Everything You Need to Know About SEO Now and Next Year
Google makes hundreds of changes to its search algorithm every single year. Some of these changes are bundled into a big update which gets named (“Medic”, “Maccabees”, “Penguin”, “Possum”, etc) and others are smaller unnamed updates. Each one of these updates has the potential to massively impact your SEO, for better or for worse.
Even if your website was absolutely perfect and in line with Google’s best practices when you updated it last year or a few years ago, you probably have some changes to make today in order to keep your SEO up to date. In this post, we’ll go through the most important things you need to keep in mind for SEO in 2019 and take a look at what SEO experts are predicting will be the biggest upcoming factors for SEO in 2020.
SEO Best Practices in 2019
While you may feel like you can skip this section because 2019 is nearly over, you really shouldn’t. Getting your SEO in 2019 right sets you up for success in 2020 as none of the best practices for this year conflict with the expected best practices for 2020. So make your life a little easier and your business a bit more optimized by implementing the following four SEO best practices now.
Relevance of Overall Page Content to the Search Query
The best way to make Google take notice of your website is to make sure your website is answering the questions your audience has. This can be as simple as “how to create the perfect Instagram flatlay” to as complicated as “SEO trends in 2020.” The more relevant your individual pages are to specific queries your audience has, the better.
This can mean longer content but only if it’s useful information. Writing a longer page simply to stuff more keywords in will not win you any points with Google or your readers. Keep your website concise but full of helpful and pertinent information.
Ensure your website and individual pages are super relevant to your audience and what they want to know by asking your audience. They’ll be happy to tell you in exchange for the information from someone they trust.
Quality of Linking Websites and Pages
Links are a vote of confidence for your website so if someone your audience already trusts is linking to you, they’re basically telling your audience that they trust you and your audience should too. This is why getting links from big brands and publications is really nice, but super relevant niche sites can be just as influential.
Do you work primarily as a writer for small businesses? Then a byline or general link from FitSmallBusiness.com would be useful. If you’re a freelance designer, then a link from Invision would be better.
You can learn how to find out who your audience knows and trusts and how to attempt to get links from them at our blog post Link Building = SEO Magic.
Because nearly 50 percent of online searches are conducted on phones and not on computers, mobile-friendliness is critical for any website. Google actively penalizes websites that aren’t mobile responsive and has been doing so for a while.
It may feel like a lot of work to make your website mobile-friendly, but choosing a good WordPress theme is over half the work, and it is a critical SEO factor you simply can’t ignore. You can learn more about checking if your website is mobile friendly at our blog post The 5 Basics of SEO You Need to Implement as a Freelancer.
Your Domain’s Perceived E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trust)
You can boost your website’s E-A-T in various ways. Being a recognized expert on the topics you write about will help. Google can look around and see that I’ve written about entrepreneurship for Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Insider, Biz2Credit, and other big websites and brands. Because I’ve written for these trusted authorities, when I write about entrepreneurship and freelancing on The Freelance Hustle, I’m bringing a recognized expert status that Google rewards.
You can do the same by either boosting your brand or having known experts provide content for you. If you don’t have a big budget to hire known experts, building your brand may be the best way to boost your freelance websites E-A-T.
What’s Coming to SEO in 2020
While what is best for SEO in 2019 won’t suddenly be bad for SEO in 2020, there are usually shifts in what Google prioritizes when calculating which position your website will show up in for specific search queries. Generally, the emphasis shifts away from certain factors and towards other factors and the shift is usually predictable based on what human beings are engaging with more on the search engine results page.
Voice Search (Q&A)
Thanks to Siri and Alexa, voice search is booming. Why pick up a computer or phone when you can just use your voice and have your digital personal assistant answer all your simple queries for you?
Websites that are optimized for voice search will get a boost in the search engine results pages. Of course, your website content might not make sense rewritten as a question and answer format and that’s ok. You don’t have to hit every single thing on this list in order to rank well in Google and Bing. Do what’s relevant for your industry and website instead of over-optimizing for Google and leaving your human visitors confused.
If you’re not sure, check what leaders in your industry and what the role models you look up to are doing. They may not be as SEO-savvy as you are now but if no one in your industry is optimizing for voice search, it might be a sign you can skip it too.
Mobile Friendliness Becomes Even More Important
That mobile friendly thing is not going away so it’s really worth spending the time now to make sure your site is mobile responsive. We’re already doing the bulk of our Google searches on smartphones instead of computers and that is only going to increase.
For most people, sitting down at a computer feels like work whereas a quick Google search on your phone feels effortless. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, people will leave, which will impact your bounce rate and your SEO.
So if there is only one thing from this entire list you do, choose to make your freelance website mobile friendly.
Video Continues to Grow
YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, which is a clear sign of how important video is, both for SEO and engagement. You can and should upload your videos to YouTube, optimize them for YouTube, and then embed them onto your website.
Just like voice search, video is a format that feels effortless to people. People who wouldn’t read a 2000 word blog post will happily watch a 30 minute video which gives them the same information.
You can embed relevant videos on your home page, into your blog posts, and share them on social media. Videos can be repurposed pretty easily so even though they’re more effort to create, they can bring in a lot of engagement and SEO in return for that time spent.
User Experience (UX) Matters More Than Ever
Having a website that loads too slowly or is hard to navigate will already negatively impact your SEO and in 2020, the SEO penalty for poor UX is going to be harsher than ever. If people don’t love spending time on your website, Google will take note and will tank your search engine rankings.
UX is more than just having a beautiful website; it also needs to be easy to navigate and engaging, keeping your visitors poking around and visiting various pages. A good website designer will know how to ensure your UX is great. However, if you don’t have the budget for one yet, you can just ask friends and family to visit your website and tell you what issues they’re encountering when trying to navigate it. Then fix those issues.
SEO is a dynamic process, with Google’s constant updates and changes in human behavior ensuring you can never stop worrying about it. On the plus side, doing SEO right for 2019 and 2020 can lead to more brand visibility and clients for your freelance business.