The biggest survey of the year by Serpstat: digital antitrends and what you
shouldn't do in 2020
shouldn't do in 2020
Far too often I come across campaigns where people have tried to use a standard playbook in order to get a website to rank, without making considerations for the website platform, current technical issues, historic (and legacy) issues, competitors, or even the differences in SERPs, in terms of SCRB (special content result blocks).
This is enhanced by poor blog posts designed to generate traffic and tools designed to bandwagon trends - like LSI tools (when LSI is an indexing method, not an optimization method).
Hopefully, 2020 will be the year more of the industry shifts away from the standardized package approach, and more towards bespoke consultancy.
Along with the ever-advancing machine learning capabilities that Google is demonstrating, I'm also excited (and curious) to see how user behavior changes with the increased adoption of YouTube as a search engine, and the advent of Google Discover.
Countries such as Japan and South Korea are already heavily using YouTube as a primary search engine, favoring video content to satisfy their queries, and Google Discover is another model taking users away from traditional search as a form of content discovery.
We had portals like Netscape in the early days of the internet, and they thrive still in Asian countries, so the Google Discover version (if personalization is effective) could provide both an opportunity, as a new way users can discover your content, and a threat, as it could take some users away from searching for new content and relying on the Discover feed.
You may ask how you can achieve this? Stop using SEO-lingo and start using words everyone in the organization understands. So rather describe your request for adding internal links in recently created articles by emphasizing the benefit for the reader than using terms like "by doing this we improve the flow of link juice through the website" when talking to editors. Most of them have never heard about link juice – and basically don't care about that.
2. Another thing to avoid is producing a long-form but low-quality content. While relying on the popular assumption that long-form content ranks better than the short one, don't accidentally offer your audience (and search engines) poorly written pieces just because it might rank higher in Google. It won't. Search engines still value quality and context over length. Instead, think about implementing topic clusters in your content marketing strategy in 2020. Review your existing content, research keywords you want to be ranking for, choose a few pillar pages (main topics), plan your subtopics (supporting articles) and start writing!
3. Ditch thinking about your social media numbers and focus on providing value and building a real community around your product or service. It's that simple. Bots... If you still use or consider using them, please don't waste your time and money. Even with the fast advancing technology (also for shady marketing solutions), it will never become a sustainable solution and any serious business should not come close to supporting their marketing efforts with bots.
4. This might be an unpopular opinion, but... listicles (articles titled "10 Best Ways to Generate Leads") should really be off your menu in 2020. They are easy to write and might attract those looking for quick solutions, but they usually provide little to no value. Such pieces are usually very broad and cannot be effectively implemented by the readers. They also often require further reading. Instead, focus on writing in-depth content. Once again - implementing topic clusters can be your golden shot!
5. Choosing quantity over quality. It's hard to believe that this still has to be mentioned, but unfortunately, I still come across blogs who would rather publish 3-4 times per week and keep the pace, than produce one valuable piece of content weekly. The best cure for this is to turn your attention to case studies. Such articles filled with real data can be a real gem for your audience. Yes, they take time to write, but your readers and search engines will reward you for it!
Also, as Google is evolving from a keyword-oriented approach to an entity-recognition approach, it is fundamental that the content we create takes into consideration the intent and context of the search instead of purely optimizing content according to keyword ratio.
With the increase in entity recognition, structured data plays a fundamental role in specifying the type of content the website has, whether it is product information, company data, local business hours, event data, etc.
Organic traffic, from both search and social, will drop in 2020. This is the biggest marketing (anti)trend and it will lead to a shift in budgets toward paid promotion, especially paid influencer marketing. Marketers that have invested in organic influencer marketing (aka, collaborative content marketing) will do well. Also, marketers who have built email lists will be somewhat protected.
Well, the problem is that people start to realize this and are annoyed by this practice. Because it shows that those articles are not written with the first priority of helping someone, instead it has been written in order to trick search engines into believing that this article will solve the problem of the user.
Those pointless blog posts should be completely removed from your SEO strategy in 2020. Instead, companies should focus on creating valuable information and a place that I, as a user, want to revisit for the next post.
With that in mind search engines will also notice how people revisit blogs directly and stay longer on the pages because they actually love what they read. And search engines will reward these factors as well with better rankings!
Instead, in such a competitive market where more and more brands keep popping up, it's extremely important to focus on attracting high-quality leads and retaining customers for as long as possible. One of the best ways to attract qualified leads to your business is by setting up a strong SEO strategy from day one. It's a long road, but it sure pays off. Once you've converted those leads into customers, it's very important to keep them around for as long as possible, increasing their lifetime revenue. A great way to do this is by applying a customer loyalty-centered approach to your customer lifecycle marketing strategy. You'll be making sure that your customers keep coming back but also talk to their friends and family about your brand, increasing the reach of your business through one of the most trustworthy marketing channels: word-of-mouth.
In 2020, there will likely be a backswing to how much SEO is automated. As more SEOs use python to make their operations easier, content strategies may start to look similar across different brands. This will force marketers to keep certain operations manual and depend on human intuition (rather than a script) to make critical decisions.
In 2020, Google will pivot slightly from intent-based algorithm updates to those focused on trust. Too many sites are copying one another, and the last four core algorithm updates by Google were link-based. Going forward, backlink authority and correct intent won't be enough to rank well for competitive topics. Content marketers will need to think very carefully about their competitive advantage, or their traffic will suffer.
In 2020, a content marketer's source will need to come from the horse's mouth, not just Google. Blogs, YouTube channels, and newsrooms will lose their "expert" image without proprietary or firsthand information to give their audiences.
The SEO industry evolves so fast that it forces websites and businesses to do the same. Don't get caught up in SEO strategies that worked two years ago. Follow experts and see what they are recommending, and also test to see if it works for you.
If something doesn't bring you any results, it's time to flip the page.
1. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of SEO strategies that worked and now don't is duplicate content. Duplicate content doesn't get you penalized, while copied content does.
2. Another antitrend for 2020 is putting more effort into building links, than building content. Links don't value more than content. I've seen fresh content with no links that ranked better than old content with lots of links. A natural link profile and good content can bring you high rankings.
3. PPC is not a straight way to money land great results. Even though is a quicker way than SEO, it doesn't mean it's more efficient. You have to stop lying to yourself that PPC guarantees instant and fast results. Lots of marketers and startups quickly jump to the conclusion that PPC will bring them instant results. That's an antitrend.
4. Unfortunately, if you don't have expertise in paid advertising, you can lose a lot of money. Creating effective PPC ads is a full-time job.
5. Another antitrend that you shouldn't follow is being the #1 on SERP with your Google Ad. It will eat you a lot of money and consume your daily budget in a flash. Set up smart goals, that will bring you results.
5. The first antitrend on the list is focusing more on keyword research than on competitor spying. We all know that finding a good keyword is important, but finding a niche, and a gap is way more important. Checking your competitors for specific keywords will trigger valuable information. You can see what type of content ranks on the first page, what headings and title tags do they have, what additional topics are related, what other questions people ask, and many more. Adding all of these to your content will only make it stronger. So stop keyword hunting if you don't see the bigger picture.
6. I oftentimes see people creating candy-eye headings with no call-to-action. That's antitrend that needs to disappear. You have to make it compelling. Be different than your competitors.
More and more, Google is trying to align the intent of a search with the content of pages themselves to help its users. So I'd recommend focusing on diversifying your anchor text, and focusing more on the intent. Use anchor text that is similar or relates to the keywords you're trying to rank for. Over time, it's definitely a safer bet, you rank for a wider range of keywords, plus it helps you rank for the user intent.
2. Over-blogging is counter-productive. You run the risk of having competing blog content on your blog, you have less time for distribution/promotion, and even less time to audit older content for updating/repurposing. Still, a lot of brands are driven to publish blog posts often. But they don't see the results they could if they just took a step back, and approached things a bit more strategically.
For example, publishing blog posts consistently (instead of frequently) is underrated but effective - your subscribers learn to expect it and look forward to it. Updating old content to make it more relevant keeps you current and authoritative, and is way less time consuming than creating content from scratch. Repurposing content into newer formats lets you reach a wider audience by building on content that exists rather than creating something new out of nothing.
I think it's tempting to frequently publish shallow, scratching-the-surface type posts to have fresh content that gives you a little organic traffic boost every other day. But I think the competitive edge brands need is focusing on in-depth content that's consistently updated and repackaged, keeping your subscribers engaged over a longer period of time. It builds your authority/credibility, builds trust over the long-term, helps you rank in search results and more. The value is there - it just takes a bit more time and focus.
You can bet that automation will only continue to dominate Google Ads campaigns in 2020. What we can hope to see for 2020 is a further strength of advanced machine learning. Google will be launching "responsive ads" and automation will only save more time on such repetitive tasks so you can focus more on what matters – your customers.
Videos are taking over the text content, more brands are now focusing on micro creating video content for their products. Even for Facebook ads, videos are working very well and soon image ads will be replaced by videos.
In 2020 effective personal branding will differentiate you from the competition and allow you to build trust with prospective clients as many companies realizing that personal branding can kickstart their products or services to the next level.
There's always been a debate about what's the most important - content on your site that's optimized, or content that is well-written and informational. I'm here to tell you that the answer is both. If you're making the effort to build links back to your site, you're going to want to ensure that once you get that click, that the information on your site will be worthy of multiple visits.
What needs to go in the upcoming year is the notion that "if it isn't broken, then don't fix it." In marketing, you must constantly be on the lookout for new ideas and new ways to say exactly what everyone else in your industry is saying. One thing I see is that too many companies aren't paying enough attention to the subject lines of their email marketing strategies. That extra five minutes could help you gain 20% or more clicks. Be concise, yet explain the benefits of not sending the email to the trash bin.
SEO is super important, but it's definitely time that content isn't created simply to support a long list of keywords and links. In 2020, discover a better way. Create an outline for your online content, find the best keywords, and then craft an informative piece of content that will be beneficial to your site visitors, as well as SEO-optimized for ranking.
Basic Ads will not work in 2020 unless it's an established brand. Quality Score of PPC Ads will be much more strictly analyzed. Instead of going with traditional ad copy-writing, it's better to ensure that the essence of ads reflects the metric of anxiety, value, and motivation.
In 2018, Google preferred skyscraper content for ranking and in 2019, it's still preferred, however in 2020, short, to-the-point content will become a major search signal. The problem with skyscraper content was too much fluffing that loses the essence/value of the content.
Similarly, the ranked pages of high brands do not want to pass link juice to low web content. Therefore, instead of going with the traditional method for content marketing such as guest posting (it's getting tougher for SEO professionals to find good guest posting opportunities), it is better to create content that gets natural links and mentions.
Many marketers are curious about testing new ideas, but end up spending too much time in the sandbox. Coming up with new ideas and testing them is important, but it should be extracurricular. Instead, focus on efficiency and implement the link-building strategies that give you the best results.
Many SEO gurus tell their followers that they have to create extremely long posts if they want to succeed, and many content marketers do it. The result? A lot of long content without any value for readers. When readers learn something from reading your content – your traffic, subscriber list, and organic backlinks will grow.
There are so many frameworks for creating content that marketers forget to provide value for their readers. Time is very expensive, and readers won't waste it on fluff. Keep it actionable to keep your readers engaged.
Instead of creating bathroom content today and not revisiting it for months, create all your bathroom content over the course of a few months. You'll notice that it'll be easier for you to rank it that kind of content and you create a better resource for users. After that, move on to the kitchen.
When you've built up these content categories, you can then create learning paths that help people navigate your website and learn about only what they're interested in while moving further down the funnel you've created. Think of your website not as a publication but as a library and the people who visit not as engaged audience members but as passersby who need to be enticed to stay.
SEO professionals who put less emphasis into building links and more into linkless mentions are going to be in for a rude awakening if their goal is to rank well. The Web is not a place for a "if you build it, they will come" mentality, marketing content means active promotion and link building. It's what the "O" in SEO stands for!
I appreciate the time and energy it takes to execute content and swipe files but keep in mind you're not the only one reading those things. Take the basics and adapt with a flare, especially if you're using templates that were shared in mass-distributed articles or embedded in tools. Your open and execution rates will improve if your email doesn't sound like everyone else's.
Work hard to stop your dependency on Google for traffic and brand building. I know, I know – easy to say, hard to do but consider this. According to SimilarWeb in December 2019, two of the top five sites ranking for Travel and Tourism accept contributed content. The benefits and opportunities of being seen on those mega-sites are endless, consider getting involved and becoming an influencer on dominant sites within your industry.
Lastly – make 2020 the year you attend or apply to speak at a conference or meetup. Our industry needs fresh blood and new ideas, be part of the movement!
Content, content, content… everyone is creating it, little is being seen or shared. Now more than ever you need a dedicated email list for content promotion. Find a way to collect and use email to get your content in front of influential people.
Marketing is never fading away– it will evolve. In this world that turns everything digital, the old methods are being forgotten. Small businesses prefer to jump into digital marketing to engage more customers rather than put extra effort into offline guerrilla marketing.
Content marketing in 2020 would be extremely louder. Marketers are busy doubling their content even if they're not an expert or specialized - instead of knowing their objectives. And the competitors just follow them around to cut through the noise, even if they're not as good.
Ask industry experts for quotes for your articles, then ask them to share and maybe link back to the post bring an initial boost. When inviting experts for quotes to focus on those have huge and engaged social media following but also those who have "media about us" page and they show off when they're mentioned. This may bring you some good links.
Cold outreach really needs to go in 2020. I don't think anyone reads these emails any more and for the most part, they end up in spam. I can tell immediately when someone sends me a canned cold outreach email and I don't bother reading after the first sentence.
De-personalized fluff content needs to go. I love it when someone has their own unique twist, even if it's a topic that's been covered millions of times before. I am looking forward to new content with a fresh spin on old topics.
2. Using semantic research tools is another good idea. Text Optimizer is an intent optimization platform that helps you cluster any search query into related concepts and entities. It uses Google's search snippets to come up with ideas to expand your initial copy to provide more solutions and meet Google's and its users' needs.
2. Doing without monitoring. Whoever does SEO, should also clearly see the success (or failure). Therefore goals should be defined (e.g. reduction of mistakes, improvement of rankings, lower bounce rate). Only when we see a development can we also assess the success of our measures.
3. Brand Search. Search queries in connection with the brand are valuable. If you are looking specifically for a brand, you are more inclined to buy in the shop or make a contact request. Many companies neglect the brand search because they consider it a safe bank. Interesting search queries related to the brand often go unnoticed.
4. Pure focus on text content. "Content is king," is a common saying. But often you can see pure text content, that was created especially for the search engines. But content can also be e.g. pictures, infographics, and videos. This is not only important for the search engines, but it also helps the user. One should always ask oneself the question, which content helps the users with their decision. A suitable video can sometimes help the visitor more, than ten lines of content. This can make the difference between bounce and conversion.
5. Neglect of the mobile search. There is really nothing more to be said about this in 2020. Anyone who ignores the mobile search today is harming himself.
2. Rely on only one Channel for Traffic. Not having an idea of how the customer searches and which searchengine he might use.
3. Keyword stuffed texts with white fonts on a white background - this is so 90ies! Please just don't do it.
How do you avoid wasting your time and resources on something that won't likely help you increase your organic traffic? Here's what I recommend doing:
1. Put together a list of both on-site and off-site issues for your website.
2. Evaluate each issue based on how much time it will take on your end to fix, and how likely it is that the fix will affect your site's SEO performance.
3. Filter out the time-wasters and identify the tasks that will take less time and are more likely to help push your site into the top results. Focus on those.
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