It has been a crazy year for SEO so far. We’ve encountered large changes like the rise of voice search and mobile-first indexing, and seen the phasing out of older SEO practices like guest posting.
With so much changing, it can be difficult to keep track of what practices have changed for SEO and which ones are still considered viable. If this is a struggle you face, then this article is for you!
Today, I am going to be taking you for a walk down memory lane. Let’s analyze how SEO has changed over the past three years and determine the top strategies you should be using as SEO best practices in 2020.
How SEO Best Practices Have Changed Since 2018 & 2019
HTTP vs. HTTPS
A major move by Google in 2018 was that the search engine began using a site’s use of HTTPS vs HTTP as a ranking factor — with HTTPS sites being ranked better than those with just an HTTP.
While this algorithm update itself hasn’t affected rankings too much, another part of Google’s services did. Namely, Google Chrome.
Google Chrome has begun marking HTTP sites as “not secure.” Chrome communicates this through a warning label in the URL, or by bringing the searcher to a full-sized warning screen that urges the user to exit the site and go “back to safety.”
Chrome’s warning labels/windows have forced businesses to move their sites to HTTPS, or else lose all their Google Chrome traffic.
So while HTTP was a viable option in previous years, having HTTPS encryption is a necessary SEO best practice in 2019.
The Rise Of Voice Search
Voice search really began to come into its own in 2018.
This was evidenced by a WordStream update that found that 2 in 5 adults use voice search daily and 13% of US households use a smart speaker — a number that is expected to skyrocket to 55% by 2022.
The growth of voice search has already begun impacting local SEO, with two major effects being:
- Query length. Voice queries are significantly longer than text searches. While text searches tend to be 2-3 words long, the majority of voice searches land in the 3-4 word range, with significantly more 5-8 word searches as well.
- Query keyword choice. Text searches use brief, unnatural language. For example, “red boots toddler.” Voice searches, on the other hand, tend to use much more colloquial language. For example, “cute red boots for toddlers.”
These two aspects of voice search mean that your SEO strategy is able to take advantage of longer, more natural keyword phrases — more on this in a moment!
SEO Best Practices 2017 – Strategies That Have Changed
Mobile-friendliness wasn’t considered a major ranking factor in 2017. Sure, having a responsive site definitely helped you convert leads into prospects, but Google wasn’t going to penalize your rankings for not optimizing for mobile.
That changed in December of 2017 when Google began rolling out a series of algorithm updates that prioritized mobile-friendly sites over non-responsive sites.
So what does mobile SEO look like in 2019? I’ll answer that question in the next section.
The Definition Of Quality Content
Yes, content has always been king, but what’s changed between 2017 and 2019 is what qualifies as “quality content.”
In 2017, quality = content that answered a question, was well-written, engaged the user, and provided a unique perspective.
In 2019, quality = all of the above, PLUS:
- Featured snippet optimization
- Voice control and search optimization
- Integrated video and audio
- Collaboration with experts and micro-influencers
In short, winning at content marketing in 2019 requires the creation of content that is longer, better researched, and is optimized for new technologies.
Algorithms, AI, and internet users are all becoming savvier by the day, which means content in 2019 really needs to go the extra mile if it wants to stand out from the ever-growing competition.
Best Practices For SEO In 2020
Now let’s take everything we’ve learned and see what all this means for your website here in 2020.
Mobile SEO Best Practices
It happened! Mobile has surpassed desktop as the dominant method of searching online, making mobile is the official king of searching.
In response, search engines are placing a greater emphasis on mobile performance when deciding rankings. And as of July 1st, 2019, all new websites are being indexed using Google’s mobile-first indexing, which means that rankings for new sites are based primarily on their mobile performance.
What all this means for SEO best practices is that your website MUST be mobile-friendly. If it’s not, you can expect to soon disappear from search results.
Optimizing your website for mobile includes:
- Boost page speed
- Don’t use pop-ups
- Redesign your site for mobile
- Eliminate flash
- Use Schema.org structured data
Sites that are not optimized for mobile are on their way to becoming obsolete, so get ahead of the curve and start updating your site today. Need help? Contact our mobile SEO specialists to get started.
And if you haven’t read our SEO cheat sheet yet, definitely check that out as well.
SEO Keyword Best Practices For 2020
It’s an exciting time for keywords.
Thanks to the growing use of voice search, you have access to a whole new world keyword optimization!
This is because people talk to Google the same way they talk to their friends. So, as I said above, voice search means that longtail keywords are getting longer and using more colloquial language than ever before.
No more trying to fit unnatural keyword phrases into your copy — keywords sound like people now.
So, what do keyword best practices look like in 2019? Here’s a quick rundown:
- Target keywords with medium-to-high search volume
- Use tools like Google’s Related Searches to find longtail keyword variations
- Include your keywords in URL slugs
- Include target keywords in image file names and alt text
- In your content, include the target keyword in your first heading, the first paragraph, and once or twice in each section.
- Don’t overdo it. Google’s algorithms have become adept at detecting keyword stuffing, so use a few strategically placed keywords and then stop.
Featured Snippets Are The Place To Be
Though they were introduced long ago, featured snippets (also called “position zero”) have only become more and more important to SEO.
As of 2019, having a strategy in place to secure featured snippets for your content is a standard best practice.
SEO best practices for a featured snippet attempt include:
- Include your keyword in the post’s meta description
- Include keywords in the first sentence of your copy
- Have one section of your copy be a well-written summary of the post
- Write a solid conclusion
- Include keywords in each heading
- Make sure each section answers a searcher’s query
Now go — get yourself featured in the snippets!
SEO Best Practices Experts
Do you feel a little intimidated by how much SEO has changed? I understand — if you’re not intentionally staying updated on the latest developments then it can be easy to fall behind.
If staying up-to-date on SEO feels exhausting, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Here at Fannit, our team of SEO experts has been tracking the changes in best practices since 2008. We understand how difficult it is to take on the search engines and we’ve developed industry-leading processes and strategies that you can use to jumpstart your website’s SEO.
If you’re ready to take your rankings to the next level, contact our team today!