SEO had a big year in 2019 – and much of what happened will have a bearing on anyone who relies on their website to attract new clients across all industries. As a financial advisor, these changes are important to make note of, and in some cases, may cause you to change the way you produce and distribute content online. Read on for some of the major ways SEO changed in 2019, and some trends to look out for in 2020.
We’ve come to rely on voice assistants in a way that makes us wonder how we ever lived without them. Search engines, such as Google, are going to be looking for more voice-optimized SEO as we head into 2020. Because of the way people search using voice technology differs from the way people search when manually typing a question, SEO practices need to be updated and adapted to a more voice-centric style.
For example, if someone was looking for a financial advisor in Dallas, TX they might search for “financial advisor Dallas when typing into a search engine from their phone or mobile device. This makes it relatively straightforward when planning your search terms, meta descriptions, and keywords.
However, someone using voice search might say “Find me a financial advisor in Dallas.” The subtle changes from keyword to conversational searching are going to make a big difference for SEO rankings moving forward.
While not new for 2019, Mobile-First is still very much a player moving into 2020 – with a focus on mobile-optimized sites and of course, speed. Google favors sites that load faster and with less dead weight, broken links, etc. More and more search queries are happening in a mobile environment, and your SEO/website strategy needs to account for that.
User-Focused Optimization and BERT
In 2019 Google launched a new algorithm named BERT. This technology, in a nutshell, was designed to emphasize natural language processing and intent searching, rather than matching search queries based on a string of keywords.
This initial move by Google to move past keyword-based search ranking is the first of what will likely be many advancements in SEO. It’s a wise move for anyone who wants to stay ahead of the curve to start the switch to a more intent-based SEO strategy, similar to what is being used by early adopters of voice search SEO.
Security (i.e. Blockchain Technology)
You’ve no doubt heard the term “blockchain,” but it’s important to understand its significance to SEO practices now and in the future. While there are much lengthier and detailed descriptions of blockchain out there, the simplest definition is that it is a system where the goal is to create secure transactions online.
And while the term is often brought up when discussing cryptocurrency, it’s relevant for all manner of online activity. Implementing blockchain technology can earn more favor with Google and help with search rankings by verifying that everyone who visits your site is who they claim to be, and not a bot or some other automated program but an actual real human.
For 2019 and beyond, Google has also implemented structured data to better understand the content and context of a page. According to Google, “Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content; for example, on a recipe page, what are the ingredients, the cooking time and temperature, the calories, and so on.” The same thing goes for a website on any other topic – it needs to be structured in a way that Google can understand it so it can get your website in front of the right people.
In recent years, Google has been placing more and more emphasis on user accessibility, particularly when it comes to those with disabilities. Having a website that isn’t optimized for accessibility across the board can be negative to both your clients as well as your search rankings.
Relevance and Link Building
When it comes to SEO practices, relevance has always been important. But even more so in 2019 and beyond, Google has begun to not only consider newer information on your site but also older information. One of the best ways to gain favor with Google in this regard is to update old posts, both for content and keywords.
Keeping in mind how old your website content is, there can be some terms or keywords that are dragging your search performance down based on outdated or irrelevant information. When it comes to relevance, linking out to trusted sites and having trusted, reputable sites linking back to you are great ways to earn a good online reputation with Google.
As with content, links can become outdated as well so be sure you’re checking your site for dead or inactive links on a regular basis.
EAT - Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness
Moving into 2020, Google will more and more be relying on what’s known as EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness). Google rewards websites that demonstrate all of these qualities and is especially important for those in the wealth management industry. There’s another acronym that is often associated with EAT – YMYL.
This stands for “Your Money or Your Life” and it demonstrates how seriously Google takes content when it comes to a search having an effect on a user’s “happiness, health, or wealth.”
This comes from the idea that if a website is claiming to help someone with any of the 3 above aspects of their life and instead offers incorrect or misleading information, they can cause damage to that person. This means that as a financial advisor, you’re held to a higher standard of content than other industries and individuals.
If SEO and digital marketing experts have learned anything about SEO trends, it’s that they’re always changing. While there is no magic bullet to get your page to the top of the search results, there are many things you can do to gain favor with Google and gain a solid online reputation.