In 2018 alone, Google made over 3,200 changes to search, and while this figure is yet to be determined for 2019, it does show how much can change in the space of a year. And with another busy year nearing ever closer, the team at Fibre can only guess what might be in store for the SEO landscape.
So without further ado our Director, Adam Adlkish, kickstarts our SEO predictions for 2020.
Adam Adlkish – Company Director
Prediction:‘It’s all about brand. I believe brand strength is key to success with organic traffic, especially for online and e-commerce enterprises. There will be less focus on anchor texts orientating around brand offerings, which has been an SEO strategy since 2003.’
Tell us more: More recently, organic listings have been pushed further down the results page with featured snippets, map packs and Ads dominating the top positions on the SERP. After this, usually the first few organic results are well-known, high authority brands, leaving little wiggle room for a smaller company to make their mark and persuade users that they too can be trusted.
This is where branding strategies are key. Building brand awareness and credibility can be done through undertaking numerous tasks such as, comment and review maintenance on GMBs, achieving quality, authoritative links for the client that are relevant to the user, and displaying signs of E-A-T across as many aspects of a site as possible.
Edward Ziubrzynski – Search Performance Manager
Prediction:‘For E-commerce category pages, I predict that content heavy SEO strategies will slowly become less important. Instead, Google will better rank pages that immediately satisfy the intent of the searcher, favouring pages that offer immediate access to products and/or services as opposed to typical keyword optimised content that will interfere with the user experience of the page.’
Tell us more: While Ed’s prediction goes against the content-first rule of thumb for SEO strategies in the mainstream, we are currently seeing some success with one of our clients who have strayed from the norm. Originally, heavy blocks of content were placed at the top of the page and while this did give the client a small boost in rankings, it certainly wasn’t enough. We then decided to cut down the text so that the user could find the product listings quicker, and we’ve been seeing steady improvements in rankings ever since.
Google likes to see fresh content that marries providing value with a great user experience. If users struggle to find your products, it’s compromising on their shopping and that’s not going to help bolster brand visibility.
Ella Morley – Search Engine Marketing Executive
Prediction: ‘The gap between average desktop (46.52%) and mobile (45.98%) market share in the UK is rapidly closing. While website rankings are still primarily orientated around the desktop version of a site, we’ve seen some significant hints from Google in the past couple of years or so pointing towards the need for a more mobile-friendly SEO approach.
It’s been a slow slog towards Google ranking mobile content alongside desktop, but I think that 2020 will be the year we see more progress. With Google defaulting mobile-first indexing for new sites this July and other tools jumping on the hype, SEO’s will start to direct more attention to their mobile SEO strategy and harness that 51.51% of web traffic.’
Tell us more: As an SEO agency, we cannot stress enough the importance of mobile SEO. If your website is not optimised for mobile you’re missing out on roughly half of your traffic potential. Slow user load times, difficulty navigating the site on the go and poor adaptation to a smaller screen size, are big red warning signs indicating that your user experience is not up to scratch.
Chloe Price – Content Marketing Specialist
Prediction: ‘Content creators are increasingly desperate for links and seeing as interest in SEO continues to grow rapidly, more journalists and bloggers have become aware of the true aim of guest posting. Publishers will be putting up as many barriers as they can, including increasing guest posting prices, paywalls or demanding more link-for-link exchanges. However, as this goes against Google’s guidelines, sites that ‘sell’ links will see decreased traffic and SEO performance sooner rather than later.
Link relevance will also be the top priority now that branding is becoming more of a focus. In order to encourage brand awareness, the links need to place clients as authoritative sites in their industry so that consumers make a connection with the company and will want to return. If a link does not encourage engagement, then it will be rendered useless.’
Tell us more: As we mentioned earlier, there were many updates this year based on link trust, and affiliate sites were knocked down the rankings and disavows grew in significance. These updates certainly tell us that link quality is far more important than quantity, and so a few links on incredibly good sites will be worth more than hundreds of sites with hardly any authority.
Before, links were inserted into articles just for ‘link juice’ purposes, but when users followed them through there wouldn’t really be much interaction on-site following that. Now that brands are needing a push, any links built must provide value, even if that makes finding accurate sites more of a challenge.
Jamie Smith – Search Marketing Specialist
Prediction: ‘In regards to local search, I believe we’ll see even more of a push towards Google My Business (GMB) pages.
With the SERPs continuing to evolve to show more local results, we are seeing local map packs reign as the top dogs. Ensuring that businesses have this profile updated and continuously interacted with will be a stand out factor in comparison to those who don’t.
I can also see the GMBs becoming more of a one-stop-shop. As with the current hotel format (showing increased filters, resources, and an additional fourth map pack addition), Google allows you to book without even visiting the website. It won’t be long before we see other businesses actioned in the same way.’
Tell us more: Google My Business is certainly becoming more and more of a competitor for businesses, as features are constantly being added that have the potential to steal organic traffic, which has been kickstarting a lot of controversy in the industry. This illuminates the fact that in order to give your business a boost, you need to optimise your GMB listings to the best possible state.
Local packs are taking up more room on SERPs, and if you’re not included, you’re going to see the effects with your traffic, and looking at the way Google’s search features are going, businesses will need to work harder if they’re involved in the travel or hospitality industries. Booking flights, rooms and orders are being integrated into search.Jessica Bowman from Search Engine Land has previously commented that Google is becoming more of a portal and less of a search engine – and it’s certainly plain to see across many searches.
Emma Howell – Content Marketing Specialist
Prediction:‘I think that building a brand up through a natural network of links will become more of a priority. Furthermore, relevance of the anchor and context concerning the link will be very important.’
Tell us more: Emma’s prediction aligns with the theories of the general SEO community: that branding is one of the strongest aspects to be considered in any search strategy. As mentioned earlier, this suggests that link builders will play a role in gaining placements on sites that will drive traffic and conversions, as opposed to creating links that simply sit on the page for SEO purposes.
The anchor of a text is certainly an interesting one. Ever since the Penguin Algorithm Update, Google has been paying close attention to anchor text and the keywords used, which is why nowadays most SEO’s play it safe and work to build a more natural linking profile.
Eryk Kilianek – Junior Search Specialist
Prediction:‘Small high street businesses will struggle to attract new customers without appropriately optimising their Google My Business listing. Google has made it relatively straightforward to achieve some local visibility and build trust with your target market using their free tools such as GMB and website builder. In my opinion, 2020 is the best time for local businesses to build up their listings and trust with local customers before the competition.’