There’s a crisis on the internet. More than half the pages on the web don’t have a single backlink! How terrible.

What we’re going to find out today is that maybe it isn’t so terrible not to have a backlink after all! But we’ll reserve that for later. Right now, you need a prophet. Someone who can tell you what to expect in the SEO sphere in 2020.

I’m your man. Here’s a quick take on some of the SEO trends you should expect this year.

1. Linkless Brand Building

Back in 2018, we heard some rumblings from Google and Bing. Duane Forrester, former senior product manager at Bing said that unlinked mentions might be as strong a signal as backlinks. And the patent Google filed back in 2012 for Panda talks about something similar.

Not to mention, Google’s own Search Quality Guidelines say that quality scorers need to look at outside, independent reputation information. Thus, we’re safe to bet that somewhere, somehow, Google has told its machine gods to look for brand mentions.

Should we throw out backlinks altogether? Heck, no! That’s one of the benefits of SEO, that basic principles often hold true for the long term. The internet will never cease to be a web of links. Search engines will likely never stop considering legitimate and relevant links for ranking

2. Dead End Zero-Click Searches

I remember back when Google began tossing snippets into certain search strings. These were showing up mostly on the question strings. You’d search for some answer and it would appear in a box at the top. This wasn’t always from the top-ranking site either.

Back then, Google would copy a section from a site that mostly answered your question and display it. You still needed to click the link to get the entire answer most of the time. Now Google will give you the entire answer sometimes.

This mostly pertains to short answers like addresses, simple statistics, and factoids. In essence, 90% of searches won’t turn up a simple zero-click snippet. Don’t panic.

This just means you need to input your keywords to ensure they won’t bring up such a snippet. Yes, it’s that simple. It won’t take you that much extra time.

3. Feature Snippets?

On the other hand, you want to rank for featured snippets now if you can. The sky wasn’t falling when Google introduced them. In fact, because Google doesn’t show the entire section of the snippet, you’ll increase your CTR if you rank as a featured snippet.

While there’s no sure-fire way to rank for these, you can increase your chances. You need to go and audit your data on your site and make sure it’s structured. This means learning about markup languages and such. I think I’ll go take my own advice right now.

Now, once you’ve structured your data, you need to begin researching which keywords will help you gain those precious featured snippets. Go to Rank Tracker and search for keywords where your competitors already rank for featured snippets. This will be the best way to rank for your own snippets.

By Ben Mattice

Benjamin Mattice is a freelance writer/editor, horror and sci-fi writer, SEO and affiliate marketing newbie, dog wrestler, cat wrangler, capoeirista, and long distance runner. He lives in the Palouse with his wife, three dogs, two cats, and two rats. Yes, that would probably be considered a mini-zoo.