10 of the best SEO tips for better keyword rankings in 2020
As we approach the end of the first month of the new decade, we wanted to take a look forward at some of the tactics we will be including in our SEO strategies for this coming year and give you some tips on the areas you should be focussing on if you want to maximise your returns from SEO in 2020.
Whether you’re a technical SEO specialist, a content marketing guru or an SEO all-rounder, there’s a bit of something for everyone in here and these tactics should help to ensure you keep on the right side of Google in 2020 and see some strong ranking improvements and increased traffic.
1. Links are still crucial
Yes, we know, it’s now 2020! Links must have been making it into these lists since the start of the last decade, but links are as important today as they always have been. There always seems to be a bit of a negative connotation around link outreach due to its shady past, however when done well, link outreach work can really move the needle when it comes to rankings.
Of course, links won’t just come. They rely on your creating and delivering a content strategy that means you are publishing high quality, linkable content on your website. Links continue to form the lifeblood of domain and page authority and the best way to shift the needle on both of these is to get more high-quality links.
2. Constantly refresh your keyword research
With the number of Google algorithm changes increasing every year, simply carrying out keyword research once and then publishing your content is not going to deliver you results in the long term. This is especially true for your top performing pages. Whilst you might rank well for your original target keywords, without a refresh of your keyword research, how would you know if that content is still optimised for the most valuable terms?
It has happened to us before. We identify a keyword or set of keywords with high search volume and create a quality piece of content to target those keywords. When we come back to review the keyword research six months later, we find that people are in fact now searching for a slightly different keyword which is driving more traffic. It’s often a related keyword so tweaking our own content to optimise for this term tends to be fairly straightforward and can help to drive even more traffic to our site.
3. Showcase Expertise, Authority and Trust (E-A-T)
This is a big one for us and something we worked hard on last year and will be pushing even more in our 2020 SEO strategies.
A big ranking factor for Google is the amount of trust and authority a website has, especially in specific niches where expertise and authority are crucial. In the Google Search Quality Guidelines, E-A-T features prominently and we know that they take their measurement of E-A-T from the signals you provide in your copy.
Use industry experts to contribute to your content or if you have experts in-house, be sure to create effective profiles that allows you to showcase their expertise so that when they author a post, Google understand enough about them to understand that they are an expert in their field.
4. Use schema markup
Not a particularly new strategy for 2020 but an important one none the less. Schema markup helps you to tell Google more about your content and is a great way of enhancing the way your site displays in the search results pages (SERPs).
Schema markup can be used for a wide variety of content types from products to reviews to recipes and everything in between. Using organisation and breadcrumb schema should be a given for any site but investigate which markups can be added to your site and watch your CTR improve.
5. Keep on top of technical issues
Technical issues can cause you more problems than you can imagine. With so many tools at hand for checking your site for technical issues, there is really no excuse for having a site littered with technical problems. Google Search Console is a free tool offered by Google for checking your site for such issues but there are lots of other solutions like Screaming Frog which will help you deeper dive.
One of the biggest issues to watch out for is crawl issues. Ensuring Google can crawl all of the pages you want them to and not crawl any you don’t want indexing is crucial in managing your crawl budget and ensuring your content ranks. Take the time to review the pages you think should be indexed and use GSC to push any pages that are not currently in the index.
6. Create quality and relevant content
We already touched on the need for a content strategy that delivers high quality content on your site and one of the things you need to ensure when creating your content strategy is that the content you are publishing is highly relevant to your audience.
Creating content needs to be done in a way that supports your overall business objectives, not just as a way to rank for keywords. Those keywords need to be part of your overall SEO strategy and the content you create should have an end goal. Once you have decided on these, set about creating high quality content that will enable you to meet those goals and service you audience.
7. Optimise for featured snippets and answer boxes
Featured snippets have exploded over the last 12 months and so have the number of websites trying to target these precious boxes found at the top of the SERPs, essentially in position zero. With the rise in featured snippets, it has become increasingly important to monitor the SERPs for the keywords you are targeting on a regular basis to establish where you actually rank on a page. Simply using a tool which identifies you as ranking in position one organically will no longer suffice. Ahead of you could be four ads, a features snippet, a video carousel and some ‘People Also Ask’ questions. This can push a number one ranking site waaaay down the SERP and mean that despite ranking number one, your actual traffic is decreasing.
A recent announcement from Google (January 2020) means that the way Featured Snippets are displayed moving forward will be slightly different. Instead of taking the featured snippet and your position organically, if you now rank for the featured snippet, you will no longer appear in the organic search results as well.
8. Optimise your images
Often overlooked, image optimisation brings a number of benefits. With Google’s focus on page speed, optimisation of file size and compression of images should be a given. Keeping files sizes as small as possible and using next-gen image formats is a pretty standard recommendation in Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.
Other optimisations that can help with visibility in image search include optimising the file name and ensure all of your images have an alt tag when they are added to your site. Alt tags are great for accessibility as well. If for some reason your image won’t display or someone is using a screen reader, a concise yet detailed description of what is contained in the image means that the user will still get an understanding of the purpose of that image.
9. Focus on UX
User engagement provides some really strong signals to Google about the quality of the content on your site and the relevance to the user based on the search query that drove them to your content. Low bounce rates, high time on page and strong dwell times can really help to signal to Google about the quality of you content.
There are many ways to improve user engagement – grab their attention in the first place but then create high engaging intro paragraphs to draw them into your post. Images, video content, lists and tables are all proven ways to drive engagement and don’t forget to include relevant internal links in your content to get people visiting other pages on your site.
10. Refresh your old posts
If you want your existing content to continue to rank well, make sure you refresh that content on a regular basis. We have found the easiest way to do this is to find pages that are ranking in positions 4-20 and target these posts for a refresh.
A refresh has got to add value to the piece – adding length, details, new information and imagery can all help to bring that content piece back to life and ensure that Google discovers it as fresh content. Make sure you update the publish date on this content and use Google Search Console to resubmit the URL for indexing.
Part of your refresh should involve reviewing the keyword research for that page and making sure it is still relevant (see #2).
Whilst there are hundreds of SEO tactics you can deploy for clients or on your own website, these are the 10 that we feel will have the biggest impact on your ability to rank better in 2020. Obviously it will depend on how much work has already been put into these areas, however, if you can get each of these ten areas as close to perfect as possible, you will not go far wrong.