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Biggest Changes to the SEO Industry in 2020

By Chaz G. T. Patto - June 2023.

In 2020, the SEO industry experienced several significant changes, driven by evolving search engine algorithms, emerging trends, and shifting user behaviors. Here are some of the notable changes that occurred in the SEO landscape during that year:

  • Google Core Algorithm Updates: Google rolled out several core algorithm updates throughout 2020, including the January 2020 Core Update, the May 2020 Core Update, and the December 2020 Core Update. These updates aimed to refine search results and improve the overall search experience. While the specifics of these updates were not always disclosed, they had significant impacts on search rankings and organic visibility for many websites.

  • Focus on User Experience (UX): User experience became an increasingly important factor in SEO. Google's Core Web Vitals, introduced in 2020, became key ranking signals. Metrics such as page loading speed, mobile-friendliness, interactivity, and visual stability gained prominence. Websites that prioritized delivering seamless and engaging user experiences were rewarded with improved search rankings.

  • Mobile-First Indexing: Google completed the transition to mobile-first indexing in 2020, making mobile versions of websites the primary consideration for search ranking and indexing. This change highlighted the importance of having a mobile-friendly website, ensuring responsive design, fast loading times, and optimized content across mobile devices.

  • Passage Indexing: Google introduced passage-based indexing, allowing the search engine to better understand and rank specific passages of content within web pages. This update enabled more precise ranking of relevant content, even if it resides within longer articles or pages. It emphasized the need for high-quality and focused content that answers specific user queries.

  • Rise of E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) continued to be significant factors in search rankings. Google emphasized the importance of authoritative content from trusted sources. Websites that demonstrated expertise in their respective fields, had reputable authors, and showcased trust signals, such as high-quality backlinks and positive reviews, had an advantage in search rankings.

  • Increased Emphasis on Structured Data and Schema Markup: Search engines increasingly relied on structured data and schema markup to better understand and display information in search results. Implementing structured data helped websites enhance their visibility through rich snippets, featured snippets, and other search result enhancements. It allowed for better organization and presentation of content in search engine listings.

  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP): Although AMP was introduced earlier, its importance continued to grow in 2020. Accelerated Mobile Pages, optimized for fast loading on mobile devices, received preference in mobile search results. Implementing AMP helped websites provide a smoother user experience, potentially leading to increased visibility and improved click-through rates.

  • Voice Search Optimization: Voice search continued to gain traction, influencing SEO strategies. Optimizing for voice queries required a focus on conversational keywords, long-tail phrases, and providing direct answers to common questions. Voice assistants and smart speakers, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, drove the need for websites to adapt their content to align with voice search behavior.

  • Content Relevance and Freshness: The importance of relevant and up-to-date content remained crucial. Google emphasized the need for accurate, comprehensive, and recent information in search results. Websites that consistently produced high-quality and timely content, addressing current trends and user needs, had an advantage in search rankings.

  • COVID-19 Impact: The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted search behavior and SEO strategies in 2020. The increased reliance on online platforms, shifts in consumer behavior, and changing search patterns influenced the types of content users sought. Businesses had to adapt their SEO strategies to address pandemic-related topics and provide relevant information and services during the crisis.

    These changes in 2020 underscored the ongoing importance of user experience, mobile optimization, quality content, and relevance in SEO. Staying abreast of these industry shifts and adapting SEO strategies accordingly remained essential for businesses to maintain or improve their search visibility and organic traffic.

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