In 2020 more and more people are set to make friends with their voice activated personal assistants: Google, Siri and Alexa. Three big things will happen in SEO during 2020: voice search will overtake typed search (more than 50% by end of 2020), visual search will grow significantly, and the “Featured snippet box” at the top of search will mess with Google rankings – since the snippet is the result that a voice search will receive, and only one business gets to be in the snippet.
Adapting to voice and visual search is one of the biggest opportunities in 2020, so let’s dig into some actionable tactics.
Optimize your site for a mobile first experience
I’m going to assume that your site is mobile responsive – it resizes and displays content recognizing the device as desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. But most sites are still designed for desktop display first – to look pretty there and navigate with that in mind, and then optimized for viewing when converted to mobile. If you’re about to re-design your site, you might want to take a reverse approach. That will be the way of the future. Some basic things to consider:
Check your site speed
If it’s slow to load, mobile users will bounce away. Things that slow it down?
- Large images (take that 1.8MB photo to a 1.1MB jpeg and then save the jpeg at 60% quality and get it to 200KB for example)
- Pluggins – chat and social media plugins slow a site down so be sure to use a recent version (for fun disable a pluggin and check the difference in load time)
- Hosting – believe it or not quality hosting matters, the server response time will change how quickly your site loads
- Don’t use Flash: Flash graphics don’t display on mobile
- Pop Ups: Pop ups can cover the entire mobile screen and hide content behind it. But the most aggravating is the pop up that doesn’t resize properly and has a close button that displays beyond the screen of a mobile phone. That’s sure to end in a bounce. I’ve seen other pop ups that make you enter an email to even get to the content on the site – totally off side in my opinion. I have a love/hate relationship with them. As a user I tolerate them, as a business owner I know how well they work. Just be mindful of designing them for mobile if you’re going to use them!
Design with mobile in mind
- Create content that is relevant and valuable. Think: What are customer needs? What are they searching for? Since a lot of mobile searches are geographic influenced and your location is known, consider this factor when thinking about what is relevant
- Title tag and meta descriptions: Both of these are important for mobile search. Write shorter titles (better for mobile display) and be sure to write short, compelling descriptions
- Think like a site visitor: Are the button click sizes large enough for fat fingers? Is your phone number easy to see/find – and most importantly, is it “click to call” enabled?
- How’s your pull-down menu? Use single words, short phrases for a small screen
- How’s your font size? Spaces between lines? Easy to read on a small screen?
Design for searches using “natural language”
When we type a search, it’s usually with short phrases like “best chocolate chip cookie recipe”. When we voice search, we use longer language with something like, “What’s the best chocolate chip cookie to make with kids at home?” We need to consider natural sounding questions and statements for voice search. Some ways to do that?
- Create Q&A content: This could be blog post question and answer, or perhaps a product catalogue question and answer type format – there are many ways to get creative with this
- Use real questions as headlines
- Create content around specific questions that people ask for quick answers (helps site users plus allows Google to know context of your information)
- Write with question keywords in mind: how, what, when, why, where
- Use long-tail keywords to complete the question. These will include filler words like “the, I, of, to, for” etc
Optimize for local SEO listing
Location is a huge part of mobile search. Google delivers content most relevant to your current location. With that in mind, here are a few things to consider.
- Optimize Google My Business. Be sure to set up an account and keep it current. At minimum list your business name, address, phone number, website, unique description and several photos. Optional is to do a short blog type post, but this must be kept current since Google forces you to change it regularly. Ever since Google killed off Google+ this has been their new answer. Google wants this to be the first thing to show in search when someone googles you.
- Pay attention to reviews. Reviews matter in local search, so minding your reputation management here is important, plus encouraging customers to leave a review is a good idea
- Make sure your name, address and phone number with click to call is on every page
- Reference your local area – mention the city or town name, write locally focused blog posts
- Include location keywords in your title tag along with your targeted keyword phrase, and of course your business name
- Include location keyword in headings, alt text for images, meta descriptions
- Links from other local businesses can help raise authority of your site with Google
Here are a few resources I have found extremely valuable. Both SEMrush.com and AHrefs.com are dashboard management systems for SEO. Both offer paid plans, but they also have free introductions to get access and try them out. Plus both sites have numerous helpful blogs and free online courses – just know you’ll be signing up for a funnel of follow up content to convert you to a paid customer! Neilpatel.com is a free resource that offers much of what SEMrush and AHrefs do. Of course Neil is also in the business of selling stuff, but you can learn a ton through his free content, very detailed blog posts, and free website analysis tool.
I hope this helps with your SEO efforts in 2020. If you happen to have missed my 5 Marketing Trends for 2020 post at the beginning of January, check it out too. SEO and voice is just one of the important things I’m tracking. There are 4 more to help you out. And if you poke around into last weeks content, you’ll see how I’m doing a DEEP DIVE into each of the 5 trends in the weeks to come. Next week is trend #3: AI on the rise. That deep dive is going to be a good one too!
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