We’re at the dawn of a new decade, which means that it’s time to take a fresh look at our digital marketing efforts.
In terms of SEO, the matter of figuring out how to get on top of Google search results should still be your main focus. At the same time, the algorithm is always changing, and 2020 is bringing some adjustments that you need to make note of.
We’re going to discuss ways in which you can stay on top of your SEO game this year, giving you the insight you need to stay ahead of the competition.
Let’s get started:
How to Get on Top of Google Search in 2020
If you’re brand new to SEO, don’t worry too much. Many of the fundamental pieces of a great optimization campaign are still as relevant today as they used to be. Understanding how to get on top of Google search requires knowing the basics.
We’ll go into some detail about the essential components of your optimization efforts before deep-diving into some of the more recent developments in the field. With that said, let’s get into some of the foundational pieces of your campaign.
Understanding the Basics
The first thing you need to know in order to put all of this information into context is how the algorithm works.
Optimization is the process of fitting your website to meet the preferences of any search engine algorithm, hopefully, leading you to see improved rankings in search results.
Search engines operate just like any other competitive entity. Their goal is to provide the best product or service to users so that they keep coming back. In this case, that means providing search results that are relevant to the keyword phrase that the user enters.
In order to do that, search engines tend to have sophisticated algorithms that identify quality content and weed out the sites that won’t be as useful. This means that, despite all of your best efforts, you won’t have lasting SEO results if your site isn’t useful.
In 2020, Google’s algorithm is honing in on this point, which we’ll get to in a moment. Before we get to the new updates and things to keep in mind, let’s breeze through the absolute fundamentals of SEO.
Keyword Research and Optimization
Optimization and search engine function are both based around the keyword. Users type a keyword phrase into the search bar and the results they receive are directly related to that search.
As the optimizer, your job is to identify which keywords your target demographic is searching for and create pages that align with those searches. Google Analytics provides an excellent resource for keyword research.
You can identify popular search terms and distinguish between a number of demographic factors to see the behavior of a very specific group of people. So, let’s say you want to find out what people of a certain age-range in your area are looking for online.
You can identify that group, look at their most common keywords, and create content accordingly. Ideally, you will look for search terms that are popular and don’t have a lot of competition.
That means that you shouldn’t optimize for terms that industry titans already have the top ranking for.
Creating Content Accordingly
When you’ve identified your term, the content you create should seek to address the user concern that prompted the search.
So, if “how to improve soil quality” is your keyword phrase, you can gather a few things from that. It’s likely that the soil quality in your area is poor and people are trying to amend the situation. You can also assume that your users aren’t experts at gardening or lawn maintenance.
Using that keyword phrase as your point of optimization, your content can provide useful information on how to improve soil quality, complete basic gardening tasks, and maintain the quality of soil for years to come.
In other words, we use the keyword phrase as a point of reference for user needs and create content that addresses those needs. Just because there is a specific phrase that we’re optimizing for doesn’t mean that the content is a slave to that term.
The important thing is that you’re using credible information, providing a useful resource, and inserting keywords in the appropriate amount.
Have Clear Site Organization
Site architecture is essentially the layout of your website. Does it make logical sense? Is it easy to navigate?
Search engines use artificially intelligent “bots” or “crawlers” to weave through the internet through links and pick up relevant information for ranking. The easier it is for human beings to understand your site, the easier it is for bots to categorize your information.
That ease is factored into your search rankings as well. Ensure that all of your links are working and that the content on your page is divided into logical segments.
For example, if your website addresses a number of ideas and concepts, make sure that all of those concepts aren’t lumped onto one part of your site.
Make discrete categories for different kinds of information. Additionally, organize that information in a logical way. Blog content is a great spot to start doing this.
Pillar and Tertiary Posts
Your blog posts should fall into one of two broad categories. Pillar posts are ones that serve as foundational pieces of your blog’s organization. These are posts that address the heart of what you do, and will likely be your most popular posts.
They’re also your product or service pages. Pillar posts warrant a lot of attention and should be optimized well. Tertiary posts, on the other hand, are more specific to keyword research.
So, to use our previous example, your site may be about gardening. Your pillar posts might be about your most important gardening products or tutorials. Tertiary pages will be relative to specific ideas or concerns that users are having.
Those concerns will change over time, and it’s important that you keep making content to meet those needs. As you make more and more content, you’ll have a solid range of optimized posts that users might find.
There should be links and calls to action within those posts that guide users to your pillar pages. This way, your network of posts will direct users to the areas that will benefit your business. That network bodes well for your site architecture, too.
Additionally, your tertiary posts will draw traffic to pillar posts and help them get higher search rankings.
Make Sure You’re Living Up to “E-A-T” Expectations
One of the latest updates to the Google algorithm, and this is a good thing for those of you that aren’t as technologically oriented, is an emphasis on “E-A-T.”
E-A-T stands for “expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.” This is nice for users because it is a simple expectation; don’t be dishonest, provide great content, network with other great sites, and give credit to the people who create your content.
We’ll break all of that down a little bit below.
Expertise refers to your level of skill in your field. The algorithm uses a number of factors to determine how qualified the creator of your content is. So, hiring experts in your field to create relevant content for users is a big plus.
If you’re a qualified expert, all the better. This emphasis comes in the wake of a whole lot of content that is written by people who don’t have a lot of value to give to readers. Over-optimized content floods the internet, but value is sometimes scarce.
Authoritativeness refers to the presence that your website has within your field. Simply put, the algorithm assesses whether or not you have any comparative authority in relation to the other sites that you’re competing with.
In large part, this factor is determined by the number and quality of links that are directed to your page. The thinking is that your site is probably an authority if other well-respected sites are sending their users to you.
Link-building is a process that requires you to reach out to other individuals who have sites and develop a network of links through relationships. There are a lot of ways to get started with links, but the best method is to provide content that others are actually able to use.
Trustworthiness, here, refers to whether or not the content you’re putting out into the world tells the truth. This might mean that you’re up-to-date with the latest research, you have honest business practices, or that your information is in line with other cutting edge business content.
You can also emphasize your trustworthiness by being very transparent with your users. This means having a detailed “about us” page, providing ample citations, using links to other sites that have value, and giving personal author details for articles that you post.
The point is for the algorithm to find out whether you’re a real business entity or just a hollow website that’s created to get SEO rankings.
Manage Your Reputation
In the past, you may have been able to rank highly by having a well-optimized page alone. Now, there are dozens of factors being used to rank you, not all of which happen to be on the page you’re trying to rank with.
For example, the reviews and comments surrounding your business pages are extremely important to the search algorithm.
If you’re regularly getting terrible reviews and you aren’t present on prominent business listing sites, you’re not going to have a lot of success. This one goes back to the heart of the search engine’s goals.
They want to provide the best, most reputable search results to their users. If users themselves are saying that your business doesn’t meet their standards, you will not see high search rankings.
The first line of defense here is living up to your word and providing a great product or service. Second, you can keep a close eye on all of your business reviews and comments.
Do your best to respond to negative and positive reviews and display a high level of customer service. If you work well enough, you can actually prompt customers to eliminate or change their negative reviews.
Promote Engagement and Reviews
On the other end of things, you should inspire your customers to leave reviews. Whether you incentivize reviews somehow (be careful using incentives) or you have another way to promote individuals to give a great review, know that business reviews are a huge SEO booster.
If you can get people to engage with your site, your pages, and give reviews on multiple platforms, you’ll start to see huge gains in your search rankings.
Again, this is pretty much the user saying, “Hey! Search engine– this site is worth ranking!”
Stand Your Ground
It’s important to understand Google’s value to any modern business.
Phonebooks and directories have been effectively replaced by the ability to search for anything through Google. That means that businesses need Google to serve its purpose to stay afloat in a lot of cases.
In your search for an online presence, you might find that you’re having trouble ranking above other sites that are in violation of Google’s guidelines.
You may also be attacked by other sites who are trying to compete with you. This would typically come in the form of a slough of negative business reviews or other attacks on your reputation.
You could also find that your local business information is being listed on a website that’s not yours, thereby redirecting your traffic to their site. Additionally, you could find that subtle shifts in Google’s algorithm have disproportionately negative effects on your rankings.
In these instances, don’t be afraid to reach out to Google and other sites in violation of guidelines. If things don’t change, you can report sites or take other action.
It’s important to know the guidelines that Google has for websites as well as the legal implications of slander or other forms of attack.
Want to Learn More?
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how to get on top of Google search in 2020. There’s a lot to it, though, so don’t be discouraged if you need a little help.
Explore our site for more information on how to move forward with your digital marketing efforts.