What does Search Engine Optimization (SEO) look like in 2020?

How Google eats a business whole

What does Search Engine Optimization (SEO) look like in 2020?

How Google eats a business whole

I’m a big Rand Fishkin fan when it comes to all things relevant to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The title of his November blog post tells you a lot – it reiterates what he’s been saying for a while but, I think it always is worth repeating, especially as marketers are planning for 2020.

The title of this blog is “Google in 2020: from everyone’s search engine to everyone’s competitor.” He writes: I believe the narrative for web marketers is clear. The largest source of traffic on the web — free and paid — is becoming a walled garden, intent on not only keeping people on its own properties, but competing directly with those that helped it become a dominant, monopoly power.

Yes, he’s talking about Google. The slide presentation in his blog highlights some of the lawsuits that have been filed against Google, as the company is lifting information from websites and offering it up as “its own,” with the short snippets section of Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Google now presenting answers to questions people ask, using website information, so there’s no need for someone who’s searching to click through to the website (that the information came from). In addition to this, Google’s algorithm also steers traffic to another Google-owned sites.

He can say all this because he has the data to back it up. As he puts it, “Cold. Hard. Numbers.” Here’s some of the data, to illustrate his case:

  • Zero Click Searches: when someone asks a question on Google and doesn’t click on any of the results because Google has taken information from a website to “answer” the question. How often does this happen now?


For mobile searches, it’s grown from 53.74% in January 2019 to 56.1% as of September. That’s the trendline in 2019 alone. What does this mean? It means that in 56% of searches, no website is getting any “click-through” traffic. They may have provided valuable information, but Google scraped it as “its own” and presented it on the Search Engine Results Page, so the website that created this great content is never seen.


For desktop/laptop searches, the number is higher and holding more steady at approximately 34 – 35%. This is good news for B2B companies, for example, where searches are more likely to be done from a desktop. It’s not great news for more consumer-oriented products and services.


  • Google circumventing your website: Google is now sending 14% of all search results to one of its own pages (from desktop/laptop searches). This number may be even higher from mobile devices.


What does this mean? Rand illustrates with an example of Google’s new “Jobs Widget. If someone is searching for “Jobs near me” or “Hiring near me,” Google is now sending that traffic to its own widget rather than to local organizations that are hiring. With an estimated 150 – 180 million searches for “jobs” or “job” each month, that’s a lot of traffic that’s diverted from local opportunities to Google’s own site.

What does all this mean for local organizations trying to get organic website traffic? Here are his recommendations:

  • Think of what your idea client or customer is asking answer that question on your website.
  • Invest in understanding what keywords are sending traffic to your website.
  • Invest in advertising (PPC) – it’s a pay-to-play world now and your ad dollars will help your visibility.
  • Think of your “Home Page” as your customers Search Engine Result Page, not your website. Because if they can’t find you, then you’ll never get to square one.

Per Rand Fishkin, the days of depending on Organic Search are over and it’s time to be pro-active about getting the attention you deserve. More than ever, it’s critical that your company is strategic and smart about presenting information online and promoting your brand name.

Still have questions about this? Feel free to contact me and let’s talk!

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