John F. Kennedy famously said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

In the world of search engine optimisation, change is also a constant dynamic. Marketers must continue to evolve their game plan to build strategies that not only take into account the latest algorithm updates, but also to ensure that search is aligned with other marketing channels.

As we consider our New Year’s resolutions, let’s peer into 2020 and highlight four SEO trends that marketers should think about. These dynamics aren’t totally new – rather they are a continuation of where the digital marketing practice of search has been heading. Our prediction is that SEO in 2020 will continue to be:

1. Visual

This trend can play out in two ways. First, seeing 10 blue links on a search engine results page is a by-gone era. Google’s search engine results page now offers more than 20 types of rich media snippets to help users engage with content. These rich snippets have changed user behaviour and offer a visual tapestry of information – sometimes answering the user query right on the results page itself.

Second, once people get to your website, visual content can help keep them there. Content that is visual in nature can evoke an emotional response through colours and imagery; helping prospective customers understand the benefits of your product/service. 67% of consumers say that high quality visual content is more important than product descriptions or customer ratings.

The bottom line is that users have an opportunity to engage with the search engine results page in a visual way, and understanding which media formats perform for the type of content you want to produce is critical.

2. Personal

Google reports an increase in searches that include personal language – using words like “Me”, “My”, and “I”. People will continue to ask questions in a way that implies that the search engine results should be bespoke to “them”. That means your prospective customers don’t want generic content; they want guidance on what they as individuals should do, consume or visit. To that point, Hubspot found that personalised CTAs convert over 200% better.

By detecting and actively building content for a user’s geographic location, language, intent state/buyer journey stage and device type, organisations can build relationships and brand engagement with a customer on their terms.

UGC (user-generated content), lead sign-up forms, social media reviews and SEO keyword research are all great data sources to build customer profiles and better understand the type of content you should develop to address their pain points.

3. Local

As part of this swing towards increased personalisation, consumers will continue to want results that are local to where they are at that specific moment. Local SEO is a fantastic gateway to both your brand and website; where those prospective customers can start the buyer’s journey and benefit from fast-loading web pages, a strong technical foundation and engaging content. Optimising your Google My Business Page and maintaining locally authoritative backlinks are a big part of that local SEO foundation. And, importantly, don’t forget to engage with your audience. Questions and answers are a fantastic way to hear from your customers and address important considerations that a customer might have. If you have yet to take action on this local opportunity – here is a quick guide from Google.

4. Mobile

Consumers will increasingly expect your content to be equally accessible on desktop and mobile. According to Google, people have more that 2x more interactions with brands on mobile that anywhere else – that includes TV and in-store.

Studies show that consumers who engage with your brand on mobile also tend to buy faster and stay loyal for longer.

Over the last 6 months, mobile organic search has increased even further – occupying 52% of all searches in the UK. People on their phones search in a different way, and sometimes for different things, than people do on a desktop at home.

Mobile searchers tend to want more specific information (especially aligned with points #2 and #3 above) and have an immediate intent (services in the area, reviews) – so page load time is very important.

Building content for mobile, and mobile UX in general, carries some additional considerations. Some types of content (such as videos) are not playable on a mobile device, such as media that require Flash or other players that are not broadly supported on mobile devices. Unplayable content, when featured on a page of any website can be very frustrating for users.

Google has referenced using HTML5 for animations and having the transcript of the video available. This will make your site accessible to people who use assistive browsing technologies. Since mobile browsing has much more limited screen space than desktop, the user experience also becomes heightened. That means no small buttons, no hard to access URLs and no broken content.

As part of your 2020 planning, check out this mobile cheat sheet from GoMo – a Google-led initiative that breaks down their 10 top tips to “mobilise your site”.

As a marketing practice, SEO often calls for a balance between art and science. But, however the wind blows, it’s crucial to keep in mind the evolution of consumer behaviour as search engines aim to provide users with the right content at the right time.

As marketers ourselves, we are excited to engage these search trends and unlock opportunities with you in 2020.​