With the launch of the BERT algorithm from Google and the large-scale update from Yandex, Vega, a special stage in the history of search has come. In order not to get lost on the Internet, businesses will have to think about quality content and user experience, as well as giving search engine optimization (SEO)tips. Here is how businesses go online.

1. A new stage has come in the history of search

The new stage in the history of search is due to the launch of a new algorithm from Google BERT and a large-scale update from Yandex “Vega.”

Both technologies are based on neural networks, which help to understand better and process natural language.

The Vega search update presented on the eve of 2020 brought the search to a new level of quality. It affected four areas at once:

  1. Firstly, the company announced an increase in the quality of the search – not only by keywords but also by meaning.
  2. Secondly, the search engine promised an instant result to user requests.
  3. Thirdly, Yandex began to place a special emphasis on the expertness of answers – thanks to a new ranking algorithm, for which the key signal is the assessments of assessors-experts, and the Kew service.
  4. Fourth, with the launch of Vega Yandex became hyperlocal: it helps to solve problems at the level of a micro-district or even a separate house.

And now every business wants to learn how to optimize content for BERT and Vega. Essentially, this means re-evaluating user access points to search for content. Since people have more opportunities for a smarter search and receive expert and accurate answers, companies have to take into account a lot in the architecture of sites and in the methods of delivering content.

How site content requirements are changing

  • Writing texts is necessary not just at the request, but taking into account the intentions of the user who will search for them.
  • Keyword analysis as we know it is becoming obsolete. Natural language processing and deep learning technologies continue to develop rapidly, so you should prepare for the fact that search engines will be more interested not so much as keywords, but user goals. It follows from this that efforts should be made to analyze the user’s intentions and satisfy his needs. If you give the best answers to your questions, you attract customers faster.
  • Focus on how users communicate their concerns and needs. User interaction is expanding and goes beyond just buying. Now the content that satisfies the needs after the sale is important – support, protection of interests, creation, and development of communities, etc.

What does this SEO trend mean for businesses?

Customers still want to know that you are on their side, that they can trust you. Therefore, the changes of 2020 are associated primarily with improving the quality of information search, the development of its “human” side.

Many marketers still sell services, avoiding communication with the target audience. But if we do not talk with clients, then we do not understand why they behave in a certain way.

Talk to them, ask them to tell you about their shopping trip, how they used the search, what they think about your site. Use this data when deciding on a site.

User-oriented optimization can only be done by integrating SEO solutions into a marketing strategy. And this is the most powerful trend in 2020.

Companies need to stop perceiving SEO as a secondary task. Instead, optimization should be approached as a key component of a business plan.

2. The quality content created for the user plays the role

The “circulatory system” of SEO was and remains content. And what’s new in this, you ask? Low-quality content can negatively affect everything – both the structure of the site, and the strategy of internal links, and everything else.

In order for the site to develop well in 2020, you will have to learn how to write relevant and valuable content. Experts predict that the time will come when only the best materials will go to the top issue.

How site content requirements are changing

  • Set a goal to publish the best content that can be found on the Internet on your topic. Or at least reveal an important part of a relevant topic in order to increase interest in it.

This will allow you to effectively compete in the search for keywords with a “long tail” (it still makes up most of the search queries), it will help increase the credibility of the site and the demand for your content.

2020 is the year when you need to gradually get rid of obsession with keywords. Stop paying attention to individual keywords, chasing pages and praying for content.

  • Focus on topics. Create content that will cover a specific issue, and not just reveal the meaning of one keyword.

You can even plan a series of texts with comprehensive and understandable knowledge on a particular topic. This is especially useful for achieving specific business goals.

What does this SEO trend mean for businesses?

The companies face many tasks on the site, which are closely related to customer service:

  • Analyze the audience, try to understand how it searches.
  • Understand the intentions that are behind the questions of users and the problems that they want to solve.
  • Give them solutions or answers in the formats they prefer using quality expert content.
  • Improve your user experience. Tomorrow someone can do it better than you.
  • Audit all content so that each page has a unique set of keywords. If your site constantly covers the same topics, albeit from different positions, then the pages will knock each other out of the search results.

In 2020, seriously evaluate the quality of content and optimize it for users, not for search engines.

In a sense, the key to success in 2020 remains the same: offer good content on all channels where you’re promoting. As search engines adapt to the natural language, the value of literate and readable texts increases.

3. The struggle for user confidence is tightening, the key to success is expertise

In May 2019, Google updated its quality assessment guide, in which the EAT principle (expertise, credibility, trust) became part of the Page quality strategy.

In 2020, the search engine will continue to study the reputation of companies and individuals who publish content on their behalf. Therefore, companies that have problems with reputation, have difficulties with customer service and while unsuccessfully fighting for the trust of users, it will be very difficult to compete. The Google algorithm also tries to figure out a user’s search intent for more personalized results.

Yandex also relies on expertise. The search has accessors specializing in certain topics. They evaluate how well web pages respond to requests for their specialty, and their ratings play a huge role in learning the algorithm. This approach has improved ranking for different queries.

How website content requirements are changing

  • Confidence problems are manifested not only in reviews and brand reviews but also in technical malfunctions on the site, as well as in issues related to site security.
  • In 2020, the principle of reliability plays a role. Particular attention should be paid to sources since fake news has been declared a war. In this regard, it is important to check the authors themselves before demonstrating their expertise on certain topics.

One of the main trends of 2020 – offline goes online. And the ability of a business to create a compelling online picture of our offline world will be its main advantage.

All offline events, conferences, awards, partnerships that are hidden from Google, suddenly become of great importance. Pull them online to meet Google’s need for credibility.

What does this SEO trend mean for businesses?

Experts share in several ways how a business can demonstrate a competitive advantage online:

  • delivery speed (for example, delivery within 2 days (or less) with corresponding status updates);
  • customer service (for example, the ability to answer a user question as soon as possible);
  • digital charisma/branding (for example, most of your reviews are more like declarations of love);
  • user experience (can the experience be called more convenient/useful/simple);
  • price;
  • niche products.

4. User experience more than ever depends on technical SEO optimization

Another headache that will have to be treated is the user experience. It includes the general impression of a business, starting with the first interaction with your resource in the search results, and then with the landing page and even the way the user leaves your site (remember at least tools such as remarketing and personalization for regular users).

Think about how you shape the user experience of your company. What benefits do they get when they visit the site?

User experience is associated with technical SEO optimization. And first of all, you need to pay attention to the speed of the site and its pages.

What does this SEO trend mean for businesses?

You will have to communicate more often with the developers. In some cases, get ready for an almost complete redesign of page templates.

5. Caring for the user – this is mobile SEO too

Mobile versions of sites are generally in a deplorable state. And in 2020, many companies will have to recall the practice of 2017 and, finally, put the mobile version of the site in order.

If you still do not have a site version adapted for mobile devices, you need to make this task a priority.

What does this SEO trend mean for businesses?

You need to understand how effective your mobile site is for the user. Perhaps you are still trying to visualize a person sitting at a desktop computer. While most of the time this person is in motion, accessing your site through a mobile device.

Another business challenge is analyzing real mobile search results. This is necessary to predict traffic and understand which optimization will actually be effective.

6. Learn to give smart search tips to search engines

So, we decided that in 2020 the quality of the content will matter. However, search engine algorithms still do not fully understand the context of user queries. Therefore, the businesses will have to give them “hints”.

This means that the data needs to be structured in such a way that search engines can better understand not only what is on the page of your site, but also how each element is linked to other elements on the page and how this page is linked to other pages on the site.

If done correctly, structured data will become part of the marketing data. And this, in turn, will allow you to publish content for any search engine, voice assistant, a chatbot with the right context.

What does this SEO trend mean for businesses?

Structured data can be used to improve analytics. They help evaluate how much of the content affects the results, and use this data in developing a content strategy, marketing strategy, creating product descriptions and much more.

7. Optimize content for Knowledge Graph and Yandex neural networks

Google uses the semantic technology and knowledge base of Knowledge Graph to improve the search engine with semantic search information collected from various sources.

This tool provides structured detailed information about a topic in addition to a list of links to other sites. This eliminates the need for users to switch to other sites and independently collect information.

Yandex with the help of neural networks pre-identifies in the database similar in meaning web documents and combines them into semantic clusters. The user makes a request, and the search engine does not search for the answer in the entire huge database, but only in clusters with documents that correspond to the request in meaning.

Since the search understands which clusters of documents are relevant to the request, for the answer he selects the best web pages from those that are obviously suitable.

What does this SEO trend mean for businesses?

First of all, it is important for businesses to understand the unique knowledge network that it creates. After this, it is necessary to highlight certain objects and entities to which it will be possible to bind the information posted on the site.

Creating semantically close descriptions helps to better respond to user requests.

If you publish exclusive industry studies, share relevant recommendations from experts, this will allow you to remain one of the dominant sources of information on the market, and the search engine will begin to consider all these content objects as a whole.

8. The technology of working with links and with the brand is changing.

In 2020, even links will have to be user-oriented. The businesses will have to work with links that not only help in ranking the site but drive traffic.

This means that you need to focus on three aspects of working with content:

  • Planned article: topics that are covered every year at a certain moment (for example, Black Friday).
  • Planned article-reaction: materials on topics related to a seasonal event or topics for which interest grows at a certain time.
  • Article-reaction: what is written here and now in an emergency as a result of the reaction to the news feed. It is not possible to plan ahead.

What does this SEO trend mean for businesses?

Now, link building activities should be carried out under the umbrella of the brand. People are getting smarter and expect more from marketing.

The more customers trust you, the more they are ready:

  • Share your content using links (bring you traffic);
  • talk about you (demonstrate your value);
  • buy your products (bring you income).

9. What matters is real visibility, not just active links.

Issuance with zero clicks became a reality a year ago. In this regard, the business will have to adapt to the search without clicking.

Marketing activities are increasingly closed within search engines, while before this was mainly done on sites.

For example, Yandex introduced the technology of pre-rendering – pre-loading search results. She is so smart that she guesses what the full text of the search query will look like at the moment when a person is just typing the first words.

Pre-rendering pre-generates search results and shows them to the user when you click the “Find” button. For some queries, answers are given directly in the prompts under the search bar.

It is important to note the technology of Turbo pages. When users of mobile devices go to the site from the search, special versions of web pages instantly open.

What does this SEO trend mean for business?

Marketers need now to adapt to new conditions and get more information about what is displayed inside search engines. This is the optimization of text fragments, and emphasis on images, etc.

And again, do not forget about users of mobile devices. In 2019, Yandex improved the technology of Turbo pages: now they load 15 times faster than the regular mobile version of the site. This means that in 75% of cases, the user receives the necessary information in less than a second.

Jeff Parker

Jeff Parker is an identity fraud expert and author of various blogs writing about advanced technologies including artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science. Previously, he has worked as a consultant, often assisting small businesses in digitalization and online fraud prevention.