How To Dominate SEO In 2020
Are you ready for SEO in 2020? I know you’re probably thinking right now, “2020 is months away, why should I worry about that now?” I’ll tell you why. A lot of things are changing and if you aren’t preparing now, your rankings are going to plummet.
The biggest recognizable change to SEO next year is going to be the growth of voice search. Consider these statistics for a moment:
- 31% of smartphone users worldwide use voice technology at least once a week
- 55% of all U.S. households will have a smart speaker by 2022
- 50% of all online searches will be voice-based by 2020
Are you getting nervous yet? If not, here’s something that may scare you. With voice search on the rise for smartphones and desktops, it’s still good enough for your links to appear in search results. We can’t say the same for smart speakers.
If none of this is scaring you, let me lay it out for you: When voice search overtakes text search, only ONE search result will matter. If it isn’t you, you’re going to miss out on potential traffic.
Now that I’ve probably got you on the edge of your seat—and I hope I have, because this is serious—let me tell you what you can do about it.
Always Aim for Google’s Featured Snippet
Whenever you have a question that needs to be answered, where do you go? Google. When you Google something now, you usually get a box where your query is answered, either in a paragraph, list or table. That’s called the featured snippet. In almost every case, the information in that answer box is pulled from one of the top 10 search results for that query. About 40% of Google Home results are pulled from the featured snippet.
To put things into context, I did a voice search on “How do you start a blog?” And this is what came up:
This information is from a resource website known as The Blog Starter, and it’s the fourth result for the search term. The snippet gives you an easy-to-understand 6-step beginner’s guide on how to start a blog. Because it’s so thorough, it pushes the actual search results to the bottom, below YouTube video results and the “People Also Ask” section.
This is actually a good snippet for SEO purposes, because the featured snippet doesn’t give you all the information that you need in order to start a blog; you have to click on the snippet for more information. But what if I want to know how old Elon Musk is?
You can see how this can be a big problem for SEO. There’s no need to click anywhere or even figure out where the information originated, because it’s right in front of you.
To further complicate things, smart speakers don’t all use the same algorithm for answering search queries. If I were The Blog Starter, I’d be happy with that spot on Google, but when you ask Alexa the same question, you’re directed to wikiHow’s How To Start A Blog.
Would you believe me if I told you wikiHow’s article doesn’t even appear on the first page of Google for the same search query? The smart speakers are optimizing results based on what works best for voice, and Google is likely to follow suit as voice search grows in popularity.
Here’s how you can get into Google’s featured snippet spot to start dominating voice search for 2020:
- Focus on long-tail keywords. When you’re creating content for your website, think about the questions your readers have and how they ask them. Those are the keywords you should be aiming for.
- Get straight to the point. The average paragraph length in a featured snippet is 40-60 words, so make sure to answer your keyword question in a clear and concise manner.
- Make sure your title tags and headers ask the exact question as the keyword search. If your article is “Starting A Blog in 6 Easy Steps” and you want your snippet to answer the question “How do you start a blog?” Then make that your title tag—which doesn’t have to be the same as your article’s headline. Then repeat the question in your first header and immediately answer it in a concise manner.
These are good strategies to use when creating new content or optimizing old content, especially your most popular pieces of content that have generated the most traffic for your business. Again, think of the main question that each article or blog post answers, and optimize for that.
You may already have featured snippets that link back to your website and you may not even know it! Ahrefs’ Site Explorer Tool can give you that information without you having to search every keyword you rank for in Google.
If you do have an article or blog post in featured snippets, don’t start to think you’re safe. You need to lock that down. Make sure that your content hits all the bullets listed above, because if it doesn’t, it won’t be long before one of your competitors takes your spot.
Focus on Building a Brand
A lot of people don’t take branding very seriously, especially when it comes to SEO. Branding shows your visitors there’s an authority and trust factor when browsing your site, two things that search engines look for when determining where your content should rank.
One of the bigger factors in Google’s algorithm is branded search queries. You want to make sure that most—if not all—of the first page real estate for searches for your brand is made up of your own links. And you definitely want to make sure nothing negative about your brand comes up there!
So how exactly do you build a brand? One way of building up your brand is by using several different platforms for your marketing such as blogs, social media and podcasts. This method helps build brand awareness and also gives Google more branded links to index. It’s a win-win!
Building your brand also means that you’ll get more websites linking to yours, which is still one of the most important ranking factors on Google to this day. Social shares and inbound links from websites with authority help a lot.
We also recommend reaching out to influencers and experts in your niche. If you can get them to share your content, you’ll build your brand much more quickly.
Install Amazon Polly on Your Website
Amazon Polly is a speech recognition tool that will read a piece of content aloud for you. It is also available as a WordPress plug-in, (For all my WordPress users out there!) so it is as easy as ever to integrate with your content. The installation of Amazon Polly can increase dwell time on your website by 19%. Did I also mention dwell time is an import factor for SEO?
Some people like to read content, others prefer to listen. With Amazon Polly, anyone who visits your website has both options. These users will stick around as long as the content is captivating, useful and easy to consume.
Optimizing your content for voice search can only help you in the long run. In the meantime, your content will rank higher because more people are engaging with it.
Optimize Your Website for Mobile
Remember the statistic I mentioned at the beginning about 31% of smartphone users worldwide using voice technology at least once a week? Do you think Google would serve them up a result that wasn’t mobile-friendly? No way, Jose!
You can check to see whether your site is fully optimized for mobile devices using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Here’s what it looks like:
If your site doesn’t pass Google’s test, you’ll need to make serious adjustments. If you use a CMS such as WordPress, you should try switching to a new theme that is responsive—meaning that it will have the capability of being able to reconfigure for different screen sizes while still looking good.
When creating mobile-friendly content, keep these principles in mind:
- Keep paragraph short. Ideally 2-3 sentences is good.
- Use bullets and numbered lists to help break up blocks of text by displaying information in list form (Like this one!)
- Break up paragraphs with headers. Every 2-3 paragraphs, introduce the next idea with a new header to make it easier to consume your content.
If you don’t have the time or capability to write mobile and SEO-friendly content yourself, hand it off to someone else within your company or outsource it to an agency such as us.
When optimizing for voice search, it’s important to have the best content, not the most content. One long-form article that clocks in at 2,500 words will bring better results than a few 500-word blog posts that barely scratch the surface of the topic they’re about. Your company’s content is an investment and if done correctly, you’ll recoup the money you put into that content and then some.
Backlinko recently analyzed over 10,000 Google Home results to learn more about voice SEO, and they learned that there are a few other factors that are used to determine who gets the coveted spot, including:
- Page speed: The average voice search result page loads in 4.6 seconds. This is 52% faster than the average page!
- Social engagement: The average voice search result has 1,199 Facebook shares and 44 Tweets.
- HTTPS over HTTP: More than 70% of Google Home results were HTTPS-secured sites.
- Word count: The average word count of a voice search result page was 2,312 words.
- Reading difficulty: The average Google voice search result is written at a 9th grade level.
There’s tons of great information in the study and I highly recommend everyone read it all. In the meantime, try to implement the information above into your voice SEO strategy.
Get Ready for “Voicesearchageddon”
Voice search is going to become a big deal in 2020 and beyond. This article may have been written in 2019, but the reason I’m telling you this now is so that you’ll have time to prepare.
If you do everything outlined in this article, it’ll probably take 2-5 months before seeing real results. It takes time to climb the rankings and also figuring out which keywords you want to rank for.
You should start preparing for Voicesearchageddon before it arrives. So start optimizing your content before it’s too late. If you don’t start now, it won’t be long before one of your competitors scoops up the spot that could’ve been yours. And knocking someone out of that position is a lot harder than sliding in there with zero competition.