The search landscape is constantly changing. In 2019 alone, we saw a drastic change in SERPs as a result of the Google BERT update, as well as a bunch of other core algorithmic updates being rolled out – just to rub salt in the wound of unsuspecting sites not yet prepared for such drastic changes.
Although these changes have caused a lot of upheaval for sites, they are ultimately improving the search experience for users by ensuring they get the best, most relevant results from their searches. The next step for webmasters is to consider their approach to search and how they may need to rethink their strategies for 2020.
When a core algorithmic update hits, especially if it looks to compromise a site’s SEO progression, one of the first things people do is panic. Most will run a link audit to ensure that they have quality, trustworthy URLs linking back to the site. However, for smaller businesses with less resource and/or a less significant link profile, this isn’t always possible and many have questioned why Google don’t include a “toxic links” section within Google Search Console to make it easier to identify backlinks that may be causing issues for a site.
However, Google has said that this is unnecessary and that too much focus is put on toxic links. John Mueller recently said on Twitter that "most sites don’t have toxic links" and, as an SEO or a site owner, there are more important things to focus your attention on. Google has been making quite a bit of noise regarding this topic, suggesting that with the recent core updates and BERT roll out, the focus should be more on website fundamentals, such as internal linking, keyword optimisation and quality content.
Google still dominates the search market with an 87.96% share, but this has been slowly declining since 2012, while alternatives such as Bing, have increased its share significantly in the past few years. Up-and-coming search engine DuckDuckGo recently rolled out quick answers to search results, similar to Google’s featured snippets, making it more user-friendly. And, with platforms like Ecosia providing a different, eco-friendly, almost “millennial” factor to search, it wouldn’t be surprising if in the near future SEO expands to optimise for these algorithms also. This change won’t happen overnight, but the signs are pointing to a shift around where users decide to start their search journeys.
The search landscape will continue to change in 2020. The market is slowly but surely shifting and now is the time to get your fundamentals in order so that you’re not left behind.