Big changes are happening in the Search Engine Optimization landscape in 2020.

The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) landscape is always changing. Google constantly makes small tweaks to it’s algorithm and while SEO is still kind of witchcraft, it’s largely heading in one direction – towards ranking good content, and skipping ‘algorithm hacks’. Here’s a list of some of the ways SEO is going to change this year, and what it means for you.

An iPad on the Google Search Homepage

1. Personalization of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

You may have noticed your search results becoming more tailored towards you. This is for a good reason – personalized results pages provide a better experience for the user. Thus, content that truly interests the user will be delivered first. “Ranking first” won’t matter as much as it used to, because everyone’s results page will be different. Google knows everything about you, after all.

Of course, for users who use incognito mode, have new machines, allow no cookies, or use a VPN, won’t receive personalized listings and will largely see the same results. This means for now, there is still value in understanding what it takes to rank in a blank user situation, but the number of clicks your site gets will depend much more on factors like location, trends, demographics, and so on.

Checking Google Analytics Traffic Sources

2. User satisfaction will matter more.

Bounce rate, page speed, load times, responsiveness, accessibility, time on site and click-through rate all matter now – but they’ll matter a lot more in the future. As Google acquires more data on every one of its users, factors such as these will weigh in more heavily in the types of results they show.

What will change is the golden standard of “perfect SEO”. Because after all, what use is “perfect SEO” if your site takes 20 seconds to load and has nothing of value to the user? We are going to see a major shift in SEO which will focus more on business development and product management.

For far too long, SEO has been a way for ineffective businesses to game the algorithm and stay at the top of the results pages for their service. As Google’s understanding of truly good content improves, the best services will rise to the top and lackluster ones will gradually be pushed down, no matter their prior SEO efforts.

Search Engine Optimization Services surrounding a laptop

3. Search Engine Optimization Services will become increasingly ineffective.

In fact, a lot of the techniques employed by SEO agencies will actually prove counterproductive. Five or ten years ago, you could keyword-stuff to your heart’s content and you’d rank. You could buy thousands of cheap, low-quality backlinks from spammy blog-networks, and you’d rank. Not today! We covered this a while ago in What is SEO and Why Does it Matter? Current practices that are designed to game the search engine rather than provide quality content to the user will be sniffed out by Google’s ever-more-accurate systems.

On the plus side, this opens up amazing new avenues for those who can think highly creatively, or create genuinely worthwhile, unique and interesting content, but will wreak absolute havoc on many small business’s SEO efforts.

iPad with various Online Marketing strategies on the screen

4. Goodbye SEO agency. Hello Digital Marketing agency.

The techniques employed by Search Engine Optimization agencies, whose sole purpose is to game the system and rank a site no matter what, will fall off and become useless, or counterproductive. They will be replaced by creative Digital Marketing professionals who have a far more grounded and real-world understanding of what makes content attractive to search engines.

And for businesses, it will make sense to hire agencies or individuals with a range of skills who understand Conversion Rate Optimization, technical SEO, branded keywords/reputation management, email marketing, and in general, how to positively influence first impressions, improving conversion rates, search engine results and customer perception.

A bunch of people all on tinder

5. Google will understand the web more intimately, and who is on it.

Google wants to know the businesses they list. Intimately. With movement into more in-depth and tailored business results stemming from Google’s My Business (GMB) platform, they want to enter more closely into a form of partnership with the businesses listed. Once a site has been ‘trusted’ via My Business, their results are far more likely to come back when a user searches for them.

With elements such as their GMB profile, post frequency and quality, and other non-link based methods of determining quality and authority contributing to customized Search Engine Results, it is likely that a more active business with a previously lower ranking will show up before an established one that hasn’t posted on their blog since 2017.

So what does this all mean for you?

It means that if you’re a small business owner, you can no longer rely with absolute certainty on the old tactics. If you or the agency you’re paying to help you with your SEO aren’t changing your approach to it, you can no longer just assume that your website will continue performing for you. If you want your site to get more traffic, and, more importantly, more of the right traffic, you have to produce content that human beings are interested in reading and is useful to them.

At Unicycle Digital, we build every one of our sites with the best possible SEO practices, right from the start. We apply the most up-to-date techniques and stay on top of the ever-changing ball so that our clients’ sites rank high and stay relevant. If your business, personal site, or charity would like to discuss this with us, we’d love to have a chat. You can email us at hello@unicycledigital.com, give us a call on 778-762-4481, or use our contact page.