SEO in 2020: The Definitive Guide

The Definitive Guide To SEO In 2020

This is the ultimate guide to search engine optimization 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.

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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 about this important SEO trend.

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 E-A-T seems to be a more important ranking factor than before.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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).

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

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 mobile device and start scanning stuff around your room.

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

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

Heck, I tried Bing’s visual search on my phone. And it 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.

And just like with “normal” SEO, it’s important 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:

And feature the image at the top of the page:

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.

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.

Which makes it easy for them 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.

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.

But it’s not 100%.

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 how to create high-quality videos).

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

(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.

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

Here’s an example of what I mean:

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. And from my own Google Analytics data, I’ve seen that this can significantly improve your bounce rate.

Embedded videos can decrease bounce rate

Here’s an example of this in action:

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:


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:

I get this answer:

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


3. Ranking in a Featured Snippet helps A LOT

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.

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

Like most things in SEO, the first step is keyword research.

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:

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.