Toss Lab raises $13 million Series B for its collaboration platform JANDI, the ‘Slack of Asia’

Toss Lab, Inc. provider of the enterprise collaboration tool JANDI, raised $13 million in Series B funding. The round was led by SoftBank Ventures Asia and includes investments from SV Investment, Atinum Investment, Must Asset Management, Shinhan Capital, SparkLabs, and T Investment.

With this latest round of funding, the company has become the first player in the collaboration space in Korea to raise over $20 million to date.

JANDI is an enterprise team collaboration platform with a suite of productivity tools that include topic-based group chat, task management, video conferencing, and 3rd party app integrations. Recognized as the leading collaboration software provider in Korea and Taiwan, JANDI has seen a revenue growth of over 100% in the last 3 years, with the highest number of downloads on the Google Play Store among other local collaboration tools. 

CEO and Managing Partner of SoftBank Ventures Asia, JP Lee says, “JANDI, which has seen consistent and steady growth since 2014, is aiming to become the leading collaboration tool in Asia.” He adds, “COVID-19 has provided a prime opportunity for collaboration tools like JANDI, as the outbreak has prompted companies to look for solutions that enable a remote workforce, with minimal impact on employee productivity.”

In a time when digital transformation is crucial for companies to sustain operations, JANDI’s enterprise Software as a Service (SaaS) solution has become an essential tool for ensuring business continuity.

JANDI’s 200,000 customers range from SMBs to large enterprise companies such as LG CNS, CJ, Nexen Tire, and Cosmax. With multi-language support including English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese, JANDI has expanded beyond Korea to Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Middle East.

CEO Matthew Kim says “With this round of funding, we plan to accelerate our sales and marketing efforts and recruit new talent for the global teams. This is one step closer to establishing JANDI as the leader in enterprise collaboration tools in Asia.”

Company Overview:

Toss Lab, Inc.

A “toss” means a throw or fling of something, and “lab” is an abbreviation for laboratory. As indicated in the company name, Toss Lab allows its employees to express their ideas without restraint and research ways to make communication among office workers more efficient. The company’s flagship product, named JANDI, is No.1 collaboration tool in Asia that provides better communication and online co-work culture at workplace. 


How To Create A Brand That Attracts Luxury Buyers

Every brand conveys a message — and, the very best brands are targeted towards a specific consumer market. They know their audience and become almost familial with them. Collectively, we know and can feel strong brands – such as behind family-oriented companies like Oreo cookies, or luxury brands such as Burberry or the Ritz Carlton. Of course, these brands have built up their reputation and brand feel over the years with their products and their advertising.

When creating a brand that will attract luxury buyers, it’s important to look to other brands who have done it well, and learn from them. Across the board, these brands know their target customer and how to serve them in a way that feels like a five star experience. Here are some initial, foundational steps of creating a luxury brand.

  1. Create A Customer Persona & Incorporate That Into Your Marketing

First, it’s not enough to say that your ideal customer is a ‘luxury’ or ‘high end’ buyer. Who are they, really? Creating a customer persona is one of the best steps you can take before creating an ad or building a marketing campaign. Jessica Lunk, wrote for Benchmark One, that this crafted persona should include a detailed understanding of the customer’s history (who are they, and where do they come from?), a ‘day in the life,’ and their biggest pain points.

Ideally, this should be done through interviews, so it’s not merely guesswork. Interviews are the best way to understand a customer’s challenges, especially when they’re not primarily apparent. Look for clues of ways in which you can make their lives easier and more convenient, or offer them the five star service that they’re looking for. Then, alter their customer personas into ‘characters’ for ad and marketing campaigns, using variations of their stated pain points to guide the narrative around your ads.

  1. Add Luxury Amenities Or Features

Beyond your own value proposition and the marketing, how can you make your product or service experience as ‘luxury’ as possible? Again, ‘luxury’ means something different to everyone. For one, it might mean unparalleled convenience, whereas for another, it might mean unparalleled decadence. Opt to have a bit of both. An example: if you had a dog walking business that serves families in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, you could add in a luxury bandana or bagged assortment of dog treats every time you walk. It’s that ‘cherry on top’ that always lingers for customers.

For coming up with your own ‘features,’ think about the experience you wish you could have when you purchase a similar product or service. Royston G King of Master Scaling, noted that for his business, they provide luxury by being accessible. “We have a standard we always meet, otherwise we have failed: and that’s following up or being accessible within five minutes of a customer or prospect’s message,” he shared. “People don’t want to wait in today’s era. They want what they want when they want it, and if they don’t get it right then, they can go elsewhere.” He also uses this philosophy in sales messages and following up quickly. “We take an approach of being omnipresent, which shows the customer that we will always be there if they work with us,” he explained. Luxury can also be in the intangibles.

  1. Collaborate With Other Brands That Appeal To The Same Market

If you’re just getting started in building your brand, sometimes the quickest route to a brand feel is through brand association. For example, Asprey, deemed a ‘luxury brand,’ partnered with the Ritz Carlton for their ‘purple water beauty amenities,’ which includes body lotions and shampoos within the hotel rooms. This elevates the Asprey brand to the brand the Ritz Carlton has established.

This can be done in a variety of ways. Victoria Kennedy, CEO of Atman Real Estate and top luxury real estate marketer, noted that collaborating on events or through networking has helped her. “In the real estate luxury buyer market, everything is your network. If you work with others who are building the same brand and bring people together for events and get-togethers, I’ve found that that’s a great way to mark your own brand, while also getting more exposure.” So, start to look for brands who may be open for collaborations. If you’re both appealing to the same target market, it may be a win-win for both parties.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid To Go For A High Price

Finally, remember that price conveys a message, too. A luxury brand with low priced items may be a unique value proposition, but it may also lead people to undervalue your product. Rather than trying to compete on price with other brands, compete on features and amenities. How do you go above and beyond for your customers? This stands out more than a low price does, at least for luxury buyers.

Ultimately, your brand is composed of the experiences you create for your customers.


If you are not in businesses such as pharmaceuticals, grocery store supply chains or psychotherapy, you’re probably wondering how you’re supposed to market your business in the time of the COVID-19 crisis.

As a business consultant, I asked myself that very question. At first, I couldn’t think of anything, but then someone reached out to me and said, “Didn’t you teach entrepreneurship in high schools? Kids and schools are desperate for interesting content online right now. How long would it take for you to set up online entrepreneurship training for high school students?”

I told him it would take just a couple of days and be completely free of charge. It would be my contribution to the common good. And that’s when it hit me — that’s effective marketing in these turbulent times. Contribution marketing.

What is contribution marketing?

We’ve all heard of content marketing, relationship marketing, paid marketing, and on it goes. This is different. This is marketing in which you are contributing to the public good. Contribution marketing means offering a product or service that fills an immediate need.

And it’s the only type of marketing you should be focusing on right now. Why? Because building brand equity and goodwill is going to come back to you in spades. It’s called karma.

If you’re a brick-and-mortar business like a fitness studio, it means offering your services online. If you’re a home education platform, it means offering a sampling of your courses for free or at deeply discounted prices. If you’re a fashion business, perhaps you take off the restocking fees since no one can come to the store to try on clothes at the moment.

And don’t cheat by offering the same discounts and services that you normally do. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary marketing efforts. Your contribution marketing needs to be completely new and unprecedented.

We’ve already seen some small and large businesses engage in successful contribution marketing. For example, Loom, which offers video-recording software, removed its limits on file staring because it saw so many people were using it to communicate with their virtual teams. T-Mobile launched T-Mobile Connect, its lowest-priced smartphone plan ever, and educational software companies like Scholastic have opened up much of their platform free of charge.  

Is contribution marketing right for you?

To find out if contribution marketing is the best path for your business, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you offer something that fills an immediate public need?
  • How can you contribute your time, money and effort in a constructive way?
  • Where can you offer support?

In some cases, you may not have an answer. If you’re a travel company, for example, this just might not be your time to market discounts on summer vacations. That’s fine. It doesn’t mean you can’t tend to your business in other ways.

Just put a freeze on your marketing efforts for now. Don’t expend any energy on it.

Instead, buckle down and take care of your business from the inside. Get your taxes in early this year (despite the extended due date), organize that paperwork that you always avoid, sit with your team and start doing workflows. Take a little break. Let your business be quiet. Gear up for your next launch. My point is: If you’ve got nothing contributing to say, don’t say it.

What not to do

Despite all the uncertainty and pressures all around you, do not respond to this crisis from a place of fear. Deep discounts and fire sales are not the answer.

Neither is preying on other people’s fears by just sticking the words “COVID-19” or “coronavirus” on your latest campaign even though it’s completely unrelated. That’s clickbaiting, and it’s not only insensitive — it’s terrible for business.

What’s good for business? Contribution marketing. It’s not about saving money. It’s about how can you help people in real, tangible ways. And if you are wondering what the ROI is, you’re not thinking about it correctly. You are providing a service to the world. Even from a practical business standpoint, you’re building goodwill and gaining free exposure.

Do you know what it would cost you to get the kind of viral publicity some people are getting now because of their free access offering? Remember these changes are temporary. This too shall pass. But right now the world is what it is, and your marketing needs to reflect that.


4 Low-Cost Marketing Strategies

Every Business Should Know

Let’s be real. Marketing can get expensive. With such a strong emphasis on digital marketing, it can seem like the only way to be successful is through buying ads or paying for SEO. While both of those are very popular and useful ways to market a business, there are also many marketing strategies that come at a low cost, if not for free. These four low cost marketing strategies create organic traffic and exposure for your business, and they all place an emphasis on the most important factor of marketing: the people you’re targeting.

1. Network

Networking is one of the most effective marketing strategies that everyone has access to, and there are plenty of ways to do it. First and foremost, LinkedIn is a platform entirely devoted to networking. As a rule of thumb, you should be adding everyone you shake hands with or speak with, including customers, similar business, and more. In building a personal brand through LinkedIn, you can promote your business brand. To make networking even easier, you can make a group page for your business, or join a local business group and participate with the existing members and audience to boost the exposure of your business.

LinkedIn is far from being the only way to network. Networking is a mindset and an approach that prioritizes people rather than positions and businesses. In putting people first, you can determine who matters most that you need to get to know and what you can do for them. Then you can market your business to a broader audience in a less obvious, more effective manner. The best part about networking is that you can essentially do this anywhere, at any time, with anyone. Is there a local business association that holds meetings? Join it. A chapter of a marketing association in your city? Join that, too. Start utilizing any and every opportunity that brings you in contact with new people.

2.Build a partnership.

Ever heard the saying “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine”? That’s exactly how a partnership works.  Let’s say you own a car dealership and there’s an auto detailer and repair shop down the road. If you partner with the auto shop, you can refer people there for maintenance and keep their business cards or flyers in your dealership. In return, the auto detailer can refer people to your dealership when they need to buy, sell, or trade their vehicle and they can also keep business cards or flyers in their shop. Maybe there’s even a discount if they mention that the partnering business referred them.

Building a partnership can market your business to the customer base of another business, and vice versa. This works especially well for local businesses, as it fosters a sense of unity and support within the community. People are exceptionally receptive to recommendations that come from businesses they already trust and have had positive experiences with, and you can use that to your advantage through a partnership. It’s cost-effective, marketing-savvy, and will build your reputation.

3.Ask for reviews.

The only things people pay attention to more than what it says about your company on Google are the reviews that previous customers have left you. I once found a rental property I was interested in, and upon searching for reviews of the real estate agency I found an entire Facebook page dedicated to very passionately written bad reviews about the company (and that was in addition to a low Yelp score). I was horrified after reading all the negative experiences other customers had with the agency, and have since warned many friends to avoid renting or buying any properties from them solely based on those reviews.

What your customers have to say about you is the clearest indication of the kind of experiences future customers will have with you. By asking customers who have had positive experiences to write a quick review on Facebook or Yelp, you can accumulate endorsements and vouchers. Plus, if someone is willing to take the time to write a review, it’s likely that they’ll recommend your business to their friends and family for future needs. All of this comes at little to no cost and lets your customers to do the marketing for you.

According to Carlos Fearn, a Marketing Consultant at Rankology, “Consumers trust online reviews nearly as much as if it were a recommendation from a friend. It is imperative in today’s online society that a business encourages their customers to leave reviews on the major social networks and portals to show their satisfaction with your company.”

4. Blog.

Helping people before they actually need anything from you is a marketing tactic that A) might not even be a “real” marketing tactic and B) has great returns. An easy way to do this is by adding a blogging component to your company’s website where you can offer useful tips and insights about things related to your business. The only thing it will cost you is time, and by blogging about the topics you’re already knowledgeable about, you can market a friendly credibility that’s in the interest of the customer.

For example, if you’re a bakery, share some easy recipes around the holidays, or offer tips on baking for people with food allergies. By providing a real utility to the kind of customers who have use for the information you’re providing, you create a relationship that establishes your business as a helpful authority. People tend to value helpful over pushy and if someone has used tips or recipes from your bakery’s website, you’ll probably be their first thought when they need a sweet treat on their lunch break.


4 Ways Small Businesses Can Master Marketing

We often hear from our customers that it had always been their dream to own a business – whether that’s opening their own store or starting their own restaurant. Like most entrepreneurs, the goal is to turn a passion into a career.

However, many people are held back by the fear that they won’t be able to manage their business successfully. It takes a leap of faith to open a new business, and it takes business savvy to keep it open. In a series of posts, I’ll explore common challenges small business owners face and how to solve it.

One of the first hurdles a small business owner faces is getting the word out about her new business. Or, if the business is established, growing the business and attracting new customers. At the heart of driving sales is marketing. For business owners without marketing experience, this can seem overwhelming. The good news is there is a lot a small business owner can do to market a business easily and efficiently.

  1. Define your unique value proposition (UVP).

The first step in marketing a business effectively is understanding your capabilities and the white space your business is filling in your industry.

Inevitably, you will face competition, so take the time to outline what sets you apart from your competitors. Become as informed as possible on your industry. Sign up for industry newsletters; read relevant trade publications; and consider participating in industry events. This will allow you to identify trends, and stay up-to-date with important news. It will also help you identify your competitors. Take a close look at what they are doing and how they present themselves to potential customers.

Then determine who your target customers are and what they want. This is important – one of the biggest small business marketing pitfalls is to assume you know your customer without doing research.

Clearly identify the service you are providing and the problem you are solving for your target customers. This will help you define your UVP – the unique benefit you are providing for your customers.

You’re not trying to sell to everyone, which is a good thing. Your goal is to clearly define who you are targeting, why they want your product and how best to reach them. Once you know that, your job is to consistently execute your marketing plan.

2. Maximize your online presence.

Armed with a clear understanding of your business and its industry, it’s time to market it to potential customers.

While there are many marketing channels to consider, typically the most efficient and cost-effective are online.

Take time to audit your online presence. An easy place to start is your website. Make sure the website design is consistent with your brand and that the site is easy for customers to navigate, and find the information they’re looking for.


If it’s appropriate for your business, make it easy for customers to sign up for a mailing list. This will enable you to build a database of customers, who give you permission to reach out to them regularly with product updates, interesting news or coupons.

In addition to listing your products or services, consider adding a blog to your website to provide tips and product or service updates to customers.

Beyond your own website, be sure to build your presence on and spend time managing review sites, like Yelp and Angie’s List. These help validate your business and can boost sales. You can even share good customer reviews on your website.

Whether you’re communicating via your website, a blog, an email, a third party review site or social media, be sure to keep a consistent voice. Every customer touchpoint is an opportunity to build your brand.

3. Start a conversation.

Social media channels are a low-cost way to get the word out about your business and build relationships with your target audience.

Choose a channel, which your customers are already on. Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn serve very different purposes, so be smart in your choices, and think about the kind of content you like to post. Using platforms specific to your business makes it easy for customers to find and interact with your business online.

When it comes to posting on social media, consistency is key.

Create a schedule to ensure you are posting regularly so your audience knows to expect content. For example, plan for three posts a week, which you can draft in advance.

In order to keep content dynamic, take a three-prong approach:

  • Talk about yourself and your business,
  • Talk about your customers,
  • And talk about your industry.

Share updates about what’s happening at your business, such as a new shipment you’ve received or a peek behind the scenes. Be sure to thank your customers, and engage them through questions.

Finally, share interesting news articles, and invite your social media followers to share their thoughts. In all social media posts, make sure you’re authentic and realistic so your audience can connect with you.

4. Consider paid content.

The paid aspects of social media can also be a great way to boost your business’ profile, and get in front of new customers.

For instance, you can target the exact type of customer you are looking to attract with advertising through Facebook and LinkedIn campaigns, based on the information individuals have shared on their profiles.


6 Reasons Your Strategy Isn’t Working

Nearly every organization is grappling with huge strategic challenges, often with a need to reimagine its very purpose, identity, strategy, business model, and structure. Most of these efforts to transform will fail. And, in most cases, they will miss the mark not because the new strategy is flawed, but because the organization can’t carry it out.

The Covid-19 pandemic undoubtedly presents the biggest challenge institutions of all types have faced in over a century. Leaders will have to reimagine their strategy and values in the context of the “new normal” we are entering, requiring organizations to fundamentally transform their systems of organizing, managing, and leading to enable effective execution of the new direction — and do it quickly. In this crisis speed is essential.

My experience in working and studying corporate transformations points to the six common interrelated reasons for failures — I call these hidden barriers. Leaders often don’t know — and sometimes do not want to know — about hidden barriers that stand in the way of their institution’s transformation. People do not speak up about these barriers, fearing career derailment and even firing (think Boeing, Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, and many others). That in turn makes it impossible for senior teams to learn about barriers and change them.

To survive this pandemic, leaders must confront the reality of their competitive environment and the hidden barriers that make their organization ineffective. Let’s look at the six barriers:

Hidden barrier #1: Unclear values and conflicting priorities

Often, the underlying problem is not this or that strategy, but rather the process by which the strategy was formed — or the lack of any such process. In these cases, strategy is often developed by the leader along with the chief strategy or marketing executive and only then communicated to the rest of the senior team for discussion. If the whole team is not involved clarity and commitment are not possible.

Your organization is suffering from this barrier if you notice any of these signs:

  • Lack of clearly defined and articulated direction — strategy and values — to guide organizational behavior.
  • Conflicting priorities, conflicts over resources, and poor execution of strategy, due to functions and businesses each championing their own priorities.
  • People feeling overloaded, due to everything being labeled a priority.

Hidden barrier #2: An ineffective senior team

Top-team ineffectiveness was reported by lower levels in almost all the organizations we studied. Most of the time, this ineffectiveness comes from the top team not speaking with a common voice about strategy and value. The organization-wide consequences of this were low trust, low commitment to strategic decisions, and different and sometimes conflicting understandings of what the strategy even was. In all these cases, the leaders and their senior teams had not solved the fundamental problem of getting everyone on the senior team in the room to talk about the right things in the right way — honestly and constructively.

Your organization is suffering from this barrier if you notice any of these signs among the senior team:

  • Most of the time spent in meetings is spent on information sharing and updates on short-term operational details — sometimes known as “death by PowerPoint” — rather than on confronting and resolving tough strategic and organizational issues.
  • There is little constructive conflict in meetings. The real decisions get made outside the room.
  • Members of the senior team don’t speak with a common voice about strategy and priorities.

Hidden barrier #3: Ineffective leadership styles

When it comes to individual leadership, there are two ineffective styles: a top-down approach that does not involve team members sufficiently and a laissez-faire, nonconfrontational style. We’ve found you can attribute either style to the leader’s personal aversion to conflict or to the lack of a clearly defined process for opening a constructive debate and carrying it through to a decision (in other words, a decision-making process). As a result, the leader doesn’t learn about what members of the senior team or lower levels really think about what’s not working and why.

Your organization is suffering from this barrier if you notice any of these signs:

  • The leader tends to get lost in the operational details and works “one level below their pay grade.”
  • The leader is not visible. They spend relatively little time on communicating overall strategy or direction or on forcing constructive debate in order to resolve contesting views.
  • The leader does not confront issues or people directly to resolve festering conflicts.

Hidden barrier #4: Poor coordination

Coordination across silos — functions and business units or geographic regions at the corporate level critical to effective execution of strategy  — is always a challenge. Ineffective senior teams whose members defend their fiefdoms are unable to agree on how to reorganize and reshape the culture to overcome naturally occurring obstacles to coordination and collaboration. If there’s friction, then the cross-boundary team structure for integrating value-creating activities either does not exist or is flawed and the lack of honest, collective, and public conversation prevents the organization from recognizing and correcting those flaws.

Your organization is suffering from this barrier if you notice any of these signs:

  • It is painfully hard to execute on cross-functional, business, or geographic initiatives, often even despite good personal relationships.
  • Work on horizontal cross-boundary teams is seen as secondary to meeting the goals for one’s own unit (e.g., function, business, or region).
  • The roles, responsibilities, and decision rights of functions, business units, or regions are unclear.

Hidden barrier #5: Inadequate leadership development

Research has shown that leaders usually develop not through training, but by carrying out challenging new assignments. This requires managers to sacrifice for the larger good by giving up their high potential leaders to other parts of the organization for their development. When this doesn’t occur naturally and regularly it is tied to three hidden barriers already discussed: An ineffective senior team (#2) in a siloed organization with “fiefdoms” (#4) that does not have the perspective or capability to define collaborative organizational values and behaviors it expects of leaders (#1), nor to design a talent-management system that enables the cross-boundary developmental assignments required to develop general management ability.

Your organization is suffering from this barrier if you notice any of these signs:

  • It keeps coming down to the same usual suspects when something important needs to get done.
  • Too few opportunities are provided for leadership and management development.
  • The senior team does not review leadership talent regularly or offer career paths that enable the development of general management capabilities.

Hidden barrier #6: Inadequate vertical communication

Inadequate honest vertical communication is like a bad game of Telephone. The necessary information about an organization’s strategic direction and values does not circulate from the senior team to the lower levels and the necessary information about the barriers to that direction and those values is not recirculated from the lower levels to the senior team. Rather than productive conversation, there is increased confusion.

Your organization is suffering from this barrier if you notice any of these signs:

  • There are few forums for upward communication in which managers and associates can openly and publicly communicate with senior management in a low-risk environment.
  • Open, public discussion of difficult issues goes against the cultural grain.
  • Senior leaders rarely if ever ask lower levels to tell them about problems that stand in the way of the company’s effectiveness or how those problems can be improved.

The inability to confront the first five hidden barriers, and to foster an honest conversation about them between the top team and lower levels, makes it impossible to transform the hidden barriers into the strengths your organization needs to survive the Covid-19 crisis.

Start with an assessment. If you recognized your organization in each or most of the six hidden barriers described above, your organization is probably having a hard time transforming itself in some important way. If most of the items in any given hidden barrier category are true, that particular barrier is playing a strong role in undermining the effectiveness and agility of your organization.


What are the top SEO trends for 2020?

Graphics showing new SEO trends for 2020.

1. Snippets and On-SERP SEO

Rich and featured snippets have been around for a while now, and both have resulted in considerable changes to Google’s SERP (that’s Search Engine Results Page). In short, snippets are a type of Google search result that displays additional information about a page. When we refer to On-SERP SEO, it means providing content that is optimised for the changing layouts of a search engine’s results page. While a standard Google search result will only include a page title, a meta description, and a URL, rich snippets provide greater detail. For example, a rich snippet for a recipe might also include the calorie count and the cooking time; for music, it might include the genre and release date; and for products, it might include a price or star rating. Unlike rich snippets, which are simply search results with extra context, featured snippets appear at the top of the results page above the number one organic search result. Because of this, featured snippets are particularly useful for mobile users, who often need quick answers and aren’t always willing to scroll through results. They’re also the result that is most often relayed to voice searchers, with voice software usually providing just a single response to voice queries.
Google’s emphasis on snippets stems from its desire to provide searchers with what it calls ‘zero-click results’, which is when a user receives an immediate answer to their query rather than needing to click on a link. Given that featured snippets automatically take the top spot on Google’s SERP, they’re often highly competitive when it comes to rankings. Perhaps more pressingly for SEOs, however, the rise of featured snippets is pushing organic results further down the page. While not strictly part of SEO, pay-per-click advertising (or PPC) is another marketing technique that needs to be factored into On-SERP SEO. As with snippets, PPC results appear at the top of the page above organic search results. You can distinguish them from organic results by the small ‘Ad’ label that appears to the left of the page’s URL.

With PPC results and featured snippets often appearing together above organic search, it’s clear that position one on Google isn’t necessarily as valuable as it used to be. After all, it’s possible that you could achieve position one only for your website to still appear over halfway down Google’s SERP. While one way to combat this is to begin your own PPC campaign, this is by no means the only route towards sustaining high ranking positions. Luckily, SEO still has an important role to play! When fine-tuning for the SEO trends of 2020, you’ll need to optimise content for snippets alongside using more traditional strategies to attract organic traffic. One way of doing this is by creating content that focuses less on including keyword phrases and more on answering a user’s queries. Try using a tool like AnswerThePublic to identify question-related keywords to target in headings and subheadings. By producing content that offers concise answers to common questions, you’ll have a chance of taking those coveted featured snippet positions and gaining a significant number of clicks.

2. Mobile-First Indexing

Mobile optimisation has been an important Google search trend for years, but it’s now reached the stage where it’s an absolute necessity. Earlier this year, Google announced that all pages will be indexed using its ‘Mobile-First Index’, which means that it will access the mobile version of a page first when determining rankings. Gone are the days when a mobile version was considered as a secondary alternative to a primary desktop page. To put it simply, Google is deprioritising desktop sites and considering mobile versions as the main pages of websites. Because of this, it’s vital that mobile sites contain the same or equivalent content as their desktop counterparts. In the past, mobile sites sometimes contained reduced content to eliminate material that wasn’t optimised for mobile. With the advent of Mobile-First Indexing, omitting content is no longer the way to go.

A web designer optimising a site's layout for mobile.

If you don’t have a mobile site or if your mobile site is broken or incomplete, the desktop version will likely receive a ranking penalty. By the same token, if your mobile version is fully functional and engaging for users, your desktop version may receive a rankings push! There are a few basic rules of thumb for mobile optimisation. For mobile-ready content, remember to limit paragraphs to two or three sentences, organise content with headings and subheadings, and use bullet points or lists where appropriate. For a mobile-ready user experience, creating clear navigation and ensuring rapid loading speeds are key. If you’re already optimising for mobile, there’s a good chance that mobile-first indexing won’t have a significant effect on your SEO strategy. Nevertheless, it’s always worth using Google’s  free checker  to determine whether your site is optimised for mobile.

Previously considered an emerging technology, visual search has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Within one year of launch, Pinterest Lens was already receiving more than 600 million visual search requests every month. By September 2019, Lens was able to identify more than 2.5 billion objects within the fashion and home industries.

It’s not just Pinterest that have got on board; services such as Google Lens and Bing Visual Search also allow users to upload an image to a search engine and receive a page of results.

By extending searches beyond the limitations of the written or spoken word, visual search opens up new possibilities for searchers. For example, a user could upload a photo of an item of clothing to receive styling tips, or a photo of an ingredient to explore recipe ideas. Most commonly, visual search is a way of allowing customers to find similar products based on something they already like. This makes it particularly useful for users searching for a very specific item, eliminating the difficulties of describing a unique version of a product using conventional text-based search.

An image-based approach to search creates new challenges and opportunities for SEOs. To make your site accessible to visual searchers, you need to take great care with your image SEO. Be sure to use descriptive, keyword-focused filenames, alt-text, captions, and tags, since SEO-friendly metadata will ensure Google can crawl your images successfully.

As well as including SEO-friendly metadata, it’s important to make effective use of images themselves. Always use relevant images that help contextualise your content, which is key to creating an engaging user experience. Aside from this, using unique images rather than stock photos will always give you an edge. Finally, there’s an important balancing act to consider in terms of image quality. Images need to be of sufficiently high quality to be read by visual search AI, but not so large as to impact on your site’s load times (using an image compressor is key!).

Visual search looks set to be one of the biggest SEO trends for 2020. By optimising your content with an eye for visual search, you’ll help your website gain a share of this new and rapidly expanding source of clicks.

4. Videos

Video marketing is an essential tool in any business’s arsenal.  Cisco estimate that video will account for 82% of all web traffic by 2022, and when used correctly, videos can be an effective way to spread brand awareness and drive conversions. With the increased pace of online browsing, some users don’t have time to consume lengthy blog posts. In this climate, incorporating video into your content is a great way to increase engagement. While the main benefit of video is an enhanced user experience, videos also provide a direct ranking boost by increasing the amount of time a user spends on your page. Given the culture of sharing videos online, creating informative or educational videos within your niche can also be a way to encourage natural backlinks; even with the wealth of changes to SEO, these remain an essential ranking factor.

A woman preparing an educational video for her business.

There are a few things to consider when optimising for video. Although Google’s AI can crawl a video file and extract data from its audio and video, it only gets a partial picture. This means that as with visual search, it’s important to optimise metadata using keyword-orientated titles and descriptions. Additionally, providing a transcription of a video will ensure you’re covering all the bases, allowing users to view content as traditional text if they prefer while guaranteeing content will be crawlable for search engines. Take a look at  Google’s Search Console  for more advice on best practice, SEO-ready video.

Our final SEO trend for 2020 is something that’s been discussed frequently over recent years: voice search. In 2016,  Google revealed that 20% of mobile search queries were made using voice search. Other estimates suggest that 50% of all searches will be voice-based by 2020. With technology like Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and Siri increasingly a fixture in homes worldwide, talking now sits alongside typing as a viable way of conducting an online search.

Moving forward, voice search will become even more powerful because of its integration with things like snippets and mobile search. We talked above about optimising content for featured snippets by targeting common questions. Adapting for voice search is a key part of this, since voice searches are themselves predominantly question based. By targeting long tail keywords made up of natural phrases that closely correspond with our everyday speech patterns, you’ll ensure your content mirrors the kind of language that forms a voice search. More specifically, creating a detailed FAQs page that is structured around long tail questions is a great way to target voice search and featured snippets simultaneously. As the landscape continues to change, it’s likely that optimising for voice search will come to underpin every aspect of SEO strategy.