true potential of your website:

Step 1: Reduce Redirects

You will have more HTTP requests on your site if you have many redirects, and this could result in reduced page speed. Broken links also should be fixed, as these can have a massive impact on user experiences.

Netpeak Spider is a great tool to quickly find redundant redirects, broken links and redirect chains. Run the tool and then fix what it identifies, including:

  • Fix internal linking to point to the working URL (i.e. the https version), even if the old URL properly redirected to the new version.
  • Get rid of redirect chains — they are a series of redirects that bring you from one version to another. All those extra steps slow down your site.

Impact on conversions: Broken links and redirects may prevent many of your site users from following your sales funnel. Make sure to monitor and fix broken links and redirects in a timely manner.

netpeak spider helps you increase website page speed

Netpeak Spider is a great tool that helps you increase page speed by finding redundant redirects, broken links and redirect chains.

Step 2: Consider Using a Content Distribution Network

A Content Distribution Network (CDN) consists of multiple data centers, each of which makes a copy of a specific website. These copies are stored in multiple geographic locations, providing users with more reliable and faster access to the website.

This tip is especially important for global businesses that receive a lot of traffic and conversions around the world.

Content Delivery network

A Content Distribution Network will help you increase website page speed across the glove.

Impact on conversions: A slow website will make your overseas customers give up on your website entirely. Monitor and improve your global performance with a Content Distribution Network.

Step 3: Remove Render-Blocking Javascript

When looking at your website structure, refrain from using render-blocking Javascript (i.e. Javascript that prevents your page from rendering, i.e. loading), especially external scripts that have to be fetched before being executed.

Script that doesn’t need to be rendered immediately should be made asynchronous, or deferred until after the first render.

This is especially important for the above-the-fold part of your page (the part that a user sees first).

Above the Fold

Scripts that are above the fold and don’t need to be rendered immediately should be made asynchronous, or deferred until after the first render.

Obviously, use Google’s tools to spot which scripts and page elements slow your pages down.

Use Google’s Page Speed insights to find opportunities to speed up your website.

Impact on conversions: Most traffic and conversion analytics platforms are installed using a Javascript code. Make sure yours aren’t slowing your website down. Finteza is an independent analytics company whose Javascript has no impact on your site performance — their event tracking doesn’t use any code at all!

The main tracking script (downloaded from the Finteza server) is inserted into the page asynchronously — independent of other elements. Thus, Finteza’s script does not slow down page loading.

Step 4: Leverage Browser Caching

When users visit a website, the website builds a cache that contains information about Javascripts, images, stylesheets and more. This is done so that when a visitor comes back, the entire page doesn’t have to be reloaded.

This improves page speed, as it saves on time spent having to send multiple HTTP requests to the server. It also reduces the bandwidth and, as a result, the overall cost of site hosting.

Impact on conversions: It is a well-known fact that return customers bring the highest revenue, so this method ensures your return visitors receive a better experience.

Step 5: Improve Server Response Time

Many factors can affect server response time, including the volume of traffic, the type of software used by the server and the hosting solution used.

As a general guideline, the server response time should be less than 200ms. This can be achieved by looking at different performance metrics and paying attention to things such as slow database requests, lack of memory or slow routing.

Use monitoring tools to evaluate your server performance:

Use monitoring tools like Kingdom to evaluate your server performance.

Use monitoring tools like Kingdom to evaluate your server performance.

Impact on conversions: By monitoring your server performance properly, you’ll know whether there are any issues preventing people from interacting with your site properly (e.g. downtime, slow-downs, etc.)

Conclusion

There are many benefits to improving website page load speed, and they can be broadly divided into three main areas:

1. Better User Experience

  • Users nowadays are quick to simply abandon a website if it does not perform as well as they expect, especially if the page takes too long to load. If you have pages that load quickly, this will appeal to more users and give them the opportunity to explore your website content.
  • Google research shows that a one-second delay in page load time will decrease user’s satisfaction by as much as 16%, while a massive 79% of users will not purchase products or services from websites where the overall speed performance does not meet their expectations.

Google research shows that a one-second delay in page load time will decrease user's satisfaction by as much as 16%.
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2. Better Marketing Results

  • If your aim is to achieve more website traffic to specific pages, such as a new blog post or a product page, page speed should definitely be taken into consideration.
  • Whether you want to improve the overall conversion rate for specific pages or reduce the bounce rate sitewide, there is enough evidence to show that a fast website contributes greatly towards reaching these goals.

3. Higher Google Rankings

According to Google, a half a second delay could cause a traffic loss of 20%.

From Google’s perspective, pages that take long to load will result in search engine bots not being able to crawl as many pages, which leads to Google not being able to use its crawl budget effectively. This could potentially have a negative effect on your website’s organic performance.

Furthermore, Google’s algorithm officially takes the overall website speed and page loading time into account, making page speed optimization vital if you want to stand a chance to rank higher in the SERPs.

Let’s make the world wide web faster!

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