The start of a new decade brings with it expected new challenges and trends in the world of SEO. Whether it be an even bigger boom in voice search or a drop in traffic to your website due to Google schema giving answers in the search results, everything you need to know about SEO for the 2020’s is here.

Read on to discover what SEO agencies and SEO experts think will be big SEO trends of the 2020’s.

No more click-thrus?

Submitted by: Craig Murphy, ALT Agency

It’s difficult to predict to far ahead, but I think for the next 2-3 years there will be a huge boom in websites using the FAQ schema and search results/queries being answered in the google search results reducing the click-thru traffic to websites.
We are already seeing this in action, ranking 0 was the start and with the FAQ schema able to do something similar it’s likely the interaction with a search result will take place on the search result page reducing the need to click-thru to a website.

Ranking Search Results Based on Entity Metrics

Submitted by: Sergio Arboledas, SEO Manager at MintTwist

Entities are one of the single most important concepts to understand in SEO right now and for sure in the 2020’s. Google introduced the concept of entities in the 2015 patent, section 43: ““… rankings are based on popularity, relevance, frequency, user selections of entities and data associated with entities, system settings, predetermined parameters, any other suitable information, or any combination thereof.” And still content creators are not making use of entities to deliver the best search engine results.

The latest Google Core Updates have their focus in the quality of the content to make it more relevant to the user. Entities have the ability to calculate the probability of meeting the user’s likely intent with a greater accuracy and understand from language and tone, whether a result will be positive or negative. A new tool shared in the Facebook SEO Signals Lab can be a good start to enrich your content with entities.

Relying solely on Google may not be feasible anymore

Submitted by: Deepak Shukla, Pearl Lemon

Over the years the words SEO optimisation have really meant Google optimisation. Most of what we have done as SEOs revolves around ‘pleasing Google’. And that does make sense, as Google is still the most popular search engine by far. But that’s changing, and those who don’t start considering that in 2020 and shifting their SEO strategies to include other search venues – risk getting left behind.

I’m not just talking, say, Bing or Duck Duck Go, although both gained audience share (albeit very small) in 2019, but the stats that are usually rolled out – Google has a 92.71% market share blah, blah, blah – never take into account the places – the search ‘venues’ – where people are searching for information that don’t include traditional search engines.

Amazon’s search engine, for example, has become one of the most significant on the web. Whether they are going to buy a product there or not, half of all online shoppers are starting a product search on Amazon, bypassing Google altogether. It’s easy to understand why. Users are offered reviews, product comparisons and pricing after inputting a single keyphrase, which is just what they are looking for, all in one place.

Then there is YouTube, which remains the world’s second-largest search engine. And while Facebook’s native search is still not very good, other social search engines – like Quora and Reddit – are increasingly places people start an information search as well.

Add all this to the fact that an international backlash against Google on the part of governments is growing that may end up changing the company’s practices significantly, relying solely on Google may not be feasible anymore.

UX & Technical SEO

Submitted by Jamie FitzHenry, Grizzly

I think possibly one of the largest trends that companies should be focused on in the next decade is strong UX (user experience), combined with technical SEO. It’s clear to see that this is the way forward from trends like knowledge graphs, mobile-first and BERT. That’s why we advise our clients to make sure that they are producing content that will be of use and value to the website visitor, but also perform technical SEO to ensure a good all round user experience that will then meet the expectations of Google. By offering a better user experience website visitors will stay on the site longer, lowering the bounce rate, which in turn will help deliver better rankings. In addition, keeping on top of technical best practices will still be paramount. These two things will work closely together in the future and can’t be ignored.

Anticipating a higher percentage of searchers will move away from Google to challenger search engines

Submitted by Giorgio Cassella, Head of Marketing, Evoluted

I’m anticipating a higher percentage of searchers will move away from Google to challenger search engines as they become more privacy driven and aware of the data search engines and other entities are storing about them. International media focusing on data privacy and large-scale breaches are only going to help fuel the fire behind this. Combined with growing political pressures, I believe we’ll see organizations like Google offering new options for reducing the amount of data searchers disclose in order to retain users.

I highly doubt enough people will move away from Google to make an impact immediately but, with many industries seeing 10%+ of their traffic coming from ‘alternative’ search, if the trend continues, it will become something for them to worry about.

Secondly, whilst more of a hope than a prediction, I would like to see an end to the spread of the no-click SERP “fear-mongering” that’s infecting SEO. I don’t dispute that it’s an issue to be aware of, especially for publishers, however, the majority of businesses relying on SEO as a revenue-driving traffic source are isolated from its effects. Unless Google starts selling products through an in-SERP checkout system, I’d be more worried about Instagram as an incumbent threat to steal revenue-generating users.

No longer beholden to the next big Penguin or Panda updates?

Submitted by Keith Hodges, Head of Search at POLARIS Agency

As we reach 2020 we’ve in some parts see new developments from Google slow down, with the company’s focus seemingly on updating reporting suites and core updates that offer little more than ‘an improvement to search results’. We’re no longer beholden to the next big Penguin or Panda updates, but more to the inner workings of Google and sporadic updates to its Search Quality Guidelines.

More zero click searches in Google?

Submitted by Daniel Foley, Assertive Media

Voice & video search will dominate the landscape as text searches diminish. Google will also become more of an information hub as well as a search engine with more searches leading to zero click searches.

As we move into the 2020’s the search landscape is beginning to rapidly change, in 2019 Google applied over 3000 changes to its search algorithms and filed multiple patents to boot. Google will already be planning well ahead to take the search landscape to new heights, but obviously the rollouts of new functionality will be sequential.

As mobile, desktop and home hub devices evolve so do our search behaviours – usually always in the aim of improved quality and convenience. Search over the next 10 years will evolve to incorporate more AI as well as a better unification of user experience & convenience.

Voice search is just one part of the evolution of search – over the next 1-2 years we’ll see enhanced voice search functionality including the ability to book appointments and order our shopping & goods without having to physically interact with any device. We’ll also see better adoption of localised searches as well as enhanced data sharing capabilities between consumers and businesses.

Google’s search interface will evolve year on year – which, will change the landscape for SEO’s dramatically. Like the most recent changes to rich snippets, Google will find new ways to enhance user experience, but, this may come as a detriment to SEOs as organic results fall further below the fold. SEOs will need to look at the bigger picture when it comes to search such as adopting a more broad approach to keyword and content strategies – crossing this with ensuring that landing pages really do have the end users best interests (search intent) at heart.

SEOs will need to be prepared to contend with more Google updates, more localisation factors, to leverage a dual channel strategy (PPC & SEO) and better adoption of Google My Business & Google Products. As for the next 5-10 years the evolution of Google’s AI technology will change the landscape of SEO forever. Google may finally be able to begin distancing itself from the archaic link popularity model whilst adopting real time user signals as an indicative indicator of landing page “quality” – this will allow for a more diverse SERP by device and location.

Traditional SEO factors will diminish in weight as Google mores further towards big data, AI and user analysis as part of an evolving agile search index. This in theory will make results more personalised to end users based on their behaviour over time whilst giving SEO’s more of a challenge to better understand the end user.

It’s likely that we’ll begin to see the integration of more video into search as well as real-time video connections to businesses offering products and services – although, this may be a while away yet.

The days of ranking first to become less important?

Submitted by: Matt Cayless, Bubblegum Search

I predict we will see a big shift in both voice search and AI over the coming decade. As the ‘internet of things’ continues to grow and voice devices become integrated everywhere, from every room in our homes to white goods such as fridge/freezers and built into every new car.

AI and machine learning will be at the core of all such devices, technology and search engines and as such will mean both personalisation and a deeper understanding of intent will dramatically improve. For SEO, this will mean a continued trend in no organic click queries, as instant answers and featured content increase in visibility and popularity.

Because of this, I believe the days of ranking on the first page being good enough will start to disappear in favour of needing to rank in the top 3 positions, making SEO even more competitive than it is today.

I believe the companies that will win at SEO in the future, in this ultracompetitive landscape, are those that focus and invest in brand and contextual SEO & content marketing, because, in a ‘voice first’ world, those that are top of mind (branded search) or ranking in top positions or ‘position zero’ with a range of contextual content, such as videos or podcasts , will win the SEO war of the future.

Best practice to reign supreme?

Submitted by Nathan Payne, TeckleDigital

2019 was the year of search intent and ensuring searchers could find content that was actually relevant to a search phrase. 2020 though I think will be about ensuring Google provides the best user experience as well as search intent match.

That is why I think Technical SEO and website speed will be two key factors in 2020. For a few years now we have seen Google move towards catering for the mobile user first, with alerting to non-mobile friendly websites and then moving to a mobile-first index. We have all seen a website be outranked by a competitor with an old design, poorly coded and slow loading website and in 2020 I see that changing.

This means the job of a technical SEO will have to evolve to not just be about crawlibility, semantic HTML and structured data (to name just three!). It now has to be about also ensuring a website loads fast and in a way that is in line with best practices (Lazy loading images, ensuring JavaScript and CSS is not bloated with unused code etc.).