SEO Trends in Action

Digital Marketing & SEO
April 14, 2020

For the first time in a long time, many of us may have the chance to stop and reflect on our business and website and really start planning for the future. If the top of your list is to improve your website's SEO or boost your rankings in search results, you're in good hands. Our Head of Creative, Darren, recently was asked to judge the Webby awards, and here are some of the top SEO trends in action.

I've read many articles recently about the 'top digital trends in 2020', but for me, I never really see them come to life. As a creative and someone who's passionate about SEO, I always find it helpful to really pinpoint what's working right now. So I thought I'd flip this on its head and highlight some of the SEO trends I see in action!

1. Zero Click Searches

I'm sure we've all seen the rise of zero-click searches while using our favourite search engine, but you may not have even realised. Nowadays, more than half of all search results (SERPs) are zero clicks. Simply, zero-click searches are when your query is answered on the results page itself, without you having to click anywhere. But what does this mean for your site? Stats show that a number of sites are reporting lower click-throughs since the adoption of this feature. But now more than ever, content is extremely important to capture the user's attention in the initial result and invite them to discover more on your website. Users that want a quick answer covering the 'where', 'when' or 'how' are users that we don't mind losing that click to. But when it comes to valuable users, we need to focus on keywords and the intent of the search to ensure your website will grab their attention first, and they'll click to read more.

2. Rich and Featured Snippets

With zero-click searches being so prevalent, the information shown on the SERP itself is now more important than ever. Two great ways to stand out from the crowd is to get rich or features snippets - this is something we've put a lot of focus on lately with our customers too!

Featured snippets are entire blocks of information that are shown at the top of a SERP and bring high increases in click-through rate.

Rich snippets are an addition to the standard title and description which appear in a search result and can show images, star reviews or prices of products, but they do come with lower CTR improvements when compared with featured snippets.

To make the most of rich and featured snippets, your site first needs to have all the data structured, which admittedly does take some time and effort, but once the foundation is in place, it works like a well-oiled machine serving up beautiful SERPs to users.

It's also worth noting that nothing, including ranking first, actually guarantees your rich or featured snippet being served to the user. But at the same time, the protentional gains are absolutely worth optimising your site for.

3. Local Search

I'm sure we've all had a late-night search for a restaurant 'near me', a business's 'address' or 'phone number'. Well, most of these searches can be answered by creating a Google My Business page for your company. But that's just the start of optimising for local SEO!

A large number of searches will not end on local packs. Users who want to compare products or look up more detailed information will still end up on your website and that's where traditional SEO practices become important.

Creating strong backlink profiles is extremely important, as well as making sure they're relevant for the local demographic, which is a major factor in your Google ranking.

4. Ranking for Intent (not just keywords)

The ultimate goal of SEO is not just to rank for a keyword a user might be searching for, or your competitor is using but also to match the intent of the search. Simply ranking without matching intent could cut you off from a huge number of SERPS, and it's the key to creating successful content.

To understand search intent, you need to be up to date with what's ranking right now and monitor search results to see what content exactly Google considers relevant for the searches you want to rank for.

After determining the intent behind a search query, you can create content to match a user's intent in a search.

5. Google Discover

I'm sure many of you use this feature on your device, but you may not realise the importance it can have on increasing the mobile traffic to your site. Google Discover is essentially Google's take on a social media feed.

Like other feeds, Google's comes in the form of a series of cards meant to keep the user up to date on the stories that matter most to them. The feed, which is based on a user's browser history, indicates their interests and, with machine learning, marks a new phrase in Google search - one that doesn't actually require any searching on the user's part.

To help you rank and appear on Google Discover, you need to execute a few key things:

  • Create quality, engaging content
    As always, a focus on creating high-quality content that addresses the needs of your readers is crucial to surfacing content in Google Discover. But additionally, you'll need to also focus on garnering engagement for your content. The key difference to other social media platforms is this: Discover doesn't take what any friends or followers like and share into consideration, so you need to think of ways you can encourage your leads and customers to engage - just like with email marketing personalisation.
  • Use images and videos to rank
    Google pointed out that users would be seeing more images and fresh visual content in the Discover feed. This means that for your content to surface, it should include high-quality images, a relevant thumbnail image and even video content where possible.
  • New and evergreen content
    Your best bet at being pulled into a user's Discover feed is to focus on creating a mix of content. As Google said they're focusing on both fresher, newsworthy content as well as evergreen content. Think of ways you can tick both of these boxes.
  • Create trustworthy content
    If we look at other social media platforms as a model, another key factor is the emphasis they place on the trustworthiness of a source. The more trustworthy your content is rated, the more likely it is to appear in the Discover feed. This all comes down to your site's authority, which is, of course, linked back to the quality of your site in the first place.

Overall, there's obviously a lot more going on in the digital realm than mentioned in these five points, but the common thread that rings true in SEO today is that if you create original, high-quality content that people want to consume, you'll be well on your way to winning the SEO game of 2020.

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