My low down on what’s coming our way this year
Today I’ve dusted off my crystal ball and I’m sharing my predictions for how the digital will develop in 2020.
What’s going to happen in the world of Google?
What should you as business owners, bloggers, entrepreneurs, word press developers, copywriters and marketeers be concentrating on?
Which platforms should we be using?
What are the big trends?
And what can we PLEASE ignore!
I’ll also explain what I’m focusing my efforts on for my six, or is it seven, websites in 2020.
(Read my predictions from 2018)
Tune in to learn:
- Why position zero matters
- What BERT means for user optimisation
- How EAT is going to impact your business
- How to have a bold brand that stands for something
- Why your UX can’t SUX
- Why you need to get your bots ready
- How video is going to change your business life
And my biggest overarching trend for 2020… #showthechaos
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- Clever Copywriting School
- Voice search stats
- Podcasting insights
- Artifact UK study
- Sprout social
- Vincenzo Rilli
- Google Bert update
- Zero click searches Spark Toro
- SEO Nibbles
- 10 Day SEO Challenge
- 5 Tools to track your brand mentions
So today I’ve dusted off my crystal ball and I’m sharing my predictions for how digital marketing will develop in 2020. What’s going to happen in the world of Google? What should we be concentrating on?What are the big trends and what are the things that we can thankfully ignore?And I’m going to be explaining what I’m going to be focusing my efforts on in 2020, so if you are feeling a little bit overwhelmed by all the possibilities, this is the episode for you.
Kate Toon: Hello, my name is Kate Toon. I’m the head chef at The Recipe for SEO Success, an online digital marketing teaching hub for all things related to Search Engine Optimization and digital marketing.
Kate Toon: So back in 2018 I did some predictions.I think I forgot to do it in 2019, but back then, I predicted the following. Number one, that voice search was going to take off.That we would lose real estate in the search engine results pages.
That there would be an increase in knowledge-based content, a rise in the importance of mobile searches, rise of AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages.
That videos would take over the world.
That e-commerce would get a little bit tougher, but that the fundamentals wouldn’t change.
Kate Toon: So how did I do? Well, I think most of those things have happened. Voice search is huge. We have lost a lot of real estate in the SERPs. There’s heaps more knowledge-based content with featured answers and featured questions and lists. We have heaps more video. Hello, TikTok. E-commerce just continues to get tougher. And yes, some of the core fundamentals haven’t changed.
Kate Toon: So what happened in 2019? Well I think a lot of us got hit quite hard. There were some core algorithm updates and we weren’t given a huge amount of information about them, and they were very broad, so I bet lots of sites took a hit with those from a Google perspective. You know, we’ve seen the rise of this new platform, TikTok, that Gary Vaynerchuk is encouraging us all to leap on. And we’ve seen a huge increase in video content across the board with things like IGTV and LinkedIn video.
So I think I was relatively spot on. Let’s see how I do for 2020.
Kate Toon: So I’m going to start by talking about some SEO bits and then I’ll move into talking about some digital marketing things as well. So yes, there have been a lot changes with Google and how they present information to us, new ways to connect users with content. And Google is pushing us in a certain direction though, the way it thinks we want to go. It’s making the decision for us. And so I guess my first prediction is there’s going to be an increase in these Zero-Click results. Google wants you to stay on Google.
Their goal is that they serve customers better. But often people feel that Google misses the mark and that the result they’re given isn’t quite right.
Kate Toon: Rand Fishkin did some great research at SparkToro that these position zero search results don’t result in clicks, especially on mobile. So there’s a lot of debate about whether they are good for brands. You know, you’re increasing brand awareness because your Google’s first choice, and they get a lot of impression, but not that many clicks, which is harder for us. But also, gosh, better to be in position zero than not be in any position at all. And obviously a lot of these position zero spots are featured answers.
And we’ve got a great episode coming up in the next couple of weeks with Britney Muller from Moz providing information and tips on how you can best write content so that you do get the featured answer, because yeah, better to be there than not on the first page at all.
Kate Toon: So first tip is there will be an increase in the number of search queries that generate a featured answer or a featured snippet, and that unfortunately they will result in fewer clicks. But better to be there than not be there at all.
Kate Toon: The next prediction I have is that there is going to be more focus on user optimisation. So in 2019, Google released an algorithm update that was dubbed BERT, B-E-R-T. And this is something we’re going to be chatting about with Dawn Anderson on the podcast in a few weeks, so tune in for that.
There’s lots of debate about BERT and what it means, and whether you can optimise specifically for this update, because BERT is all about natural language and Google getting better understanding that we don’t write in staccato keyword language. We write like humans with prepositions and adjectives and adverbs. So you it’s trying to start understanding natural language.
Kate Toon: So in my opinion, it’s really thinking how and why your users are searching and focusing on having a site that has a really clean architecture and delivers content in a rational way. So it’s leading people through your site to conversion.
Now, that might sound obvious, but a lot of older sites have a really higgledy-piggledy architecture with pages here, there and everywhere and lots of dead ends and the customer flow isn’t great.So we have to think about that.
Kate Toon: I think it’s also about focusing on searcher intent and less about exact matching keywords. So having focuses for your content and making sure that your content is helpful and solving user problems. If we can provide the best answers for questions, then you can capture and convert customers.
It’s really good news for us copywriters as we’re all about focusing on how users talk and their problems and communicating in their language rather than corporate speak. And I guess user optimization is also about relationship building, creating content that helps build a relationship even after the sale. Offering support, building communities and creating advocacy.
Kate Toon: So my Toon Tip to talk to your customers and really understand who they are. We all think we know who our customers are. We all think, “It’s Clive. He’s 44. He drives a Range Rover. He has a wife called Sue.” But that’s really not going to help us write content that helps solves Clive’s problem.
Think about what Clive is Googling in the dark of the night when he wakes up at 3:00 AM. What his client worried about? What are his fears? What are his questions? If we can answer those for Clive and be the authority and build that relationship, well then he’s going to know that he can trust us and he’s going to buy from us. So focusing on the user is my second tip.
Kate Toon: Prediction three, EAT, E-A-T. Google is going to continue to look at your brand’s overall reputation, your expertise, authority and trust. So how does this work?
How does Google know what your expertise and authority and trust is like? It’s a little bit vague, but those in the know suggest that to improve your EAT score or reputation, you should be working on your reputation. So if you have customer service issues, address them. If you have negative reviews on any platform, find them and answer them in a non-emotional crazy way.
Kate Toon: Better that you are dealing with your customer service issues than having people talk about you behind your back.
So keep track of your brand mentions. You can use the Google tool to do that. Get involved in the conversations, because people are talking about your brand. And remember whoever said it, I forgotten, but, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
So try to be in the room and try to just address these issues head-on. It’s going to build your reputation as a transparent and honest brand.
Kate Toon: Add credentials. So if you’re writing a medical article, for example, be sure to have some peer quotes from authoritative sources. Don’t just write, “How to get rid of boils” on your bottom article with not having a boil expert come in who’s got a PhD in boils. That’s the kind of authority that you want to have.
And those kinds of posts are going to score better with Google than just ones written by random nonmedical types.
Kate Toon: Also try to substantiate. Fight the fight against fake news by including facts, sources, statistics. Try saying that quickly… From a reputable research sources, or do your own research and provide the results for that. I did a survey for The Clever Copywriting School, my other business, this year asking about a lot of questions and it’s been a huge source of traffic and engagement with my site because we have like 250 or so copywriters respond.
That has become a source of data in its own right that I can then quote and makes me more reputable.
Kate Toon: Include author bio. So get those profiled verified and make sure the profiles are detailed and show why you are an authority on the topic that you’re speaking on. So, you know, offline is becoming online. Don’t also forget as well that everything you do in the real world affects what happens online. So speaking at events, winning awards, going to conferences, speaking on podcasts, they all back up your personality footprint, showing who you are and what you’re an authority on.
So EAT is my prediction number three. It’s going to continue to be important and we’re going to have to work harder and harder to build that authority and trust.
Kate Toon: Prediction four is that branding is going to matter more than ever. And by branding, nope, I don’t just mean having a pretty logo. I’m talking about having a bit of a personality online, a little bit of digital charisma, standing for something. There’s so many business coaches out there, for example, and they’re all peddling the same kinds of message.
Trying to maybe not be controversial for the sake of being controversial, but taking an opposing view, taking a challenging view, or just standing for something and having really clear brand values that say who you are so that people recognise your content without even seeing the logo.
Kate Toon: Try and inject humour. Even if you don’t think you’re super thigh-slappingly funny, you can have a kind of knowingness humour. So if you’re working with accountants, you know all the problems and pains and struggles that accountants have and you can talk to them in their language about their problems and kind of, “Gosh, it’s awful, isn’t it? When bus time comes around?”
It sounds a bit cheesy, but trying to be familiar and conversational and not take it all too seriously can really help again with your brand. Just warm your brand up.
Kate Toon: People often think that to be authoritative and knowledgeable you have to be totally serious and you have to write in a very serious tone of voice. But you don’t.
You can be playful and have personality and also be intelligent and wise and give great advice.
So a little quote I hear, I like here as well is from Vincenzo Riili who is the country marketing director from Google Italy, and he said, “Today’s consumers want more than product information from brands. What they really demand is a brand’s perspective on topics that matter.” Yeah? Standing for something… “And how they positively contribute.”
Kate Toon: In 2020, a brand’s view on issues such as diversity and inclusion, climate change and sustainability will become even more important.
So don’t be afraid to talk about contentious issues, as long as you can stand by what you’re saying and you can substantiate it and you’re happy to take a few negative comments because standing for something means that other people aren’t going to like you. And that’s okay. But it will make those who love you, love you harder.
Kate Toon: Tara Robertson, who’s the director of customer marketing at Sprout Social said, “We are living in an age of authentic marketing, and the more relevant and relatable your brand is, the more loyal your audience will become.” And I so agree.
Kate Toon: So prediction number five is all about UX, usability. So I’m a huge advocate of SEO, but I like to look at it in a holistic way. SEO will get people to your door, but usability drags them through. So yes you can rank, you can drive traffic to your site, but often that’s when it falls down.
I hit your homepage, it takes 10 seconds to load. I have no clear idea of what you do. Your navigation is all over the page. There’s an image that’s still not loaded. There’s no call to action.
So we need to think about the complete user journey from search engines, results page, to the landing page, and beyond.
Even the experience after a customer checks out.
How do you re-engage them?
How do you re-market them?
And personalise and segment in a kind of authentic and non-cheesy way.
Kate Toon: So think about the messages on your landing pages. Think about your USP, your unique selling point. How quickly do you tell people who you are, what you do, why you do it, and how you do it better than anybody else? That should be the first statement on your homepage. Or a pain point. Address a pain point straight away.
You know, “Do you have this problem? We can solve it.” Then really quickly cut to the chase and tell people your services or show them your products. Back it up with some customer brand story or that people who’ve worked with you. Testimonials of people who had the same problem that you solved.
Kate Toon: And then again, going back to that brand point, bring your personality through into the homepage. You know, I could buy that product from Kmart. Why would I want to buy it from you? Give me a reason. Make me care about you and your business. But also don’t forget technical site build issues.
Technical SEO. All of this is great, but if your site is slow, none of it’s going to matter. If your site is uncrawlable, none of it’s going to matter. If it’s not optimised for mobile, none of it’s going to matter. So you can’t ignore the techie stuff. It’s still important.
Kate Toon: And I was lucky enough to head to YoastCon last year, and I’ll be there again in April, if you’re going along.
And talking to a Yoast himself and he was saying, you know, generally, the platforms we’re using; your WordPress, your Squarespace, your Shopify, they’re all working hard to solve the technical problems for us because they understand that people like us don’t want to be worrying about schema and amp and all that stuff.
It’s hardcore tech staff and we don’t want to worry about it. So the platforms and the plugins are to solve those problems for us. But we’re not quite there yet. We’ve got a great episode coming up with Jono Alderson from Yoast about what happens when all the tech problems have gone away and all our websites are fixed. And you can waste time trying to optimise image six on page seven of your website.
You really have to focus on the hard stuff like branding and UX and conversational marketing. So that will be interesting too.
Kate Toon: And that leads me in to prediction number six, conversational marketing and bots. So one of the biggest trends I see is the increase in conversational marketing and the use of bots to facilitate the sales journey and customer relations and customer support. And there are conversational marketing technologies now that allow interactions between companies and customers that mimic human conversation and allow you to do it at scale. So I’ve set up my first little chatbot on my Facebook page.
I use ManyChat. And a big thanks to Dan Pine who helped me do that.
Kate Toon: So it’s just the basic one, but it just solves the five or six common questions that I get every day that really aren’t going to lead directly to a sale. They’re just basic questions like, “Do you do SEO? Do you still take copywriting clients?”
And while I’d love to talk to every single one of those people directly, it’s quite easy for me to just answer those questions quite quickly with a chatbot and then direct the person to a resource that’s going to help them take the next step or invite them to have a conversation with me if that’s the right thing.
Kate Toon: So personalisation at scale really can help you understand customer journeys and increase engagement and add value at key moments. You might think, “Well look, it’s not relevant to me. I hate chatbots, I’ve never used them.”
But a study in the UK of 2000 British adults, which was commissioned by Artefact UK, which is an AI and data driven agency, said that six out of 10 smart speaker owners, so people who are chatting away to voice devices, have used them to make a purchase in the last year. In fact, nearly a quarter, 22%, said they have done so in the past week. So it’s not just chatbots, it’s voice search devices as well.
Kate Toon: And there’s also an interesting tool in this space called Persado which offers a copy impact classification that can be applied to existing copy. So it looks at your copy and it says, “What impact is this copy having? What type of impact are you trying to have?”
And it’s kind of got it broken down into fear and safety. I’ve included a little graphic in the search in the blog post for this episode. But what it does is it then tailors the copy and calls to action to match customer needs.
Kate Toon: And they did an experiment with an Air Canada campaign and what they found was that using anxiety language gave them a 3% lift in engagement compared to a 5% drop when they used exclusivity language, and a 3% drop when they use safety language. So we all know that fear is a powerful motivator.
Maybe not something you should use all the time, but we should at least be thinking about the types of language we’re using in the types of conversation we’re having. Interesting stuff.
Kate Toon: Prediction number seven is around video contents. So as I mentioned, back in 2018 video was important. It’s still important.
It’s getting increasingly important. I could reel out stats about how many videos people are watching, but I guarantee you probably already watched a few videos this morning, maybe with the sound down hiding in the toilet at work, but you have watched some.
Kate Toon: So I think that B2B companies really have been focusing on creating content for LinkedIn.
But I think we’re going to see more big brands moving into IGTV. And with the updates, the Instagram’s algorithm video posted on IGTV goes to the top of your followers’ feeds and is more prevalently found on user explore pages. So this is going to lead to more video leads, large audience and more benefits. It’s a huge opportunity as well to really define that brand personality that we talked about earlier.
Kate Toon: I’m a copywriter and we work hard to define brand voice in copy. But nothing can define your voice more than you actually speaking, so building an audience.
And it’s also a way to over-deliver, to give that value add. People like to read, but these days increasingly, people like to watch. It’s just easier. That’s how we want to consume our content.
So whether you like it or not, your customers want to consume their content the way they want to consume it. And if you’re not going to deliver it to them, they’re going to go and find someone else that will.
Kate Toon: The next prediction I have is that podcasts will continue to rise. I hope they will because I have three.
And I’m relaunching my Kate Toon Podcast this year focusing on my new book that I’m writing called Be More Shark, which is all about being braver in business and being fearless in your approach to all things to do with running your own show. So podcasts are great.
They have been a huge part of my business strategy. I wouldn’t call it strategy, my business bumbling. And I know so many people who are planning to launch a podcast this year. But why? Why do they work?
Kate Toon: I mean, I feel that although we love video, I, for one and many of you are probably getting overwhelmed by screens. It’s visual overload. There’s just too much sparking and flashing and beeping at us.
Audio is intimate. It’s calm and it lets you absorb content while you’re doing other pleasurable things like walking the dog or driving in the car or just sitting on the beach looking at the waves. I’d be interested to know where you listen to my podcast. Tweet me, tell me. I would really like to know.
Kate Toon: So some interesting stats here from podcastinginsights.com.
51% of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast. 22% of listening is done in the car, and 80% of people listen to nearly all or all of at least seven podcasts a week. Wow! Podcasting listenership has grown from 10% of the U.S. population to almost 35% of the U.S. population in 2019.
So if you don’t have a podcast, maybe now is the time to start one.
Kate Toon: So we talked a little bit about voice search already when we talked about chatbots and voice devices and using voice search to make purchases. So according to KORA Creative, we’re going to see at least a 50% increase of online searches happening using voice. So this means that your content needs to be optimised for voice search.
We’ve got an episode on this with Eric Eng, and I might do another episode on it because I think it’s one of those ones that could always be refreshed because it’s evolving.
Kate Toon: So how do you make yourself found for conversational searches? Well, your content needs to be more conversational. So instead of optimising for, say two words like video script, you need to optimise for, “Hey Google, how do I write a video script?” So here are some little tips to get you started. Try to focus less on just individual keywords and more on topics and questions. So use longer tail phrases. Write content in a more conversational tone.
Kate Toon: So contract words. ‘It is’ becomes ‘it’s.’ ‘You are’ becomes ‘you’re.’ Keep sentences nice and short. Use idioms and chatting. I mean obviously being aware that your copy needs to be plain English and needs to work for people who don’t speak English as a first language or wherever you are.
It has to be open to all. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t be playful and use some short sentences to keep the conversation flowing. Provide the answer in context. Yeah? So if someone said, “How do you write a video script?” Give what we call snippet baits. So maybe like a 50-word summary of your overall advice and maybe have that at the start of your post or page.
And then go on to explain it in more detail. But generally try to be as concise as possible. Don’t spread too little butter over too much bread. I love that analogy.
Kate Toon: So we’re going to see an explosion as well in voice commerce.
So according to an article which I found on WordStream, the U.S. is set to see a rise in voice commerce sales from 1.8 billion to 40 billion by 2020. So instead, I think a lot of this intent with voice searches up till now has been informational or investigational. I think in 2020 we’re going to see a rise in conversion intent voice searches. Look out for that.
Kate Toon: So if I were to pick an overall prediction or my final prediction, prediction number 10 would be, I guess it’s all around authenticity. So no longer trying to present this fake version of yourself.
But authenticity has become a bit of a cheesy word, but I still think it stands. So being yourself on brands and if your brand is a business brand, having someone within the business who represents your brand or who’s the advocate for your brand. Stop Photoshopping everything to the nth degree. Show yourself warts and all, literally.
You’ve got crooked teeth, have crooked teeth. That’s fine. That’s more real.
Kate Toon: All these people are blurring themselves out so they look like an egg. Don’t do it. Just be yourself. Don’t have this fake Instagram life. Have imperfect Facebook lives and videos. Make a video then your kid comes running in, that’s okay. That’s what we want to see. That’s endearing content. Being endearing is super important.
Have podcasts that are unedited. This one here, I’m not editing it. You can probably hear my phone just started ringing, which is really annoying and I’ve had to now sit on it. It’s under my bottom.
There’s dogs barking outside, but that’s it. I want the sound quality to be great, but I can’t pretend that I’m sitting in a $20 million podcasting studio. I am not Ira from This American Life. I’m Kate Toon, so you’re going to get me as I am.
Kate Toon: Be playful because yes, business is serious and involves money, but people are people and people like to laugh and have fun. So one platform that’s a lot of fun for that is TikTok. I’m not sure it’s going to be a huge thing for brands. I’m not quite sure how to make that work yet, but I’m there.
I’m on it. I went on there quickly because I wanted to try and get Kate Toon, but Kate Toon had gone. So now I’ve had to be “thekatetoon,” which I find rather ridiculous. But I don’t know what I’m doing with it yet, but just as people sniped at Facebook when that started, “Oh it will never take off,” people are sniping at TikTok now. And you don’t want to be the Luddite in the room.
At least give it a go. Who knows what will happen?
Kate Toon: And use things like IGTV and Facebook lives to show the behind the scenes of your business, your failures, your ups and downs, the things that aren’t working, but also the things that are. You know, what goes on to the left of your computer screen. Everyone has this perfect backdrop that’s just perfectly right, and then just two inches to the left is a giant pile of washing or something.
Show that too, because if I’m going to buy from you and your brand, especially if you’re a small business brand, I don’t want to see that you’re a perfectly well-oiled machine that never has flaws.
Kate Toon: It makes me admire you more and your product more and your services more if I see that you’re struggling and that you’re like me. You’re a real human. That makes me want to buy from you more. So show the chaos.
That would be my final tip.
Kate Toon: So there we go. Let me do the whiz through what what we’ve recommended again. So we talked about the fact that prediction one would be an increase in position zero searches. So we need to try and grab them.
A focus on user optimisation, number two.
Prediction three, get your EAT, your expertise, authority and trust sorted. Work on your brand, humanise your brand, be your brand.
Go beyond the obvious. Stand for something. Have an opinion. Be authentic. Focus on conversational marketing and bots.
So think about how you could use them to facilitate the sales journey.
Kate Toon: Think about your user experience and your user journey and how easy it is to use your sites.
Think about voice content and creating content that’s going to be found for voice queries. Consider starting a podcast. I’ve got voice twice. Well, I kind of got voice in different places, but yes, try to improve that.
Oh no, prediction seven. Gosh, I’m all over the shop, aren’t I? Video content. Make more videos, people. They don’t have to be amazingly professional high production values. Just make them.
Kate Toon: And then finally, authenticity.
And as you can see from this podcast, which is a bit higgledy-piggledy, authenticity is kind of my middle name. Or I guess is it authenticity or just showing your foibles? Foibles; what a great word. Hashtag foibles, people.
So look, that’s the end of this week’s show. If you have any questions about what everyone should be doing online in 2020 then head to the I LOVE SEO group on Facebook or leave a comment on the show notes for this show, or tweet me or whatever.
You’ll find me all over the interwebs.
Kate Toon: So now I like to give a shout out to one of my lovely listeners, and today it’s from Calip Pops Kate taught me SEO.
She enlightened and confused me and enlightened me some more. She’s quirky as hell, which I love.
What’s worse than a boring podcaster? A boring SEO podcaster. That’s what. I spend my two hour daily commute for a couple of years alternating between Kate’s podcasts and murder podcasts on those bad work days. I’ve done her courses and she’s empowered me to take control of my own business. Thank you, Kate.”
Kate Toon: So look, it might sound a bit horn tooty, but I think that that testimonial sums up a lot of what we said. A, it’s about podcasting. About not being boring, about where people listen to the podcasts on a daily commute, and about being quirky, which I think is all part of my personal brand.
Kate Toon: thanks to you for listening. If you liked the show and you’re looking forward to all the exciting episodes we have coming up, we have such a great lineup. We have episodes scheduled through till June with some big names and some small names from the digital marketing world covering a whole range of topics. So don’t forget to subscribe.
You can also be very nice and leaving a five-star rating and review on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you heard the podcast. That will obviously help other people find the show.
Kate Toon: And as I said, don’t forget to check the show notes for this episode where you can learn more about all of this stuff. And finally, as I mentioned, I have a new podcast. Well, not new but revamped, The Kate Toon Show is my personal podcast about living life as a misfit entrepreneur, my tips and advice on how to be a happier and more successful business owner.
So tune in on your fave podcast app. Or should I say ‘Toon’ in. Until next time, people, happy SEO-ing, happy digital marketing, and a happy 2020.