SEO best practices are tasks you need to improve your website’s search engine rankings and increase natural traffic. With changes in the SEO industry, these tasks have undergone considerable readjustments. If you still stick to old school SEO assignments, you may be severely disappointed.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is broadly broken into two main sections:
- Technical SEO
- Content SEO
Technical SEO is all about the technical aspects of your website that affect its ranking in Google. There is absolutely no way you can grow your Google Traffic without proper technical SEO.
We are not dwelling on this flap of Search Engine Optimization in this post. However, you won’t have a successful SEO campaign without considerable attention paid to optimizing your website for the crawling and indexing.
- Make sure your website is mobile-responsive (this is more about your theme’s responsiveness)
- Setting up an XML sitemap properly
- Regularly conducting site auditing, dealing with broken and toxic links.
Now you notice this has to call for the active brains of your tech team to handle. For the most part, you may have different talents to handle specific areas of your technical SEO.
Content SEO is about creating and publishing content that affects how Google and other search engines index and rank your pages.
Content SEO is further broken into two main phases:
- On-page Content SEO
- Off-Page Content SEO
We will not treat these areas separately. Let’s look at the 4 best practices of this phase of SEO and how it affects your search visibility in 2020 and beyond.
Before we dive into the technicalities, I want to underline the fact that SEO is a broad topic, involving many parts that must be assembled. Leaving out any of these may have serious impacts on your overall ranking and exposure. Let’s begin with the most obvious best practice.
- Keyword research
Keyword research is the lifeline of any successful SEO campaign. The reason is basically that there is no search action on any search engine without the use of a keyword.
Without keywords (Text or voice), search engines are entirely useless. Creating content and leaving out keyword research is not giving your content a possibility to be found by searchers.
But here is something I must tell you about my personal experience:
While keyword research is a top recommendation up front, sometimes you may have to publish an article before doing its keyword research weeks later.
Sounds odd right? Ok, let me explain.
I have had to massively boost my search ranking by merely looking back into some of my already published articles for what’s working. This is with the help of a free SEO tool called Google Search Console (Formally Google Webmaster Tools)
Here is the thing:
- Log in to your GSC account
- Check the list of queries (Keywords) and the pages that get traffic and impressions from those queries.
Check this post for some exciting details
- Pick those keywords and do some more research to understand their alternatives and LSI versions.
- Update the pages with those alternatives
This will always lead to an improved position on Search Engine Results Pages (SERP)
This approach may not always work. So I recommend you do your keyword research before creating your next content.
Which tools do I recommend?
The SEO landscape is almost inundated with tools. However, if you want something free that produces desired results, you may want to check out Neil’s Ubersuggest. Alternatively, my pick on paid SEO tools is SEMrush. You may want to checkout Naman’s post on best keyword research tools here
- Optimize for topical relevance
Google and other search engines have moved on from their early days of infancy. Keyword optimization in SEO has faded away. It’s still crucial to do your keyword research and make sure it features on your articles. But what’s more important is the topic treated. The seed keywords only help Google with an idea of what your article is all about. But you need to demonstrate expertise by focusing on Semantic SEO, which is focusing on grabbing the intent of the searcher. Whether your keyword appears ten times or not (Keyword density) in your article is not relevant (except the topic is no competition). Once the search giant figures out what your article is all about, it will then trigger its intelligence to find out if you really are talking to the search visitor or you just spread the keywords around. You need to understand why the searcher is keying in a particular search term, and then write your article in a way to provide complete answers to the visitor.
Given that it’s generally difficult to read the mind of the searcher, the best approach is to be as detailed as possible. By going in-depth, showing Google you have mastery of the subject, you are certainly going to come up with content that will provide accurate answers to the searcher.
What this means is that carefully placing your keywords on specific areas of your article, counting their occurrences to get a good rating won’t land you on top of SERP. Write on different areas of the top, seeking to answer any hidden questions in the mind of the search reader.
3 – Mind your CTR (Titles and Description)
Search Click through Rate (CTT) is an important SEO ranking factor that is hugely under looked by many content marketers. This is simply a click percentage of how many times your entries appear on SERP after a search action – Impressions.
Here is the point:
If your entry appears on Google page one 30,000 times (meaning 30,000 impressions) but only gets 20 clicks, your CTR is (20/30000) X100 = 0.07%. This is bad enough for Google to think it’s a mistake to rank you that high. The question is: Why are searchers not clicking your entry? Something is wrong with your Page Title and/or Meta Description.
Note that while your Page Title directly affects your ranking, your Meta Description only affects your CTR, which then affects your ranking. This means a well-optimized Meta Description may not change your position on SERP. It only helps searchers with a clearer understanding of what your content is all about. On the other hand, optimizing your Page Titles may have significant consequences on your ranking position. However, both factors combined have a huge impact on your search traffic. That’s why not minding these SEO elements may lead to a considerable loss in traffic and negative change in ranking.
4 – Building Backlinks
Backlinks are still one of the priority ranking factors. That’s why you shouldn’t neglect them in your SEO strategies in 2020. But I know it’s tough to build quality backlinks.
When it comes to backlinks for SEO, two things come to my mind:
- Step out and build them yourself or hire an SEO agent
- Create link-worthy content and wait to be linked to (Earning clinks)
The first approach is what you can do to grow your links more quickly. This may be considered gray-hat backlinking but it’s still the most widely practiced today.
It’s based on your action (directly or indirectly) to have links pointing to your pages. It’s not someone’s action based on the approval of your content.
Some quick, productive things to do to build those links include:
- Guest posting on relevant blogs. According to my friend Andrew Dominik Quality Guest Post, it’s the quickest way to develop and control the quality of backlinks you get.
- Hire SEO agency to build your links
- Take part in interviews and roundup post
- Buy links on relevant websites (Do this at you own risk. Check my article on whether or not to buy backlinks for your SEO)
If you want to sit and wait for readers to willingly link out to you, be sure to produce the kind of content that will attract those links. Detailed and well-illustrated articles with statistics will always attract backlinks from other webmasters. Additionally, if you are a generous blogger who connects and gives out backlinks to others in your community, you will always get them back. If you want to see the backlinks then Linkody is the best free backlink Checker Tool.
Before you hire an SEO backlink agency
These are some quick tips I’m going to share with you after I had a chat with Dominik who has some good experience in the industry. Link building agencies can help ruin your SEO services. Before you approve their offers, make sure you get the following points are checked:
- Approve the domains they want to get your links from.
- Approve any content they have written for you
- Control the number of links created a month
Don’t just allow everything in their hands. Some of them may go out of their way to do a bad job that will leave a negative impact on your SEO profile with time.
Here are a few more topics that you shouldn’t miss :
Essentials Google Search Operators Every SEO Ought to Know
What are backlinks and why are they beneficial to SEO?
Yoast SEO: Best WordPress SEO Plugin
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