We live in an increasingly online world so it is therefore not surprising that SEO is a vital part of marketing. A website must be visible, more traffic and more opportunities to convert prospects is the key to success.
Over the past 12 months alone, we have seen several changes in Google Search — each affecting how we plan, implement, and report on our SEO campaigns.
In this blog, PRG’s digital experts look at what 2020 has in store from an SEO perspective, and what these changes mean for our clients.
When voice search was launched in 2012 few believed it would have longevity, and yes take-up was initially slower than expected, but it has now carved a niche for itself.
Voice search essentially allows users to speak into a device as opposed to typing keywords into a search query to generate results. Examples of voice search include speech-to-text and voice dialling, programs such as Google Assistant, Siri and Amazon Alexa have brought voice search into our everyday lives.
However, you may wonder how voice search impacts on SEO? Well, Amazon Alexa is a good example, when you ask Alexa a question, the device searches voice optimised websites for the answer, if your website isn’t optimised for voice search, Alexa will not find it.
There are steps required to ensure website content is optimised for voice search, these include – but are not limited to – the addition of long-tail keywords that sound more natural as opposed to the shorter, snappier keywords that perform well in desktop SEO.
We are not talking about AI at the level many blockbuster films illustrate. But, Google has taken a big step forward recently in the progression of artificial learning with the introduction of Bidirectional Transformers for Language Understanding (BERT) at the end of 2019. BERT is Google’s neural network-based technique for natural language processing, and Google itself says that the algorithm represents “the biggest leap forward in the past five years, and one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search.”
But what is it? Well, BERT algorithms can consider the full context of a word by looking at the words that come before and after it—particularly useful for understanding the intent behind search queries. Affecting one in 10 searches, BERT gives Google a better understanding of how language is used and helps it comprehend the context of individual words within searches.
From an SEO perspective, it is impossible to optimise for BERT as it refers to a change in how Google understands searches rather than how it ranks web content. The key is to create useful and high quality, interesting content. If you are writing content which is valued by your target market then you have nothing to worry about.
E-A-T – Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness
Once it is determined that a page has a beneficial purpose, its level of E-A-T – Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness – is carefully considered.
- Expertise: This refers to the creator of the main content on the page. Is the creator an expert on the topic? Does the creator have the credentials to back that up, and can these credentials be found on the website? Google makes an exception for “everyday expertise” meaning those with applicable life experience in specific topics can be considered experts – without formal training or education.
- Authoritativeness: This refers to the creator, the website content, and the website on which it appears. Authoritativeness means having recognised authority, that visitors know your company know its background, and accept it is a leader in the industry, therefore accepting your website as a knowledgeable source of information.
- Trustworthiness: Being a trustworthy expert and authoritative source means people can trust your website to provide honest accurate information.
So, what needs to be done? Simply, every page must have an overarching purpose, and that purpose should benefit the end user.
Topics and semantics
Links and keywords – once the backbone of an SEO strategy – are now jostling for position with topic modelling and semantics.
Semantic SEO is all about building more meaning into the keywords used in your content. In reality this simply means optimising for the true intent of your users, it means providing a useful resource on an entire topic, allowing users to find the answers to all their questions in one place. Doing so gives more depth to your content and provides more value to the user.
Topic modelling is an unsupervised machine learning technique; when crawling your website content search engines seek words with related meaning, in a nutshell Google is looking for a thought leader which has additional content on the wider topic.
In terms of SEO, this means that it has never been more important to create high quality, in-depth, and meaningful, well-structured content for users.
The four areas mentioned above illustrate why SEO thinking needs to change. The world of SEO in 2020 is bright and exciting, but it will require more investment and intelligent strategy than ever before.
Our highly skilled digital team can conduct a thorough website and SEO audit, providing insight and direction. For advice on improving your website SEO, please do get in touch.