The Definitive Guide To SEO In 2020

This is the ultimate guide to SEO in 2020.

And let me be clear about something:

This is NOT your average “SEO in 2020” predictions post.

Yes, I’ll cover the most important SEO trends this year.

But you’re also going to see new strategies that are working great right now.

So if you’re looking to improve your SEO next year, you’ll love this new guide.

SEO This Year

Chapter 1:Domain Authority 2.0

Domain Authority 2.0

Domain Authority used to be all about links.

Not anymore.

Today, Google also evaluates your site based on Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

Also known as E-A-T.

In many ways, E-A-T is Domain Authority 2.0.

And in this chapter I’ll cover everything you need to know.

Last year’s Google Quality Rater Guidelines REALLY focused on E-A-T.

E-A-T section of guidelines

To be clear:

E-A-T has been a part of the guidelines for years.

But Google seems to be emphasizing E-A-T more and more.

For example, Google’s new “How Search Works” report mentions that they want to rank “reliable sources”.

Google search report on prioritizing reliable resources

They even cite E-A-T as a key ranking signal:

Google search report on E-A-T

Here’s how to bump up your site’s E-A-T.

Be An Expert (Or Hire One)

If you hire random freelancers to write your content, you’re in trouble.

That’s because Google wants to feature content that’s written by legit experts in their field.

Google guidelines – Creator of the main content

They even go as far to say that medical content needs to be written by health care professionals.

Google guidelines on creating high E-A-T medical advice

This is a tough thing to fake.

In fact, Google might be using a new form of Google Authorship to figure out who’s behind a piece of content… and whether or not they’re experts in that space.

Google may be using a form of Google Authorship

So if you want your content to rank in 2020, it needs to be written by people that know their stuff.

(Especially in the health niche)

Be Transparent

Google probably focuses on off-site signals to figure out your site’s E-A-T.

That said:

The rater guidelines spend a lot of time on evaluating the site itself.

For example, the guidelines point out that:

Google guidelines on creators information

This means having:

  • Thorough about page
  • Easy to find contact page
  • References and external links to sources
  • Privacy policy and terms of service
  • Author bylines on every article

Get Cited

Most of Google’s evaluation of E-A-T happens off of your website.

Which makes sense.

Any random person can claim to be an expert.

But getting other websites to agree with you?

That’s a totally different story.

In fact, Google’s guidelines state that:

Google guidelines on trusting external sources

So:

Besides creating an awesome site, how do you get other people to mention you and your site as a go-to resource?

First, you need to be cited on lots of other trusted websites.

These don’t even have to be linked mentions.

Marie Haynes tweet about external mentions

Something like this can help Google see you as an expert on a given topic:

HackTheEntrepreneur – Brian Dean podcast

Second, your site as a whole needs to be associated with a specific topic.

Again, this comes down to off-site mentions. Specifically, mentions from other authorities in your field.

Google guidelines on website reputation

For example, getting listed as the #1 SEO blog by Ahrefs probably boosted Backlinko’s reputation in Google’s eyes.

Backlinko as "Number one SEO blog" on Ahrefs

Visual Search is Taking Off

More people are conducting more visual searches than ever before.

Just take a look at these stats:

Google Lens has already been used 1 billion times (source).

Google Lens has already been used 1 billion times

Pinterest gets 600 million visual searches per month (source).

Pinterest gets 600 million visual searches per month

36% of American consumers have already used visual search (source).

36% of American consumers have already used visual search

Visual Search Technology is Insanely Good

Visual search is still in its infancy.

And it already works REALLY well.

Don’t believe me?

Whip open Google Lens on your phone and start scanning stuff around your room.

 

You’ll probably find that it can identify pretty much everything.

Today, Google Lens can identify 1 billion objects. And that number is growing every day.

Heck, even Bing’s visual search works super well.

 

 

People WANT to Search With Images

Once you start using it, you’ll quickly notice that visual search is super helpful for:

  • Shopping
  • Directions
  • Identifying landmarks
  • Local business reviews
  • Translation
  • Recipes
  • Nutrition information
  • Lots more

Which is probably why 62% of young consumers want more visual search tech:

62% of young consumers want more visual search capabilities

How to Optimize for Visual Search

If you want to show up as a visual search result, image SEO is key.

So you want to use descriptive file names and write alt text for every image.

But that’s just the first step.

According to Google, they want to feature Google Image results from pages that are authoritative:

Google blog on image results from authoritative pages

Fresh:

Google blog on image results from fresh pages

And feature the image at the top of the page:

Google blog on image results with image on top

Chapter 3:Video Continues to Surge

Video Continues To Surge

Online video is EXPLODING right now.

In fact, according to Cisco, online video will make up 80% of all online traffic by 2021.

80%!

And that may still not satisfy the world’s demand for video.

Despite the fact that there are more videos out there than ever, HubSpot states that 43% of people want even MORE video content.

In short:

If video isn’t part of your digital marketing plans, you’re missing out. Here’s how you can use video to improve your SEO this year.

Video Featured Snippets

You’ve probably noticed more Video Featured Snippets in the search results.

Google search featured video snippet

In fact, Google highlighted Video Featured Snippets in their “Reintroduction to Featured Snippets” report.

Google blog on featured video snippets

And I expect to see more of Video Featured Snippets in 2020.

From what I’ve seen, here are the 3 most important things to do to get your video content in a Featured Snippets.


1. Organize Your Content Into Discrete Sections

This is huge.

Clear sections help Google understand the content in your video.

Clear sections help Google understand the content in your video

Which makes it easy for them to use different clips from your video in a snippet.

Organizing your content into discrete sections makes it easier to use different clips from your video in a snippet

2. Optimize Your Video for SEO

Google uses your title, description and tags to figure out what your video is all about.

Google uses your title, description and tags to figure out what your video is all about

So besides publishing videos that have clear sections, you also want to make sure that your video is optimized for SEO.

In fact, a small HubSpot study of 165 Video Featured Snippets found that 80% of them contained a keyword in the title.


3. Provide a Transcript

The captions that YouTube automatically generates are REALLY good.

YouTube-generated captions

But it’s not 100%.

Mistake in YouTube-generated captions

So to increase the odds that YouTube and Google can understand every word of your video, upload a transcript.

Grow Your YouTube Channel

YouTube is already the world’s 2nd largest search engine.

(In fact, according to a study by JumpShot and Moz founder Rand Fishkin, YouTube’s search engine is 2x more popular than Bing)

Search engine popularity

Amazingly, YouTube is still growing.

In short, more and more people are searching for stuff on YouTube than ever before.

So if you want to get more traffic from SEO in 2020, I recommend creating and optimizing content specifically for YouTube.

It’s a search engine that’s too big to ignore.

The best part? Most marketers are too lazy to make videos. So it’s pretty easy to get your videos seen (assuming you know what you’re doing).

For example, my channel has 26 total videos. And those 26 videos generate over 224k views per month.

Backlinko YouTube channel monthly views

(And as you might expect, a good chunk of those viewers turn into website visitors, leads and customers).

It gets better: when you publish SEO-optimized YouTube videos, you’ll own more Google real estate.

Why? Well, for starters: 55% of all Google search results contain at least one video.

55% of all Google search results contain at least one video

(And almost all of those videos are from YouTube).

Here’s an example of what I mean:

Google search results with video results

And considering that Google owns YouTube, expect even MORE YouTube videos in the search results in 2020.

Embed Video Content Into Text-Based Blog Posts

If people want to see more video content, why not give it to them?

That’s why I recommend embedding video content into your blog posts. In my experience, this can significantly improve your bounce rate.

Embedded videos can decrease bounce rate

Here’s an example of this in action:

Backlinko YouTube video embed on SEO Site Audit post

Chapter 4:Voice Search Optimization

Voice Search Optimization

Is voice search “the next big thing” in digital marketing? It sure looks like it.

For example, check out these eyebrow-raising facts:

  • 41% of adults perform at least one voice search every day (source)
  • Voice searches performed in Google are up 35x since 2008 (source)
  • 20% of all searches on mobile are voice searches (source)

Knowing that, smart SEOs are starting to optimize some of their content for voice search.

Including me 🙂

How to Optimize for Voice Search

Last year we conducted the largest voice search SEO study to date.

Backlinko Voice Search SEO Study post

Here’s what we found:


1. Your content needs to rank high in the search results

Preferably in the top 3.

We found that Google tended to source voice search answers from content that ranked in the top 3 search results:

Voice answers tend to come from the top three results

2. Include a question and answer in your content

The vast majority of voice searches are question based (“How do I do a pullup?” or “Who starred in Shawshank Redemption”?).

When that happens, Google usually picks a page that contains a) the question and b) the answer.

For example:

When I search for:

Google Voice Search

I get this answer:

Google voice search results

And when I go to the actual page, I see that the content includes my question and a short answer:

Content that includes question and answer

Just what Google’s voice search algorithm wants to see.

In fact, that’s one of the main reasons that FAQ pages are GREAT for voice search SEO:

FAQ pages are great for voice search SEO

3. Ranking in a Featured Snippet helps A LOT

Featured snippet content is used in voice search results

Google’s algorithm has already put together a convenient little snippet.

So it makes sense that they would use that snippet in their voice search results.

In fact, our data revealed that 4 out of 10 voice search results come directly from a Featured Snippet.

4 in 10 voice search results come from a Featured Snippet

Speaking of Featured Snippets…

Last year I decided to make Featured Snippets a priority for us.

And it helped us go from a handful of Featured Snippets rankings to over 190.

Backlinko – Featured Snippet numbers

Here’s the step-by-step process that I used.


1. Find Featured Snippet opportunities

Your first step is to find:

Keywords that you already rank for.
AND
Keywords that have a Featured Snippet.

Why is it important to focus on keywords that you rank for already?

99.58% of all Featured Snippets are from pages that rank on the first page for that term.

So if you don’t already rank in the top 10, you have zero chance of ranking in the Featured Snippet spot.

How do you find Featured Snippet Opportunities?

Ahrefs “Organic Keywords” report.

It shows you keywords that you rank for… that also have a Featured Snippet:

Backlinko ranking keywords with featured snippet

3,117 keywords? Looks like I have some work to do 🙂


2. Add “Snippet Bait” to Your Page

“Snippet Bait” is a 40-60 word block of content specifically designed to rank in the Featured Snippet spot.

Why 40-60 words?

Well, SEMrush analyzed nearly 7 million Featured Snippets. And they found that the most Featured Snippets are 40-60 words long.

Most featured snippets are 40 to 60 words long

For example:

I wrote short Snippet Bait definitions for every page of The SEO Marketing Hub.

Backlinko – SEO Hub: Content Gap Analysis

And these helped my content rank in the Featured Snippet spot for lots of definition keywords.

Featured Snippet for "content gap analysis"

HubSpot takes Snippet Bait to another level.

They add little boxes to their posts that actually look like Featured Snippets:

HubSpot featured snippet

3. Format your content for other types of Featured Snippets

Snippet Bait works best for so-called “Paragraph Snippets”, like this:

Google search – "YouTube description" featured snippet

Even though paragraph snippets make up 81.9% of all Featured Snippets…

Type of Featured Snippet

…they’re not the only one.

If you want to rank for List Snippets…

Use H2 or H3 subheaders for every item on your list.

If you want to rank for list snippets use H2 or H3 subheaders for every item on your list

Google will pull those subheaders from your content… and include them in the Featured Snippet:

Google will pull those subheaders from your content and include them in the featured snippet

If you want to rank in Table Snippets…

You need to create a table that Google can easily pull data from.

For example, the content from this Table Snippet…

Table snippet SERPs

…is pulled directly from a well-formatted table.

Table snippet source site

Which leads us to our next topic…

Chapter 6:Master Search Intent

Nail Search Intent

Search Intent was a massive topic in the SEO world in 2019.

And for good reason:

Content that doesn’t match search intent simply won’t rank.

And as Google gets better at giving people the exact search results they want, creating content that’s a 1:1 Search Intent match is going to be a must in 2020.

Identify Each Keyword’s Intent

Every keyword has an intent behind it.

Maybe it’s to look something up.

Or buy something.

Or compare product A with product B.

And the better your content can match that search intent, the better it will rank.

So your first step is to figure out your target keyword’s Search Intent.

Sometimes the intent is right in the keyword.

Google search for "buy beats by dre headphones"

But it’s not usually that obvious. So for most keywords, the search results will tell you everything you need to know about that keyword’s Search Intent.

For example, take a keyword like: “protein powder”.

Someone searching for that term could want to buy some protein. Or maybe they want to learn more about it.

Well, according to Google’s first page for that keyword, most people searching for “protein powder” are looking for information.

Google search results for "protein powder"

Create Content That’s a 1:1 Search Intent Match

Now that you’ve identified Search Intent, it’s time to publish something that gives searchers EXACTLY what they’re looking for.

For example, when I analyzed the SERPs for “how to get YouTube subscribers”, I noticed that they were mostly list posts.

Google search results for "how to get YouTube subscribers"

So even though this was a “how to” keyword, I didn’t publish a step-by-step tutorial.

Instead, I published a list post.

Backlinko – How to Get YouTube Subscribers post

And because my content is what users want, that page ranks in the top 3 for that keyword.

Backlinko "how to get YouTube subscribers" SERP rankings

Re-Optimize Old Content for Search Intent

Search Intent optimization isn’t just for new content.

You can tweak your older stuff to make it a better Search Intent fit.

For example, this post used to rank really well for “SEO campaign”.

Backlinko – "SEO Campaign" old post

But as Google got better at figuring out what people that searched for that keyword actually wanted, my post started to drop in the rankings.

Which made sense: someone searching for “SEO campaign” doesn’t want a case study about a random guy. They want a list of steps.

So I transformed that post into a step-by-step guide that was easy to follow.

Backlinko – "SEO Campaign" post

Which boosted organic traffic to that page by 57.98%.

Backlinko – "SEO Campaign" traffic boost

Chapter 7:Combat Decreasing CTRs

Combat Decreasing CTRs

There’s no denying it:

Organic click-through-rate is down. Way down.

In fact, one industry study found that organic CTR on mobile search is down 41.4% since 2015.

It’s no secret why: Google is crowding out the organic search results with Answer Boxes, Ads, Carousels, “People also ask” sections, and more.

And to stand out in the SERPs, your result needs to scream “click on me!”… or else it’ll be ignored.

Include Your Keyword in Your URL

Earlier this year we published the results from our large-scale organic CTR study.

Backlinko study on Google CTR

And one of our most interesting findings was that keyword-rich URLs get 45% more clicks vs. URLs that don’t contain a keyword that matches the person’s search.

Keyword-rich URLs correlate with a higher organic CTR

Use Emotion (Without Going Overboard)

Our study found that emotional titles had a relatively high CTR.

Emotional titles have a higher organic click through rate

But we also found that title tags that contained “Power Words” reduced clicks by 14%.

Power words in title tags were correlated with lower CTR

It looks like Google searchers want to click on compelling titles. But if a title veers into clickbait territory, they’re going to click on something else.

Write Meta Descriptions for Every Page

This is a simple 2-minute step that can increase your CTR by approximately 6%.

Pages with a meta description have a higher average CTR .vs. Pages without a description

In fact, Google recently came out and said that links still play a key role in their algorithm.

Google search report on importance of links

And a study by Perficient Digital found that links have virtually the same importance as they did in 2016.

Links have virtually the same importance as they did in 2016

In short, quality content and links should still be the foundation of any SEO strategy.

And once you have a handle on that, it’s time to optimize your site for the new SEO trends that I outlined in this guide.

Bonus Chapter:Quick SEO Tips for 2020

Quick SEO Tips For 2020

In this chapter I’ll show you a few quick win tactics that are working great right now.

And should work even better in 2020.

Publish “Research Content”

Bloggers and journalists LOVE data.

And if you can hook them up with a stat, a survey, or an industry study, they’ll link to you like there’s no tomorrow.

For example, in 2019 we published 5 pieces of Research Content.

Backlinko research content in 2019

And those 5 pieces of content brought in 2,243 backlinks, 17,199 shares and 202,345 thousand visitors.

Insane.

The downside of Research Content is that it’s A LOT more work than banging out a list post or case study.

But when done right, the extra effort can totally pay off.

Create Visual Content (Especially “Concept Visuals”)

Just like video, visual content is growing fast.

In fact, a recent survey found that 87.5% of marketers use visual content in the majority of their content marketing efforts.

Percentage of marketers that use visuals in more than 90% of their content

And thanks to social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram, visual content should continue to see growth in 2020.

How can you take advantage of this trend?

Create more visual content… especially “Concept Visuals”.

In my experience, “Concept Visuals” can do just as well as a fancy infographic… if not better.

(Concept Visuals are images that are easy for other sites to embed into their content. When they do, they’ll usually link back to you).

For example, here’s a simple visual that I included in one of my guides:

RankBrain visual

And because this visual explains a tricky concept, people LOVE embedding this image in their content:

Visual included in a guide

In fact, this single Concept Visual has generated 20+ backlinks to my site.

Encourage Comments and Community

Do blog comments help your rankings?

The answer seems to be: “YES!”.

In fact, Google stated that community on your site (blog comments) can help “a lot” with rankings.

Google states community helps a lot with ranking

And last year Google said that “Comments are better on-site for engagement signals for SEO than moving to social.”

“Comments are better on-site for engagement signals for SEO than moving to social.”
Gary Illyes

In other words, Google wants to see that you have an active community on your site. And they may pay even more attention to this ranking signal next year.

Build Backlinks as a Podcast Guest

Podcasts are one of my all-time favorite ways to build links.

It’s like guest posting… without all the back-and-forth. Just show up, share what you know, and you get a sweet backlink:

Elementor podcast backlink

And podcasting’s popularity is growing like a beanstalk. In fact, 90 million Americans listen to at least one podcast per month (that’s up 26% vs. last year).

That means that next year there’s probably going to be even MORE opportunities for you to get links from podcasts.

Prune Zombie Pages

This is one of the few SEO techniques that seems to ALWAYS work.

I’ll explain…

Every site has pages that provide zero value.

(aka “Zombie Pages”)

Examples of zombie pages

To be clear:

A handful of Zombie Pages is no big deal.

But when you have hundreds of Zombie Pages?

It can drag down your entire site’s SEO.

For example:

Joe Robinson is a Backlinko reader that runs the digital marketing agency, Kazu.

And Joe noticed that one of his clients had 76 thin, low-quality articles on their site:

Kazu old client content

So he consolidated some of these articles into in-depth guides…

Kazu client new improved content

…and deleted or forwarded the rest.

What happened next?

His client’s organic traffic increased by 16.23% in 30 days:

Kazu web services client traffic increase

And traffic continued to climb as Google removed Zombie Pages from their index.

Traffic increase after removing zombie pages

Joe isn’t alone.

Alan Boyd emailed me a cool little Zombie Page case study.

Alan’s client is a tour company out of Palm Beach Florida.

Alan – Water sports client

And he quickly noticed that this site had 50 service pages that all said pretty much the same thing:

Alan client – Duplicated service pages

So he combined the content from those 50 pages into 4 category pages:

Alan client – Category page solution

And that single tactic increased their search traffic by 36.9%:

Alan – Client traffic increase

How about another example?

Bart runs the web design SaaS company, Readz.

Readz

Back in the day, Bart would publish content just for the sake of publishing content.

And this bloated his site with low-quality posts, like this one:

Readz low quality content

Then, earlier this year, he deleted 45 low-quality blog posts.

At first, his traffic dipped.

But as the algorithm kicked in, his organic traffic rapidly shot up by 32%:

Readz organic traffic increase

Pretty cool.

Now It’s Your Turn

SEO in 2020

So that’s how I’m preparing for SEO in 2020.

Now I want to turn it over to you: Which strategy from today’s guide are you going to try first?

Are you going to publish more “Research Content”? Or work on improving your organic CTR.

Let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.

648 Comments

  1. Great post, Brian. Question for you: is there a formatting/html difference between a concept image and a regular one? Or is it just about making sure you use valuable images that will make sense when used out of context in other places?

    1. Kyle, good question. Exactly: the main difference is that concept visuals can be used on other websites to explain concepts, show data etc.

      1. So how does it work – you create an unbranded image that can be used on other sites and then what? Do you offer an embed code, the way some infographics do?

        I’m sure many others would be intrigued to know!

  2. Great post! We are very strong on the content front but could use some help with video. Any tips, hacks, etc for getting started with video production?

  3. As usual, incredible article, Brian. You never fail to amaze me with the content that you put out and the value that you provide. I’ve implemented comprehensive, in-depth content for clients across industries for some time and they’ve all been seeing all-time highs in rankings, visitors and conversions. Thank you – Keep crushing SEO!

  4. Great stuff Brian! Love the tips and insights. Btw, really enjoyed the visual design that broke apart the chapters as it made it very easy to read.

    I do think it is going to be interesting to see how voice search evolves the next few years.

    1. Thanks Chris.

      I agree. I’m not all in on voice search like I am with video. But more people are searching via voice on their phones (myself included). And that’s a trend that’s going to impact SEO. As you alluded to, it’s not clear HOW this will impact things. But it’ll be interesting to follow it.

      1. It seems to me that the next logical step for voice search is to offer a CTA that can be triggered by voice. For example, after Google/Alexa/etc. deliver their answer they follow up with a question such as “To learn more about Acme’s Gold Widget programme say ‘Tell me more’.”
        Inevitably, paid search marketers bids will be first in the pecking order for such CTA’s, followed by any CTA that was found on the webpage (or website) from where the original info was sourced.

    1. Thanks Fabio. It’s definitely a ranking factor (Google has come out and said so). That said, it’s not a game changer because so many sites are HTTPS now.

    2. Fabio, I think that was a problem a few years ago, but today WordPress or any other platforms has plugins moving from https to http. Even if a ranking factor of https is low, customers see the message on their browsers that the website is not secure. Think about customer experience.

  5. Thanks for the predictions! 🙂

    Mobile first and video are what I’m going for. My mobile traffic recently surpassed desktop and it’s only going to grow. I believe websites that aren’t super fast on a mobile and that have a good UX will be left in the dust next year 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, Asher.

      Totally. Because Backlinko is B2B we only get around 15% of our traffic from mobile. But with Google’s Mobile-first algorithm, EVERY site has to be mobile-friendly to rank.

  6. A great guide Brian. We have some great rankings, but we are always looking to improve and see what the future holds for SEO.

    We do a lot with video so can highly recommend a focus in that area. Your voice optimisation is something we’ll definitely be concentrating on. Thanks.

  7. Hey Brian:

    Videos….

    Even though,it is bit time consuming to create a quality video, it is more than worth it. Great for traffic and SEO as well.

    Whats your take on FB videos for SEO?

    Awesome article as usual 🙂

    1. Hey Tom, yes definitely. Totally worth it.

      I actually don’t like FB videos. They’re half life is days or hours. YouTube=months and years.

  8. Pure value as always Brian!

    Last wednesday I was in a conference of the Spain and Portugal CEO of Google and she talked about machine learning going “everywhere” (not just the Google Home) like a VA that “guess” what you need before you even ask for it.

    So I think the future to get traffic is a combination of:

    1) Great content: instead of spending 5 hour per article and write 10 articles each month, spend 50 on ONE article and let it spread!

    2) LIQUID content that can be easily distributed of marked up for Google use (being it in Snippets or voice anwers). Break your content into small pieces, then create more content pieces out of it!

    And of course a beautifully mobile optimised page. 🙂

    Talking about mobile, what do you think of PWA?

    I personally think they are the reasonable near future and that we should be prepared for them, but Apple seems to be reticent about it (obvious reasons I guess..)

    Cheers and thanks for your content! I am just launching my site! 🙂

    1. Interesting, Ric. Makes sense that Google would implement more ML into their products.

      And yup, I agree 100% on those two points. It’s a deadly 1-2 combo. I actually don’t have much experience with PWA. Do you?

  9. Great content

    But I need to understand something.

    When you write an in-depth article, that you know has more quality than most of your competitors, but still, your competitors are still outranking you, what will you do

    I it because they have a higher domain authority than you?

    1. Thank you. Yes, that’s right: links are still key. Having the best content (or most in-depth content) isn’t enough to rank. You still need links.

    1. Paul, when you analyze competitors – check out their most linkable content because each niche is different. For example, Brian creates studies and researchers in order to gain more links. These pages don’t bring a lot of traffic like other pages, however, they bring links and authority. In other niches, it might be infographics, breaking news, step-by-step tutorials.

    1. Fiverr….not the most refined production or videos, but we regularly write a script, find someone on Fiverr and get back a pretty decent video quickly…it can be a good bridge until you feel comfortable doing it yourself

  10. Great post Brian, we are starting to see what looks like more voice related results for our clients over time. A lot of this fits in with local search/local SEO for businesses already, shops, restaurants etc. and is sensible to write, optimise and rank for; e.g. “builder in XYZ….” etc.

    More frequently these results seem to be thinking out loud type queries; e.g. “pizzeria near me”, or “my closest gardener”. Other than optimising GMB and pages for local search, so you rank the business well locally in the 3 pack and search, is there a way you can write and optimise pages for these sort of voice queries?

    1. Good call there, Paul. There are LOTS of voice searches in the world of local SEO. And quite a lot if informational searches to “How do I X” etc.

      I actually don’t think you need to change much of your local SEO optimization for local search. Google is good at interpreting these queries and bringing up the best 3 pack. So I’d focus on getting in the 3 pack for your main keyword. And when someone searches for something similar via voice, I’ve found Google shows the same results.

  11. Thank you Brian, this is awesome! About publishing studies, how do you gather all this unique data? How did you get access to behind-the-scenes data from 1.3M videos to analyze? We recently published an infograpghic on a client’s blog but it’s just data we quoted from other sites, not unique. I wonder if you can get your own stats when you have a small site.

    1. Hey Ester, really good question. The studies that I referenced in today’s guide was NOT easy to pull off. That said, it was worth it.

      An easier way to collect unique data is to conduct a survey on a hot topic. For example, “What Millennials Think About X”. This is pretty easy to pull off with something like Google Surveys.

  12. Brian, well done sir!

    Interesting stuff – especially the voice and video stuff. Crazy eh?

    Looks like I’ve gotta re-watch that YouTube course you created (First Page Videos) and churn out some videos!

  13. I have a startup in a boring but huge industry, universal joints yes the things in your car
    So as a startup I need as much help as I can to get some B2B traction.
    Will never have the money to compete against the big guys so I love what you do to help us little guys

  14. One of the best articles that I’ve read in a very long time! Took notes and gonna implement and test bunch of stuff you talked about. You’re a beast! Cheers, Tomas

  15. Awesome Content.

    I have recently started with videos and still in dilemma to target YT or FB for videos. I was planning to go with FB, but with current algo change in FB for trial run on supporting only sponsored post in news feed, I am in dilemma.

  16. Love your posts, Brian!

    I also love how it seems like the trend of your articles is to convey more and more information with images/video and less and less with text. Eventually, I feel like your blog posts will basically be infographics 🙂

    Thanks for creating great content.

      1. Customers want better and better experience consuming content. Augmented reality and visual reality will take a strong place in the future results. Even today, many mobile apps like Insta and Snapchat proposes such content. Ikea is another example.

  17. The voice search is something I really can’t quite understand, but it’s probably going to have an impact. One other thing that I believe it will have impact is AI. Huge companies are investing in that and it will become a major thing in the technology world.

    Thanks for the tips Brian!

    Regards,
    Ivaylo Durmonski

    1. You’re welcome, Ivaylo. I recommend doing a few voice searches on the Google App (or Google home). It’s like 100% accurate and faster than typing (especially on a phone).

      And yup, AI is definitely going to play a bigger and bigger role in SEO going forward.

  18. Thanks, Brian, brilliantly executed as always.

    I notice you don’t display dates in any of these articles or blog posts. I understand why, but, have you noticed if dates omission has any effect on rankings or user experience?

    1. Leslie, I think Google knows that Brian has less content, but always fresh )) Google uses many signals to learn UX. If visitors pay attention to dates because of a lot of out-dated online content it’s better to list your date.

  19. Once again, so much awesome info from Brian, that’s pure value.
    And so easy to understand and digest for us who are not SEO professionals or subject-matter experts.

    Definitely bookmarked for future use and reference. Thanks!

  20. wow, so generous, so much great material, another reminder that I should continue to fully flesh out some of my existing posts to get closer to 2,000 words instead of being satisfied with 900 or 1,000!

  21. Bloody brilliant as always Brian, would love your big blog posts as PDFs or epub’s. I have a 10-hour flight this weekend and they would be perfect reading on my iPad to pass the time.

    1. Thanks Chris. I’ll probably make a PDF version in a few weeks. In the meantime I recommend using iBooks to save the page as a PDF.

  22. Thanks – great article.

    I didn’t realize that Google was open about the top search ranking factors. Time to put even more work into building those backlinks and that out of this world content 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, Jakob. They’re not usually that open. So it surprised a lot of people when they announced their top 3 ranking factors.

  23. Great article Brian! We literally published a blog today on how to optimize a site for voice search! Thanks for sharing all this very useful information.

  24. Great post, Brian.

    Love how you incorporated videos into this blog post… where you talked about how good videos are for SEO.

    My guess for the future (at least the near future) of blogging is that incorporating video with the written content will be the standard. I mean, I know the smartest content creators already use video in their posts, but I’m talking about it becoming the norm across the board. Do you agree or disagree?

    Thanks for the great content!

    1. Thanks Caleb. I do agree. That said, it depends on the content. In some cases you just want a quick answer to a question. For others, you need an in-depth guide or tutorial that shows you what to do. That’s where videos can be super helpful and powerful.

  25. Very informative!
    This is honestly all I wanted to know, now I can continue doing my SEO and skip all the BS articles this year.

    As usual, thank you for being an inspiration and leader in the SEO world

    1. Yup, pretty much! Lots of BS SEO articles out there (especially “future of SEO” stuff). But if you just scale what you’re doing already, and add new strategies, you’ll be way ahead of most other people.

  26. Hi Brian,
    One of the best and most comprehensive SEO guides I have come across. Thanks mate. I’m sharing it on my 9,000+ member Facebook Group, Grow your niche site.
    Cheers

  27. Very thorough and useful post, I have already passed on to my colleagues as well. Many good hints and ideas that we can get started now to improve our results immediately and over time…

    A question for you…

    What is your opinion of the two most commonly installed WordPress SEO plugins Yoast and All In One SEO? I have heard pros and con for each, and of course, many bloggers or store owners count on them to do the hard work of SEO…

    If they are not updated to meet the new criteria that are in use or will be in use, they could very well be hurting many millions of websites and the rankings that come with good practice SEO…

    I would be interested in your recommendation as to what to use and why, or perhaps a viable alternative. Definitely, we all need something that will be effective to keep up with these changes.

    Thanks!
    Dave

    1. Thanks David. Good question.

      Those tools really just help you change your title tags, description tags etc. They don’t do that much in the actual optimization department (in terms of writing content, optimizing for CTR etc.). So I’d continue to use whichever SEO plugin works for you.

  28. Great article, Brian. I like your content schedule and how your articles are in-depth and provide a ton of value.

    What software, if any, do you use to create simple embedded images for your posts?

  29. Thanks Brian. This is the way it should be. Not sure if everyone is listing to you though but keep preaching it cause you’re dead on.
    Very interesting learning about how to optimise for voice search. But 100% agree it’s still very early

  30. Brian –

    Nice work – as usual. What resource do you recommend to visualize how your site looks on a google search page. I have found that my prepared meta tag – sometimes – does not end up being used by google on their search results page… So, I am never quite sure what snippets they will use..
    Thoughts?

    1. Hey Kevin, the only way is to do a Google search for that keyword. You’re right: Google tweaks the tags depending on the keyword. So you need to manually check to see if they use the meta tags you give it or if it makes something up.

  31. Hi Brian.
    I Just got your email and reach your updated article once again.
    ..Your stuff always impresses me.
    I hope that following this definitive guide will help and improve my SEO strategies in the coming days.
    Thanks for this awesome guide. 🙂

    Regard,
    Emanuel Debbarma

  32. Seo in three words :
    Brian,
    Brian,
    Brian.

    Yes,
    All what are you saying makes sense.
    Tested and approved.
    Using few of your tips for one year and got the result.
    Thank you Brian

  33. I’m a little confused on what an embeddable image is. Is what makes an image “embeddable” the content of the image itself? As in, it’s useful and so people might want to use it in their content? Or is there something technical about the image (ie. something in involving HTML/etc?) that makes it “embeddable”?

    I’m probably overthinking it and you just mean “make useful images that people might want to use”… lol.

  34. As per usual (always) amazing content. Thank you, Brian!

    I know I am a little late to the game, but one of my current goals is to create more video content alongside my writing.

    I have a question for you about your videos. Do you personally edit them? If so, which editing program would you recommend? If you don’t, is there a service you would recommend using for video editing?

    I really appreciate your response!

    Cheers
    -Keller

    1. You’re welcome, Keller. It’s actually not too late. IMHO, video is just getting started. I actually work with a freelancer who edits and produces my videos.

  35. Hey Brian, great guide here. Thanks for the effort of putting this together.
    I definitely agree with all your points, for me mobile and voice search is where the battle will be, particularly voice search as the winner takes it all.

  36. Awesome post!

    I just watched a video from Gary Vaynerchuk where he predicted that voice search (and everything voice related) will be huge in the future, and I completely agree with that.

  37. Hey Brian,

    What exactly is “amazing” content? Articles are always suggesting that marketers create “amazing”, “outstanding”, or “high-quality content”, but no one ever really describes what that means. I also think putting a word-count on “good” content is quite dangerous. I know plenty of fluff-filled and useless pieces of content that surpass 2000 words.

    In an ideal world, I really wish that online content had some sort of a gauge or rating system, like books or movies or journalism, that rewarded content for being well-written, well-researched, or groundbreaking. It’s too easy to fool Google into thinking you have “good” content. As a writer turned content marketer, it’s painful to see what Google sometimes rewards as “good” content”.

    Anyway, let’s see if the “good” content that I write this year will be recognized by Google.

    1. Hey Suzie, “Amazing” is definitely subjective. In the eyes of Google, it’s whatever satisfies a user’s query. Which is why search intent is so important right now.

    2. Suzie, check out your competitors. Learn their successful content on the top-10. It gives you more answers what amazing content is. It’s better to understand how to decide people’s problems and satisfy their intent better than your competitors. I like to use the Skyscrapper technique at that point. Don’t try to create high-quality content if there are a lot of such content. It’s better to find outdated topics that still generate traffic and create smth better with fresh information.

  38. Hey Brian,

    I wanted to share this with an associate that would like this, but there are only FaceBook and Twitter sharing buttons. Maybe you could add email sharing to get more spread of your article?
    I plan to share this on my own website as well.

    Great article and keep them coming!!

    Karl

    1. Hey Karl, thanks for the feedback. We actually had email sharing on our content but very few people used them. Maybe we’ll give them another test.

  39. Hey Brian Dean,

    If we published Visual content on the website, Is there any possibility spamming websites also gives you backlinks then it will hurt your site or not?

    Thanks

  40. Absolutely loved this article! I’ve already tweeted about it on social but now I know the importance of comments I wanted to leave you one too. 🙂 Can’t wait to dig deeper on your site!

    Thank you!

  41. I fall into the group of people skipping Google altogether and going straight to YouTube like you mentioned. Not only is video more engaging than reading text, I love the feature to speed up the video up to 2X the speed so that I can get through more info faster. In fact, I pass up on some videos on websites if there isn’t the ability to speed it up.

    So make sure to your embedded video content includes a speed control feature.

  42. Very comprehensive piece! Regarding voice search, I’d say it’s crucial to focus on phrases such as “eat by the river” as opposed to “restaurant by the river in Paris.” Would you agree?

    1. I’m not Brian, but I read this elsewhere recently. Publish your massive article and use it as cornerstone content. Write other articles that expand your sections from the cornerstone content. This helps you build great internal linking. This way you can focus your keyword as well. On top of your massive posts keyword, you can focus on more specific keywords on the expanded articles.

  43. Finally, someone who doesn’t overhype voice search! It still has a long way to go to become the standard. Great guide Brian! I’m definitely planning to get into video, especially YouTube. Have you seen decent traffic coming from videos alone?

  44. Awesome post! Very well structured and contains only necessary info, no extra baggage. This article really helped me grasp google’s algorithms on a deeper level than just using the right keywords and content.

    One thing that bugs me is how do you create content for an online shopping/e-commerce site? Do you write about how your products are made? One idea that comes to mind is a “How To Choose The Right {product_name} Today” kind of video. What would you suggest is a good video theme to get higher viewer engagement and higher time spent on site?

    1. Thank you. I recommend starting a blog on your ecommerce site. Then, publish content that your audience wants to read when they’re not searching for what you sell. There’s more to it than that, but that’s basically how to grow an ecom site with content marketing and SEO.

  45. This is the first time in a LONG time that I have read an entire blog from start to finish. Thanks for the great post and tips

  46. Hey Brian, insightful guide as always! One question re: video marketing: I know more and more videos are coming out each year, but do you think it’ll work for every industry?

    1. Hi Jamie, it won’t work for every industry. But there’s a place for video in most. Even some that you wouldn’t expect (like blenders).

  47. Wow, this is one of the most informative articles on SEO I’ve ever read. You definitely practice what you preach!

    Thanks so much!

  48. Hey Brian

    Once again, sweet post and massive value! This is just insane SEO by itself.

    Interesting to see how keywords aren’t “relevant” anymore and is much more like “search inquiry” and search “intention” instead. Google is getting smarter everyday.

    Enjoy your content! 🙂

  49. Thanks Brian. Another in-depth SEO how-to and guide. I refer all my newbie clients your way to get more familiarized with SEO after I start working with them.

    I tell clients that what Google wants to see today is great conversation. I think voice searches are contributing to this more and more now.

    Google is understanding how humans communicate with each other in everyday life… and it’s not like we find typed on most websites.

    I really want to dig into featured snippets more because like you mentioned above – that is the biggie and a MASSIVE driver of traffic to any page.

    Thanks again!

  50. Very helpful to mention about how Google looks for questions and answers on the page. I think i’ll start implementing that more often so thanks.
    BTW, what kind of page builder do you use on your site, is it Thriveleads? It looks beautiful.

  51. Amazingly helpful content as always Brian! Do you have any recommended low cost, or free tools for creating nice looking “concept visuals”. I found Canva recently, but wondered if you have another suggestion. Thanks.

  52. Hey Brian! Been a longtime reader of your stuff. Always finding good nuggets of info here. You mention embeds etc.. What’s your thought on site embeds ie…embedding in site in Google sites? Any insight or experience with that?

    1. Megan, I hear you on that. Blogging, content and SEO are changing all the time. That’s actually why I love the field!

  53. Hi Brian,

    Brilliant article, but i am slightly overwhelmed!

    Starting out new in SEO, and having launched my own website in the home interior market under a month ago, as a noob in the market and industry, which bits are the best / easiest ones i should start implementing in order to get some good quality linking and traction in SERPs?

    The main goal now is to increase impressions in search to approx 1k impressions a month in the next 3 months. Any actionable tips would be appreciated!

  54. The content is so impactful, telling us what remains relevant and what to prepare and anticipate in SEO strategies. Definitely video and voice SEO are trends to follow. Thank you and respect, Brian

    1. You’re welcome, Tandil. I tried to make this guide forward-looking without losing track of what’s still working right now.

  55. Hey Brian, what off-site authorship signals can we use – author bio for each piece of content, even for a classic “basic page”? Do you think we should be linking to LinkedIn profiles?

    Thanks Brian, you’re the 📈 man

    1. Hey Rowan, I think it’s more about off-site expertise vs. off-site authorship. In other words, how do people talk about (and link to) your site’s authors online? Are they trusted by peers? In other words: you can be an expert without writing a single guest post. It’s not like the old Google Authorship program where you needed to write for a bunch of sites for it to work.

  56. I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, but I actually get EXCITED when I get Brian’s emails with new guides… this one is top quality as always! Thanks again.

  57. Brian, what a hell of a post. Well done…

    This is one of your best posts and it is bookmarked for later. Some elements I am going to be implemented on sites within the week.

    Cheers

  58. Hi Brian,

    I’m not quite sure if my last comment went through successfully. So I’ll write it again 😀

    A beautiful article you’ve got here. The best piece of content I’ve read by far this year. And I’ve been reading a lot lately 😀

    I would love to rewrite your article in my native language (Dutch). I live in Belgium, East Flanders and people are newbs in SEO over here.

    That’s why I believe your Article could help a lot of native Dutch speakers if it was translated.

    I would love to translate your article in my native language and share it on my website if you wouldn’t mind. I would reference the audience to your article at in the article saying you’ve allowed me to translate the article for the Dutch-speaking people.

    I’m sure your article would be of a great aid for lot’s of businesses if translated.

    Thank you for taking this into consideration.

    Once again, top-notch content here!!

    Cheers,
    Christopher

      1. Thank You Brian,

        I will update you when I’m done rewriting this beautiful content in Dutch and post it on my website.

  59. The most same time funny, same time sad thing is that content and links are still the crucial part to rank in TOP10 and only after you rocked in your field and been showed in TOP10 all other hints start working.

    Thanks for this awesome information, Brian. You did fantastic research.
    Keep it up!

  60. Hi Brian,

    Serious question: what do you think about putting emojis in title tags and meta descriptions? I just successfully got a phone emoji to show up for one of my clients in the SERPS, and I’m a little too happy about it! 😃

    1. Hey Gregory, I actually haven’t tested emojis that much. But it makes sense that they’d help improve your CTR for certain searches.

  61. Hi Brian! I was wondering what your thought was on including videos on my blog from YouTube that are NOT my videos? I think this could help session duration, but I want to know if it’s better to create my own videos. Does Google know the difference? Thank you for sharing this.

  62. Thank you for these easy-to-read guides. Much appreciated and always help me secure better contend on my posts.

    If your wordpress theme lets the post title be the H1 is there then any need to make another H1 down in the text ?

  63. Thanks so much Brian!
    Your content is so detailed. Seriously the best in the game.
    Optimize for Voice Search is the section I want to read up a bit more on. This will be the future in my opinion. Getting up more questions and answers is a great point.

    Thanks

    Adam

  64. Hi Brian,

    Love this guide! I’ll be implementing changes on our SERP features for a few clients we’re currently struggling to rank.

    Quick question: What are your thoughts on using old school link building techniques like blog comments, directory listings, and forum postings?

  65. A really informative article as always. But there’s nothing regarding Social Media, does posting to social media sites have any impact on SEO anymore?

    1. Thanks Vinod. I do think social shares have a very small temporary impact on rankings. But it’s not super important so I didn’t include it here.

  66. I’m going to focus on “Snippet Bait.” Would it be feasible to create a category called “Question and Answer FAQs”? Each post is a 60 word block of content specifically designed to rank in the Featured Snippet spot. Would that work? Or, does it have to be included in a longer blog post?

    Thanks so much for this EPIC article!

    1. Hey Sherry, it depends on the keyword. If the keyword/query requires a lot of content to answer (more than what you’d write for a Featured Snippet), I’d dedicate a long post. Otherwise, a shorter post might work.

  67. Wow, Brian, your guides really kick ass! 🙂
    Congrats on the huge work.
    A technical question: how do you make those full-width color background sections at the beginning of each chapter?
    I’d love to know.

    1. Full width color background sections are made with css and div hierarchy. If you are using wordpress as main blog technology then WPBakery Page Builder or Divi Builder can help you to make full width color background sections without developer.

  68. Hi Brian, this is a really informative article and I really enjoyed. However, I just concern about “Create Video” point which you discuss inside post.

    The video is really great for engagement and your videos are good too. But, I don’t know how to create basic mixing kind of video like your videos. How you can adding search stuff along with your body and adding sound and all things.

    Can you please provide me article or video which teach how to create video easily. Thanks in advance. And also thanks for sharing this valuable article.

    1. Thanks Karan. I actually work with someone who handles most of the video production side. So I don’t know a lot of the details.

  69. This is great, Brian. Fantastic info, well pieced together and beautifully presented. It seems to me that it’s really more of the same. If you concentrate on the fundamentals of SEO and don’t cut corners, your client sites will perform well.

    1. Hi Rory, there’s a lot of truth to that. SEO changes a lot but the fundamentals (links and content) will probably never change.

  70. Brian, Your content is as always relevant and flawless, and the graphic design, fonts and icons are super. Imagine how much time you write and edit such an extensive post.

  71. Great work again, always find your articles very easy to read and understand and v helpful.

    I am also getting into the video side of things, I have a site helping people with anxiety. I am not the best in front of the camera but would you say for videos it would be better to do this or create a good visual video with narration? Thanks

    1. Hey Paul, my take is to stick with the format that you can hit out of the park. Of course, getting in front of a camera is hard for anyone. But if you really prefer to create visuals with narration, I’d start there.

  72. Hi Brian! Amazing post as always. It seems like adding some question phrases into content is a best practice, though I’m wondering:

    *For the snippet bait, does this sort of “Q&A section” need to be toward the top of the post? Do you also put a question in your meta description?

    I checked out your “channel description” post and noticed you had two questions right in the intro.

    Thank you for all your wisdom! 🙂

    1. Hey Jessie, I prefer to put them up top. But I’ve seen Google pull the Featured Snippets from different parts of the page.

  73. Hi Brian,
    This is such a great article – so many things I want to try. Question: when you talk about creating ‘snippet bait’ for featured paragraph snippets, where is the best place to add that to your content – in the beginning, all throughout? Also, you said lists should be formatted with header tags – what about paragraph snippets? Thanks for all the great advice!

    1. Good question, Courtney. From my own testing and experience, snippetbait at the top of the page tends to work best. And for paragraph snippets, you can just use normal paragraph text.

  74. Hey Brian,

    First of all, I want to thank you for your content. I follow your blog and your youtube channel. You make SEO look interesting and for me, it’s not easy at all.

    What do you think about building backlinks with Wikipedia? In my own country (Italy) there are a lot of terms that require sources or don’t even exist. Can I use my blog posts as a source if they’re science-backed?

    I heard you say that is better to update an old post than writing a new one. However, my field is not very dynamic. If I improve the writing and maybe add a few paragraphs can it be considered “spammy” by Google?

    Thanks for your time.

    1. Hey Luca, the problem with Wikipedia links is that they’re all nofollow. That said, they can bring you targeted traffic in certain cases. But it depends a lot on the specific entry.

      To your second question, it depends on how much you update the article. If it’s significantly improved, I usually update the last published date

  75. And again Brian, you absolutely killed it with this massively in depth and easy to follow guide. Love it! Well done and we’re definitely going to be prioritising these areas for our clients.

  76. Hey Brian!

    So I recently gained a big interest In SEO thanks to my amazing professor who told me to read your guides. Your way of writing really engages one to want to learn more.

  77. Hey Brian,

    I’ve been following you for a while now and I just want to say, thanks for the amount of effort you put into these articles. They’re not only extremely helpful, but the way you write them is the perfect example of writing in a simple, engaging way that makes navigating them a cinch.

    I often start reading them on the train to work and finish on the way home – or in chunks. You’re one of the few pages out there which reads beautifully on a mobile device (again – because you’ve purposely created them that way). I usually always prefer reading longer form articles or more specifically how-to type guides on a desktop as the embedded information is almost always a pain on a mobile device but you definitely buck the trend there.

    So please keep up the good work, it’s really appreciated.

  78. Hi Brian,
    Love your chapter on snippets. I’m actually experimenting with a couple of them right now. Especially table snippets. Very interesting to see what happens.
    Keep rockin’ 🙂

  79. As always Brian, the information that you give us is by far the best we will ever get online.
    I know there are a few people in the community that I have my websites hosted at don’t know who you ar3e so I wrote a small post outlining a few of these awesome tips so that they can check out this post, I of course linked to both your website and this post and told them to subscribe.
    The post is here https://tinyurl.com/ybyxmqcj if you want to take a look but if you are not happy with me doing a bit of copying I will, of course, take it down.
    Please let me know 🙂
    Cheers

  80. What happens when someone jumps into YouTube app from my site rather than watching videos into my website? Any SEO benefits for that?

    I am having huge site speed issues for using YouTube videos into my website. For that, using lightbox to pop-up videos when clicking into a button. But that lightbox is too small on mobile devices and i fear losing traffic to YouTube.

    Waiting for your suggestions.

        1. I think I see what you mean. That’s weird. I recommend just embedding a YouTube video normally. That way, it will play on your page.

          1. Anytime you add something to a page it’s going to slow things down. It’s ultimately up to you on what makes the most sense for your content.

  81. Amazing article, especially the Featured Snippet part. Thank you for the hard work and for the great guide.
    I personally got a few good ideas from it.

    Hint: You didn’t say anything about AMP. What is your opinion for it? I am with mixed feeling, that is why I temporary removed it from my website. But it also has advantages, especially when we are talking about mobile snippets.

  82. Incredible article Brian, I need to start working towards that featured snippet. 3 months into a new blog though, may take awhile. What’s the word on new websites ranking? 🙂

  83. Thank you Brian for this great article! I enjoy reading it even though it took quite sometime of slow reading to sink all concept in and trying to remember them. For future reference, I also shared your article in my Facebook post so I can refer to and share with those who worked with me. I like the way you presented the details and its easy to read and understand.:)

  84. Dear Brian, thanks a lot for all your articles.

    I’ve been testing all your tips from your Youtube Videos.

    Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be enough and don’t work as standalone techniques. I mean I’ve tried to improve site speed, longer content than competitors, internal linking, alt tags, optimize CTR…, well you know this better than me.
    After that, I’m still lost in the abyss of search results…

    I think that anyway, now Google just want us to advertise and that’s it. SEO can’t compete with bigger than you.

    1. You’re welcome, Tristan. You actually raise a good point: these techniques work best if you apply them together and as part of a detailed plan.

  85. Thanks a lot for your incredible guide. Lots of information but the layout makes it enjoyable to read.

    We’re only two working on our website so I have to do a little bit of everything (writing, social management, press relations with brands, SEO etc.) and finding this kind of content is priceless. Your tip about deleting old low-value content is great, even though It’ll take a lot of time to sort our 2500 articles out.

    We still don’t have HTTPS, would you rate it as something important to have ?

    Second and last, keywords. I use SEO Ultimate on WordPress and I sometimes doubt about what words and sentences to put in the “Tags” box. Does it need to be very specific or broad words are good to have too ? Like if I’m writing about Porsche beating the previous record on the Nurburgring with the new GT2 RS, can I put “Nurburgring” and “Porsche GT2 RS” as tags or is better to just keep “Porsche record nurburgring” and specific tags like this one ?

    Have a great Sunday and thanks again,
    Alex.

    1. You’re welcome, Alex. HTTPS is something that helps, but it’s hard to redirect everything. To your second question, I don’t use tags in WordPress. I don’t find them to help

  86. G’day Brian,

    I skipper a luxury sailing boat conducting expedition voyages for discerning explorers, harnessing the wind for propulsion in the worlds’ largest marine park – the Great Barrier Reef, consequently travelling quite slowly. By comparison, I think I have taken my first lesson combining rocket science & quantum physics AND I have enjoyed it very much.

    Over the last 2 decades, I have unsuccessfully engaged SEO professionals to lift my site on the web, being to scared to attempt anything like that myself (even though as a professional sailor I am comfortable in situations of personal peril during storms at sea). Your guidence and tools have given me the confidence to incorporate my knowledge & expertise into my web site content. I originally doubted my ability thinking professional writers were required BUT just like our guests soak up my wifes knowledge of the underwater world, I look forward rewriting my web site and sharing our specialised knowledge and experience of our “back yard” which is about half the size of Texas !

    A huge thank you from”Down Under”!

  87. Hi Brian.

    Thank you for the helpful article! This article will help all SEOs and bloggers.

    Can I translate the article into Japanese? I would like Japanese people to know this article. Of course, I will put backlinks on my blog that is translate of this article.

    Thanks.

  88. Hi Brian, Thank you for the great post. It helps me a lot!

    What I wonder is, is there any chance for a commercial website to win a featured snippet? Whenever I googled something and see featured snippets, it was always non-commercial sites. Is it just because most commercial sites are lack of information for featured snippets or just because Google doesn’t want to post commercial sites in features snippet?

    1. Good question, Jessie. Featured Snippets are designed to answer informational queries. So Google sources that from blog posts, articles etc.

  89. This has been fascinating. Learning that pages are rewarded for publishing long-form, authoritative research & reference is exciting news! I look forward to trying many of the ideas you’ve offered here.

  90. Would it be possible to speak more in depth on E-commerce business’s? For companies that are not selling through Amazon and other retail giants, what is the best SEO strategy? Would love it, if you could use the activewear industry as an examples.

  91. When I came to your blog it took my whole day. Ask me why?
    Yes, it is your killing internal linking!
    Google should google this article and they should follow these steps. LOL
    I am gonna implement those steps today, promise!

  92. Brian, thank you for this epic content. Your posts are so thorough. I’m going to use this right away. I didn’t even think about going on podcasts to build qualify links. Thanks!

  93. I’m starting to get a sense that unless you have a YouTube strategy you’ll be left in the dust from an SEO perspective.

    Any thoughts on this? To succeed long term you need both a website and YouTube.

  94. Great article. The text and layout is a perfect example of how to write great content. Your thoughts on authoritative evergreen content is informative but I have yet to see the impact of this at least in my niche. Plan on implementing suggestions re blog comments to see if it has a positive impact.

  95. It’s crazy that this is free 🙂 Been a fan of Brian’s since I learned about him from Noah Kagen. Provides insane value! The SEO space is so full of misinformation too so it’s nice to see someone who does their research.

  96. Thanks for the great tips! I love that you touched on the importance of video without diminishing the importance of written content. While video is definitely important for users, Google has not yet figured out how to “read” videos or images. That’s where written content comes in.

    1. Hi Alison, you’re welcome. Great point there: written and video content both have value. It depends on the situation.

  97. The voice search is something I really can’t quite understand, but it’s probably going to have an impact. One other thing that I believe it will have impact is AI. Huge companies are investing in that and it will become a major thing in the technology world.

    Thanks for the tips Brian!

  98. Such a comprehensive piece!

    I am a believer that content and links are still the number 1 and 2 ranking factors, so I totally agree with you. I know it’s still early days, but would be cool to have your thoughts on Google’s new link attribution tags (nofollow, sponsored, and ugc). Do you think we could see a return of comment spamming?

    1. Hi Joe, it’s hard to say at this point. I do think that Google is trying to figure out some of the nuances with nofollow links so they can differentiate between comment spam and editorial nofollow links that should be dofollowed. So people may spam more with comments but I don’t see it working.

  99. This post is a “piece of art”. All what counts in SEO presented in such a cool way! Thanks for sharing it. I reckon what will gain the importance in 2020 are rich snippets, voice search and videos. Cheers

  100. Hi, Brian Dean, this is an awesome post and thanks for having us in mind in 2020 😀

    I have a quick question that has been bothering me, this Spam Score introduced by Moz, does Google actually recognise it and acknowledge it when penalising a website?

    Thanks.

    1. Thanks Joy. Glad you liked it. To answer your question, Google doesn’t use Moz’s Spam Score in their algorithm. It’s a 3rd party metric that doesn’t reflect how Google measures spam.

  101. I wonder how great an article can be and this one just crack every article I have read ever on SEO. Well I have a doubt is sponsored or ucg link building is better than nofollow link.

    1. Thanks Jay. It’s a little too early to say that. In my mind, it will depend on the specific link (where it’s placed on the page, etc.).

    1. In some ways, I agree with you Johnny. But I’m not thrilled about organic click through rate dropping more and more every year.

  102. Hi Brian, loved the article. I’m getting terrific results with featured snippets right now and I’m excited that BERT is opening up more opportunities for tiny businesses. Focusing on user intent is really working.

    1. Thanks Alison. Glad yo hear that. Same here: ever since I’ve started to pay more attention to Featured Snippets its paid off.

  103. Hey Brian,

    Awesome piece, again!

    Just wondering though, in order to boost domain authority especially with a new local biz site, do you think press releases and citation help?

    Thank you bru 🙂

  104. Another tip that goes along with your YouTube tips is leverage your channel audience and tell them to “search for” ect.. it helps with increasing brand searches, rankings and making you an authority because every time someone watches the video a % will check out what you tell them to search and shows Google you are an authority even more.

    Another tip that is related to YouTube is if you did a YouTube video highlighting key points of this post or even just your “bonus” section and then embed that video in your bonus section for more “visual” content and to get that YouTube video to rank for “SEO in 2020” or 2020 SEO Guide ect..

  105. re: Hiding publish dates…

    If there was a site where, at one time in the past, had blog posts published, yet for years, has had nothing new published and there doesn’t look like there will be a plan to publish any additional articles.

    The fear is that it looks like it’s “unkept” to traffic. What do you suggest in a scenario like that? (this is our church site right now, and it’s been requested of me to remove publish dates)

    Thanks!

  106. Hey Brian,

    What a great and actionable advice to kick off 2020!

    I’ve seen FAQ snippets also plays a major role significantly on On page SEO. What’s your perspective on this?

    Regards
    -Tony

    1. Hey Tony, thank you. I actually haven’t tested out FAQ Snippets. I’ve seen them work to increase CTR in some cases though. Seems promising.

    1. Hi Mert, I haven’t tested that. But no, I don’t think YouTube cares about that. They just want videos that keep people on YouTube.

  107. Featured snippets are a beautiful thing, I wonder how the look and feel will change over the years. Regardless if you aren’t taking advantage now you are missing out. Brian, as always love your posts!

    1. Hi Mark, thank you. Definitely. Featured Snippets are something I spent a lot of this year focusing on. And it seemed to have helped.

  108. Best SEO tips brian, you are the best SEO guru in the market.
    What i want to know is how can we create a blog post like this.

    Do you make it with the help of page builder or by adding CSS?
    Please let me know that.

  109. Another banger! Love your stuff Brian.

    Any chance you could create a blog post devoted entirely to E-A-T? I know you went over the subject pretty thoroughly at the beginning of the article but I like to use your posts as resources for future use so a devoted blog post for this subject would be awesome.

    Specifically I’d like to know how someone can go from totally unknown blogger to a recognized SME. Just a thought!

      1. Right on, thanks! That is a great resource. I’ll have to bookmark it for future reference as well as your SEO 2020 article.

    1. Thanks Caitlin. They both have their pros and cons.

      YouTube pros: the views can help your videos rank better on YouTube.

      Own website hosting pros: you can sometimes use video schema to rank your video as a video result in Google (pretty rare though).

      To me, it depends on the video. If it’s a short clip that only makes sense to site visitors, I go with Wistia self-hosted. But if the video also has potential to do well on YouTube, I’ll host it there.

  110. Hi Brian –

    We recently tested some featured snippets for a client on a pillar/skyscrapper page and it paid off. We addressed some of the questions that “people also ask” in our snippet.

    It was amazing to see the results (very quickly, within days).

    More recently it fell off the results page, no other page for the keyword has a snippet.

    Would you suggest keeping the same snippet or changing them up to “keep it fresh” for Googs?

    1. Hey Susanne, I’d keep it as it is actually. Google will sometimes show a snippet, then not show a snippet, then show it again. It’s been super volatile over the last 2-3 weeks. So I’d keep it there in case Google decides that a Featured Snippet is a good fit for that keyword again.

  111. Great post Brian! Really loved it.

    A quick question:

    How much important does structured data/schema markup plays in voice search optimization or featured snippets?

  112. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Brian.

    I think, next to writing killer, evergreen content for ‘expertise’ (E-A-T) optimizing for featured snippets is the focus point in getting traffic.

    – Jan

    1. Hey Jan, you’re welcome. Sounds like a good plan. You can’t go wrong with evergreen content that helps your E-A-T. And getting ranked in the FS spot can be a huge bonus win.

  113. Hey Brian,

    Do you have a view on SPAs. More and more websites seem to be being built as an SPA and it is much more technical from an SEO perspective to get Google to index and rank the pages. Any thoughts?

    Cheers

    1. Hey Richard, I don’t have much first-hand experience with SPA sites. My take is that, if SEO is important for that site, they’re better off with a more traditional setup.

  114. Wow, one of the most informative articles I have read in a while! I am wondering if you have any thoughts on link parties. I write a lifestyle/home decor blog and have noticed a lot of weekly link parties are being discontinued lately. I host 2 of them and am wondering if they are hurting my SEO? Should I stop hosting them? Thanks!
    Shelley

  115. Wao! Genius guide, content like this make SEO easier to explain and people can start doing their strategies.

    I think webs that already rank on Google need to focus on: snippets, Youtube and their E-A-T.

    Those 3 things will make you more visible in the places that Google is driving the traffic: SERP and YouTube.

    Considering all the “no clicks”, brands need to be present at all places.

    Thank you again for this helpful guide. Greetings from Venezuela.

  116. Great resources for SEO’s! But I think there are some limitations to implement all of these tactics for all types of websites. For example someone has a ‘graphic design service’ related website. He takes order from his service page. So would it be natural if he publish a 3000 word’s in-depth and research based content on his service pages?

    So what’s the way to get natural backlinks and get higher rankings for an online service related website?

  117. Hello Brian. I have got one question. Lets assume that i run ecommerce with a lot od products – mostly very similar. So how to avoid zombie pagez penalty?
    Thc

  118. This is awesome. I’m going to spend some time on those featured snippets tomorrow. I think you’re right about video being the wave of the future too.

  119. Hey Brian,
    Really the induatry of SEO is going tough day by day.
    But some kind of awesome consultant like you, are making this tough too easy for us.
    Thanks for sharing this awesome content to improve our tactics.

  120. The time has come, where there is a lot of produced content. So we read less and less. There is more text scanning. So what will the absorption of content look like in 10 years? I think it will be more a hunt for 1. Super condensed information content 2. Texts that provide us with some impressions. What do you think about it ?

  121. “publishing content for the sake of content” that is the biggest mess we deal with. So many clients have hundreds of extra pages taking up crawl budget and getting no visitors. The biggest hurdle is getting them to remove considering they spent time and money to create.

    1. Hi Joe, I’ve been there so I hear you on that. It’s not an easy sell for sure. One thing that sometimes helps is to start with pages that literally get zero traffic. And as a test, delete a few of them. It’s easier for clients to swallow vs. deleting 1k+ pages.

  122. Hi Brian,

    Great content. Thanks a lot for sharing it with us.

    Can you go a bit more in depth on how you can find and delete the zombie pages, cause in our website they might be a couple thousands and I am not sure where to start.

  123. Hey,
    It`s really good to see someone dive as deep as you do. I don`t know if you have any other projects but I have a question for you. Unfortunately, I still love EMD-domains..in terms of branding. I have done a few experiments now and it might look like EMDs have a rougher time to get ranking on their EMD. While longtails seem to be no problemo. Any insights here? I know I should quit using those EMDs.

    1. Hi Ole, my take is that EMDs are basically neutral for SEO. So they won’t hurt you, but they probably don’t give you the edge that it used to.

  124. Interested in visual search. The thing is you really have to take a look at whats your industry is. If your products is visual, you should really take a look at this new trend. Google also understand that younger generation is very visually minded, just like instagram or tiktok.

    1. Well said, Dima. Visual search is one of those things that, in 1-2 years, we’ll wonder how we lived without it. Especially younger peeps.

  125. Brian,

    I have a real estate and mortgage company in San Diego – I use BombBomb for email marketing – and, can also upload them to my website.

    For a website – would you recommend I use it hosted by YouTube – or any service provider – in terms of SEO benefits?

    1. Hi Scott, you can host videos on YouTube or another platform. The idea is more to entice someone to watch a video on your page to boost Dwell Time.

      1. @Brian –

        If you dont mind a follow up – if I have a long detailed blog post say “San Diego’s Best Areas to Live in 2020”

        And, thats the title, meta description, url structure in some way

        If I wanted to do a video on this as well to add, on YouTube, would I use essentially the same title, meta description, url structure

        Or different?

  126. I was thinking few days ago when Brian is coming up with a 2020 article, and you read my mind. Ha!

    For the search intent, if a page keeps ‘jumping’ from page 1 and 9, does it mean that search intent is not served ?

    1. Hi Chefoo, yup it was time for a 2020 update. It definitely could be that. Or just Google’s usual algo updates moving things around. It’s hard to say.

  127. The level of effort you put into these blog posts are extremely inspiring. Love the youtube content you put out as well. Just as good as the written posts. May 2020 bring even more opportunities for you 🙂

  128. 👉🏼 “That’s because Google wants to feature content that’s written by legit experts in their field.”

    What if the writer isn’t an expert but knows how to create high-quality content by sourcing quotes from experts using tools like HARO?

    I recall reading a post from a marketer I admire that writers should behave more like reporters and less like columnists. It’s okay to not have all the answers. But it’s important to have the ability to research and interview and tell the stories of those that do. ‬😊

    Curious to hear your thoughts, Brian. As always, EPIC post! 💯

    1. Hi Priscilla, great question there. The way I see it, Google basically looks at author and website authority. So if that quoted piece of published on a trusted website, than you don’t necessarily have to be an expert in that field. If you think of news sites, most of the content is written by journalists who summarize what’s out there. They’re usually not experts in that field. Hope that makes sense.

  129. Great article, I loved it. One quick question for you? Do you think the guest posting will still work in 2020 for the backlink? It seems like lots of people are getting into this.

  130. Awesome forecast Brian! I’m glad that content and links play a critical factor in SEO. But I have to agree with you, times are changing. And the ability to adapt quick in this industry can make or break any business. Thanks for looking out for us!

  131. Thanks Brian,
    Your article is wonderful, I learn more. thanks again.
    I am from china, SEO is very popular in China.
    Can I ask you one question?
    About the B2B business. Such as machine.
    Can you give some advice on the ranking of my product keywords?
    Thanks in advance.
    Zhang

    1. Hi Zhang, the concepts here also apply to B2B. The key is creating content that you can build links with. Then, use internal linking to link to your product pages.

  132. Hey, Comments are better on-site for engagement signals for SEO than moving to social. My question: What is better to embed? A facebook comments on a page or normal comments, or is the same? (I am not using WordPress, will make the comments with PHP)

  133. Excellent work, especially as the SEO world is just about as full of self-promoting *experts* as it possibly could be. It’s grand to see such clarity and structure in content. An easy read, just the right amount of substantiation / evidence too, enabling me to go off and mentally update client-facing conversations, especially with E-A-T.

  134. Hey, brain!
    This article is the holy grail for every marketer in 2020, found it very helpful. Can you help me to increase my authoritativeness as I am a newbie. “How to make Google or any third party website to trust my authority towards a subject”. An article like this would be highly appreciated.
    Thanks for sharing valuable information.
    Regards

  135. If you delete a zombie page do you have to 301 redirect it or not? If you do how long do you keep it in htaccess?

    Other thing I was wondering was is there any danger in making an exact match head keyword pillar page? I was recently reading about topic clusters and beefed up my category pages to a 1000+ words plus the links to long tail keyword articles.

      1. Thank you. Trying to understand your comment and “if it’s similar”. In the past I had deleted stuff then got a bunch of errors in WMT.