Every Search Engine makes numerous changes to its search algorithms every year. These changes don't happen very often, and most of them are minor, however, when they do, it affects your search rankings in various ways.
As a business, you will face a lot of competition for the reader's attention, and as such, you will need to stay on top of the latest SEO trends that will help you meet the requirements that Search Engines use to rank Websites.
I have tried to compile the latest points through this section, which are, in my opinion, the latest SEO trends. The key latest SEO trends which I am explaining here are:
- Voice Search: How it works and why it is essential in the current scenario.
- Featured Snippets: What are snippets and how you can utilize them to boost traffic on your Website.
- BERT: Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (Don't stress yourself, I have explained this much easier in the upcoming section)
And many more concepts like Influencer's help for SEO, Digital Experience, Mobile Search, Video Length, Content, etc. While writing this we have tried to explain every topic in the simplest manner possible.
If you are a beginner in SEO and trying to learn the fundamentals, I strongly recommend you go through our SEO for Beginners before reading this blog.
Voice Search is a technology that allows you as a user to perform a search on the internet by verbally asking a question on a smartphone, smart device, or a computer.
"Google, find the nearest ATM to my location".
It's simple, easy, and more convenient to just talk to your Search Engine, rather than typing it. As Voice Search became increasingly popular, most of these search queries were specific, with users wanting an accurate answer to it.
To understand more about voice search, let's take a look at some of Voice Search statistics.
- According to a study, in 2017 there were almost 33 million voice search queries
- It is estimated that by the end of 2020, nearly 32% of all web browsing will be screenless
- Nearly 55% of teenagers are using Voice Search daily
- 60% of all Smartphone users have tried Voice Search at least once in the past ten months
- Grocery shopping accounts for more than 23% of voice-based orders
- Voice-based shopping is expected to jump to US$.40 billion in 2022
- By 2024 the global voice-based smart speaker market could cross a value of US$.30 billion
- A combination of only 25 keywords triggers more than 20% of voice search queries. Most voice searches focus on 5W's + I H. Here W's are What, When, Who, Where and Why. And H is How.
It is evident that Voice Search is overgrowing on a year to year basis and becoming popular with all age groups, especially with the younger generation. Moreover, the areas that Voice Search is serving are just not limited to your essential tasks, like navigation, Q&A, playlist management, or placing a phone call.
Activities like shopping, email management, calendar management, and many others are being supported as well with more being added every day. As such Voice Search is not only a thing of the future but the present, and the numbers are very evident in proving that Voice Search is becoming a part of everyday life.
Strategies for Voice Search optimization
Voice Search SEO requires a different path altogether. And within an ever-growing competitive world, the same old strategies won't lead your business ahead. Some of the primary key points to remember when trying to optimize Voice Search are:
- Page loads: How fast your page loads play a major role in Voice Search SEO. The average result of a Voice Search stands at 52% times faster against the average of a normal search.
- Average length: Like a normal conversation, people prefer short and to the point answers to their search queries. An average Voice Search result is usually at 29 words long.
- Voice Search uses Regular Pages: One thing you need to keep in mind is that all Voice Search queries are selected from regular pages, which means that creating pages specifically for a Voice Search query only, does not help content ranking.
- Simple Answers: Simple answers have a higher chance of ranking for a Voice Search query.
- Keywords: Results have shown that 1 out of 5 Voice Searches use a combination of 25 keywords. Using these words wisely will help your content rank higher for voice-based results.
- Conversational Tone: Focus on natural and conversational tone in your content to help elevate your content in rankings.
Featured Snippets is a summary of an answer to a search query, that Google display at the top of their SERP (search engine results page). They aim at answering the user's questions right away.
The Featured Snippets have been around for quite some time now and have led to significant changes in Google's search engine results. There has been a debate among SEO gurus on snippets. Some of them support the theory that snippets actually give the information which the user wants on the search engine page only, thus steering away from the intended traffic of the site.
On the other side, a majority of SEO gurus supports that snippets are extremely good for the website traffic as snippet covers a large area of the search page, thus increasing the chances of more clicks /traffic. Here is the sample snippet from this site:
In fact, a study has shown that Featured Snippets get more traffic than the first organic search result. Google will most of the time, include an image in a Featured Snippet, and it doesn't necessarily have to be the same as the answer.
Google's program picks the best answers from a third-party website and features it as a snippet. So you can imagine the exposure your content gets if Google displays it as a Featured Snippet.
There are three common types of Featured Snippets:
- Paragraph - This snippet will show paragraph type answers to questions like how, who, when, and what. Paragraph snippets are the most popular type of Featured Snippets.
- List - This snippet will show answers that are presented in the form of numbered lists or bulleted lists. List snippets mostly apply to posts that describe step-by-step instructions.
- Table - This snippet will show you results containing a table with comparison charts. Google places a lot of value on well-structured content with prices, rates, years, and other numerical data.
How to Optimize for Featured Snippets:
Listed below are a few important ways to gain traffic boost and increase your content visibility by featuring in a Featured Snippet:
Keyword Research - This is an indispensable tool for your content's success, especially if you consider the ranking for a Featured Snippet. Make sure to answer the questions that most of your customers and target audience ask. There are many Keyword research tools to help with this. To learn where to place the keywords on the webpage, please check our blog SEO for Beginners.
"People Also Ask" section - As much as Keywords are important, don't forget to check the "People also ask" section. You'll often find this section beneath a Featured Snippet, and if you click on a question, more and more questions appear. Now you can estimate the value of this opportunity to expand on a particular topic, as you'll be able to answer as many questions as possible in a single post.
First Page Presence - Aim for the first-page ranking as almost all Featured Snippets are found on the first page of Google SERP's, and as such, getting on page 1 gives you a chance to be featured on it. Increasing your organic rankings as always remains a solid practice.
Go and revisit your strategies on improving your on-page SEO to provide a great user experience. Some of the key points are mentioned below for quick reference.
- Make your Website easy to navigate and crawl
- Make sure that the Internal Linking is to quality sources
- Make your Website fast and mobile-friendly
- Switch to SSL protocol
- Make sure your URL is user friendly
- Target your content properly and keep it fresh
- Optimize your images
If you want to get better traffic and improve your site's SEO, you should know that occupying the 1st position on Google's search result is NOT the only solution. However, ranking in Featured Snippets gives you a second chance. Use words that are likely to generate Featured Snippets, pay attention to formatting by making sure the items are well-structured in a list of headings.
Also, follow the optimal word count and add a Q&A page to your Website. These are just a few of the many optimizations that can help your Website move up in rankings and get onto Featured Snippets.
This is quite important from an SEO point of view. Though there is a bit of jargon in this section, I just want you to read it carefully, and I am going to make this section as easy as possible for you.
BERT, which is an acronym for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, was rolled out by Google for English language search queries in late 2019. This is the first major change that Google has made to its search engine since 2014. BERT uses NLP (one more jargon), which stands for Natural Language Processing.
These are Artificial Intelligence models, and we need not to deep dive into the technicalities, but I am quoting a simple example for you for a better understanding.
With BERT's help, Google can accurately respond to the queries by understanding the actual context of a query. For example, let's say if a user searches for two different: questions "9 to 5" and "quarter to five". As a human being, we can understand the difference and respond accordingly, while for a search engine to respond to this query, the context must be clear. BERT is the solution for this. To understand the context, BERT uses a large group of words, i.e. words that are surrounded by this query. In technical terms, BERT consumes a whole chunk of words in one go to understand its context so that search engines can respond accurately.
There are many benefits of BERT. SEO's marketers who strategies considering BERT increase their chances to rank on the first page of Google search result. As explained earlier in this blog, ranking on the first page increases your probability of being in featured snippets.
Till this point, we have understood fairly about the BERT. Let's see how we can strategize our content accordingly. These are the few strategies to keep in mind:
Simple Content: Google has always said that the content should be written for the users and not for the Search Engines; however, some writer still vouch for the "technicality" of their content as the most important aspect, which in turn results in not giving importance to the quality and freshness of the content. And as a result, you might just end up losing out on Google's algorithm updates.
As BERT focuses on the context of the words used in your sentences in your content, you need to make sure that it is simple and concise. Avoid unnecessary words and be straight forward and direct as possible. Also, make sure your content contains some new and useful information that is helpful to the reader. By doing this, you are optimizing your content for the users and helping Search Engines better understand your content.
Topic Clusters: Generally, people try to focus on particular keywords and optimize their content accordingly. However, this approach can result in a good ranking, but only for specific and difficult keywords. Now imagine a scenario in which we are creating topic clusters, which tells the search engine that we have covered the entire topic for which the user is looking for.
With topic clusters, we are focusing on the entire topic rather than a particular keyword. This approach signals search engines that concise information on the topic is available in the content which contains a wide range of long-tail-keywords. Since BERT uses Natural Language Processing and understands the context of the query. The topic cluster approach can generate a high amount of traffic to your Website in comparison to traffic generated by highly specific, difficult keywords.
Targeted Keywords: The main challenge for SEO after the incorporation of BERT in Google's search engines was that this update was initiated to help Google better understand what exactly a user is looking for and not about how Google understands the content. So, for the SEO's, the key was to be more specific on the queries that your content is looking to answer.
It basically meant that according to BERT the best content was the one that answers and satisfies the questions/needs of the user. We often remove certain stop words or pronouns from keywords, thinking that this is how a user will search a particular topic. And more so often we also forget about long-tail-keywords, search terms full or stop words in between, but this is exactly what BERT is trying to accomplish.
Understanding long-tail-keywords is a must. These are conversational style keywords that a user can put in a search engine to get what he is looking for.
The best way to look for these types of keywords are in Google's AutoComplete; People also Ask Box and Related searches. The phrases produced by all these three types are more conversational.
BERT isn't a big surprise since Google has been putting out updates that relate to a much better search experience for the users. Their recent updates all focus on one thing and that is: delivering useful, informative, authoritative, expertly done and accurate information to the users.
Influencers for SEO:
It is estimated that around 18% of businesses spend over half their entire marketing budget on influencers because people tend to trust information from an influencer more than from an advertisement.
This highlights the importance of influencers marketing for companies, especially those in fashion, beauty, e-commerce, travel, and lifestyle. Working with an influencer helps you to generate traffic for your webpage and increase online visibility.
Many businesses don't see the return on their investment in influencer marketing because they don't plan and execute their sponsored content properly and moreover their marketing also fails if it doesn't align with the needs of the desired target audience. Partnering with Influencers in your niche who are already engaged with your target audience is the most effective way to get the best result.
Influencers can be beneficial in many ways; I am jotting some of the key areas in which Influencers can be of great help.
Building Profile - The quality of your profile has a huge impact on your Search Engine ranking. And working with Influencers is a great way to generate better organic backlinks for your Website, which in turn get noticed by Google and other Search Engine and as a result will enhance your SEO efforts and further improving your site rankings.
Unique Content - Content creation without a doubt is necessary to improve your Search Engine ranking. Search Engines, besides your content quality, keyword usage, and content readability, also look into the quality and quantity of your social shares.
Influencer marketing helps you to connect with people whose sole purpose is to produce captivating and shareable content. Influencers can also help you create content for your site, sponsored content on your behalf, and in some cases even encourage your target audience to create their own content with a branded hashtag, which is unique to your business.
This will, in turn, increase your brand awareness.
Engagement - The biggest challenge any digital marketer faces is finding a way to increase traffic and engagement on your Website. The more you engage your audiences, the higher your traffic will be. Influencer marketing is a boon in this area, as it trumps all other forms of advertising or marketing.
By partnering with Influencers, you are not only adding credibility to your content but also sharing your brand/message through an extremely trusted source.
As Influencers have a huge following and a vast reach, they, by default, improve your visibility when they share your content. And more website visibility will bring in more traffic, which translates into higher rankings in Search Engines.
Almost 45% of the companies have now moved to a digital-first approach to improve customer experience. And almost all of them have agreed that it has led to an improvement in revenue growth. A digital-first approach is when you choose to distribute information online in preference to traditional media like offline print publishing.
Successful businesses understand that building a long-term relationship with customers relies massively on customer experience, and customer experience affects Search Engine rankings because only users who have a good user experience will spend time on your Website.
You need to focus your user experience on helping your users to find the exact and accurate information that they are looking for and need. Make it easy for your users to proceed to the next step.
Do not use complex words that you think they will have an issue in understanding, and a lack of clarity in your message will also increase the bounce rate and negatively impact your site's SEO.
It is estimated that around 85% of internet users are on mobile phones and nearly 40% of transactions occur on mobile. And as a result of this huge number, Google moved to Mobile-First indexing in 2019 to improve the mobile search experience.
In this day and age with so many advancements in the Search Engine algorithms, you really won't be able to get very far on Search Engine results if you haven't optimized for mobile. Besides incorporating long-tail-words for on-page SEO, you will need to modify the content structure and representation for technical SEO too.
Any Search Engine loves video and it's also a crucial part of your SEO strategy as well as your digital marketing efforts. According to a recent study, a Video is 50 times more likely to show up on the first page of SERP than a web page.
Also as per Google, 60% of their worldwide searches include videos. One tip is to create helpful YouTube videos that support your content and upload them on your Website.
This does not guarantee a 1st-page result on a Search Engine, but nonetheless it will definitely help your page to enjoy higher traffic when a Search Engine indexes your video content. Embedded videos on your Website get more traffic and remember to optimize your video to your blog's width.
Content is the life of your webpage. Only high-quality content can help your webpage to move higher up in Search Engines rankings. However, you also need to keep an eye on the quantity of it also. Industry pundits have mixed reviews on the length of a post. Research has shown that the average length of the top 10 Search Engine results is approximately in the 2,000 words range.
And this is purely because web pages with long-form, high-quality content enjoy more visibility. But always remember that your content must comprehensively answer the questions the user has asked and questions related to the main search query.
If a lengthy article is getting a lot of views, it tells the Search Engine that users are enjoying your content, which in turn helps you build authority and the Search Engine, increasing your ranking for the search query.
Summary and Key Takeaways:
The above are just a few important SEO trends, happening in 2020. However, just when you think and begin to understand SEO, an algorithm update happens. Today's SEO has become more or less a comprehensive process that requires both "Offline & Online" marketing strategies. As you might have understood by now, SEO is a long term strategy for lead generation, and staying on top of the latest SEO trends is also very important.
I hope this article has given you enough information to get you started in the world of SEO. Like I've said before also, SEO is not a short-term thing. But in fact, it's like a marathon, wherein you're playing a long-term game.
Optimization is not done by doing it once and then never looking at your Website again. Once upon a time, the common SEO strategy involved overloading a page with the same keywords so that a Search Engine would associate the said keywords with the page.
However, nowadays, SEO is about everything at once, from optimizing your page for Search Engine readability to creating content that matches your searcher's needs.
- Keep your content up-to-date and relevant
- Produce quality content and target high-converting keywords
- Actively work towards building strong Backlinks
- Monitor your keywords and backlinks and if there is a sudden drop, optimize them
- Revisit your existing content and now and then optimize it
I hope you have learned new things by reading this. Your feedback/comments mean a lot to us as they help us in improving our content and boost our morale.
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