2020 was a year for the ages in so many ways, but we shouldn’t forget that 2020 also saw some serious SEO trends emerge and further solidify. Most of SEO’s evolutionary path in 2020 has been all about cementing trends that we were already beginning to play around with. Let’s take a closer look at some of the biggest developments out there. You can also learn more about our digital marketing solutions on our site!
Many of us in the SEO game are so obsessed with what may or may not be coming our way in the future – and what may or may not work next month or next year – that we forget to focus on what’s going on right now. While paying attention to what’s on the horizon is never a bad idea, dumping the tried and true in the here and now for what may be around the bend is. If you’re having success with your SEO right now, keep doing what you’re doing (with a weather eye for emerging SEO developments). If your SEO is lagging behind, consult with a digital marketing expert – SEO is one ball you don’t want to drop.
Follow those Rules
Rules were made to be broken – unless Google makes them. Google’s latest updates are rule-oriented, and you should be, too. Gone are the days when specific words on a page (regardless of content quality) would get you indexed with Google. This makes it harder for the little guys out there to get and keep their content indexed (while the fatter cats can’t seem to do any wrong). The fix for this conundrum is a win/win – the higher quality and more informative your content, the better your relationship with Google – and both of these are good for business. Don’t forget to sprinkle your efforts liberally with both internal and external links.
Get to Know Auto-Generated Text
Content creation, itself, is evolving, and language prediction models – like OpenAI’s GPT-3 and MarketMuse’s First Draft – are eliminating the middleman (the real-life writer). These content creators move you directly into edit mode. Simply feed the appropriate input into the AI language system, and it’s got your content drafting under control (with increasingly heightened accuracy and more compelling output with each new generation). From here, skilled editors go to work polishing the final product. While autoregressive language production will not be replacing the Bard anytime soon, it will continue to play a more and more prominent role in SEO.
Feature that Snippet
Google is moving forward hard with improved passage ranking, and it seems clear that we’re likely to see more of the following:
- More rarified featured snippets (tired snippets are being phased out, and Google is on the hunt for snippets that are both more compelling and more useful to consumers)
- More zero-click searches
- Combining passages from multiple sources (potentially)
It’s hard to say who will be winning the clicks, but when it comes to SEO, adapt, we must.
Rank and File
That rank tracker that you live and die by is no more or less useful than an approximation of where you stand. There are simply too many Google variables – many of which are beyond your control – at play for it to provide you with something more solid. These rankings are a peek at a larger whole that is made more fulsome when considered in tandem with Google Search Console and Analytics data.
Sending Mixed Signals
Thinking about your site’s crawling and indexing signals may not be exciting, but it is important. You’re looking for predictability here, and the truth is that Google has further reduced your personal control over the matter, which is why maintaining healthy crawling and indexing hygiene is critical. In other words, don’t lose sight of the basics, including:
- Robots directives and robots.txt
- Internal link structures
The idea here is to avoid having Google get busy with its own interpretation of your canonical URLs.
It’s 2020, and Google Isn’t Teflon
2020 left no man, woman, child, business, or goliath unscathed, and Google is no exception. Google has firmly branded itself as the dominant search engine in the game, but it’s suffered some recent setbacks that include serious hiccups with their indexing systems. Consider the following:
- Recently, Google temporarily disabled its Request Indexing feature.
- In mid-October, Google’s live sports scores went dark, and sports fans were not amused.
- In early October, Google experienced a mobile indexing outage and a canonicalization disconnect. This was on the heels of a news-content indexing issue in late September.
- On September 11, Google announced it was having indexing problems with the appearance of new articles in its Top Stories.
- On August 10, 2020, the Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, John Mueller, tweeted about a massive indexing snafu that directly affected its search algorithms (and that many mistook for an update). His tweet reads, “I don’t have all the details yet, but it seems like this was a glitch on our side and has been fixed in the meantime. If someone could fix the other 2020-issues, that would be great.” And this sums the matter up nicely.
If it can happen to Google, it can happen to anyone.
This Way to the 2020 Exit: Consult with an On-Point Digital Marketing Expert Today
SEO is marching forward – with or without you. There are some trends to watch out for and some old favorites to double down on, but the most salient point is that you need to pay attention. You may need to fortify your SEO hygiene or forge a bold new path forward, but you likely need to do a bit of both. It’s a lot, but you, my friend, are not alone. At The Web Guys, our digital marketing dynamos have done the legwork for you, and we’re ready to meet you where you live in the game – whether this means starting at the very beginning, polishing things to a brighter shine, or doing anything in between. We’re just a message away, so please connect or call at (317) 805-4933 today.