by Tony McIntyre | Guest Contributor | Digital Marketing
Google regularly updates its algorithm to provide users with better results and to give their searchers a better user experience. To keep your Google rankings, you will need to adapt your SEO strategy to Google's ever-changing algorithm.
Google has had several updates this year already. We've looked at the current SEO trends and how they are impacting the way people search for items and how they consume online content.
The BERT update
At the end of 2019, Google announced that the BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representation from Transformers) algorithm was having a major update. BERT is used to help search engines better understand the context of words in search queries.
BERT technology can understand language and conversational queries in a more advanced way. Users tend to search these days in a more conversational tone that feels natural to them, while still expecting to get the results they are searching for.
The BERT update improves how Google understands search queries. BERT analyses search queries and not web pages. However, this update will not benefit websites with poorly written content. The clearer and more structured your content is, the more likely you are to benefit from BERT’s recent update.
So, with the introduction of the BERT update your content will need to be all about putting things into context and ensuring your copy is focused and well organized. You will need to ensure your content is specific and concentrates on one topic while answering a user’s question better than any of your competitors. By targeting long tail terms you will be able to answer the specific questions that people are searching for and rank better as a result.
The rise of voice search and featured snippets
One of the most popular SEO trends is voice search and featured snippets. To benefit from voice search, you need to rank for a featured snippet.
41% of adults perform at least one voice search every day. In order for the content of your website to be used to answer voice queries, you need to be ranking in the top 3 search results.
A majority of voice searches on home assistances are question-based. Google will therefore return a page that includes both the question and the answer.
For Google to use your site for voice search, you must use clear and concise language, and the data must be set-up so that Google can understand and return the best answer to the question.
If you're already ranking as a featured snippet, this will improve your chances on voice search results.
Featured snippets are short sections of information that provide an answer for a search query on google.
These snippets of texts are now being read out via home assistants such as Google Home, Alexa and Apple HomePod to answer any voice search queries.
The link then appears on the recipient’s phone, generating more relevant traffic to your website.
To optimize your page to feature as a snippet, you need to research relevant, low competitive keywords or phrases and create content around that. They're typically 40-60 words long, stick to this length to improve your chances of featuring as a snippet.
The update in domain authority and E-A-T
Domain authority has had an update, and although E-A-T has been part of the SEO guidelines for years, it’s become an increasingly important ranking factor recently.
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.
Google ranks reliable sources more highly. They feature content written by experts in their field. For your content to improve its search engine ranking position, it needs to be written by people that are experts and understand the topic. This is particularly important for those topics where false information could have disastrous consequences on a user’s health, finances, happiness or safety.
Achieving high-quality backlinks from trusted sites will help to improve the trustworthiness of your website. If an external trusted website with high authority is willing to link to you, they must trust what you are writing about.
Working on building authoritative and natural back-links as well as high-quality content will help improve the authority and trustworthiness of your website and therefore, improve your Google rankings.
Video marketing is another of the SEO trends that is still growing. Including video on your website can undoubtedly help improve your SEO.
Not only does video vary the content on your website, but there is also a chance of your video displaying as a Google featured snippet.
As stated on the Google website 'Featured snippets aren’t just for written content. Our recently launched video featured snippets jump you directly to the right place in a video, such as “how to braid your hair” or “how to finely chop onions.”
Videos as featured snippets are only likely to increase throughout 2020 and into 2021, providing more sources of organic traffic to your website.
For your video to feature as a snippet, you will need to divide and title the different sections in your video. Clear sections help Google understand the content. You can use comments to indicate the timing for each section and what the video includes or use tags in the videos so views can jump to certain parts of the video that answers their question.
If you want your video to reach your target audience and be found on Google search, you need optimize it. Each video needs to have its own tags to explain what the video is about, including a title tag, description and relevancy tags to help your video to appear in the search results.
Quality content is increasingly important
Although not a new trend, producing quality content to target keywords is key to improving your SERP results. This helps Google to understand the intent of the page and how relevant it is to people searching that keyword term.
Keywords and key phrases are a major part of a successful SEO strategy, knowing what keywords you want to rank for and making sure the content produced is appropriate to your audience and is informative enough to make them convert.
You don’t even have to produce new content; you can repurpose old content and update with new facts and information. This helps save time but also keeps the content relatable to your audience.
2020 and beyond…
These are only a few of the SEO trends for 2020, there are more updates to come. Google is set to release a major update in 2021 which will impact search rankings.
Google plans to focus on the user experience and the quality of the website. It does a bit of this already with tracking site load time and linking but the aim is to rank websites with a better user experience more highly. You can keep up-to-date with Google updates on their webmaster blog.
About the author:
Tony McIntyre is a Marketing Specialist and Co-Founder of Spitfire Marketing. He has well-rounded experience in both digital and traditional marketing channels, supporting businesses nationwide across a multitude of sectors.