The start of a new year is a time for reflection and for making resolutions about what to do better. 2019 saw numerous big changes to Google’s search algorithm, with several core updates and the use of BERT to improve how the search engine understands user queries. But what does 2020 have in store? How are user behavior and user expectation changing and what can SEOs do to keep up with Google’s continued fine-tuning of its algorithm? In this post, digital marketing experts share their thoughts on what to expect in the next 12 months.
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Making predictions about the future of digital marketing can be a thankless task – it’s not easy to second-guessing Google or to picking out which of today’s trends are going to shape tomorrow’s world. Luckily, we found a few individuals bold enough to make predictions and share their thoughts on how they expect SEO and digital marketing to change in 2020. As always, do feel free to join the discussion in the comment section and let us know which developments you are most excited about this year.
Going into 2020, what’s your favorite piece of advice for marketers?
Hazel Volker, Digital Solutions Specialist, Mr Price Group
“I love this piece of advice from Tara Robertson: She says that the need for content and experiences that favor quality over quantity is going to increase. She describes the current climate as the ‘age of authentic marketing’, and I agree with her assertion that you can grow loyalty amongst your audience by focusing on more relevant, more relatable marketing.”
Which trends do you see coming and what should digital marketers focus on in 2020?
Natasha Walker, Search Strategist, Equator
“Local SEO is changing. Google’s hotel search function is now serving results based on your search history and showing you hotels similar to ones you’ve previously stayed in. This could potentially narrow the amount of people you can reach, but if those people are more relevant, they’re more likely to convert. You need to be present throughout the customer’s journey – so relying on a single channel such as SEO isn’t going to be enough anymore.”
What do you think will change in the world of paid search?
Natasha Walker: “Looking at PPC, I think this will continue to focus on audience targeting. Google introduced affinity audiences for search ads last year, which is a big step because we can now target people who we know are relevant to the products/services we’re marketing. We shouldn’t need to guess what someone’s search intent is anymore, because we should be targeting the right people from the start. There’s no doubt that keywords are still important – they’re what PPC is built on – but it’s not enough to bid on a few keywords and hope for the best.”
How do you see the search market as a whole? Is there a world beyond Google?
Natasha Walker: “I think we’ll need to start focusing more on a wider range of platforms, and not just Google. For the most part, search queries are no longer growing and if they are, it’s by small percentages. Google, and perhaps the wider search market, has become saturated and that’s unlikely to change. But we know that people are spending time on platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Amazon and Quora, so the question is, how do we reach them? We should be considering these platforms as part of a wider marketing strategy, or be ready to trial them to see what works.”
Marcus Pentzek, Chief SEO Consultant, Searchmetrics GmbH
“I see increasing diversification in the world of search. Not only is Google changing – people are as well. They are not just using Google anymore, with some heading over to alternative search engines like Amazon, Ebay, Quora or Pinterest to get their questions answered. By covering the relevant channels for your own topics, you can diversify your traffic sources. Another thing is that the global climate debate might also cause less people to use Google and turn to Ecosia, which invests ad revenue in planting trees. And so you know, Ecosia’s results are driven by Bing, not Google.”
What are the key online marketing topics that your company is focusing on in 2020?
Hazel Volker: “We’ll be looking at how we can optimize websites for Voice Search and how we can increase our use of videos as a source of information. And of course, high-quality content is more important than ever so in 2020 we’ll be working on ensuring that the content on our website is as strong as possible.”
Marcus Pentzek: “A big topic for SEO will be how to respond to the fact that Google is answering more and more search queries directly in the SERPs. This is just with Featured Snippets, but Google is giving its own properties more room and this is pushing organic results down to page 2.”
What has been the most exciting digital marketing development in 2019?
Marcus Pentzek: “For me, two of the most exciting changes to search in 2019 were the introduction of BERT and ERNIE into search algorithms. And I expect the near future to see more advances in search engines’ abilities – rivalling humans in their capacity to understand the queries people use for their searches, whether these be entered via keyboard or touchpad, or spoken out loud to their assistant app – these developments and what they (will) mean for SEO are what excited me most in 2019.”
Love thy neighbor! Is there anyone you’d like to give a shout-out to?
Marcus Pentzek: Steven Kang from SEO Signals Lab for his incredibly funny SEO memes and extremely interesting discussion openers. If you don’t know him, be sure to check out his stuff in 2020. And thanks to Laura Laubinger from Oddity Asia, who introduced me to the exciting topic of KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) in Chinese ecommerce.
Want to stay up-to-date with the latest SEO and marketing news in 2020. Then why not subscribe to our free monthly newsletter?