Canonical Chronicle - Episode 49 - SEO predictions for 2020

In this video

In this video we go into our SEO predictions for 2020 based off the data that we have been able to garner from our clients.

2020 SEO predictions can sometimes be a bit of a nothing burger so we have deliberately backed a bunch of our recommendations with real world trends and data from the SEO world.

We discuss:

  • SEO predictions

  • Speed

  • Schema

  • SERP Erosion

  • Relevancy Depth

  • User signals for Machine Learning

  • Heavy increase in FUD - Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt

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I’m Ross Tavendale, the managing director of Type A Media, a creative search agency based in London. I make videos about business leadership, web technology, SEO, PPC and how I turned being a Type A personality into a business.


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- In 2020, SEO will be a very tough egg to crack.

- We're gonna try and crack an egg on the sidewalk to see if it will cook.

- Nope!

- It comes that time of year when SEOs are startin' to quietly implement their newly learned highly scientific optimisations for 2020 that will work like magic. You know, updating all your article titles to say 2020, and then just sitting back and watching that traffic come in.

- Bada bap boom. Pow.

- But seriously if you're looking for some guidance on what to do in 2020 here is our professional opinion. Now with Google, we always got to follow the money. We predict that more verticals are gonna to be consumed by their comparison features and more ads are gonna start popping up in random places so they can use their bigger inventory to hit their earnings targets. So we're keepin' an eye on speed SCHEMA, Indexation, Relevancy Depth, and User Signals from Machine Learning. Let's break it down step-by-step. First of all, speed. If Google closes your site, it costs them money due to the bandwidth costs, so if it's a lighter weight site and it loads faster, it's must cheaper for them. In particular, we believe they're gonna start to take punitive measures on a site's redundant resources loading on the page. This is particularly common if, sad to say, you have a Wordpress theme. The page loads, but it also loads a bunch of scripts and resources that don't actually do anything on the page.

- Did you see one?

- Yes.

- Now do you see your card here?

- No.

- That's because you're looking too closely.

- The reason this happens is because the templates in your template builder have to make it compatible with every single iteration of the template they sell so they pack in the code and run multiple versions of it. But the thing is, when you download it and put it on your site, guess what? It's seven versions of the thing running at the same time. So it really stands to reason that a professional website that runs as a business should probably not have this. Next up is SCHEMA. So with Google BERT rolling out globally, the nuance of a query is going to be more and more important over time. So it stands to reason that the correct marking up of entities in the page will become of paramount importance. So the more you join up the dots for Google, the better they're gonna understand things in the page and ultimately they're gonna reward you. Now, I'm not talking about some basic b*tch recommendations like, "Make sure you mark up your review page "with review SCHEMA." and all that kind of very obvious stuff, I'm talking about going deep and going extreme. And mapping out the entire site with same As SCHEMA and running some sort of internal linking programme but for SCHEMA, not for HTML links. Now this as a manual exercise, it is totally unfathomable. So, unless you use some sort of tools, like inLinks which is a toolkit by Dixon Jones of Majestic, it's gonna be really hard to do. But, if you're not ready to invest in a tool at least start to look at the entity associations by going to a database like Wikidata. Go to a famous author page. Do you notice that there's a bunch of third-party databases that they're mentioned in, but there's no links anywhere, they're just mentioned in the database. It's really hard to get in those databases so if you think about a lawyer, they're in a database that shows they passed the bar. Same will happen for your clients' particular vertical. So when optimising for your client, research everything in their industry and make sure they are in those databases. Next up is SERP erosion. This year we've seen a huge increase in impressions and average ranking of all of our clients. But, clicks have not grown in line with that growth. "So why is that happening?" I hear you cry. Well, it's pretty straight forward to be honest. So, rich snippets and instant answers are satisfying the user in the SERP and nobody really needs to click anymore. Just look at this SERP for London to Paris. They've essentially rebuilt the entire webpage inside of the SERP. So for 2020, expect a lot more of this. Essentially, Google's gonna start looking like AOL circa 1999. America Online is Great!

- Everybody at my school is on AOL. Instant messages are the coolest.

- So what can we do? Well, it all comes down to your keyword research. You need to look at the composition of the SERP to make a decision on whether or not you want to compete for these keywords with all these rich snippets. If you're basing your strategy on informational terms, you've got to make a little tweak. Instead of trying to rank for "What is" terms that can easily be answered inside of the SERP, you need to start optimising for "how to" terms, which you can't really give an instant answer to. In the new SEO environment it's fast turning into winner-takes-all scenario but keep in mind, when you're forecasting for growth over the next 12 months, you're gonna need to factor in all of this stuff. Over the last 18 months we've seen a particularly SERP get very special treatment, if they fall into the "Your money," or "Your life" category, or YMYL for short. This has meant a lot of medical and finance queries getting seriously adjusted and in particular we've noticed large newspapers dropping for a bunch of medical queries. Now in our opinion, this was actually really a good thing. Now just because they get a high page rank doesn't really mean they deserve to rank for a bunch of non-news-based queries, so we predict that, guess what? If you're a newspaper, you're gonna lose a lot more of your traffic as Google keeps tweaking all these SERPS, and all these indicators. And if you're not ranking for everything outside of news well, guess what? You're gonna lose that traffic. Relevancy and links will continue to have high high levels of importance. We believe that link velocity will become much more important. So historic link indexes will be down weighted and fresh indexes will start to be a big EAT factor. We're gonna see large websites with big backlink profiles that have been built over years and years and years start to feel the effects of link erosion and if they don't have a high velocity of fresh links, they're gonna see some negative effects in the SERPs. Now at Type A, we bang on the link drum quite a lot.

- So we think it's absolutely essential to get you on to page one, but, after you hit page one, we think that links are, kinda less important. Links are kinda like the degree that you need to get a job interview. Yes, it will get you an interview, but when you're through the door, it's all up to you. We're gonna see a lot more of this applied in the SERPs with machine learning and different sets of queries having completely different outcomes based on intent and the vertical you're searching in. Sadly, you can't really optimise for this. But, review your search console and make sure that there's no weird click queries happening on any of your pages. And lastly, we think there's gonna be a heavy increase in F U D. That's right. Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt has always been an massive part of Goggle strategy, especially when their press are liaising the SEO community. Now I've been an SEO since the first Panda update, and I know some of you guys out there have been in SEO since the internet was essentially a thing but nothing's really changed. Ultimately, have a technically sound site. Build good content that's keyword targeted. And build links like a mother. With all that said, I'd like to wish everyone in the SEO community a fruitful, and well-optimised new year. And until next year, we'll see you later.