From your site structure and internal linking strategy to the types of links you build, you can’t achieve long-term SEO results without quality content.
This means that SEOs need to learn how to write, or hire people who know how to write. Google's editorial discretion isn't perfect yet – there will still be content that ranks that shouldn't. But the day is coming when the best content will win.
To succeed in 2020, what you write will need to be something that is relevant and valuable in a number of ways. First and foremost, it must be of value to your reader (that is, your customer or prospective customer). Just like any other business, Google wants to deliver a quality result to their consumer base, and find that in quality content you provide. However, secondly, you still need to stay true to what you actually provide, how you provide and the brand’s ‘voice’. While you need to strongly consider Google’s requirements, it needs to be balanced with a true and accurate message of your product, service and values.
Make it your goal to have the best content on the web for your topic, or at least an important subset of your topic. By doing so, you will be future-Google-proofing your business.
This will also allow you to compete effectively for long-tail searches (that remain about 70% of all search queries), helping build your site authority and demand for your content in a directly positive ROI way.
In addition, this type of approach to content is exactly what Google is looking for to satisfy user needs and represents the type of market investment that Google will likely never make, because Google is about doing things with massively scalable algorithms.
2020 is the time to move away from the obsession with keywords. Stop targeting individual keywords, chasing page views and “spraying and praying” with content.
The goal of switching the mentality to more of a topic-focus is to create content that addresses an entire conversation holistically, as opposed to just worrying about the single keyword a page should be targeting.
Adopt a deliberate and methodically organised cluster of content that delivers comprehensive and intuitive topical experiences while meeting business objectives. This will ensure you are presenting yourself as an authority on knowing the answers to the questions your user needs along their entire buying journey.
Understand who your audience is and how they search
Understand the intent behind the questions they are asking or problems they need to solve
Give them solutions or answers in the formats they prefer via on-point, quality, and authoritative content
Execute in this fashion for every stage of their journey to create a satisfactory topical experience that serves their needs again and again
Iterate! Just because you do it well once doesn’t mean intent won’t change or someone else won’t do something better.
I’d recommend auditing all of your content for overlapping rankings and merging, redirecting, and archiving as needed so every page ranks for a unique set of keywords. If your website covers the same topics again and again (even if you’re covering these topics from different angles) your pages are going to knock each other out of the results.
In 2020, it’s time to take a hard look at the quality of your content, and optimising that content for users rather than exclusively for search engines.
In a way, the key to staying successful in search marketing 2020 is the same as it ever was – put out good content, with consistent brand messaging, in all your channels.
As the search engines become evermore adapted to natural language understanding, the best-written content – in all forms – will win the day.