And, just like that, 2019 is pretty much over. In fact, you may already be reading this in 2020.
Search engine optimisation has changed immeasurably in recent years. So much so, in fact, that it’s hard to recall the time when ‘keyword stuffing’ was the done thing.
Thankfully, those days are behind us. But what have we learned about SEO in 2019, and what can we expect in 2020?
The first update of the year: Florida 2.0
In March 2019, Google confirmed their first big algorithm update of the year, known back then as ‘Florida 2.0’ - although subsequently renamed ‘The Google March 2019 Core Update’. Catchy, eh?
As always, they were tight-lipped about what the change meant, exactly, but have suggested it was all about driving a higher quality of search results. It’s fair to assume Google is referring in principle to the user experience, rather than any immediate benefit for website owners.
Inevitably, plenty of websites were negatively impacted by this, and it’s thought the launch of the update took place on March 13th. Therefore, if you experienced a dip in search traffic after that date, the algorithm change might be to blame.
Once known as Google Feed, the rebranded Google Discover received a nice update this year.
The tool uses your search data and history to recommend content you might be interested in, even when you’re not searching for anything.
Why is this significant for SEO? Because Google Discover could change the way people interact with and search the web - big time. Thanks to the ability users have to customise the types of content recommended by the tool, it’s possible that their venerable search option might become less popular.
Where does this leave website owners? As with anything new from Google HQ, there’s no specific answer to that, nor is there to how we can target content for Google Discover. Perhaps we’ll find out more in 2020 as the tool matures and either flies or fails.
It’s always been good SEO practice to add markup and structured data to your website to help Google understand what it’s all about.
This year, Google has pushed the structured data thing even more. This, they say, is with a view to helping increase brand awareness, make content such as Q&As, recipes and reviews easier to find and, for eCommerce, increase the likelihood of products being displayed in SERPs.
New domain mobile-first indexing
Google has been operating from its mobile-first index for a while now, but in June, they announced that it would be turned on by default for all new websites.
This means that websites launched after that period will need to present the exact same content on mobile and desktop if they’re to be indexed correctly by Google.
Another significant update: the June Core update
June was a busy month for Google announcements. Alongside the aforementioned mobile-first indexing for new domains, the search giant launched its second big algorithm update of the year.
Details were, once again, sparse, but experts suggest this particular core update focused on a broad range of ranking factors.
If you experienced a dip in search traffic and web performance over the summer, there’s a good chance this update was to blame. And, while there’s no specific ‘fix’ for that, working with a reputable, knowledgeable SEO agency will ensure your website is resurfaced again in no time.
What’s going to happen in 2020?
Ah, if we only had a crystal ball, eh?
Here’s a few potential new SEO trends for 2020:
- On-SERP SEO. This refers to the process of tuning content so that it is optimised for the ever-changing layout of Google’s search results page (think featured snippets and the like).
- The continued dominance of mobile-first indexing. It’s going nowhere. And, if your website isn’t mobile-ready, 2020 is the time to get it sorted.
- Visual search. Pinterest and other image-based websites have done this for a while, but 2020 could be the year we see more visual search options on Google. This is when a user can upload an image of something and watch as the search engine finds results based on the image. It’ll certainly put another spin on SEO.
- Voice search optimisation. “Hey, Siri”, “Alexa...”; we’re all increasingly talking to tech - and increasingly asking it to find results for us on the web. This is changing the way keyword research is being undertaken, and 2020 will continue this trend, big time. If you haven’t spoken to your SEO company about optimising for voice search yet, now is the time.
Google will almost certainly release an update or two during 2020, as well, but we’ll just have to wait for their innocuous tweets to suss out when they’re likely to happen.