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2020 Search Marketing Expo [5 Key Takeaways]

We attended the most recent Search Marketing Expo (SMX)—the world’s largest marketing conference—and learned all about the latest algorithm updates, trends, platforms, technologies, and Google secrets. Here are our key takeaways.

Top 5 Takeaways from the 2020 Search Marketing Expo 

1) It’s Getting Dark Out Here

In an effort to protect user privacy online, cookies are going away, tracking windows are shrinking, and Google is reducing the amount of data it provides to advertisers. 

We can still utilize what’s available within platforms and use first-party data as much as possible to make decisions and determine targeting. Even so: it's time to get creative with reaching the right customers with marketing content. 

2) Don’t I Know You?

Because tracking is getting harder, enhancing the use of first-party data is a growing theme. Some things you can do to get the most out of your interactions with site visitors include investing in technology—server-side cookies, server-side tagging, etc., and collecting more first-party data by incentivizing site visitors to log in for exclusive content and an enhanced experience.

3) SEO is No Game

The human aspect of content development is now sharply in focus. Google’s understanding of search intent and context is better than it ever has been. There are millions of micro algorithms that make up the larger Google algorithm. That larger algorithm is designed to help people find the most relevant and valuable sites.

Creating quality, digestible, and original content will make your website and brand truly useful to those searching for information. Paradoxically, the best SEO strategy is a people-first approach: focus on what the human wants rather than playing the SEO game.

Core Web Vitals

4) Google Revealed Some Secrets

Google recently defined a few search signals they are paying attention to when it comes to page experience. An update coming in May 2021 will combine Core Web Vitals with their existing search signals including things like mobile-friendliness and safe-browsing. Within the Core Web Vitals, Google has outlined three essential metrics for a healthy site. 

Image via Google Search Central

5) Mobile-ONLY Indexing

Mobile indexing is not a new concept. In 2016, Google introduced mobile-first indexing, meaning the version of your site that the Smartphone Googlebot crawls is the starting point for what Google indexes. Since this announcement, Google has slowly rolled this out across more sites with a goal of using mobile-first indexing for all sites by March 2021 due to delays from COVID-19.

With this shift, we should think of this as mobile-only indexing. Google will no longer be crawling the desktop version and will only be indexing the mobile version of your site. That means any content that is on your desktop version, but doesn’t appear on your mobile version, will not be indexed. It also means signals like Core Web Vitals really only matter on mobile from an SEO perspective (desktop metrics are still important for user experience). 

Okay, let’s sum this up.

The major things to note are: 

  1. Use data that’s available within platforms and use first-party data as much as possible.
  2. Invest in technology and get creative.
  3. Create content that makes your website and brand truly useful to those searching for information.
  4. Google is dropping an update in May 2021 that will combine Core Web Vitals with their existing search signals.
  5. Google will no longer be crawling the desktop version of sites and will only be indexing the mobile version.

Learn more from our marketing experts and stay up-to-date on the latest trends by checking out our blog