This article will describe some SEO aspects as simple as possible. Unfortunately, SEO became surrounded by myths during its multiyear existence, and today it’s very difficult to find an answer for the following question: Is SEO important in 2020?
Note: this article is only about Google, we won’t speak of other search engines.
The first part of the article will dispel the most popular myths, if you would like to go directly to Trends 2020, click here.
For those who like spoilers, we suggest to scroll directly to conclusions =)
Myth 1: It’s definitely necessary to submit query for indexing to Google.
Many people guess that their websites have to be sent to Google for them to show up in search results (i.e. to rank). Needless to say, that this is not the case. Google also finds websites by itself by means of bots that constantly index the content on the Internet.
However, query for website indexing through Google Search Console will certainly facilitate appearing of your website in search results. You can also provide the search engine with the sitemap of your website in order to help Googlebot to find your content more quickly, check its updates and generally understand a structure of your website.
Myth 2: Short-tail key phrases come first
Due to the growing popularity of mobile and voice search, queries get more and more similar to the conversation between two people (this looks more like long-tail queries). For the recent years Google updates were aimed at real human speech understanding and processing.
Although short-tail key phrases often draw more attention, the main thing in selecting key words is balance. The race for key phrases only for the purpose of frequency can have a negative effect on the other important metrics, as a conversion rate.
Obviously, long-tail keywords won’t bring much traffic, but they attract exсlusively your customers, who are interested in getting answer for their question, that will eventually lead to more qualitative traffic and conversions.
Summing up, it is recommended to use short-tail keywords for more coverage and add specific long-tail keywords, if they are well suited for your goods or services.
Myth 3: Secure HTTPS-website don’t influence SEO
In August 2014 Google company announced the beginning of HTTPS technology usage as one of the signals for a ranking algorithm.
Then, in October 2017 the company launched the new 62nd Google Chrome version. This time developers were warned that if a web-page contained a fill-out form and didn’t use SSL, users would see a “Not secure” warning near a URL page (started to appear since July 2018).
From the SEO point of view, Google openly announced that if two websites had more or less similar characteristics, that one would be preferred in search, which supports SSL.
So, SSL on a website and in all web-pages will be helpful for search optimization.
Myth 4: A number of links is more important than an amount/quality of content
Earlier SEO worked on the following principle: “the more backlinks there are, the better it is (it doesn’t matter which domain these links are from)”. Link building ensured high ranking by itself.
Today the backlinks are still the important factor of ranking. A link from one website to another one is more than a link, it is a sign of trust, recommendation.
But at the same time, it’s important to remember that when it comes to backlinks, quality is more important than quantity. More isn’t necessarily better.
If you should choose whether to invest in links or content creation, remember that the first and the main method to receive backlinks is to create qualitative content.
Myth 5: Meta description tag influences ranking
Meta description tag being a short description of a page which sometimes is displayed under the title in search results, is not a ranking factor for Google since 2009. But it can have impact on whether a user clicks a link, so it should be taken into the most careful consideration during search engine optimization.
Myth 6: Pop-up windows always have a negative impact on ranking
Marketing specialists aim for ensuring positive experience for the users of their projects and at the same time providing leads flow. In order to generate these leads many marketing specialists need to place the pop-up windows. But their incorrect and very often inappropriate usage leaded to lively debates on the necessity of their usage.
The keyword for marketing specialists is “unwanted”. Google doesn’t punish for the pop-up windows as they are, it punishes only for those pop-up windows that hinder users in using a website and see content, includign the content from a smartphone.
There is nothing wrong with the pop-up windows, it’s only necessary to be sure that they are useful , directly connected to the query of the visitor of this specific page and seamlessly blend into their user experience.
Myth 7: Other websites shouldn’t be referred to
If you refer to the websites with additional information on the specific subject, that absolutely works. And there is no need to take any additional actions.
But there are exceptions. If you refer to advertisement on a third-party website in exchange for a backlink or put a link in comments, usually such links are insufficiently relevant or useful. We recommend to use a rel=«nofollow» attribute for them.
Myth 8: My developers excel at SEO
Although technologies play an important role in SEO, it’s not a task that can be surely assigned to developers and left unattended.
Now, creating an effective SEO strategy and its implementation require a separate team ready to work not only on technical details, but on content creation, link building, training inside of a team, content plan development and many other tasks.
Myth 9: Successful user experience is good, but not obligatory
As soon as Google started to display more qualitative search results to users, the company immediately started to invest in its algorithm. The investments enabled to make the good evaluation of its efficiency as well as correct the weight of ranking signals for each intent. So, the good user experience is important as never before.
In order to improve user experience, focus on such metrics as page load time, bounce rate, length of visit, depth of visit and where a user stops scrolling.
Myth 10: Local SEO is a thing of the past
If you are a small business owner, local optimization will show your website to those users, who are in the vicinity and who are more likely to buy something. 18% of “local queries” made from smartphones result in purchase during the day compared to 7% in case of geo-independent queries.
Myth 11: Images shouldn’t be optimized
Google uses URL as well as files names for images analysis, it means that images optimization is a necessary condition for high ranking.
Finally, there is a one thing about images compression. Google likes fast-loading websites, and slow loading pages show up at the bottom of a search results. So, make sure that the web pages load as fast as possible.
Getting rid of any excessive weight will help to reduce page load time and will help users to see your content as quickly as possible.
Myth 12: I don’t need a SEO strategy for mobile devices
In spring 2015 Google released the updated algorithm with a self-explanatory name Mobilgeddon. Since this moment, ease of websites usage in mobile devices is one of the main ranking factors. Owing to this update websites with a convenient mobile version show up at the top of mobile search results compared to the websites without the mobile version.
At the moment Google takes mobile search more seriously. Beginning on July 2019, web search engine made mobile-first indexing the default for all new websites. It means that now Google evaluates and ranks mobile version of a website in the first place rather than its desktop version.
Myth 13: Video helps SEO in no way
Taking into account that YouTube is the second largest search engine worldwide, it can be certainly assumed that this is a myth.
On YouTube search results show up in response to keyword queries. The better video and its metadata correspond to a query, the higher it will show up on the list. Also the important factor is how often users go directly to any video from search results. In response for a search query you will see not just a list of the most-viewed videos, but more complex collection.
Myth 14: The more pages for your website, the better
Surely, it is not unreasonable to assume that the more information your website has, the higher it will be ranked in search results. But alas, it is not so.
Very often when a website has the largest quantity of pages, their quality is neglected, that also influences SEO.
In a nutshell, in order to avoid decline in metrics, focus on the content quality rather than its quantity.
Myth 15: Google does not forgive
Imagine that you face penalties from Google or manual actions as they are called. If you solve this problem as soon as possible, Google won’t leave your alone. Just the opposite, it’s not difficult to deal with such actions at all. If you notice a notification message about penalties in Search Console, you can fix a problem and submit a query for checking. If Google confirms that everything is alright, penalties will be removed.
Let’s go to trends 2020
1 Complete commitment to smartphones. In design, new pages development, study of behavioral factors. The first reason of such changes is Mobile-first Index. The second one is the stable growth of the world mobile traffic share compared with the desktop traffic share.
2 Page load time. Mobile devices not always ensure stable high-speed Internet connection, so complex, heavy, unoptimized resources can load long enough. But every additional second means a lost potential customer, transaction and income. Also it is worth mentioning that load time is a separate ranking factor.
3 Reputation of a brand, as a brand component (YMYL). Marketing activities in all possible channels where your target audience is available, aimed at the increase of brand awareness, brand loyalty and the level of confidence.
4 Personal data protection and security. Websites should ensure risk-free environment for their clients as much as possible. For this reason, work on the security of project tends to be one of the main trends.
5 Fundamental change of approach to texts creation. Heading for provision of full answers for the questions of potential customers, creation of useful, expert content. Any material should be strictly organized to help visitors and search engines understand it better.
6 Voice search optimization. It is necessary to fill a web resource with optimized materials for voice search to avoid losing the fast-growing audience preferring voice search queries to keyboard queries. Implementing more natural word forms, giving straight and full answers for the questions of target audience.
7 Optimization for geotargeting. Working through geo-dependent queries and competition for getting to the top of maps block. Local SEO promotion of business in the districts with offline stores, as the local package for mobile search results can occupy the first whole page.
8 Video content usage. 55% of all Google’s search results contain at least one video, so there is a necessity of hard work on video content.
9 SERP struggle for position zero (featured snippet). Manipulations for getting in “zero position” will be of critical importance in highly competitive niches and in those ones, where search engine displays its own services higher compared to organic search results. .
10 Consideration and usage of micro-markup relevant types. It will help to show search engine the categories of project data, become more transparent and understandable for Google as well as potential clients.
11 Images optimization for visual search (the whole image or its part). Google Lens, Pinterest and other resources sharply increased usage of visual search to the disadvantage of the traditional text one. Such type is recommended for searching goods and services.
12 Dark theme. It is not improbable that in future it will be an additional ranking factor in Google.
Few Last Words
In 2020 the potential of SEO is still enormous from the commercial point of view. But, with every passing year effective promotion becomes more and more complicated and requires more skills and resources.
Today SEO is not just texts, links and keywords. Search engine optimization requires the detailed work on website improvement. For this reason many companies are ready to pay more for promotion in 2020.
SEO didn’t die, it just took on a new dimension. The right promotion strategy became more important than ever before.