By 2020, we will have entered an age of screen-less searches. Over the next four years, 30%-50% of our searches will be through voice and will not require a screen. – According to Garter & ComScore. That, briefly, is Google Search in 2020. Voice comes with some very distinct advantages, but will make SEO a much harder task. It is easier to utter instructions instead of typing them. Voice search returns an answer to the question instead of links from which one may choose. The answers are as precise as they can be. What this means is that Google will focus more on answering queries instead of providing links. In fact there is already evidence of this with Google rankbrain and what is often referred to as “position 0” (an answer above all other results)
SEO, as we know today, will be alive and kicking even in 2020. Search engines will continue with their “day jobs” of indexing sites. We will still be using search to sort out information and sources of information. Not all searches are purchase-driven. Search will continue as a giant index striving to return spam-free relevant results. SEO will drive organic rankings. If ranking for keywords and staying there is difficult now, it will only become more difficult in the future. Social media will become an even bigger influence for organic search. Article directories, forum signatures, and other similar tactics will be buried for good. In fact, ranking for targeted key phrases will become very difficult. The algorithms will rank you for content, for engagement, and the value of your brand. Trying to rank on the strength of keywords will be next to impossible, unless the content drives engagement.
App integration into the overall consumer experience will increase. Google is looking for ways to incorporate apps into the search results. The focus on creating a satisfying mobile experience through responsive sites and apps will influence how search operates in 2020.
Google’s desire to provide answers to questions instead of links to websites is already a challenge for businesses. Those challenges will grow significantly by 2020. Google launched Knowledge Graph in 2012 with the purpose of eventually answering specific questions by users, especially local users. Your business will be competing against Google itself in addition to your brick and mortar competitors. This may lead to stiffer competition in PPC marketing, making it more expensive to bid on popular keywords. That may deliver an all-round boost to PPC players – including social media giants Facebook and Twitter.
By 2020, search algorithms will have acquired a degree of sophistication that will decrease their dependence on backlinks. Consequently, the value of links as a ranking factor may diminish. Links will matter to direct users from one site to another and for brand awareness, but their influence as a ranking factor could well plummet.
Search will respond to great content and businesses will have to get creative with content marketing to make up for loss of traffic to Google providing answers, a decrease in the value of links, and of course voice search.
Here are some steps to take now that can help your business compete in search in 2020.
- Content, content, content. Google is looking for the best answer to a user query. Your challenge is to become the company that provides that answer. Knowledge Graph currently does not answer questions pertaining to local companies, although Google Maps does. By 2020, it is quite possible that questions with a local bent will be handled by Knowledge graph.
- Use long tale keywords wherever possible. People aren’t robots, they ask questions in conversational language. If your content reflects normal conversations, you’re ahead of the game.
- SEO all your pages. If you’re a landscape supply store and only optimize your home page, you may get lucky and show up in a search for “landscape supply company near me.” If someone asks “mulch supplies near me” you’re probably out of luck unless your mulch page shines with proper placement of keywords, good Meta tags, etc.
- Provide answers to specific questions. Google wants to provide the best, most accurate answer to a searches question. Write content that is geared towards specific questions. Structure your content in a friendly, easy to read manner.
The way forward is to deliver as personalized an experience as possible. Search is already highly local and this will continue. Focusing efforts on reaching out to a local audience, even for businesses operating out of multiple locations, is the best way forward to compete for positions on SERPs. We are local search experts. Reach out to us with any questions at 203-882-0171.