For those of you that have been reading this blog since its inception know one thing: I am a big fan of SEO Factors and most importantly links and I’m not shy when it comes to talking about them. While many blogs and SEO experts will dance around the topic and preach about how content is king, I tell you straight up that links continue to be the number one signal Google’s algorithm uses to rank sites.

Yes, content can help you secure them, but it doesn’t just magically happen. It takes an aggressive strategy and a lot of work. Well, it’s 2020 and SEO continues to change. It’s been quite a change, actually, over the past eight years especially. Search engine optimization has evolved so much, and while links are still “king,” you have to look beyond them if you really want to dominate the SERPs.

Let me put it this way: you can come to my agency and secure all of the best links. You can keep building high quality authority links, but if that is all you are doing, then it’s going to be an uphill battle to reach the top of the organic results.

If you are new to SEO and want to know what it takes to rank currently, then this post is a great real-world introduction to modern day search engine optimization. If you have been focused on nothing but link building in the past, then this will help you optimize all of the other factors that now compliments links.

Link building isn’t cheap. It requires a lot of time, effort and money, so don’t you want to make sure you squeeze every possible SERP position out of your effort? It’s the extra effort during the optimization process that contributes to more traffic, which is the end-goal of SEO.

So, lets dive right in and go over eight factors that also need your focus in 2020. Now, there is nothing outrageously difficult required — it’s all very direct and to the point — it just requires your attention and a little effort.

These are the SEO Factors to take into consideration in 2020..


1. Importance of Clicks > Impressions

If someone has a page on their website displaying in the number nine position on Google their immediate thought is to build more links to push it up in the SERPs. While moving up should be a goal, there is something that should be a higher priority.

What is that? Attracting more clicks to that result in the ninth position. Why? Because when you optimize to increase the click-through rate on that result it’s going to naturally help push it up. Then, when you combine that effort with additional link building, you help stabilize any gains you do achieve.

When Google sees a result getting more clicks than say the one above it, the algorithm sees it as a more helpful resource.

How can you increase the click-through rate? It’s all about the description and making that call-to-action enticing and more appealing than the other options above you. Now, you don’t want to mess with the title because that is more than likely contributing to the current position, so for this, focus strictly on the meta description.

Don’t make it spammy. Instead find a clever way to grab attention and offer a solution. This is not one and done. Keep playing with it and monitor your CTR in Google Search Console. Tip: experiment with emojis — for some descriptions they can be the game changer. But, also know that Google will sometimes filter them out and show them in some results but not others.


2. Technical SEO and User Experience

I’ve seen some very low quality and poorly built websites place huge orders for links in the past. The technical aspect of their website was horrible and the user experience was clearly not even considered.

You cannot have this mentality anymore. Back in the day companies would throw together landing pages with some low quality content and build links. They would rank, and then when they dropped they would just throw up another website and start over.

That is no way to build a solid online business. If you take the time from the beginning to make sure that the technical SEO is perfected and that the user experience is addressed, then you can build links knowing that you have a solid foundation.

Things like page speed, load time, URL structure and sitemaps — all of this is very easy to implement and perfect. It just takes time, and these days being lazy and ignoring these little things put you at an immediate disadvantage.

Google’s AI is so far advanced that it can instantly determine whether or not a website provides a good user experience, especially on mobile. Making sure form fields are easily accessible and buttons are large enough are just little things that now play a role in how you rank.



3. User-Intent Content (BERT Algorithm)

Remember back in the day when Google would constantly release updates, and they were always named after an animal? There was Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, etc. Well, then they started making algorithm changes almost daily and the updates became one constant update.

Now, major update announcements are few and far between. Google’s last major announcement was RankBrain and that was five years ago (how time goes by so fast in SEO!). Well, now the newest announced algorithm change, BERT, is here and they claim it will affect 10% of all search queries.

It’s fully rolled out at this point and many people still don’t understand what it is. BERT is short for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It basically allows their AI to read content and understand it like a human would.

In short it helps match search queries with results that it feels are more relevant. So, now content needs to be written based on user-intent. So, a 3,000 word blog is going to be useless unless it features answers or solutions to the queries your target market is searching for.

Say goodbye to poorly written outsourced content. It needs to be written well for your users’ search intent. BERT will continue to evolve and be able to filter out the garbage with grammatical errors and fluff. If you don’t have a great writer yet, you need to find one. Be prepared to spend, because the demand for quality content writers is at an all-time high.


4. E-Commerce SEO Needs to be 100% Mobile-Focused

For those of you that are running e-commerce websites, it’s time to come to the realization that the majority, if not all, of your traffic is coming from mobile devices. Because of this, Google is putting a lot of weight on mobile-friendly sites in terms of user experience.

The end user wants to be able to pull out his or her phone, type in a search, and buy whatever they are looking for with little to no effort. You can do things like run your pages (yes all of them) through Google’s mobile-friendly test, and also optimize for load time, but you also need a little human-touch testing and feedback.

While third-party tools and tests are great they aren’t going to give you real-world feedback. The easiest thing to do is to create a test product on your e-commerce store, set the price to $0 or create a coupon code that allows the customer to buy this test product for free, and have as many people run through your entire purchase process, from landing on your home page to finding the product and completing the checkout process.

Ask for honest feedback. What do they hate? What was difficult on their mobile device? What would make the process more seamless? Then, take the suggestions and make changes. Not only will this help you create a better mobile experience that Google will love, but it will also help you convert more traffic into sales.


5. Building Authority to Reach Position Zero

You have seen the top results in Google that are on the top, above the number one result. This was originally called the “Answer Box,” but now it’s just a featured snippet, from a result below. The industry refers to it as “Position Zero” and it’s highly coveted.

Now, a top listing isn’t guaranteed to get that real estate. I have seen results that are in position five, for example, also show up in the top snippet section. Why is that? Well there are several authority signals that contribute to this.

It’s a combination of great information, related to the search query. You will notice that numbered lists are often featured up there, so structuring your content in this manner, or at least highly organized, helps.

Then, you need authority links (of course) but you also need to make sure you have other signs of authority, such as social shares. Years ago there was a big focus on social shares and most SEO packages came with them (although they were often fake bot shares from engagement farms in India). Real social shares help to tell Google that the content found on the page is helpful and likely to be the answer people are seeking when searching for whatever search string is entered to trigger the particular results.


6. Long-Form Content with Depth and Structure

The new BERT algorithm update that I dove into above really requires you to create content that has depth and structure. If you look at the top results in your niche for longtail keywords you will start to notice that Google is favoring content that is not only long-form, but also broken down into several headings, bullet lists and numbered lists.

It’s mapped out in a way that provides the helpful information the user desires, while also providing in-depth answers and/or solutions to those questions.

I’ve been preaching the importance of long-form content for a while now, and it’s still important, but now it’s also necessary to focus on creating content that is helpful based on search-intent. The BERT algorithm will fade out websites that previously ranked with fluff content.

I’d highly suggest you audit the content of any page currently ranking in the SERPs and improve it if needed so you don’t fall victim to BERT — as it’s going to impact 10% of all SERPs.



7. Developing Real Business Entities (with trust signal proof)

Ten years ago you could rank a landing page designed to generate debt consolidation leads that was a generic URL along the lines of “” that had no sign of it being tied to a real business entity.

That is no longer the case these days. It’s important to have your business address and contact information worked into your structural data (on all pages) and have a contact page, phone number, social profiles, etc.

You know, all things are real business entity has. If you are going to put all of the time and effort into ranking, you should also make an effort to be as legitimate as possible.

Want to take it up a notch? If you are a U.S.-based company, become a BBB member. A profile and link from the Better Business Bureau carries a lot of trust weight.


8. More In-Depth Structed Data/Schema Markup

Before, a simple address and phone number applied to the schema markup on the contact page was all that was done, if anything, when it comes to structured data. Now you need to really go all-in when it comes to this markup as Google is really using this, and BERT is even said to take it into consideration also.

When Google drops these hints it’s important to listen because they are handing you information on a silver platter – it’s obviously something they now weigh heavily.

Want to see how Google views your pages in terms of structural data? Use this tool to check all of your pages. This will let you know the starting point you are working with, and also show you any warnings or errors it detects. From there you can use the documentation provided by to implement the correct data on your pages.


Final Thoughts

You need to consider all of the above factors when you are developing your SEO strategy. Long gone are the days of just throwing up a website and ordering an SEO package and monitoring a rank tracker to see the results.

The entire process has evolved tremendously over the past decade. The way users search is entirely different. The way Google determines the SERPs is entirely different.

There are a lot of SEO agencies that will try to mask this information, because they want their clients to feel like they cannot do it on their own. There is no top secret method to rank these days. There is no “secret sauce” to magically push your website to the top of Google.

You need links (like you always have) and you need to focus on all of the tips mentioned above. My agency is a link building source — but I also want to arm you with the information to make the links as effective as possible for your SEO effort.

When you combine links with the information above you stand a much better chance of seeing positive movement in the SERPs, resulting in the traffic and business growth you desire.

Do you have any questions about SEO in 2020? If so, please drop a comment below and I will do my best to try to answer everyone.

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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