Load Time, Rendering, and More: The Most Important SEO Indicators for 2020 and Beyond

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If there is one certainty in the world of search engine optimization (SEO), it is that nothing remains the same for long. The SEO environment is continually shifting on both the search engine and user fronts, necessitating changes in tactics and a shifting focus on what is important to maintain those all-important search rankings. In other words, the strategies and techniques that may have worked in the past might not produce the same favorable results now. For 2020 and well into the future, here is a look at some of the most important SEO indicators to incorporate into your strategy, helping to improve or maintain critical search visibility.

SEO: An Evolving Landscape

Search engines like Google have become increasingly powerful since their inception; advances in natural-language processing and artificial intelligence (AI) have been incorporated in recent years to make the search experience more accurate for users. The goal for search engines is to provide accurate and relevant results for user queries, in effect delivering exactly the information users are seeking. Google’s algorithm processes hundreds of factors that influence rankings, and SEO professionals attempt to create web content that satisfies these factors. Unfortunately, updates and changes to the Google algorithm have made certain SEO practices ineffective over time. Once again, what worked in the past may no longer work now or in the future. 

Search engine users have also evolved over the years. In the earliest days of the web, users would type in keywords or simple phrases and receive a list of ranked results. Today, users are more likely to use natural language queries, typing or speaking entire sentences in the search box and hoping that the algorithm processes them appropriately. Users are also no longer tied to the desktop computing environment, thanks to mobile computing technologies like smartphones and tablets. According to search industry analysts, mobile search is the name of the game, and here are statistics to hammer that point home:

  • 80% of all search engine users used a mobile device to conduct searches in 2019.
  • 63% of total visits to Google were done on mobile devices in 2019. 
  • 40% of online transactions are completed on mobile devices in 2019. 

Mobile users have come to expect certain aspects – which we will cover in a later section – in their search experiences, changing how search engines and SEO must process queries. 

SEO Trends: Responding to Algorithmic Changes

Google’s search engine dominates the search landscape, accounting for as much as 90% of all online searches each year and processing well over a trillion searches each year. Google’s goal has always been to provide users with relevant results for any given search, and to do so, they have updated or changed their core algorithms dozens of times in the past decade. 

One of the most important changes in the algorithm is the shift away from reliance on keywords. Keywords, either individually or in short keyword strings, were used in web content published in insurance agency SEO and other industry practices. The search algorithms would pick up these keywords in a process known as keyword matching, indexing the web content and ranking it based on its relevance to user queries. While keywords still maintain some level of importance, an emerging trend is that of understanding user intent. SEO professionals need to predict what information typical site visitors are seeking, then creating content that delivers that information. With natural-language processing and machine learning technologies already employed by Google, this content is able to be indexed appropriately, positively influencing search results rankings.

User-Focused SEO Trends in 2020

Of the hundreds of factors processed by search algorithms, some have higher importance than others. In today’s highly-connected and mobile world, factors relating to mobile search have taken a front seat. In 2020, user-focused SEO trends include:

  • Fast-loading pages – people have come to expect information at their fingertips, and websites need to deliver this information by optimizing pages for fast loading.
  • Mobile-friendly or mobile-optimized pages – because so many people are using smartphones to access online search, websites that do not function or display correctly in that computing environment may be improperly indexed – or even penalized — by the search algorithm.
  • Optimization for voice search – voice searching, either by smartphone or personal smart devices like Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, or Amazon’s Alexa, has taken the SEO profession by storm. Today, optimizing for voice search by incorporating natural language and longtail key phrases into content helps ensure favorable rankings in search results.
  • Improving domain authority – search users want relevant and accurate results. To that end, insurance agency SEO should strive to boost the authority of websites by creating well-written, informative, and feature-rich content. 

Finally, although social media does not directly influence search rankings, platforms like Twitter, Google, and YouTube have become integral parts of the digital marketing landscape. Insurance agency SEO should extend its strategies to social media. This works to help to promote brand awareness, build backlinks, and to generate so-called “social signals” that search engines interpret as trust in a given piece of web content. 

The future of SEO is sure to be filled with new strategies and continual revision of search algorithms. For 2020 and beyond, mobile and voice search will continue to grow in use, and companies must incorporate optimization for those tools to harness their power in connecting businesses to new customers. 

About Agency Tsunami

Agency Tsunami is the digital marketing division of Neilson Marketing Services, who has provided the insurance distribution sector with innovative marketing and communication solutions for over twenty-five years. With our Agency Tsunami program, we have implemented an integrated marketing strategy that includes optimized, professional websites supported by high-quality SEO and Social Media for hundreds of insurance retailers and wholesalers. Our goal is to help your insurance business perform and generate new opportunities. Give us a call at (800) 736-9741 to learn more about how we can do that for you.

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