We’re almost into the final quarter of 2020 and this year we’ve seen a lot of changes in the online landscape and WordPress usage in particular.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected almost every aspect of life for people across the globe, and this is certainly true for our online habits too.
In 2020 we saw a huge increase in the number of people working remotely and more people took up online work and starting their own website after losing their job or having more time to work on their side hustle at home.
This is particularly evident in the increase in ecommerce sites over the year, an industry that was also boosted by the increase in online shopping.
But it was not all smooth sailing for online workers, many of whom were affected by decreasing advertising budgets and a huge blow from the internet’s biggest affiliate program.
Whether you make money directly from your website or it’s integral to your business operation, or you build sites for others, it’s important to know what was going on with the web in 2020 and what we can expect as we head towards 2021
In 2020 WordPress’s market share has increased to 63.6%, meaning over 63% of websites that use a CMS choose WordPress. This equates to 38.4% of all sites live on the internet.
If you’re not sure what WordPress is, you can read our rundown of the basics.
Interestingly, while the use of WordPress has increased steadily over the last year, the number of sites using no CMS is showing a gradual decline.
If trends continue, soon there will be more WordPress sites than sites that are not built on a CMS. It looks like the days of creating static HTML sites are well and truly behind us.
Some popular sites on the internet that use WordPress include Microsoft.com, Etsy.com, Udemy.com, and Zillow.com.
You can see some examples of sites running WooCommerce here.
Ecommerce sites in general are continuing to increase in numbers as the trend for online shopping continues (no doubt encouraged somewhat by the COVID-19 pandemic).
Shopify is currently the second most popular ecommerce platform after WooCommerce and both platforms are growing steadily.
The popularity of page builder plugins can be volatile. New platforms come and go all the time and now WordPress has its very own block editor, Gutenberg, some people think that WordPress page builders are on the way out.
But for now, they’re still going strong. In particular, Elementor, which has cemented its place as one of the most popular plugins for WordPress with over 5 million active installations.
As you can see in this data from Google Trends, interest in Elementor is growing while searches for the other top WordPress page builders such as Beaver Builder and Themify Builder are pretty static. Elementor is starting to overtake Divi in monthly searches, which is still the most popular WordPress theme to date (see below).
Page builders like Elementor give you the power to design your WordPress site to look however you like, without any coding skills. Rather than installing a single WordPress theme with limited customizations, Elementor enables you to create your own theme and move elements around on your site with a drag and drop interface and style them as you wish.
There are also many WordPress themes that are compatible with Elementor, including the popular Astra theme.
👉 Read our review of Elementor.
Yoast is an SEO plugin that makes adjustments and suggestions for the content and structure of your WordPress site to help it appear higher in search engine rankings.
Yoas is available as both a free and premium plugin, with most users opting for the free version.
Divi continues to be the most popular WordPress theme on the internet (excluding WooCommerce, currently in use on over 1.5 million sites.
Also making up the top 5 are the themes Twenty Seventeen, Astra, Avada, and Twenty Twenty.
Divi is a premium WordPress theme and page builder in one from the team at Elegant Themes. After being released in 2008 the theme has gone from strength to strength and its popular shows no signs of waning (although Elementor is definitely catching up.)
Twenty Seventeen and Twenty Twenty are default free themes shipped with WordPress, while Astra and Avada are also premium themes that are fully customizable, flexible, and come with hundreds of layouts and designs between them.
What this data seems to show is that the days of the single design WordPress theme with limited customization options may be numbered. Rather than opting for free themes or buying single premium themes, WordPress users seem to prefer spending a little more on a single theme framework that can be used to create hundreds of different site designs.
In the software development industry the most in-demand skills are constantly changing. If you’re working in web development or considering it as a career path, it’s important to be aware of the jobs that are in demand and which attract the highest salaries.
According to Glassdoor.com, WordPress developers made an average of $76,526 a year in the USA in August 2020. This is around the same range as a generic front-end developer ($76,929) but less than a Drupal developer ($87,299) or a Joomla developer ($86,205).
👉 Learn how to become a full stack developer.
According to data from WordPress itself, 26.6% of WordPress users are running the latest WordPress version 5.5, while 24.9% are using version 5.4.
Collectively, over 77% of users are now using WordPress 5.0 or above, although a significant number (10.3%) are still using version 4.9. This may be due to reluctance to upgrade as Gutenberg, the WordPress block editor was introduced in version 5.0.
Still, it’s somewhat concerning that almost a quarter of WordPress users did not install the latest major update. WordPress updates are not only to introduce new features but also to patch security vulnerabilities.
While vulnerable plugins are the major weakpoint of most hacked WordPress installations, outdated core code is known to be a security risk too.
As you no doubt already know, we’re not all browsing the web from our desktop computer anymore. Mobile phones made up over 53% of web traffic in December 2019, an increase of over 8% on the previous year.
Interestingly, while laptop and desktop usage decreased in the same period (perhaps to be expected), so did the use of tablets and other devices such as smart TVs and gaming consoles for browsing the web.
The message is clear: phones are in; other devices are out. If you’ve not already designed your website to look great on a mobile screen, you’d better get a move on.
Voice activated technology has proven to be a slow burner after Google first launched its voice search technology in 2002.
But we’re gradually getting used to asking our phones to do things for us, helped along by the growing number of smart speakers and voice assistants.
There are now estimated to be 111.8 million people in the US who use voice search, which is an increase of 9.5% from the previous year.
Voice search is also becoming the more popular option, particularly on mobile devices, with over 70% of consumers preferring to use voice search over typing out their search.
The use of voice search is still increasing, with more people buying smart speakers and over half of smart speaker owners using them daily and over 43% using them to shop online.
Google is paying attention to these trends, of course, and introduced a new algorithm for natural language processing at the end of 2019.
This means that SEOs and website owners also need to keep up with changes in search behavior and ensure their content is optimized for voice search going forward.
The number of online shoppers globally has reached 2.05 billion, growing from 1.32 billion in 2014. This figure is projected to continue growing through 2021 and beyond.
This year, in particular, ecommerce has proven to be a massive industry with US ecommerce sales climbing by 18%.
Categories showing the most dramatic sales increase in 2020 include household products, food and beverages, and personal care and beauty as everyone scrambled to buy groceries, toilet paper, and face masks online.
But media still makes up the biggest proportion of online sales, with 62.7% of books, music, and video now being sold online.
One major setback for affiliate marketers in 2020 was the April change to Amazon commission rates across the board to as low as 1% in some categories.
As Amazon runs the web’s most popular affiliate program, with millions of affiliates all over the world, the fallout from this decision was significant.
Many affiliates estimated that their income would drop by half, and others vowed to cut all ties with Amazon and refuse to send them any more traffic.
The commission reduction also came at a time when advertising budgets were being cut and website income from display ads dropped significantly in many niches.
While the effect of these changes may have been offset by an increase in online browsing and sales while much of the world was in lockdown, 2020 was certainly a tumultuous year for those who make their income through online publishing and affiliate marketing.
Looking for some other ways to increase your income in 2020? Check out our list of 25 ways to make money online.
As if we didn’t have enough to deal with in 2020, many cybercriminals saw the pandemic as a new opportunity to steal data and illegally generate income.
In the four-month period from January to April, Interpol detected 907,000 spam messages, 737 malware incidents, and 48,000 malicious URLs.
It seemed that scammers were taking advantage of people’s fears and insecurities by stepping up their phishing attempts and publishing misinformation.
The increase in people working from home in a digital environment less secure than their usual office also meant a dramatic increase in malware and hacking attacks.
In these difficult times, website owners and developers must be extra vigilant about the security of their sites, ensuring that WordPress and other CMS installations are hardened, updating plugins and other software promptly, and scanning sites for malware on a regular basis.
According to the 2020 Hubspot State of Marketing Report, 70% of the companies they survey actively invest in content marketing and around 60% said that content marketing was “very important” or “extremely important” to their overall strategy.
It’s clear that content marketing is not just the latest trendy marketing technique, but a critical part of any marketing plan.
Consumers are responding less effectively to traditional advertising and are undertaking their own research into products and services they’re considering buying online.
This means that businesses of any size must take content marketing seriously. While it’s still important to have a well-designed website and other marketing techniques such as social media marketing and display ads play their part, content may mean the difference between online failure or success.
A recent survey of web designers found that the vast majority of them claimed to spend either 11-20 hours or 21-40 hours building a site from scratch.
Obviously, this figure will vary widely depending on the scope of the project but it gives a good insight into the work involved in building a website.
Of course, most individuals and businesses don’t need a bespoke-built website. If you’re low on time or budget, the easy way to build a site quickly is to install WordPress and use an existing theme. This is not only cheaper than hiring a web designer, but you could have a site up in as little as 5 minutes!
In an analysis of 5.2 billion pages, Backlinko discovered that average page load time is over 10 seconds and the average webpage takes over 87% longer to load on mobile vs. desktop.
This data is somewhat surprising and worrying, as 40% of web users abandon a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
If you’re concerned your website isn’t running as fast as you’d like, you can run it through Google Pagespeed Insights for analysis and some suggestions to make it faster.
Luckily, there are many things you can do to speed up your website from compressing images to choosing a lightweight WordPress theme, to moving your site to faster hosting.
Whether you run your own online business or you’re in charge of web design, development, or SEO for a client, you still have some time left to finish 2020 on a good note.
We’re all living through challenging times, but there’s no doubt that 2020 has uncovered numerous opportunities for online business. Now is the time to take note of how online habits are changing and get ready to start 2021 with a bang.
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