SEO: What the Experts Think You Should Know

Melissa Fach

Jan 13, 20207 min read

We had our first #SEMrushchat of 2020, and our guest was respected SEO, Dawn Anderson; she shared a lot of great insights throughout the chat, and you can see them below. Since it is a new year, we wanted to talk to our community about their feelings on the ever-evolving changes in SEO strategies, their concerns for 2020, new tactics they will be trying, and mistakes they won't repeat this year.

Here is what was discussed: 

It was an interesting discussion because concerns, strategies, and mistakes were diverse due to the various jobs our community members have. Still, they also all seem to have a solid and similar plan for managing the upcoming changes Google will make this year. 

Update: we suggest you read about  Google’s May 2020 Core Update.

“SEO is changing” is a hot topic nowadays. Are these new alternations noticeable to your business? How so?

"You have to be aware that SEO cannot operate in a silo and a business cannot succeed online from just SEO so either skill up cross channel or collaborate well to join the dots." —  Dawn Anderson

"I look at it and I describe it to my peers and stakeholders as - SEO is changing insomuch as it's adding more nuance to the core fundamentals of tech/ content/ architecture - SEO isn't a cookie, it's tiramisu." —  JP Sherman

"SEO has always been changing, as the Search engines and searchers change; as information and technology change; It's essential to continue to learn and grown and understand the direction of the evolution of search & SEO." — Bill Slawski

"SEO has been changing for a long old time. Probably more rapidly from the end of 2018 but businesses may have not realized, and the difference will be more marked for them. There has been a lot of change - hard to keep up with it all." —  Simon Cox

"SEO does change, but the changes aren't always drastic. The changes can build on the foundation that has already been created. In this industry, it is important to be aware of changes and stay on top of them, but don't need to freak out of them." —  Netvantage Marketing

"SEO is always evolving. Some changes are immediately noticeable while others aren't noticed until seen in client data (whether your client or that of someone in your network). SEO is one marketing area where sharing is almost a must to stay up-to-date." —  Nerissa Marbury

The SEMrush Academy performed a study based on the analysis of 4,000 job offers from five English-speaking countries to discover which skills SEOs should invest in to be a sought-after specialist right now and in the years to come. Here is a breakdown of skills by location that could help with your job.

SEO skills infographic

What SEO predictions do you worry about? 

"One thing that does concern me is a move to people thinking just anyone can do SEO well (particularly on complex projects) and downplay the necessity for expertise. Just chuck some content out. Nope. SEO is not getting easier. It is getting more complex.

Including the likes of Google My Business (which is SEO), because often people aren't even reaching your website. So need to take that measurement in there." —  Dawn Anderson

"SEO Predictions that worry me the most:

1. People are stopping clicking on SERPs
2. Voice Search will be 50% of all searches
3. Machine Learning makes Ranking too difficult for anyone" — Bill Slawski

"That we are going to have to measure SEO techniques in a different way by the end of the year. Organic may well be pushed out of Page 1 except for long-tail. New tools and techniques may be needed." —  Simon Cox

"The SEO predictions made by people who don't do the work or aren't held accountable for SEO results are most worrying." — David Cohen

"The prediction/trend of Google getting more heavily involved in certain industries (i.e. Google Flights) is the biggest one for me. Depending on your industry, this can be crippling to site traffic, and worse, your business if SEOs don't adapt and get creative." — BrandExtract

"Probably the future growth of zero clicks searches. We know very little about what else Google is planning here. As only one example, see what happened to the traffic of Lyrics sites in the past 24 months." —  Igal Stolpner

"I'm not worried about anything in the #SEO space. I've always told clients: write for the customer, not the search engines. SEO is only part of the mix. Large swings in performance have a smaller financial impact. But this isn't the case for everybody." — Tod Cordil


voice search iinfographic

What is a new SEO tactic you have never tried before but decided to implement in your 2020 strategy? 

"We're going to start to implement machine learning with UGC to categorize content for topic relevance using classifiers. Using log file analysis even more than previously too with Cloudflare. Building custom 301 parameter handling systems for custom sites.

I'll reiterate my point made over the holidays here too. We're going to be using Bing Webmaster Tools and Yandex Webmaster tools a lot more now. So many useful learnings in there. Real actionable changers." —  Dawn Anderson

" Google Featured snippets, it's ridiculously easy if you structure your onsite data properly. To me, it's low handing fruit that can add a sense of authority to your SERP presence without having to actually invest too much time/energy (low hanging fruit)." —  Dennis Layden 

"Trying to get a client's Wix site to rank well and bring in a lot more customers. It’s new to me and after some despair at first, it is becoming a fun challenge!" —  Simon Cox

"This year I’m going to be riding the podcast wave! It’s a great way for people to get more information and join in with discussions. Google have clearly caught on with their new type of rich snippet too." — Link Cafe

Interested in getting started with podcasting? We have a guide for you here.

" Schema is becoming a much bigger part of our strategy and a bigger talking point with clients, simply because there are so many additional SERP features these days." — Reva Minkoff

What do you consider your biggest SEO mistake in 2019 and what lessons did you learn from it?

Read27 of the Biggest SEO Mistakes Damaging Websites in 2020

"Ironically one of my biggest mistakes from 2019 was trying to learn too many things which wouldn't always bring me proportional value." —  Dawn Anderson

"My SEO mistake from last year was bragging on the ROI potential of SEO without first diagnosing the client’s (lack of) attribution model. Lesson: Make sure they’re ready to measure growth before creating it." —  Alexis Katherine

"An SEO "mistake" isn't necessarily a "mistake". Sometimes you have to embark on a trial and error journey to find out what really works for YOU!" — Ben Austin

"Not paying enough attention to snippets, maps placement, and other features, which Google is implementing to push the actual SERPs down past the breakpoint. Also, not focusing enough on long-tail keywords which are becoming increasingly relevant thanks to voice." —  Dennis Layden 

"My biggest mistake in 2019 was not doing what I do for clients consistently for my own brand. I took six months to learn how to adapt my workflow to make time to do for my brand what I do for others, without losing work-life balance." —  Shawneda Crout

"Don't invest in burnout. Especially not when you're hired per hour. They want more? Let them buy more hours. They hire you. They don't OWN you. Don't underestimate the importance of rest. Lack of sleep/rest ruins the quality of work. Esp. management & creativity." — Remco Tenson

"Migrating WordPress without a usable recent backup comes to mind. Oh, the nightmare. Lesson learned: always have a backup of the backup!" —  Youness Bermime

What can hurt your rankings infographic

What are your top tips for surviving the updates throughout 2020?

Recommended Reading: 

"Just don't focus on the updates. Focus on thinking about what informational needs your target audience has and adapting your current offering to meet those needs." —  Dawn Anderson

"Keep focusing on user experience and great content. That always wins. When I see volatility, I usually see stability (or gains) in sites taking this approach." — Fistbump Media

"Future-proofing: Create good content - write for the user not the bot, easily crawlable site, get the fundamental building blocks right, don't try to cheat the system. If you do this, you have less to worry about with future algorithm updates." — James Leisy

"Start Reading Google whitepapers that they prepare for academic and industry conferences: it will help you plan ahead before changes in those are implemented at Google. (Are you ready for ALBERT yet?)" — Bill Slawski

"Always follow best practices and don't try to unethically hack your way to the top of search results. If you play by the rules, the impact of an algorithm update may be less harmful to you." — Carlos Castro

"Seeing into the future again? Don't fight the Algorithm. Get ahead of it!" —  Youness Bermime

"Pay Attention! Follow experts and blogs that stay up-to-date on changes and can explain them well, this is the best way to understand what's happening. Also, don't panic! The changes aren't as bad as they seem?" — Kendra Cornell

Youtube video thumbnail

Tell Us Your Questions, Thoughts, or Concerns About SEO in 2020

If you have advice, opinions, or concerns about SEO this year, please share them in the comments below. If you have questions, we will reach out to our community members and ask them to come and answer your question. Join us for  SEMrushchat at 11 am ET/4 pm BST every Wednesday.

Author Photo
US Personality of the Year 2017 Winner and die-hard Star Wars fan. Herder of cats. Non-cook. Find me on Twitter @SEOaware.