The world of SEO continues to evolve and 2019 saw large changes in Google search results. Consumers are changing how they search, both through the devices they use and the types of queries they search, and Google is adapting alongside them. With a reported 65% of all searches done a mobile device, websites must adapt to this explosive mobile movement and the use of voice search. Of course, Google has always focused on making user and mobile experience paramount, and in 2019 Google has continued to prioritize giving users the best and most relevant results on mobile. In this two-part series, we’ll look back at 2019’s biggest changes in SEO and give recommendations for what to expect in 2020.
The algorithm updates in 2019 continued to emphasize the importance of website quality and also signaled a change in users’ search queries. 2019’s major updates include the confirmed Core Algorithm update, which emphasizes the importance of content and quality, and the more recent BERT update, which reflects an increasing shift in Google’s use of AI to better understand user search intent. BERT also demonstrates that users have shifted to using more long-tailed keywords phrased conversationally, especially in voice search.
The concept of EAT – expertise, authority and trustworthiness – became widely known in 2019 and will remain at the core of any successful SEO strategy well into the future. EAT accounts for the entire website experience, including UX, page speed, and great, trustworthy content. These factors are now wholly intertwined in a website’s success in Google rankings. To optimize for EAT and succeed in the rankings, SEOs now need to fully own the entire user experience from top to bottom.
One of the sweeping changes that has taken a deep root in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), especially on mobile, are featured snippets. It’s reported that rich answers in Google mobile search have more than doubled since 2018. Clearly, featured snippets have gained importance in 2019 and will continue to do so – since Google has taken the lead as the curator of content, it’s organized information to guide searches. As a result, the competition for top rankings has increased; position 0 has replaced #1 as the most coveted spot. Since standard organic listings are not enough to capture these spots, SEOs must look for new ways to gain traction and measure their impact. In this competitive landscape, questions and answers, long tail queries, and conversational language became buzzwords for optimizing content, and featured snippet optimization became the new norm for SEOs. Considerations on the impact of BERT suggest these may further increase as long tail queries return more informational results.
Its now well-known that mobile-friendly sites are critical to long-term success. 2019 signaled the official shift when Google moved to mobile first indexing for all sites. The focus on mobile experience is now mainstream and is widely adopted. It’s imperative to continue to build for a mobile first world and to deliver a best-in-class experience on mobile, including page speed. Sites that do not work well on mobile may face challenges in indexing and ranking, and mobile should be an ongoing factor that businesses should focus on.
2019 was full of changes for the world of SEO and the way we communicate with users, and 2020 is sure to be no different. To make sure your business is ready for 2020, look out for our next blog, in which we’ll give you tips to boost your rankings in the new year.
Jeff Williams is an SEO Project Manager at Fruition. He uses his deep understanding of SEO and internet marketing to guide clients, optimize websites and ultimately improve search rankings. Jeff continues to focus on understanding the technical aspects of SEO factors that affect website rankings in the major search engines. He has recently found a passion in local marketing and helping business carry out effective digital marketing strategies, taking a lead role in developing Fruition’s local SEO services.
President & Founder, Tru Family Dental
Marketing, Dependable Cleaners
President & Founder, Family Travel Association