SEO: Creating Your Strategy for 2020

SEO. Search Engine Optimization. It's sort of like a many-headed serpent — cut one head off and another grows in its place. Just when you think you understand it, Google changes its algorithm. It's complex and ever-evolving, but having just a bit of knowledge can be helpful.

Before we dive into strategies for the new year, let's look at what SEO is and how it works.

Trends in SEO come and go, but ultimately it's about understanding what your audience wants and delivering relevant content. To quote Moz.com, as they sum it up quite efficiently: "It's the practice of increasing both the quality and quantity of website traffic, as well as exposure to your brand, through non-paid (also known as 'organic') search engine results." 

Essentially, it's making your website better so it can rank higher in search engine results, as search engines are the biggest drivers of traffic.

But how do search engines know how to rank Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), or what to display? By "crawling and indexing" — essentially scouring and evaluating — billions of pages of content in mere seconds, engines are ranking what results to display based on the search terms. It's a more complicated process than can be described here.

By optimizing your website, you're making it easier for potential customers to find your website. How, exactly, do you optimize your site? Well, optimization is an intricate thing. Utilize links but avoid keyword and link stuffing. Focus on quality over quantity of content. Page titles should be useful and relevant. For local searches, make use of area keywords in your meta descriptions without being awkward.

That's just a small overview of SEO. Like many things, there are trends that come and go with SEO as search algorithms are updated. Here are a few of the things to consider when building an SEO strategy for 2020.

  1. Optimize for Voice Search
    With the growing popularity of smart devices, like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, or even voice assistants like Siri on mobile devices, voice search is something you can't ignore. According to Comscore, 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. So, what does that mean for your website? Write the way you speak. And, at most, write at a ninth grade level.
  2. Craft Great, Quality Content
    Create relevant content, but don't fall into keyword stuffing. Craft unique, shareable content. Overall, keep your users or customers in mind when thinking of SEO and how you can optimize your site.
  3. Be Mobile-Friendly
    Over half of Google searches are mobile, according to Moz.com, and it's no secret that humans love their phones to the point of obsession. Make sure your site is responsive; that is, it adjusts how the content is displayed based on the screen size. You can also use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test to see if your website is up to par.
  4. Work on Local SEO
    Many users use search engines to find businesses near them. If you have a Google My Business listing, make sure it's up-to-date with the correct information. Another important component? Reviews. Studies show, according to BrightLocal.com, that "consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business".
  5. Utilize Video
    According to eMarketer, the U.S. consumes a lot of online video. 8 out of 10 smartphone users watch mobile video, with one in five watching more than an hour per day. For SEO purposes, make sure to optimize the video for indexing (pay attention to your title and meta description). Also, make sure the entire page where your video is posted is relevant.

Simply put, keep your clients and users in mind. Your main goal should be to create amazing content that users will want to share.