In 2020, content marketing and SEO are going to be hitting some awesome high notes.
We’re careening toward a bright future of more useful, helpful, technically amazing content that aligns with user habits, preferences, and search needs.
Content is getting better because we’re getting smarter about how we strategize, research, create, and publish it.
Content marketing as a whole is no longer a type of marketing experiment, but a proven strategy that can work wonders for any brand.
With that exciting news in hand, what’s next for 2020? Let’s dive in.
1. Next-Level Visuals in Content
Visual-forward platforms will continue to be trendy in 2020.
From entertainment to communication, people are going all-in on the power of dynamic or interactive imagery.
Among the next generation of soon-to-be-adults, visual social media reigns supreme.
Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat are the most popular platforms where teens hang out, according to Pew Research.
For adults, YouTube is the most-used platform, topping even Facebook.
To this end, visuals in content are going to get more interesting in 2020.
For instance, did you know you can create your own augmented reality (AR) filters and lenses for Snapchat? (There are even creators you can hire to do it for you.)
Another trend: Creating your own GIFs from video clips via Giphy.
Instead of pulling a reaction GIF from your favorite movie, TV show, or character, now you can GIF yourself.
The possibilities are endless.
In 2020, we’ll definitely see more marketers taking advantage of dynamic, custom, branded imagery for their content.
2. Video Content & Visual Storytelling
In 2019, video was a big deal.
With the popularity of YouTube, dynamic imagery, and AR, it’s no wonder video content and visual storytelling will continue to rise in 2020.
- For example, in 2018, 85% of internet users in the U.S. watched video content monthly on any of their devices.
- Another 56% of 25-34-year-olds and 54% of 35-44-year-olds want to see more video content from brands they support, according to a HubSpot survey of over 3,000 consumers.
Plus, video is the type of content 62% of consumers say they consume thoroughly. That means they pay attention more than their mind wanders off.
What does this all mean for marketers? As consumer habits and preferences continually move to video content, we have to keep up or get left in the dust.
Of course, what sets apart successful video content from the stuff that gets five total views is the quality of the storytelling. You have to be able to engage readers through any medium, including video.
If you can tell great stories, you’re halfway there.
3. Upping Your E-A-T
In August 2019, Google published a blog on Webmaster Central with reminders about its core updates and what to do about them.
Specifically, the blog recommended an action a lot of us have already been doing:
Reading/understanding the Search Quality Rater Guidelines and E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness).
The fact that Google specifically pointed to this resource and singled out E-A-T is a huge hint. We all need to be focused on proving expertise, authority, and trust in our content.
That applies to both websites as entities representing a specific brand or organization, and individual authors writing content on those websites.
How do you prove your E-A-T?
- By earning links or mentions from other authority websites.
- By providing E-A-T information on your site, including a bio and credentials on your about page and author pages.
- Linking out to authoritative sources for supporting stats, data, and facts in content.
- Updating your site and content regularly with relevant, accurate, current information.
On top of that, your content must be exceptional. Well-crafted, user-beneficial, purposeful content backed by E-A-T can’t lose. (More on that in point #4.)
P.S. For deeper reading on E-A-T, this article by Marie Haynes is a must-see.
4. Better, More Purposeful Content Than Ever Before
Continuing from 2019 trends, the need for stellar, purposeful content isn’t stopping as we head into 2020.
More and more creators and marketers understand the need for content of the highest quality:
- 90% of the most successful content marketers put their audience’s information needs first over their promotional message, according to Content Marketing Institute’s B2B report.
- The content marketing area where spending increased the most from 2018-2019 was content creation.
Marketers are understanding you need better content to win in the SERPs and with readers.
In fact, ranking for competitive key terms will only get harder when everyone is bringing their A-game.
That means we’ll see the following in 2020 from brands of all sizes:
- A better understanding of what the target audience needs from search results for a given keyword.
- Better writing tailored to audiences, with consistency for the brand’s tone and style.
- Better research, including more current stats and data from reputable sources.
- More depth and deep exploration of topics.
- Better visuals, such as branded imagery, infographics, and custom blog images.
Although it’s going to be harder to rank, more people will be creating better content. That means fewer of us will be adding to the crap content garbage heap. I call that a win.
5. Ultra-Targeted, Customer-First Content
Prioritizing the customer’s informational needs above sales messages was one of the determining factors for successful marketers in 2018-2019, as we already saw from CMI’s 2019 B2B report.
90% of the most successful said they do this.
They understand that trust-building with audiences begins with offering guidance, help, information, or entertainment without a catch.
More than that, the very best content that hits the user’s needs in the bullseye is the type that will rank #1 with Google.
This will be a trend in 2020, too, because it works.
How do you find out what your unique audience needs from your content?
Asking questions. Engaging with the community. Discovering who they are.
Once you know them intimately, you can create content that speaks to them on a deeper level. In a nutshell, that’s ultra-targeted content.
It puts the audience first – in some cases, the niche-niche audience. It nails their user search intent. It serves a purpose and fulfills an information need.
That’s the kind of content Google is prioritizing now, and it’s what we need to focus on for the future.
The Future of Content Is Here
Content’s future has arrived, and it has never looked so good.
More marketers than ever are prioritizing quality and the customer’s information needs over sales messages. We’re focused on building trust and authority with authenticity, not sales tricks.
On top of that, visual media is going in startlingly new and exciting directions. The possibilities for integration with content are crazy-good.
In 2020, watch for innovative marketers to push the boundaries of content creation.
Look for ultra-targeted content, more commitment to a customer-first approach, and overall, better content flooding the scene.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait.
Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She’s earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.