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Ranking in Google is sort of a grand game, where only the sport master (Google) knows the principles . But you'll observe how pieces (websites) advance the board, and you'll place your own pieces and make random moves, then observe how the sport responds. From this you'll infer what the principles must be. The more you are doing this, the more moves you think that of to undertake , the higher you'll understand the way to win the sport.

Hypothesis, experiment, result, repeat. this is often the methodology , and it's also exactly how physicists discover laws of nature, only we aim to get the laws of the SERPs. Like all areas of data where science are often applied, there's tons of junk out there produced by folks that guess around and don’t follow a rigorous process. That’s most SEO blogs and Youtube videos.

1. Optimize your SERP Appearance

Google’s business model is simple: Copy the content of all websites within the world and make it searchable to sell pay per click ads.
They want as many of us as possible to click on their ads, and that they are optimizing their SERP design to form that happen. This tells you what you would like to do: use your listing to full capacity.
Google started in 2019 to point out favicons next to website titles. Don’t be fooled, this is often to not make it more user-friendly like they assert and everybody thinks.
An ad features a small [Ad] symbol next thereto, which they're legally required to try to to within the past, they have changed the color of that symbol from yellow to green, to make it somewhat less noticeable, therefore increasing the click through rate and revenue. By adding favicons (of an equivalent size because the ad symbol) next to website titles, people get wont to a logo there and become blind thereto . Again, this increases CTR.
Do an equivalent.

1.1 Featured Snippets
One way to try to to that's to aim for featured snippets (position zero) whenever possible. it's uncontrollable, but you'll get them if you set the proper content on your page. Here is an example of such a snippet:

As long as this sort of snippet exists, you would like to travel after it on your informational pages. The thanks to get picked for these is to supply information that's listable and straightforward to know for a computer (Google). Primarily, you would like bullet point lists and HTML tables.
As you'll see within the screenshot above, the snippet shown here features a bullet-point list. Note, however, that Google chose to display an image from a special website than the one it took the list from. that's why image SEO also plays a task.

1.2. No More Review Snippets

Showing review snippets (the yellow star rating) within the SERPs wont to be a crucial detail to urge. But businesses collecting reviews on their own website meant they were on top of things of them and will manipulate the rating. Thus, in September 2019, Google removed the power of blog posts and businesses to possess such snippets.
Even implementing 3rd party review sources like Trustpilot has no effect in bringing the star rating back. Time to specialise in other things.

2. The HTTP/3 + QUIC Protocol

There is a 65% chance you're scratching your head immediately . It’s very technical but vital if you would like to be before 99% of everyone.

First, the http protocol is how browsers communicate with a server whenever information (like a picture or script) is requested. There are 2 major protocols, the http 1.1 and therefore the http/2 protocol, which is mandatory for SEO professionals to understand and use. Yet only 35% of internet sites use it at now . Http/2 allows for objects like images or scripts to be loaded simultaneously, while the old http 1.1 loads everything one after another. this suggests the newer protocol is far faster in loading websites.

As lately 2019, subsequent evolution is beginning implementation. the small print are very technical but safe it to mention the online is getting faster, more reliable, and safer once more . In fact, the Google Tag Manager and Analytics are already loading via the fresh protocol.
How are you able to implement it? Well, your hosting provider must support it, which goes to require time. But you'll use the Cloudflare CDN for your images and scripts, as they announced support for http/3 right from the beginning.

3. The WebP Format

Do you love gif animations, too? Newsflash! they're soon getting to be a thing of the past!

JPG, PNG, GIF – these are outdated formats and have all been replaced by one one: WebP, which is developed by Google. does one think Google likes it when it sees WebP images on your website? You bet!
Our own websites only deliver WebP today and that we aren’t looking back. It saves us 50-60% of our total image weight, even against compressed images of the old formats.

3.1 Why is WebP so great?

The formats we all use are very old. WebP uses modern developments for compression .
WebP is usually quite 50% smaller than even compressed images of the opposite formats.
JPG is lossy and compresses well but with bad quality. WebP ist better and has good quality.
PNG is lossless and may do transparent backgrounds. WebP can do this , too.
GIF has 8-bit colors and animations are huge. WebP has 24-bit colors and animations are small.

How about that? Who wants gif animations if you'll have WebP animations that have all colors and are 90% smaller? the web meme-world has not yet discovered this.
Look, even Rocket is happy about it! By the way, that animation runs at 20 fps and is merely 220 kb small. No more stuttering animations like with GIF just to save lots of space. If we turn this into a GIF it's 10x bigger. Yikes!
Imagine what proportion bandwidth and loading time might be saved across the whole web if memes were in WebP. Websites like Tumblr should automatically turn all uploaded images into this format.

3.2 Compatibility of WebP

Every mainstream browser except Apple’s Safari supports WebP. Here’s an summary of that.
If you're on Safari, our website simply shows you the old JPG / PNG images and only shows the WebP format to browsers that support it. Thus, compatibility issues don’t break the web site . We only don’t do that for animations just like the one with Rocket.
Graphics software still must catch up! Not even Adobe Photoshop can handle WebP yet. For now, you'll simply work with an old format and switch your images into WebP by using one among the various free online tools.
All of this is often for the advantage of website speed and user experience, of course. Google has long stated that slow websites (especially on mobile) can hurt your rankings. Plus, it reduces bounce rates and enables you to feature more images and animations to your pages without stressing the loading speed, thus creating higher quality content.

3.3 No More Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

We not use AMP. It’s fine for news outlets and such but if you run a blog, a business website or affiliate website, you don’t want your mobile users to return to an internet site stripped of design and pictures anyway. For image size reduction, you've got the WebP format and lazy load.

4. Quality Content & Thick Websites

Google keeps talking about high-quality content such a lot that it’s beginning everyone’s ears. But people keep asking what quality content actually is. What does Google mean?!
First of all, know that we own info-websites crammed with plenty of content that's actually useful. From this, we all know that such sites can rank without backlinks – and once they are doing , they get natural backlinks on their own.
Have you ever searched for news about, say, subsequent Marvel movie, or something that would be answered in one paragraph? Yet somehow the websites that Google serves you've got long-winded articles that take forever to urge to the purpose . I’ve seen articles about some celebrity’s newest tweet that have 1000 words around it. Hello?!
Well, what can these websites do? If they were 150 words, those articles would be unlikely to rank. that's what quality content seems like .
It has thousands of words
It has images, tables, bullet points, quotes, video embeds
It interlinks with other pages of the web site
It ideally contains useful information so users stay the page
It is well on-page optimized so Google gets what it's about
This very article is quality content.
A new blog with 50-100 quality articles that focus on long-tails will, after maybe 7-8 months, start hitting its first growth curve. It begins to rank, get some traffic, and Google notices that the user signals (dwelling time, engagement, bounce rate) look excellent . This causes better rankings, more users, more positive user signals. Finally, natural backlinks are available because many people find your articles and link thereto thanks to their top quality . this is often how it had been always meant to figure , and it does.

4.1 Voice Search

If you've got tons of pages with long, quality content, you furthermore may have tons of keyword phrases on the page. this provides Google all it must offer you rankings for all types of phrases that you’d never manually optimize for. With things like Alexa or Google’s voice search, people search by speaking phrases and questions instead of typing in keywords.
15% of all queries in Google haven't been asked before.
The more content you've got , the more words there are, the more chances to be selected as a relevant page for someone’s convoluted long-tail query.
Here are some useful tools to seek out such queries:
Google Trends
Google Suggest

5. Responsive Sites Can Fail Mobile SEO

Even if your website is responsive, you'll still get hurt by lack of mobile compatibility. As a friendly reminder, Google wont to have separate indices for desktop searches and mobile searches. Now, everything is predicated on the mobile index alone. So if your website remains not optimized for mobile devices, you better start .
We recently had a problem on an internet site where the text was too small for mobile devices. a minimum of the Google Search Console said so. the web site is a smaller amount than one year old and it refused to rank properly at the highest of the search results even for long-tails. It was, however, at rock bottom of page 1 for a few terms. I went in and glued the mobile compatibility issue and within days, the location jumped up.
There is an enormous lesson to be learned from this. Google does take mobile compatibility seriously. Even on responsive websites, you would like to form sure all is in top shape. an identical common issue, by the way, happens if clickable areas or buttons are too approximate . just like the text size issue, this gets reported in your Google Search Console.

6. Backlinks for SEO in 2020

Ranking in Google is ultimately a mixture of signals, and backlinks have always been the foremost powerful one.

We mentioned that content alone can rank, staring with long-tail and dealing yourself up to high rankings because of good user signals that tell Google your website has relevancy . As rankings climb, you get links naturally and therefore the site hits even more growth.
While some people are abandoning links or don’t care about them in the least , actively going out there to urge good links remains an enormous a part of a strong website. In fact, if people abandon links and you don’t, you've got a plus .
Needless to mention , your links got to have quality. Don’t just go and pay someone for it, don’t spam then on. Links can come from social media, citations (for local businesses), youtube, from guest postings and much more.
If we spend time creating content of high quality for our website, going to seek for some links is perfectly great idea. People want backlinks to great content in website, so outreach can yield tons of benefits. And if can write some good quality guest postings for other websites that link to you, go ahead! in any case, you’re an expert in your field.
All of this must be supported a relevant website with content that Google wants to rank. for each link, believe whether a link to your website really offers the user added value.

7. Switch to PHP 7+

This is an enormous one for site speed, similar in nature to the WebP format, and simply overlooked.
Many web hosts still run on the old PHP 5.6 version. Websites that are around for a short time may even run on PHP 5.6 because you’d got to attend your hosting provider or log into your cPanel and switch to, say, PHP 7 by yourself.
What you would like to know: The developers of PHP have overhauled the code going from PHP 5 to PHP 7, enabling tremendous speed improvements. the amount of CPU operations for PHP instructions was reduced by 200-400%, therefore the same action are often completed much sooner and using fewer server resources.
For a WordPress site, switching to PHP 7.1 has several performance benefits.
The backend is far faster and not as sluggish as we are all wont to
The “time to first byte” is massively reduced when someone accesses the location
All WordPress operations are faster, increasing page loading speed
The server does but 50% of the CPU work, saving resources (good for shared hosting)
More people can hit your website simultaneously since the server has less to try to to per user

8. AI Overlord

Did you recognize Google runs an AI research institute and has many published scientific papers?

Remember AlphaGo, the AI that beat the world’s best Go player? Yep, it had been developed by Google. Said AI was further improved until it had been ready to master any game after being told the principles . AlpaZero, because it was called, was applied to chess, and in only 4 hours it became the simplest player in history, beating every other AI easily.
You can not underestimate the facility of this software. AlpaZero went through thousands of years of human-level chess experience and discovered all of the strategies and tricks employed by people, and like within the case of Go, it ditched a number of them because it discovered simpler strategies unknown to humans. See, within the world , The Terminator would always win and therefore the Matrix never be undone.
Google image search can recognize what images are showing, and it can read any text that images are displaying. The Rankbrain algorithm still gets better and answers that 15% of search queries that haven't been asked before.
You better believe the AI Google is powerful and sees tons of things. Not being bound by the limitation of the human brain, it moves towards an understanding of the online which may resemble your understanding of your favorite popular culture franchise.
SEO 2020 and beyond means to please the AI overlord with the very thing it wants: Quality. therefore the excellent news is that quality content, good web design & optimization, and earned backlinks get to win in most cases. we expect this is often only getting to continue.

Conclusion: Your checklist for SEO in 2020

Try to optimize your SERP listings to urge a high CTR.
Use the http/3 + QUIC protocol as soon as possible.
Switch to the WebP format, even for memes you post on social media.
Switch to PHP 7.x if your server remains running PHP 5.x
Work with quality content – long articles that are useful and target long-tails also as short-tails.
Make sure you're in top shape for mobile compatibility, albeit your site is responsive.
Aim for natural backlinks thanks to your content.
Reach bent blogs for guest posts and sensible links to your quality content.
Always aim to satisfy the user’s need, which is what the AI wants.
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