The key trends in SEO news through December were all about what we can expect from Google in 2020 and how we, as SEO marketers need to adapt our approach to be more like… well Google.

Understanding Intent

Google is steadily getting better at understanding context and qualitative information to get to the very heart of the intent behind a piece of content or query.

This means that ranking for a search term requires content that isn’t only the best out there, but also matches the intent of the user.

When someone searches ‘best surfboards’ for example, there’s no way your product page is going to show up on page one for that term. Why? Because it’s obvious that the user is looking for some quality reviews and comparisons at this stage, rather than your big shiny ‘buy me’ button.

Understanding all the different possible search intents of your target audience – the full ‘buying cycle’ – and creating great pages for each and every one, is going to get much better results than trying to crowbar sales pages into the SERPS.

What this means is that as a marketer you need to really understand what your target audience is looking for, what is their intent, and then produce content that exactly fits that bill. There is no point giving someone steak if they want a good steak recipe, as it were.

E.A.T.

Carrying on our food metaphors another key trend is a focus on developing Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness of websites.

A.K.A E.A.T. (FWIW)

You probably know that your backlink profile is incredibly important if you want Google to view your site as a trusted and credible source of information.

However, these days you must demonstrate high levels of E.A.T at a site level, page level, and author level.

This means that you should help Google understand who you are, what makes you qualified to promote your topic.

Having an About Us page is more than just a reason to bore people to death, signpost (I.e. link) to your credentials, experience, expertise. Do you have press coverage? Time to get a Wikipedia page up. Do you have quality articles published elsewhere? Make sure this is immediately obvious.

Where do you get your data from? Where are your editorial guidelines? Which other industry experts are in your network?

Make it easy for search engines to understand this stuff and you’ll reap the rewards. Reputation is all.

Look at the Big Picture

It’s important to understand what Google is trying to do with each of their updates. What direction are they pushing the search engine in? What are they aiming for?

If you do objectively look at what Google has been doing with each of their fundamental core updates over the last few years – culminating most recently in the release of BERT – you can begin to get a picture of a much more qualitative approach to ranking and organising the data that they assess.

BERT is a really good example of this. It shows one of the most obvious directional shifts that Google have made in recent years.

They are moving towards a much more detailed approach where they assess more data than ever to get the best understanding of not only what has been written – either in the search query or in online content – but also the overarching intent behind this content.

When it comes to adapting our approach in 2020 then it has to be heavily focused on the end user. Tone, format, and the actual messaging of the content all need to be considered to offer not only a seamless and pleasant experience for web visitors but also align the content with like brands who are authoritative.

Conclusion

Google rewards high quality content. However, it doesn’t reward high quality content alone. It’s really important to take a multi-faceted approach to SEO optimisation that includes both the technical side of things like tags, speed and site-structure as well as the content itself.

We hope you’ve found our SEO December Roundup useful. Don’t forget to check back next month for more SEO news.