In the coming year, contributor and SMX West speaker, Mordy Oberstein believes SEOs should be analyzing the latent messages of what Google is actually trying to do holistically with core updates.

Below is the video transcript:

Hi. My name is Mordy Oberstein. I’m the CMO of Rank Ranger and I’m here to talk to you about what I think is important in SEO walking into 2020.

What I think is important is taking a more multidimensional, less linear, look at core updates. What do I mean by that? Well, sometimes we tend to fall back on our fall backs, if that makes sense, on links on certain technical aspects when dealing with a core update. But I think it makes a little bit more sense to consider the overall picture, meaning a multidimensional look at what is going on around the core update.

What’s Google been doing?

What’s Google been pushing for?

What are some of the new abilities that Google has or has displayed to us?

Where’s the inertia?

Where’s the momentum was Google pushing for?

And considering that when analyzing the core update.

Because think about it like this. Google’s gotten way, way, way, more qualitative when, approaching anything and everything from entities to web pages, to the site. Whatever it is, Google’s gotten way more human-like with its language, for example. And Google’s doing that because it’s fun. It’s great. It’s cool. It’s helpful. Because they want to use it as part of the ranking equation. So we should use it as part of our analysis equation when approaching a core update.

Because I mean, think about the last year and a half, we’ve seen neural matching, neural matching at the local level, the prolific proliferation of the topic. Look, I mean, look at the mobile knowledge panel now, versus two years ago. We have BERT, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. So Google’s getting way more qualitative and it’s important to consider where Google’s going with things and the overall picture when approaching a core update.

Now in terms of, you know, how to actually get into the nitty-gritty of this, how to approach this in real terms, I would start with sites. Sites that were hit by an update. The sites that lost rankings during an update and approaching them holistically. I mean something very specific in that. I mean taking a look at the sites that won and the sites that loss and looking at the latent messages within the content. Within the tone of the content. In the format of the content. Within the UI, the UX.

What signals, what latent messaging are you giving Google in terms of your authority? In terms of your trustworthiness for this topic, for this vertical with how you go about your content. With how you go about your UX. How you go about your tone. How you go about UI and that sort of thing. 

Or if you really want to get to the heart of the matter, and this is great because I think SEO is finally catching up to marketing in this where we can talk about the psychological impact of the user, not Google. 

Think about the way you use your content, the way you use words.

The tone you take the UI the UX. Everything about your site.

What psychological signal does that send to the user?

How was the user psychologically interpreting what they’re seeing on your site?

How they’re interacting with your site.

Because that will probably put you in a very close place with how Google’s looking at your site. How Google’s interpreting your site. The signals that Google’s taking the messaging that Google taking away from your site. And at a very, very minimum, you’re going to be aligned to where Google wants to go with how it looks at your site.

There are certain patterns, certain elements that have come out of the core updates and messaging that Google loves or hates. But for that, you can hear me speak about that at SMX West so a little plug there for SMX West.

Again, really important, I think, to take a more, you know, don’t fall back on links. Don’t fall back on the technical aspects per se or alone. But think about the overall context of them. A multidimensional approach to looking at what’s happening with the core updates again, where Google’s heading the new abilities Google has. The things that Google’s trying to do. Where the momentum is working, Where Google’s pushing for. And analyzing your sites or your competitor’s sites of winners and losers holistically and accordingly.

So hopefully that was helpful. Good luck to you in 2020 – I’ll see you.

More predictions for 2020

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Mordy is the head of marketing for Rank Ranger, an industry leading all-in-one SEO reporting suite. Outside of helping to build the Rank Ranger brand, Mordy spends most of his time working to help educate the SEO industry by publishing a constant stream of in-depth research and analysis. You can hear Mordy take up the latest issues facing the SEO community on his weekly podcast, The In Search SEO Podcast.


Contributor and SMX speaker, Lily Ray, wants to make sure you think about your backlink profile and telling search engines through the right structure data you’re a trusted entity.

Below is the video transcript:

Hi, my name is Lily Ray. I’m the director of SEO at Path Interactive, a digital marketing agency here in New York City.

I think in 2020 marketers should be focusing a lot on E-A-T – expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. The reason I think that’s important is because there’s been a lot of big core algorithm updates on Google in the last several years that have been affecting a lot of websites, particularly websites that offer like medical advice, legal advice, financial advice. And it’s really important to think about E-A-T as part of your SEO strategy. You have to be telling search engines and users why you should be trusted. Why you’re an expert in the subject matter.

You know, think about your backlink profile and make sure you have this trusted, credible backlinks pointing back to your site. Make sure you’re using the right structure data to show Google that you’re a trusted entity and to make the connections between all the places that you’ve been mentioned online, for example.

So if you’re not thinking about E-A-T as part of your SEO strategy, you’re probably going to notice that particularly for these queries that are more like your money, your life, in nature, so medical or financial illegal or anything like that.

It’s going to be increasingly difficult to rank, to compete, because a lot of these core updates are resulting in companies that maybe don’t have great E-A-T seeing pretty big performance declines. So it’s definitely something to think of as a layer on top of your existing SEO strategy. So, yeah, focus on the E-A-T.

More predictions for 2020

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Lily Ray is the SEO Director at Path Interactive, where she provides strategic leadership for the agency’s SEO client programs. Born into a family of software engineers, web developers and technical writers, Lily brings a strong technical background, performance-driven habits and forward-thinking creativity to all programs she oversees. Lily began her SEO career in 2010 in a fast-paced start-up environment and moved quickly into the agency world, where she helped grow and establish an award-winning SEO department that delivered high impact work for a fast-growing list of notable clients, including Fortune 500 companies. Lily has worked across a variety of verticals with a focus on retail, e-commerce, b2b and CPG sites. She loves diving into algorithm updates, assessing quality issues and solving technical SEO mysteries. In 2017, Lily was nominated by Search Engine Land for Female Search Marketer of the Year, and she continues to provide SEO thought leadership and industry updates through online publications and speaking engagements.


Some bits of your website’s content are more important than others; that’s just a fact. The “Buy Now” button is almost certainly more important than the entire “About Us” page, and you need to direct the user’s focus accordingly, if you really want that sale. That’s why we’re here: you might call this the newbie’s guide to controlling focus.

You’re going to have build your site in such a way that the eye is naturally drawn from one step to the next.

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My sister used to accomplish controlling my focus by sternly, but calmly, telling me to “Get back to your schoolwork” anywhere from fifteen to forty times in a single day. But your users aren’t going to put on some music and “buckle down” to finish browsing your website, they need to be drawn in.

The Call to Action—that “Buy” button, for example—needs to look good.

1. Contrast

The first and easiest way to catch the eye is to use contrast. By “contrast”, I mean that the important elements of a design need to stand out from the rest in a meaningful way. See what I did there?

Now, there are several kinds of contrast to discuss:

  • Light/dark contrast
  • Color contrast
  • Size contrast
  • Contrasting styles

Most of these are fairly self explanatory, but let’s go over them.


Light things stand out from dark things, and vice versa. Pretty simple, right? Well… that depends. If most of your site is pretty bright, then making your Call to Action big and dark (or at least a bit darker than everything else) makes sense.


However, there are lots of designs out there where high light/dark contrast is a feature of the entire layout, and that contrast is used to give everything a sense of structure. In that case, you’ll need to use another kind of contrast to direct people’s focus.


Okay this one is self explanatory. A splash of color, or even just a different color, is enough to make things stand out. In this example, color is used to cut through a lot of typographical noise.



Make the important buttons bigger than other buttons. Make your headline text bigger than other text. Size contrast can not only make things stand out, but also help to establish hierarchy in the page.



A difference in style can be illustrated by something as simple as the bold text joke I made earlier. But to look at a more UI-focused example, let’s talk about “Ghost buttons”. Ghost buttons are buttons with an outline, but no background color, and they’re often used in combination with regular buttons, like on the home page of IndieGoGo:


I bet you can tell which button they really want you to click on. The stylistic contrast makes this clear.

2. Images

Whether we’re talking about photography, illustration, painting, or 3D graphics, images grab eyeballs. You can redirect anyone’s attention easily enough with a picture. The only real exception to this would be pictures that are surrounded by other pictures.

You can use images as the objects of focus on their own, of course, but you can also use them to draw the eye to other things, such as text or buttons placed on top of them. You didn’t think those were just pretty backgrounds, did you? That may have been how things started, but everything is a lot more calculated these days.

If you really want to go all out, place your call to action in such a way that it looks like the picture is pointing to it. This is what your manager would call “synergy”, and it tends to work, despite sounding so very corporate.


3. Animation

And if you think we like pictures, let me tell you about moving pictures. No but seriously, if there’s nothing more interesting going on in a room, my eyes will inexorably be drawn to any TV that’s been left on, no matter what’s playing. It could be sports, daytime talk shows, or even a soap opera, and I’ll have trouble looking away. Most of us would.

Motion just catches the eye that way. It started out as a survival reflex, and now we just have to know if Brian will ever regain his memory and marry Patricia, or if she’ll remain forever trapped by his evil twin Drake. Use that reflex to your advantage, by incorporating some light animation into things like buttons, helpful tooltips, and any text you really want people to read first.


4. Convention

Lastly, take advantage of your user’s default behavior patterns. As web users, most of us have been trained to look for navigation near the top, Calls to Action right under that, and more CTAs at the bottom. Putting important bits of information and functionality where people expect to find them is a perfectly valid strategy.

Also keep in mind whether you’re designing for people who read right-to-left, or left-to-right. English speakers, for the most part, will look at the left side of their screen first, for example. While there is something to be said for breaking the mold, never underestimate the power of simple yet deeply-ingrained habits.


5. Use Emphasis Sparingly

When everything is bold, bold text just tends to blur together, rather than burning important information into the user’s brain. When there are many pictures on a page, and you’re not running a photography portfolio, users may just get distracted. And don’t get me started on the overuse of animation. When everything’s moving, how do you expect them to read any of your text that’s more than a sentence long?

To really draw and focus your user’s attention on one or two things, you need to eliminate, or at least deemphasize things that might compete for their attention. Compete with other sites, not your own content.