No one can answer these questions unambiguously since Google entirely keep their secrets. We can only hypothesise, based on our observations and analysis of search engine updates in recent years.
I suspect that ranking factors won’t change significantly over the next year. The traditional factors such as technical, content, commercial, behavioural, and link building will stay relevant. I can add non-obvious, relatively new factors such as branded and quality for websites within the Your Money – Your Life category. The power of influence of these factors can increase in 2020.
You should also consider the recent BERT update, aimed at improving the algorithm’s ability to better understand the context of the keywords, used on web pages.
We see that the Google search engine is proactively improving their mechanisms to better understand users, their intentions and needs. The development of machine learning, Big Data technologies and artificial intelligence have long helped corporations in these areas.
Over the past few years, Google has been providing webmasters and SEO specialists with general SEO guidelines. Where they emphasize that content that entirely meets user queries is the best signal about your website relevance.
Today, technical SEO optimization and content is not enough to take leading positions in search results, even if a website niche is in low demand. You should take a holistic approach, which is undoubtedly a trend, to rank first.
As a priority, I would note the following vector directions in SEO in 2020:
Trend 1. Full focus on smartphones. You should focus on how convenient your mobile versions of your website will be for your customers at the development and design stage, as well as when working out behavioral factors. Mobile-First Index is the first reason for this. The steady growth in the global mobile traffic share relative to desktop is the second reason.
Trend 2. Website load speed.
Users sometimes don’t have a stable and high-speed internet connection on their mobile phones, so complex, bulky and non-optimized websites may take a long time to load. You should remember that every second of loading can cost you a customer, transaction, and revenue. It is also worth noting that website load speed is a separate ranking factor.
Trend 3. Brand reputation as a brand component (YMYL). Marketing activities across all possible channels where your CA exists should focus on increasing eCommerce brand awareness, brand loyalty and brand credibility.
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Trend 4. Protection and security of personal data. eCommerce websites are required to create the most secure environment for their customers. Therefore, I would highlight the work on the security side of your eCommerce website as one of the main 2020 trends.
Trend 5. A completely new approach to creating text content. This is necessary to fill your website with quality content which is optimized for voice search, so not to lose the fast-growing audience who prefers to ask Google by voice rather than typing a query using a keyboard. We would recommend introducing the most organic word forms, give clear and complete answers to your target audience questions.
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Trend 6. Geo-targeting optimization. Geospatial queries and the struggle for top positions on Google Maps are another 2020 SEO trends. We would recommend promoting your eCommerce business using SEO in areas of your brick-and-mortar stores or showrooms are located since mobile local results can occupy the entire first page.
Trend 7. Video content. 55% of all Google search results include at least one video. So take care of creating video content this year.
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Trend 8. The struggle for a zero position on SERPs (featured snippets.) Manipulation to get to the “zero” position will be extremely important in highly competitive eCommerce niches, as well as in those where the search engine displays its own services above organic results.
Trend 9. Development and using relevant markup types for structured data. This will help you show search engines your website data categories, become more transparent and clear for both Google and potential customers.
Trend 10. Image optimization for visual search (all or part of the image). Google Lens, Pinterest, and other services have seen a sharp increase in the use of visual search to the detriment of traditional text search. So optimizing images on your eCommerce website can demonstrate excellent results in 2020.
Trend 11. Dark theme. There is a chance that this will be a new Google ranking factor this year.
In a word, no. Our field of activity is a symbiosis of routine traditional optimization processes and a creative approach to generating ideas when solving business and user problems.
The idea of automation in SEO has been around for a long time. Where we can use a mathematical tool, we can develop and implement mechanics, such as checking the basic technical component. But where we need to come up with something qualitatively new, something for a particular website, some nonstandard approaches to SEO — we still cannot train the machine to generate useful ideas, hypotheses, and features.
We noticed that the impact of quantitative retailer volumes (in other words, the product range) on the ranking has increased over the last few years. Marketplaces gain better positions.
In the second half of 2019, this trend showed a slowdown. So large marketplaces are likely to stop receiving top positions only because they have many products on the website. It is impossible to answer unequivocally. We can but wait, analyze and draw conclusions.
It is very important. As I said earlier, for SEO and online store promotion in general, you need to enable the entire complex of digital marketing channels to attract traffic. And we here at Promodo can help you deal with this.
eCommerce SEO promotion should be approached comprehensively. Only technical and content optimization won’t be enough to dominate search results. It is very important to work on the online reputation and brand awareness of your business.
There is no way to fully automate SEO – the creative work of an SEO specialist is always necessary.
There is a possibility that small local online stores will be able to compete with giant retailers and marketplaces in the top of search results in 2020.
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