SEO is arguably one of the most important tactics a business should focus on when it comes to crafting a solid digital strategy, expanding brand awareness online, and increasing one’s authority presence. However, the rules and guidelines for SEO are ever evolving. This makes it particularly difficult to stay ahead of the game, especially for those who are less technically savvy.
To make matters worse, hiring an SEO expert is often a costly endeavor that many small businesses simply can’t afford. When it comes down to it, the best way to excel at SEO is to regularly consume current and up-to-date content regarding the latest changes and guidelines as established by Google. If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, the following article will help you understand which areas to focus on to gain the best results in 2020.
The Key Focus for SEO in 2020
If you’re like most businesses, then you’ve probably gone through a period of time where you found yourself borderline obsessive about keyword strategies and optimization. Heck — you might even still be trying to reel yourself away from this mindset as we speak. If this is the case, just know you’re not alone.
For years on end we’ve been indoctrinated and trained to focus on keyword strategies in order for our content to be properly indexed and optimized for Google’s algorithms. However, this is no longer the only component to search engine optimization — especially in 2020 now that the new BERT algorithm has gone into effect.
The key to implementing effective SEO in today’s climate means shifting your mind towards user-focused optimization. As Kelly Stanze, Search Strategist at Hallmark says, this means looking “at the mechanics of how something is crawled, indexed, and served in a variety of different search settings.”
The truth of the matter is that keyword research tools are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Don’t just take our word for it. In an interview with Search Engine Journal, Frédéric Dubut, Senior Program Manager at Bing actually referred to keyword research as “obsolete”. Yikees. This is because the new algorithms are focusing less on “content/page to keyword matching” and more on natural language processing (NLP) and user intent.
But before you rip up your keyword strategies and re-design all of your websites — wait just one minute. We’re not saying to completely nix it — just to focus more heavily on user-intent and NLP. Instead of trying to throw in as many keywords as you can into your content, focus on creating pillar content, content clusters and optimizing for long-tail keywords which can often be found in common phrases and questions now that we’re in the era of voice search. Now, when it comes to tactics — here are five you should focus on in 2020.
The Five Basic Techniques of SEO
1. On-Page optimization
When it comes to on-page optimization, you want to focus on creating a solid user-experience (UX). This means making sure your site is easily navigable. Is your content categorized properly? Can users easily search for topics with a search menu? What about the design and layout? Are your graphics high quality? Is your page aesthetically pleasing? The last thing you want is to confuse the reader, make it difficult for them to find things or overwhelm them with bold fonts and bright colors.
When it comes to design — less is often more. Also, start taking a holistic approach to content. Are you creating pillar content and following the recommended cluster content model? The quality of your content is also still extremely important. You should be focusing on ensuring you have a quality internal linking strategy and that you’re providing true value to your readers. Your goal should be to literally create the best content on the web for any given topic. You absolutely can’t go wrong with that approach.
2. Link Building
Link building is an essential component to SEO because this helps establish trustworthiness in the eyes of Google’s algorithm. Your trustworthiness on one end is in part determined by the quality of and reliability of the sources which cite. On the other end, it’s also based on which sites and brands link back to your website. Are you getting plugged by sites with high domain authorities? Popular brands, media companies and blogs with a high degree of trust and social clout make all of the difference. You should constantly be conducting outreach and trying to get your brand in front of as many authority sites as possible.
One tool in particular that is great with this is Help A Reporter Out (HARO). Haro is a free service which provides you with daily emails chock full of requests from legitimate reporters looking for feedback and quotes from businesses for their articles. Another way to help get links back to your site is to focus on guest posting. Look up various blogs and media outlets and see what their policies are with regards to writing submissions/op-eds. Follow their guidelines and submit content on a regular basis to help spread awareness about your brand and establish authority in the digital space.
Technical SEO is one of those tactics that often falls to the wayside for many businesses. That’s because the vast majority of individuals aren’t exactly well-versed in the technical aspects of SEO and many times, the budget to outsource simply just isn’t there. However, there are simple things which you can do to help optimize your website so that it’s easier for the search engines to crawl.
For starters, focusing on the overall user-experience from initial interaction within the search engines to your landing page experience, as well as the experience once the user leaves your site or converts is key. You also want to focus on optimizing your website speed, page load speed and making sure all of your links are updated and working properly. High quality images are also essential but so are their alt tag descriptions. You’ll also want to focus on optimizing your meta tags and URLs with important keywords and making easily readable.
Furthermore, having a secure website is extremely important, so work on getting that SSL certification. Finally, don’t forget about schema markup. Schema is a “semantic vocabulary of tags” which you can inject into your HTML to improve the way search engines read your website. It may sound a bit scary at first, but lucky for you Google has a tool which helps simplify the process and make it more user-friendly.
4. Mobile SEO
At this point in time you’d think we wouldn’t really need to beat it into anyone that focusing on mobile SEO is so important. To be honest, you’ve probably heard it a million times already. But have you actually implemented a mobile-friendly website? That’s the real question. Believe it or not, 51% of customers use their mobile devices to discover brands and products. Furthermore, the same research found that a whopping 69% of mobile users said they were more inclined to purchase from companies who had mobile sites which “easily address their questions or concerns”. Building a mobile-first site is no longer an option — it’s a necessity.
5. Off-Page SEO
When it comes to focusing on off-page SEO, the acronym E-A-T quickly comes to mind. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness — also known as the triad of qualifications Google’s algorithm uses in order to categorize and rank brands and websites. E-A-T is largely based on links and mentions. This means that in order to increase your SEO score, you’re going to need to start thinking about marketing tactics which can help achieve these end goals. Focus on your social media presence and improving your reputation online. Craft effective and unique marketing campaigns which truly resonate with your target demographic.
Furthermore, you’ll want to focus on getting high quality link backs to your website. This can be done by acquiring additional article mentions from authority sites and brands through marketing, guest posting, or simply via paid advertising methods. But don’t just stop here. This also includes your supply chain, customer service, your products, pricing and user experience. Expand your focus and work on achieving excellence at every single level both online and off.
There’s no denying the fact that the SEO landscape is constantly shifting and evolving. Staying on top of the latest trends, tactics and guidelines can often feel like an impossible feat. For those who are less technically minded, hiring an SEO expert often times feels like the only option.
However, the truth of the matter is that SEO expertise comes with a hefty price tag — one that unfortunately, not many small businesses can afford. If you just so happen to be an SMB looking to implement an effective strategy, use this article as a guideline to keep you focused on the right steps. This can help you craft the perfect foundation to your SEO strategy for 2020.
Interested in learning how you can get help when it comes to crafting and implementing the perfect SEO strategy? VisioneerIT can help you get started off on the right foot in a cost-effective and manageable manner. To learn more, visit www.visioneerit.com for further details!