SEO is a never-ending process, not an end goal. After all, search engines never stop changing–and 2019 was no exception. In fact, the October BERT update is perhaps one of the most significant updates in the past five years. These changes are huge, so relying on SEO tips from 2017 just won’t cut it next year. Let’s update our 2017 points. Here are our SEO tips for 2020.

Use Better Content

Everyone knows that content is king. In fact, there isn’t a good “SEO tips and tricks” article on the entire internet that will tell you otherwise.  However, very few people elaborate on what actually makes “quality content.”

We’ll cut straight to the point: quality content answers questions quickly. Why? Because people don’t want to work to find answers. No one wants to hack and slash through jungles of jargon, so don’t beat around the bush to get more keywords. Cut straight to the point. Answer your audience’s relevant questions or they won’t stick around.

What’s Changed Recently?

A LOT has changed since 2017. In fact, Google just had its biggest update since RankBrain.

The biggest change in the BERT update is that Google has gotten much better at understanding copy. It uses a technique called BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) to train its AI to get better at answering questions. Instead of looking at individual words, BERT looks at the context surrounding words. That small change makes a huge difference in search results. Take a look at the example used in Google’s blog post on the update.

Two search queries before and after BERT with different results

In the example, BERT doesn’t pull whatever article crams the most keywords rather, it pulls results that reflect the linguistic relationships in the original query. That means that keyword-cramming is even worse than it’s ever been. Google will only rank your content if it answers relevant questions quickly. We will explore how BERT is forever changing on-page SEO in a later post because this update is huge.

Improve User Experience

Google’s goal is to give users what they want. So if users don’t like your website, Google will stop giving it to them. Don’t let bad UX get in the way.

Lots of these problems are easy to fix. Remove broken links, make your site easier to crawl, and simplify navigation to see immediate results. Moreover, don’t be afraid to lean into psychology a bit. Principles like social proof and the peak-end rule will engage your users and improve their experience. Remember that happy visitors make Google happy, too.

What’s Changed Recently?

Broken links and bad UX have been an issue for ages, but they aren’t the only UX problems. A newer issue is mobile support. Mobile traffic has been growing for years, and now, more people use mobile devices than desktop.

A graph of mobile vs desktop traffic. 58% of traffic in 2018 was mobile.

Despite this data, too many businesses refuse to build mobile-friendly websites.  If you want your website to rank well, make sure it’s useable on all platforms. We will explore usability in the context of SEO in greater depth in a later post.

Read about optimizing UX for human psychology

Add More Visuals

A picture is worth a thousand words–especially in SEO. So why don’t so many websites optimize visual content?

Visual content is crucial for getting people to stay on your site. In fact, SEOPressor found that content with an image every 75-100 words gets the most shares.

But don’t forget about video content. Videos are so popular, they get shared 1200% more than both links and text. And if that weren’t enough, videos are growing in popularity. According to Rocketium Academy’s statistics, video alone accounts for 78% of all mobile traffic. And since mobile traffic is growing much faster than desktop, videos will only become more important for SEO.

What’s Changed Recently?

Alt text, captions, and transcripts have always been important, but the bigger change has to do with Google Images. Brad Smith observes in an article on Search Engine Journal that Image SEO hasn’t been viable ever since Google added the “View Image” button. After all, people who find the image just view it in a new tab without visiting the website.

A google images result of a puppy with the "view images" button

Joshua B even developed a chrome extension that adds the “View Image” button back where it belongs.

However, Google removed the “View Image” button, meaning people are more likely to visit your website from an image. Anthony Muller’s data on Search Engine Land speaks for itself: clicks from images increased by 37%. We’ll go into more detail about ImageSEO in a later post.

Did we leave out a big SEO game-changer? Let us know what you think or call us at 888.221.6509.