SEO optimization for websites on Google is an art and science. Stuffing keywords into the written content to appear on Google’s first page may not work these days. Google uses algorithms to determine which content to rank based on its expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Digital marketers, therefore, need to fix their eyes on the changing algorithms as they also capitalize on new and emerging trends in SEO if they want to keep their posts on the first page of SERPs.
They also need to embrace transformational trends by adapting search engine expertise, pivoting aggressively, and targeting their customer’s preferences. SEO keeps changing, so marketers need to stay on top of it to deliver quality digital marketing services to customers.
This article explains ways of balancing SEO current trends that site owners can use to rank on SERPs and attract organic traffic.
1. Optimizing Websites For Voice Search
Though voice search has been in existence since 2012, low technological capabilities have made it not to gain traction. But with the rise of mobile voice control and virtual assistants, its use is on the rise. According to a 2019 survey by Voicebot, almost 60% of US adults said they’d used voice search, and 47% of the respondents said they would continue to use it. The survey also discovered that 33% of adults who use the web use voice search monthly to search for queries.
Therefore, marketers need to optimize their websites for voice searches if they want to get more traffic. Here are some strategies of optimizing a site for voice search:
● Studying Customers’ Intentions
When choosing keywords to use in a piece of content, marketers need to ask themselves if those keywords address their customers’ wants. Keywords are an integral part of SEO optimization. However, they are only effective if they address the user’s intent.
● Using long-tail keywords
Most people who use voice search mostly use long phrases in their speech. Voice search has attracted Generation Z and millennials, who form a significant population of internet users. Marketers need to include long keywords in their SEO strategy to attract these searchers. Voice queries usually are conversational, and marketers who use question-answer keywords may have a high chance of ranking for voice search queries.
2. Capitalizing on Zero-Click Searches
According to research by SparkToro, In June 2019, 50.33% of Google searches ended without the searchers clicking on a page. Local packs, PPC, structured data, knowledge graphs, and open graphs are some SERP features that enable users to get answers without clicking on a search result.
Though zero-click searches have sparked some online debate about how Google allows some sites to gain a monopoly, it’s gaining traction. That means if a site isn’t optimized for these searches, it will get less organic traffic and fewer marketing opportunities.
Marketers, therefore, need to focus on this trend to bring traffic to their sites. They can do this by targeting data intelligence and analytics services. Though Google’s algorithm focuses on long-tail keyword search strategies and users’ intent, a holistic approach needs a marketer to focus on a comprehensive optimization strategy. Such a strategy should include user-generated content, influencers, structured data, data services, and social media. Content that’s mingled with structured data gives a search engine an original intent. It enables it to separate a product from an article. It’s only by using such a strategy that a site may rank for zero-click searches.
3. Visual Search
Google uses image recognition and artificial intelligence to know the context and content of images. Marketers need to include images in their sites to improve their ranking. Though searchers do not commonly use visual search, it’s gaining popularity.
Many people prefer clicking on images of products rather than reading their descriptions. Marketers in visual-centric industries such as travel, retail, social, dining, fashion, and real estate need to include images as part of their SEO strategy to improve their visual search because search engines are updated to understand image components. Pinterest, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have invested in visual search technology to improve user experience. An individual can now search and buy a product visually from Amazon.
According to a study by BloomReach, visual searches account for 48% of product views. The research also found out that consumers who search for products visually and find them are likely to return and make purchases. This has been made possible by the Google lens app that can intelligently identify objects such as plants around a person’s environment. A site optimized for images can appear in such searches. Here are some ways that a marketer can use to optimize his site for inquiries:
- Using high-resolution pictures
- Adding alternative text to images
- Optimizing image descriptions and titles
- Adding image captions
- Optimizing file types and image sizes
- Using unique images instead of stock images
4. Artificial Intelligence
In the past few years, there’s been an increase in the use of Artificial intelligence (AI). That has prompted Google’s engineers to develop the RankBrain algorithm that ranks relevant search results at the top based on users’ intent. This technology uses machine learning to understand the words that searchers use to look for queries in SERPs. That means that soon, searches will not be based on crafty algorithm-satisfying methods, but relevant content.
Companies are also adopting the use of Chatbots on their websites and social media pages. This integration makes it possible for them to offer 24/7 service to its customers. The chatbots give detailed and quick responses to customer inquiries, thereby increasing engagement. Marketers who integrate their SEO and digital marketing strategy with AI automate their websites. More automation to a website enhances user experience and Google rankings.
5. Non-Google Search Engines
Though Google is the most popular search engine, it’s not the only one. There are others such as Yahoo, YouTube, Facebook, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Baidu – and people perform searches on these search engines as well. A marketer needs to consider these search engines also as they plan for their SEO strategy.
Google should form an integral part of the strategy for both international and local marketers. However, having a presence on the other search engines could drive more traffic to their website. Amazon, for instance, is aspiring to dominate product searches by focusing on emerging trends. Pinterest, on the other hand, is looking to dominate the image market.
Having a site that’s optimized both for Google and other niche sites can help it rank better. Niche sites get billions of searches per day for their products. Therefore, marketers need to understand keyword metrics of niche sites if they want to rank in them. Though their SEO and that of Google may appear similar, there are some differences because of their transactional nature. Google is a general-purpose search engine, whereas search engines such as Amazon are conversion-driven. Understanding these metrics can help marketers know how to plan their strategy to attract traffic from both search engines.
6. Technical SEO
Apart from placing keywords in a piece of content to rank, marketers also need to pay attention to technical SEO if they want to rank better. SEO techniques and trends may keep on changing, but technical SEO is constant. All marketers would wish their sites to be seen and be quickly processed by search engines to get customers, views, and sales. To get their sites noticed by Google, they need to perform technical SEO.
They can do this by using schema markups in their site’s content. Schema markups explain to search engines the content in a site for better understanding and ranking. Most content creators make a mistake when they optimize content as they create it. That may lead to keyword overstuffing or understaffing because they don’t know how long the content will be. Therefore, it’s important that they first create the content and then optimize it for technical SEO later.
Google Search Console is a tool that allows marketers to optimize their sites for technical SEO. It gives various optimization options that marketers can capitalize on to control their URLs’ ranking. It also enables them to monitor, develop, and manage the performance of their web pages. This tool can help marketers get their pages to the right eyeballs on search engines if used well.
7. Augmented Reality
Customer needs and preferences have necessitated more technological inventions. Augmented Reality was designed to give users a 3D experience with virtual images. Google has taken advantage of this technology by inventing Google Lens. Through this technology, users can have a rich online and real-world AR experience.
Google’s AR technology has been designed to allow users to interact with 3D models in search engines. Users can explore everything, including the interiors of the world’s most magnificent buildings and sharks’ anatomy.
Marketers can capitalize on this technology by creating 3D models on their sites. That will allow prospects looking for products to appraise them from every angle before making a purchase decision. According to Google, designing 3D objects for AR searches is not difficult. It takes just a few lines of code that most marketers can do. Using this new technology can enrich customers’ experiences and lead them to make purchases.
8. Search Intent Optimization
As SERPs adapt to more natural speech-like content, keywords will become less critical, and search intent is more common. Google is working to ensure this happens through its RankBrain and Hummingbird algorithms created to understand semantic search intent.
Users’ search intent patterns keep on changing day by day. The patterns are most pronounced in voice-based queries that are gravitating towards conversational intent. With intent-centric voice searches on the rise, search engines are being updated to capture this trend. Marketers keen to keep on top of trends should focus on this development.
When optimizing a site for search intent, a marketer can focus on a conversational question-answer format. This format makes the content concise, self-contained, conversational, configurable and optimized for most of the subject keywords that users input.
Intent optimization should focus on a specific buyer persona. A marketer should understand a consumer’s search patterns, behavior, and buyer journey. He should also craft conversion goals after determining the type of content that would drive sales. The content he creates should have intent keywords and gratify the customers’ preferences, tastes, and queries.
Knowing customers’ intentions needs research. Most often, marketers ignore researching with the belief that mind map and keyword optimization would work magic for them. When a marketer doesn’t have customer insights in mind, his SEO strategy will fail. Therefore, he needs to focus his content on the pains, desires, and expected outcome of his customers to make sales or drive traffic to his website.
Analyzing industry pundits, target customers, and competitors’ sites are great ways to know intent opportunities. Case studies, testimonials, and reviews also provide information about customers’ intent search. Therefore, if a marketer builds relevant content around intent-driven keywords, search engines will love and rank them.
9. Featured Snippets
Google has been displaying snippets for some time now, which has brought some changes to SERP rankings. According to a study, around 2 million searches ended in featured snippets making them receive more traffic than the first ranked result. Because snippets reduce clicks even for the no. 1 search results, marketers need to focus on them.
Though SEO optimization may lead to higher rankings, he needs to do more for one’s post to feature as a snippet. Here are some ways of optimizing content to appear as a featured snippet.
● Use questions
Snippets are mostly based on questions that searchers ask. Marketers need to consider using keywords in a question format. For example, instead of using the “marketing techniques,” marketers can use “What are marketing techniques.” When used this way, search engines will understand them more and feature them above generic content.
● Structure content
Structured content may determine whether one’s post will be a featured snippet or not. Sometimes, one doesn’t need to change the message in his or her content to be featured. Structuring the content with bullet points, FAQs, numbered lists, tables, shorter paragraphs, and how-to sections may be the only thing one needs to do to have their content featured as a snippet.
● Research Q&A portals
For a post to be a featured snippet, most searchers’ concerns and problems need to be addressed. To know what people are asking about various topics, a marketer can visit question and answer portals such as Yahoo Answers, Quora, and Reddit. Creating content around those questions and answers can make one’s site appear as a featured snippet.
10. Quality Content
The basic foundation of SEO is quality content. Quality is not about production value but authenticity, relevance, and credibility. Content published on one’s site should not just be stuffed with keywords to rank but should add value to a reader. Delivering the best content at the right time to the right audience at a specific journey stage can lead to a successful buying event. “Create content for the audience; optimize for Google” should be your rule of thumb.
Predicting customers’ behavior, intent, and preferences may be a little challenging. However, incorporating the right content marketing, personalization, and enrichment strategies can capture an audience’s needs. Marketers also need to create content that can appeal to influencers and organizational decision-makers. This way, such content may get to land on many people’s eyes through social shares.
Apart from focusing on quality content, marketers also need to focus on the content’s length. Research shows that posts having an average of 2000 words receive better rankings. Web pages that have a lot of quality content rank higher and receive higher visibility. Even as one creates long-form content, he needs to remember to answer his audience’s questions. If the content is lengthy and vague, it may drive away readers from the site.
11. Quality Links
Links are among the best techniques that marketers can use to rank in SERPs. The strength and number of referring domains affect the position that a site gets in SERPs. Ranking for highly competitive keywords would require a site to have more than 500 backlinks to an optimized page. Though building links can be a tiresome, time-consuming process, the results are worth the hassle.
Through links, Google measures EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness). If Google can’t find abundant data to use in ranking sites, it will resort to links to compare and rank keywords, content, and sites.
To get links naturally, one needs to post high-quality, optimized content that drives traffic consistently. Search engines love to rank user-generated content that resonates with searchers because it is useful, authentic, and pragmatic. Such content targets customers’ needs and invites engagement because it adds value. User-generated content includes case studies, reviews, FAQs, and testimonials. Having more of such content on one’s site will enable him to get quality backlinks. Marketers, therefore, need to have a link building strategy that amplifies their content’s reach.
Because of Google’s algorithms that keep changing, marketers need to stay on top of trends to keep their sites on the first page. Though optimizing a site for SEO has been an age-old custom of gaining traction, adding visuals, augmented reality, writing quality content, focusing on quality links, and optimizing sites to appear in featured snippets can also improve websites rankings. Employing these strategies may not only help marketers to get traffic, but also to generate leads, conversions, and sales.