As 2020 continues, online competition continues to rise. New websites are taking charge with new prospects, and Google’s Featured Snippets updates promise new ways for Internet users to access bitesize chunks of big information. Sophisticated strategies for boosting one’s organic traffic certainly exist in today’s competitive SEO landscape, yet they’re often hidden behind familiar approaches to keyword gap analysis, search volume, and on-page optimization.
SEO in 2020: The Five Rules of Tech Tools
For this reason, it’s important to brush up on the current cornerstones of SEO and company-wide content strategies, alike—so as to identify emergent opportunities which might otherwise fall through the cracks. We can expect SERPs to become slightly more complicated, and we can similarly expect ad share percentages to increase. Combined with the ever-growing prominence of Google’s “People Also Ask” related search query features, the landscape of 2020—and even 2020—may indeed largely exist beneath an evident surface.
So what does this landscape have in store, exactly? To excavate it further, let’s take a closer look at this year’s top rules for SEO.
Rule One: Prioritize Google’s Featured Snippets
Every year, Google further evolves to bring us better search experiences—and 2020 is no different. Featured Snippets continues to make an impact in the digital marketing world—giving users quick-snapshot answers to common questions. Those browsing with the Google Assistant receive answers out loud, and all users receive a third-party information quote, a page title, and a URL link.
Google’s automated system governs the way websites are featured, matching search requests with website relevancies. Alongside this exists Google’s user-centric feedback system, too, which heavily influences the way its algorithms further evolve to generate search results. Browsers unable to support the underlying technology of Featured Snippets redirect users to the source website’s topmost page section—which is a primary consideration of most.
A Featured Snippets factor commonly overlooked, however, is the same result stemming from unoptimized pages: If Google can’t properly analyze your website, users are redirected to the top of the page all the same. While this may not seem notable at first glance, first glances themselves drive a majority of conversions.
Only 20 percent of website visitors browse a location’s text, browsing for specific pieces of information. In this case, said information expands upon answers derived from Featured Snippets. Most websites already experience bounce rates between 26 and 70 percent, and most users ‘bounce out’ before finishing four sentences of text.
The Google Featured Snippets search listing is commonly dubbed ‘Position Zero,’ and for good reason: It’s an exclusive spotlight reserved for center-stage content showcases—those which offer instantly digestible information. Wasting the position with an unoptimized website is all too easy, however, when users seeking deeper insights are two clicks away from browsing Position One, instead.
Rule Two: Instagram First—Facebook Second
Also in the limelight is Instagram, the social media platform accessed by over one billion users per month. 63 percent of these users log in every day, and a sizable chunk—500 million—b-line for Instagram Stories. As the world’s most rapidly growing Internet hub, Instagram also monopolizes the most active age group on social media: users under 30 years old.
So, what’s up?
Primarily, users are prioritizing it over Facebook—checking up on their Instagram feeds before tabbing over into Facebook’s News Feed. However, this doesn’t mean Facebook is failing—or even falling in popularity. The platform continues to amass more active users every day, and it’s expected to keep up the pace.
Is anything going down?
News Feed activity is going down—having experienced a five percent decline in recent years. This is no small percentage, as estimates suggest it amounts to, roughly, a 41-minute drop in daily usage time. So, while Facebook still deserves marketing campaign time, reanalyzing it within your strategy’s priority list might be wise if you have an SEO strategy driven by Facebook updates.
Replacing Facebook with Instagram as your Number One marketing outpost was never a bad idea, as Facebook owns Instagram. Their synergy opens up several cross-market opportunities—yet the traditional marketing approaches to their traffic direction, once a straight-shot avenue, might leave marketers at a crossroads.
In the recent past, linking to Instagram from Facebook was customary—as Instagram’s visual feed leaves far less room to post visible URLs. Now, Instagram’s soaring popularity with younger crowds has leveraged this inconvenience with a higher degree of computer literacy—and earlier adoption of the platform, as a whole.
There are always pitfalls to watch out for, of course. Instagram recently decided to do away with its Likes feature—and a number of influencers have voiced concerns about the decision. As such, companies utilizing Instagram as a major digital marketing cornerstone should maintain flexible opportunity outlooks as 2020 comes to a close.
Rule Three: Be Vocal About Voice Search
Voice search tends to get sidelined by marketers, as it doesn’t immediately come to mind when considering SEO. More marketers need to speak up about its significance, however, as its keyword utilization is anything but complementary to predefined strategies.
Voice-activated digital assistants, like Alexa, Cortana, and Siri, have significantly impacted the SEO world. Experts predict that, by 2021, nearly half of online searches will be voice-conducted. Back in 2017, 13 percent of households in the United States had smart speakers: a significant statistic when noting the Amazon Echo’s release in 2014—and Google’s Assistant in 2016.
By 2022, tech gurus predict, this 13 percent will become 55 percent.
In a mobilized world, smartphones reign supreme as search tools. Ironically, voice searches while driving hasn’t changed text-based SEO very much. Keyword-based searches were always verbally inclined. When we search Google, for example, we tend to type the way we speak. Understandably, asking Cortana, “Where is there pizza near me?” compounds any pre-existing ‘SEO power’ a brand has already accrued within their strategy.
You can supercharge your online content by doubling down on this duo-strategy—especially if your brand has a strong Google Maps presence. 46 percent of consumers already use voice assistants to find local businesses, and this number is only rising.
Rule Four: Livestream
Most businesses already use video marketing, but it’s no longer a visibility advantage: It’s a necessity. While Google’s Featured Snippets maintains text as a popular mode of content interaction, the text itself simply can’t compete with video—especially when it comes to brand culture snapshots, product showcases, and seasonal deal promotions. Let’s take a quick look at video marketing’s potency in 2020:
–Every day, 66 percent of US teenagers watch online videos.
–48 percent of consumers seek branded videos reflecting their interests.
–For 88 percent of marketers, video marketing results in positive ROI.
As social media platforms grow, new types of online videos emerge. While there isn’t a limit to video content forms, the multimedia scene gets crowded—fast. In response, 57 percent of marketers have adopted a video type unbound from the restraints posited by our need for novelty:
We’re not necessarily referring to Vimeo Livestream, specifically; any live content platform will do. This said Vimeo Live is an awesome platform to adopt. For businesses, Vimeo offers an advanced analytics suite—tracking embedded videos across the Internet’s expanse: Facebook, Instagram, e-commerce landing pages, website forums—everything. Naturally, these tools measure SEO tags, conversion rates, and more. Vimeo tends to be a primary livestreaming platform due to its multi-streaming capabilities: Unlike YouTube, Vimeo allows users to simultaneously host their broadcasts across three platforms.
YouTube itself offers Creator Studio, a similarly expansive livestream creation, and tracking suite. While YouTube doesn’t support multi-streaming, its own advantage is often considered far too valuable to pass up: Google AdWords connectivity. Setting up your own livestream campaign via AdWords is pretty simple, and it’s a great way to further diversify your current ad group.
Whether you use Vimeo, YouTube, Instagram Stories, or Facebook Live, the decision to livestream branded content is winning one. Experts speculate that 91 million Internet users will utilize livestreaming before 2024 rolls around. This year, live video garnered a 47-percent increase in online viewers—and 2019 viewed 1.1 billion livestream hours, itself.
Rule Five: Link Your Shoppable Posts
E-commerce website visitation is a tricky goal. Often pursued through branded social media pages, it’s been a major pain point for marketers in recent years. Fortunately, recent steps towards shoppable posts have gained traction—and marketers have quickened their pace to create multifaceted SEO strategies.
Social commerce isn’t tied to mobile apps, these days, and social media posts are prime real estate for cross-channel keyword strategy investments. Since the rollout of Instagram Checkout, last year, more companies are promoting products and services through daily updates—each enabled with one-click access to the purchasing portal. Today, approximately 54 percent of social media users research products on their chosen platform. As with any digital marketing strategy, the ultimate goal is to reduce the number of steps between research and purchase. Selling through social media, then, is a golden solution.
Many brands have already engaged in social media selling, in one way or another. In 2020, however, marketers must adopt a new step of their own. It’s possible to link your brand’s social media selling accounts, as opposed to segmenting your audience via a branded Facebook page, a branded Instagram page, a Pinterest URL share—so on, and so forth.
Shopify is one of, if not the best, ways to do this. The platform lets you link your accounts easily, synchronizing your shoppable posts, ads, and product lineup with the support of campaign analytics tools. If your brand has a solid mobile presence, you can further sync your selling strategy with Shopify’s Snapchat Ads plugin.
Crossing the Channel with SEO
The best strategies of 2020 aren’t dissimilar from 2019’s, but the technology enabling them has. Modern marketers looking to make a splash in seamless, cross-platform selling have a lot to look forward to. Meanwhile, budding entrepreneurs can now engage low-cost, easy-access tools to set up shop in multiple online locations.
To get the most out of your own technological toolset, look back to your initial transaction framework. It’s probably durable, as is, but even ironclad e-commerce foundations get rusty. 2020’s holiday season will likely see a rise in Facebook-centric purchasing strategies, and 2021 will only propel this trend. If your brand doesn’t already chat with a virtual assistant, now is a good time to get in touch. After all, social media apps and local search are inseparable—and consumers speak most when watching online videos.