Let’s face it, most businesses are looking to get their websites ranked higher on search engines. In fact, many companies spend small fortunes doing exactly that. But what if you don’t have a budget that could rival the GDP of a small country? There are tonnes of articles on the web that are geared toward telling people what the best SEO practices for 2020 are, just as there were last year and just as there will be next year. The truth is best practices are not year dependant – search engine algorithms don’t really care what the date is.
Why did we choose this title for the piece, then? Well, because it does happen to be 2020 and the best practices we will outline here are going to be just as valid next year too… and the year after, and… you get the idea.
The SEO best practices that we will be detailing here are proven to work and are used by the majority of successful businesses. With the shuttering of Google Plus by Google (who else?), one of these practices has suffered something of a body blow (more on that a little further down) but is still extremely useful.
Let’s get to it then with our, tested and proven, 4 best SEO practices for 2020 and beyond!
Be sure to create and publish epic content
At the core of all successful SEO campaigns is, of course, content. Even in the early days, when sites were garish and content filled with poorly crafted spam, content has always been the cornerstone of every campaign. These days internet searchers and indeed search engines are much more finely attuned to what makes great content, and nothing but engaging and well-created content is going to cut the mustard.
For that reason, as far as SEO best practices go, well-written content that engages users and encourages them to take action, without screaming it at them, is one of the best things that a business of any size could start with.
The skyscraper content methodology is one way for businesses to rank better in search, and to do it legitimately. What this involves is finding the best piece of content on a particular subject, then substantially improving it. For instance, if a really high ranked piece had ten ideas or points for/on a subject, double it. Add infographics, video, research and cite sources, use relevant quotes on the subject from recognised experts in the field.
As mentioned, this is a perfectly legitimate method of improving site authority and rankings. When you become proficient in creating powerful, leading content, you will find that you yourself will begin to be cited and quoted as an industry expert.
Get used to keyword research
While this one does seem rather obvious, keyword research has been the backbone of SEO practices ever since content creators became aware that search engines were starting to ‘evolve’ to look for and rank them in terms of importance, or strength.
Which keywords or phrases are you going after, and are the keywords even relevant? Great keywords and phrases are the very foundations upon which successful campaigns using SEO best practices lean on. If you are not taking aim at the right keywords then more likely than not, your SEO campaign is going to fall flat on its face. What you need to do is assessing competing businesses for the correct keywords and phrases.
If your niche is particularly tough to get ranked in, marketing companies, for example, are everywhere and it is notoriously difficult to rank without spending an exorbitant amount on paid ads, then you should be focused on key phrases. Many call those long-tail keywords, but whichever terminology you use, the result is the same.
Searchers generally use whole phrases when they are further along in the purchasing decision and know exactly what they want: “medium sized dog collar for sale near me” types of search, as opposed to “dog collars”. The first is the kind of specificity that you should be gearing your key phrases toward, keeping in mind that search engines are smart enough to interpret intent. If you happen to sell dog collars there is no need to aim for exactly that kind of search, so be creative.
There are lots of keyword and key phrases research tools available on the web, including the one provided by Google (Google Keyword Planner).
Make use of on-page optimisation techniques
What should be next on your to-do-list is making sure that your website itself is optimised for your targeted keywords and or key phrases. SEO experts and others ‘in the know’ all agree that on-page SEO best practices, properly executed, influence website rankings by 40%. This means paid ads aside, all you need to do in order to find your website on the first two pages of search results is to get your on-page optimisation done correctly.
“that’s great, but how do I do that?”. Good question. The first element that you should begin with is title tags. Only shoot for one keyword or key phrase per page and insert that right into the title tag and in the first 30 words of the page content.
Use it again somewhere near the centre and in the final paragraph. Depending on the length of the page, you should also sprinkle it elsewhere on the page to really hit the SEO best practices sweet spot. How many? It’s generally accepted that between 3 and five occurrences per 500 words is enough, just be wary of using it too much. If it doesn’t read naturally, you have probably overdone it.
Just writing awesome content is not enough, search engines have to collate it first. Known as indexing, the process can take much longer than it used to (there’s a lot of pages on the web these days, far more than even just a few short years ago).
Content syndication is one of those SEO best practices techniques that make some people think “huh, why didn’t I think of that?”. It not only helps get your content indexed faster, but it also helps it rank higher by having it appear in multiple places with much more traffic generation. Facebook and LinkedIn are great for content syndication as they are crawled by search engine ‘spiders’ on a regular basis.
Simply put, you copy your content in its entirety to these sites, and if you add a link at the bottom like “originally published at yoursite.com”, then there’s a handy backlink for you too. Now, this DOES NOT mean that it is ‘duplicate content’. It’s not the same thing, at all. Duplicate content is where the same content appears more than once on the same website.
Following SEO best practices for 2020, or any other year, does not have to mean hiring an SEO specialist, especially if your budget does not allow for it. It is relatively straightforward and can be done by anybody that is responsible for creating your content. Help move your business forward by taking care of these details.