Over the last year, we have seen many different developments in technology that will impact your business’ SEO efforts. With the addition of COVID-19, search trends have also had an impact on business operations.
This year we had the pleasure of sending our SEO specialist Charlie Ford to MozCon, a Search Engine Optimization conference. This blog outlines 4 major sessions from MozCon and how they will influence the way you conduct business in 2020.
The State of SEO in 2020
The conference kicked off on Tuesday with Sarah Bird of Moz delivering her “state of the industry” address. As you could imagine, there was a lot of discussion on COVID-19 and how it has changed everyone’s lives and work situations. According to Sarah, these are the five hot SEO topics for 2020.
Advancement of Artificial Intelligence
According to Google, the BERT update has been the “biggest leap forward in 5 years” for artificial intelligence. The BERT update is an advanced language understanding that helps Google better understand and generate more accurate results. The update improves language understanding, particularly for conversational/natural language search queries. For example, the intent of a search query could change dramatically by using “for” or “to”. The BERT update allows Google to understand the context and generate better results.
The BERT update impacts 1 in 10 searches. When someone is searching for your business or service and using conversational language, they will now be more likely to find you. This is especially important when a product or service has several different meanings.
What Are Your Entities?
The question to ask this year is what are your entities?
An entity is a thing or concepts that are singular, unique, well-defined, and distinguishable, but how does that relate to businesses? When your business has an entity; a unique, well defined, and distinguishable thing (i.e. service or product), you can be easily classified by Google. By using this entity across your website, Google can easily understand what you offer, and your business will appear in search queries. Take the time to develop your entity and keep it consistent across your website and other online presences.
Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
SERPs have significantly changed over the past year. Previously, when a user would perform a search query, 1-2 ads and 10 organic links would appear. Now a search query includes rich snippets, Google My Business (GMB), carousels, image search, and map listings. SERPs are becoming more comprehensive and intuitive which allows users to find what they need with little to no effort. Ensure that your business is positioned to show up on several result types.
For more information watch our video where our CEO Jason interviews our SEO Specialist Charlie on SERP’s and what it means for your business in 2020.
Localization of Search
Due to COVID-19, the concept of localization of search is becoming more important. Where a searcher is located (i.e. Toronto, Guelph, Windsor, etc.) is a primary ranking factor in determining results. This speaks to the importance of having a GMB listing, where you explicitly state your address and service areas, if applicable. With the rise of localization of search, there are more opportunities to rank.
New Google Search Experiences
2020 is a year of advancement with new search experiences like Google Discover and Visual Search. Google Discover is a new way to present content to users. Instead of a user searching for content, Google will automatically curate content that they believe the user will be interested in. This curated content is usually based on newly published content and evolves with a user’s interest. It is important to note however that content cannot be specifically created for Google Discover.
Visual Search is continuously improving, and its usage is expanding on various platforms. The rise of visual search technology is changing the search marketing landscape. It is now easier than ever to snap a picture and find the exact product you are looking for or, something similar to it. It is therefore important to understand how you can use this technology to your advantage.
For more information watch our video where our CEO Jason interviews our SEO Specialist Charlie on these 5 hot topics for SEO and what it means for your business in 2020.
How to Promote Your Content
The next session was about promoting your content by Brian Dean from Backlinko. Nowadays, it is tough to drive traffic to your content regardless of its quality. Therefore, it is important to develop strategies that will promote your content. There are about 70 million blogs posted per month on WordPress and 94% of these blog post gets zero links. So, how do you get eyeballs on your content, and how do you get people to share or link to it?
The use of content promotion levels the playing field for smaller outlets to compete with big companies that put out tons of content. The idea is great content promotion trumps great content. When it comes to promoting content, most people are promoting their content in the same way which causes burnout. The most popular form of content promotion is through email outreach, but a study shows that only 8.5% of emails get a response. Sharing on social media is a great strategy but you must do more promotion to get the most reach.
When coming up with promotional strategies for your content consider using the following:
- Create Content for Industry Professionals: People from your industry will be more likely to share
- Create Native Content: Social media algorithms want native content, not just a link with a blog title. Pull interesting information from your content and include it in the original post.
- Click to Tweet: Use “click to tweet” sites and apps rather than asking people to tweet your content.
- Utilize Newsletters: Newsletters do not have to be fancy, fewer images is actually better.
Google My Business
Another insight to consider is the importance of Google My Business. This session was by Joy Hawkins from Sterling Sky. As stated, the rise of search localization and the change in SERPs has given rise to the importance of having an up to date Google My Business page. SERPs now provide results from a variety of different mediums, one of them being GMB.
With the changes in SERPs and search localizations, it is imperative to focus on the difference between implicit and explicit queries. An implicit search query is “plumber” with the location “near me” being implied, an explicit search query is “plumber in Brampton”. Although at first, it seems like a similar search with the same intent, the results will differ. For both queries, local listings will appear with the map pack.
The difference lies in the type of organic results that show up, for the implicit query the results are not localized (i.e. not only from Brampton). Implicit queries will typically show local results from a larger area or a nearby large metropolitan area. An example when searching for “lawyer” in Aurora, ON, you will often see local results for lawyers in Toronto.
Implicit queries convert at a higher rate than explicit queries; 12% vs. 10.5%. If you’re a marketer, it’s important to track both explicit and implicit queries and keywords. This can be done with keyword tracking programs like SEMrush and with other data sources like Google Search Console. By tracking queries and keywords, you will be better equipped to create and promote content that will appear for the correct people.
If you want to learn more watch our video here. Our CEO Jason Gervais interviews our SEO Specialist on the importance of Google My Business and how it relates to your organic/free Search Engine Rankings.
Moving Targets: Keywords in Crisis
The last session was by Pete Myers from Moz, and he spoke about the use of keywords in a crisis (i.e. COVID-19). Over the last 3 months, due to COVID-19, there has been a huge fluctuation in SERP volatility. The keywords that you target on your website are not always the ones that generate the most traffic. An example that was provided was Baby Yoda and the Mandalorian. Baby Yoda unexpectedly became wildly popular and the Star Wars/Mandalorian marketing folks had to react and adjust to this in order to capitalize.
The big question for 2020 is, how can SEO specialists anticipate this kind of thing and use up and coming trends to generate traffic, leads, and sales?
Using Google Trends, you can see that there has been a recent increase in “how to cut hair”, brought on by COVID-19. There is not much you can do with this term itself from a commercial standpoint, but if you look in the breakout topics section of Trends, you’ll see that it aligns with an increase in searches for “hair clippers”. This is a prime example of how an increase in a simple informational search can lead to an increase in searches for an actionable and commercial search term.
When creating content, conduct research on websites like Boing Boing, explodingtopics.com, and Pinterest Trends. These websites are great for finding and coming up with topics and trends for future content creation.
For more information on keywords in crisis and how this can influence your business in 2020, watch our video here.
These are the 4 major insights from MozCon this year. These trends and insights will change the way we view and interact with search engines in 2020 and beyond. For more information or how we can help your business’ SEO efforts, contact us today.