Search Engine Optimisation in 2020 and Beyond
Search Engine Optimisation has always been one of the best ways to gain success in the digital market place. After all, most people find their way around the internet using nothing other than search engines. Search Engine Optimisation in 2020 is more important than ever.
3.5 billion searches are made every day on Google. Every day! That's an incredible amount of search and all of that traffic is people looking for information, entertainment or products and services.
3.5 billion searches every day!
That's quite some party. You need to be there!
Traditionally you have two ways to take your website to this party.
This is Google's main advertising platform. You bid against your competition and pay Google for their prime positions
2. Search Engine Optimisation.
This is the process of optimising web pages and web content to convince the Google bots that your page is the best.
AdWords is an easy and quick route. Unfortunately is also very expensive in 2019 and will probably only climb.
Over the years the AdWords bidding system has created a naturally high ceiling for many demographics. Uncounted keywords for products and services have gone from 10p per click to several £'s per click. In the same timescale, the products and services themselves haven't changed in value accordingly. This has naturally priced many people out of the AdWords bidding war.
The alternative is for search engine placement is SEO!
Search Engine Optimisation is, and was, the de-facto way to get yourself in front of all that search traffic without paying pay-per-click fees to Google.
The Problem(s) With SEO!
Most people don't know what SEO is anymore. Worse than that, many actual SEO's don't know either. Our own company have been through a massive learning curve during the last two years just keeping up. Times are changing, faster than ever!
From experience speaking to clients, potential clients and business folk in general, we see two major and very common problems with the SEO industry.
The first problem is that SEO is in a constant state of change and no more so than the last few years. While this speed-of-change is a good thing and brings progress to the table, speed-of-change also leaves many consumers frustrated and unsure. So much so that many people just stop investing and turn away.
The second problem, which compounds the first problem, is that the industry is chock-full of scammers and most consumers don't know what to trust anymore.
If you are a scammer your pitch goes like this.
"Hi, we know this amazing new SEO technique that brings amazing results and we can really bring a lot of highly targeted traffic to your website"
If you are a genuine, hard-working SEO that strives to keep on top of the changes your pitch goes like this.
"Hi, we know this amazing new SEO technique that brings amazing results and we can really bring a lot of highly targeted traffic to your website".
It's the same frikkin pitch! How is the average consumer supposed to have any faith in any of it?
It's a genuine shame.
If you're not sure what SEO is, yet you are aware there are a lot of scams around, are you really going to invest in an SEO specialist? Not really. It feels too much like a gamble to many business owners. We know because we hear the same story again and again.
The truth is, the SEO community is brighter, more diverse and much more intelligent than it's ever been and really doesn't deserve the disillusion that comes with the industry.
So let's help eradicate the problem.
Let's forget scams and say this is a scam free zone. What follows is an overview of exactly what traditional SEO is, what modern SEO is, and what the future of SEO might be.
By the time you've finished reading this page, you will be to speed with SEO and it's placed in the modern digital marketing landscape which should result in you being able to make much better decisions. Knowledge is, as they say, power.
Traditional SEO is, for the most part, all about Google.
Way back in 1996 two chaps called Larry Page and Sergey Brin started building a search engine called BackRub. It was a search engine that relied on backlinks to judge the value of a website.
In September of 1997, those same two chaps registered the domain Google.com. The rest is history.
For the next few years, Google as a company and Google.com grew exponentially and from 1998 to around 2001, SEO naturally formed into the state it then held for around a decade.
That state is what I personally refer to as "traditional SEO". It was a purely desktop thing. The SEO game at the time was to get your web pages at the top of the list of web pages that Google returned when you searched for something.
In 2004 a traditional top place SEO result was a listing with a blue link at the top of the Google search results.
In 2019 a top place SEO result is a blue link at the top of the Google search results. Or a featured rich snippet. Or the top listing in the localised map pack. Or the default answer in a voice search. Or Q&A style data resulting from structured markup.
Modern SEO covers so much more than "traditional SEO". If you still think the listings with the blue links are the main goal of SEO, it's time to change your thinking. Traditional search listings are only a part of the modern SEO picture.
Of course, it is important to still do traditional SEO. The good old keyword + meta + content + links combination is still a huge part of SEO. We're not writing this to put you off traditional SEO. We're writing this because an overwhelming amount of people still think traditional SEO is all there is to it, and that needs to change.
Modern, Technical SEO
So what has happened to make this all so much more complex?
In a word or two, mobile phones, and voice search!
As long as search results were mostly presented on nice big screen things didn't really change much over quite a period. Of course, the search results did change appearance over the years as Google expanded its search categories and functionality and SEO techniques became refined as Google tweaked the algorithm.
Overall though, the main Google results page of a simple list of websites with blue links pretty much stayed the same and the only real focus of SEO right the way through the noughties.
During the desktop years. Keywords, meta, content, inbound links, relevance, content, inbound links, content, inbound links and finally inbound links, in pretty much that order was the rule of the day.
And guess what, all those things are still major components of modern SEO, give or take a few mutations. Modern SEO isn't a replacement of traditional SEO, it's an expansion.
So what's new?
You had to ask!
The answer is extremely complex so we'll give you a brief overview of the various aspects of modern SEO.
1. Mobile optimisation.
As of 2015 websites that are mobile-friendly get an SEO boost. The main considerations with mobile-friendliness are site speed and site responsiveness. Speed is a huge factor because of the unreliability of the mobile internet. Yes, it's getting better but mobile users are often in areas with bad signals. If your website is slow, mobile users won't be waiting around. Responsiveness is also a large factor in mobile optimisation. A responsive website is one that can change its layout depending on the device viewing the website, therefore, ensuring your website is catered to all visitors.
2. Local SEO.
Mobile phones combined with GPS gave the internet physical legs and Google jumped all over it. They own Google maps, obviously, but think bigger, think Android. Android is Googles own mobile operating system and now covers 87% of the mobile market at the time of writing (Nov 2019). Google now serves results based on where you are and the giant is very good at it. Unfortunately, traditional SEO doesn't have much impact on mobile-based search results. We now have a whole new branch of SEO known as "local SEO". The perfect SEO for small business with a smaller geographical trading area.
3. Rich Snippets, Schema and Microdata.
Another Google-centric endeavour. Rich snippets, schema and microdata are ways of presenting information to Google to give Google various options of content sorting and presentation. This kind of SEO is slowly taking over the traditional search engine organic listings. That old number 1 spot isn't as powerful when it's pushed halfway down the page by the map listings, some helpful answers to related questions or any other manner of eye-catching results. (Psssst, this is still a relatively underutilised area and some very sneaky traffic gains can be made.)😉
4. Voice Search.
Voice search has proved to be something of a phenomenon. Growing at a rate that has never been seen, voice search is expected to be 50% of the entire search market at the beginning of 2020. That's a shocking figure. Another shocking figure is that an estimated 30% of all searches will be screenless. This brings different search behaviours and requires new ways of providing the content. Most websites don't work very well on a speaker.
There are other areas of modern SEO but the three examples above are perhaps the most divisive of all. Search results are now split across various types of devices. We used to have SEO for desktop. Then mobile and tablets came along. Now voice.
The Future Of SEO
To say SEO is here to stay is an understatement. SEO is a foundational aspect of the entire internet. Even more so as search results become more varied and complex.
In our opinion, SEO is one of the most important things you can commit your time and resources to in the digital marketing world. It is an underlying foundation of your entire digital marketing strategy. Even in areas where SEO isn't relevant, SEO knowledge and keyword targeting should echo through everything you do.
If you can accept that SEO is a marathon and not a sprint you're in good steed.
If you're going to commit to SEO, commit for the long term. You can see SEO results fairly quickly when it's done right, but to get to the top of the pile in any industry and have a genuine stream of constant, well-targeted bottom-line traffic you're going to be looking at a long journey. Possibly several years depending on how competitive your industry is.
Just what you wanted to hear?
Probably not but it's best you know. When SEO is done right, and the correct time is taken to do things properly and get you to the top, it's very hard for a competitor to knock you down. The time it takes to get there is worth it because the result is solid. If you dominate SEO for your industry, you dominate full stop.