12 Must-follow SEO Tips and Tricks in 2020
12 SEO Tips & Tricks
1. Make sure to check your website for broken links and fix them
Broken links are a no-no when it comes to SEO. It leaves a negative impression on your visitors as well as on Google. When gone unnoticed, they build up and lead to link rot, the term used for broken hyperlinks which results in a 404 error, including a message that says the page cannot be found. This can damage your website’s organic ranking and traffic, and put off the people you are trying to reach. You have to know that if one broken link exists, more will follow.
To look for broken links, you can use online tools such as SEMrush or the brokenlinkchecker to gather and fix or remove them. Why do broken links occur? Not everything is your fault. Yes, you may have entered an incorrect URL when linking to the destination page but there’s more to it. Here’s why.
- The linked destination, which could be one of your pages or a page on an external site, no longer exists. This causes a 404 error.
- The destination website itself has permanently moved or no longer exists.
- The page or site that you’ve linked to is behind a firewall that prohibits outside access. This could be an Intranet site or a restricted access area on a website.
If you find an outbound broken link, replace it with a healthy, functioning one, leading to respectable websites with solid domain authority and content that your readers will find helpful.
What if it’s an internal broken link, one that leads to another of your pages? If it’s not because of a typo in the URL, simply set a redirect in place. This way, when visitors next visit that URL, they will automatically be sent to a different URL.
2. Create unique title tags
What is a title tag? A title tag is an HTML element that specifies the title of a web page and is meant to be an accurate and concise description of a web page’s content. They are the clickable headline for a given result displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs) and are important for usability, SEO, and social sharing.
A title tag, along with your meta description, lets you convince your next customer to click through to your website from the search results. If Google sees that a lot of searchers are clicking on your entries, they will be favoured when someone next searches for that term.
How do you create an eye-catching title tag?
- Make it accurate and concise – Your title must accurately tell the reader what the page behind the search result talks about, explains, or offers. It tells the reader that if they click on that result, they will find what they are looking for. A title tag is restricted to 50–60 characters so make sure the important elements are within this limit or can be found at the start so readers can see them.
- Include your primary keyword – This helps people find the exact term they are looking for in your title tag.
- Review the competition – Go through your competitors in the SERPs and see if your title stands out from them. Make yours awesome and tempting to encourage a click-through.
- Add your location – Include your location in the title tag to catch the attention of people targeting your area.
- Do your research – Check for phrases or wordings that are making improvements on click-throughs and try them on other pages, experiment, and see what works best.
3. Create unique meta descriptions
A strong meta description is a simple but effective SEO tip for any business who wants to improve its organic performance and attract more visitors to its site. What is a meta description?
It is a snippet containing 150-160 characters that summarise a page’s content. It is the first thing the searcher sees when Google displays your page in the search results.
The main purpose of a meta description is to encourage the searcher to click on your result. This is why you have to treat your snippet as free advertising copy that aims to get the searcher to choose your entry among the rest.
Tools such as SEMrush or Screaming Frog are useful in determining whether all of your pages have meta descriptions. Make sure to fill in the pages that don’t have any, check for duplicates, and edit those that are similar. Make them unique, not generic. You should also add meta descriptions to your blog category and tag pages. This gives the search engines more clues to what your content is about. So, how do you create an effective meta description?
- Include a focus keyword to make your meta description more engaging to people searching for that term.
- Add a call-to-action in your meta description by adding a phrase like “click here to find out more” or “take a look here.”
4. Use alt text to search optimise your images
Google and other search engines depend on alt text to understand what an image is showing. This is why you have to add a short description to each and every image so that they’ll know when to return it in a search result. This is a sure win when it comes to SEO so use it! Now, how do you help Google show your images with a winning alt text?
- Check if all your images have alt text using SEMrush or ScreamingFrog or other SEO tools you are comfortable with.
- Make sure your alt text describes your images accurately and get straight to the point. It is important to consider what the image is and what context you’re using it in.
- Incorporate a page’s primary keyword into one of the images on that page. You can use keyword variations so as not to spam your target keyword into every image’s alt text. To find alternative keywords, you can use tools such as LSI Graph.
- Make sure the alt text description is fewer than 125 characters.
5. Go over the indexing status of your site
Indexing is the process of adding data from web pages into search engine databases. This helps process data and display the most relevant results to the users. Having a no-indexed page makes it impossible to drive any organic traffic to it since it won’t show up in Google’s SERPs.
A lot of factors can contribute to a no-indexing issue, one of which is human error. To avoid this, check the indexing status of your site. Simply go to Google, type in ‘site:yourdomain.com’, and the result will show how many of your pages are indexed by Google. If the result is lower than what you expected, it means that Google is having a hard time indexing all your pages. If it’s higher than anticipated, it could mean that there is duplicate content.
To fix any discrepancy, go into — or set up — your Google Search Console account — formerly webmaster tools — and test and submit sitemaps.
6. Boost pages that are close to ranking on page one
According to numbers, a minimum of 75% of clicks happens on the first page of search results. This is why if you’re ranking at the top of page two and you’re able to level up to page one, there’s a big chance that a user will select your result. If you can get more of your entries on Google’s first page other than focusing on ranking first, there’s no doubt you’ll see more traffic and visitors on your website. This can be easily done if you correctly optimise your pages. How? Read on.
- Track your pages in SEMrush — use its Position Tracking feature which can reveal other useful metrics — to know where your pages are currently ranking for their target keywords.
- Pages that are ranking low need to be optimised as discussed above.
- Create new content to show your authority on the topic. You can build pillar pages that cover all aspects of the topic on a single page while giving room for more in-depth and detailed cluster blog posts that you can hyperlink back to. You can also add sections to the pages you want to boost to give them more value.
7. Build skyscraper content
SEO is unpredictable and can slide up and down on a daily basis. To make sure you’ve got yours planted firmly on the ground, you can use the skyscraper technique. Aside from telling Google that you deserve a top spot, this technique can also impress your visitors. The trick here is to build a page of value that looms over other results for the term in SERPs, answering questions and thus helping searchers out. It is also an excellent way to build backlinks to your site. How do you build a skyscraper technique?
- Search for popular trends, topics, and well-received content that cover your business then think of a way to make them uniquely yours. It can be in the form of using an engaging medium, updating stats, or creating a new and better design.
- According to reports from Search Engine People, posts that contain a video gets more organic traffic by 157%. Include one in yours!
- Ask folks who have linked out to similar content to consider linking out yours.
An experienced content writer should be able to do this fairly easily so if you’ve got one on your marketing team, make this a standard practice and done on a regular basis.
8. Make sure your pages are properly formatted
Properly formatted content and web pages can boost your SEO. Google and readers give preference to them too. To format your content, do the following using SEO tools such as SEMrush and ScreamingFrog:
- Use an H1 tag for your main heading, H2 tags for subheadings, and then H3 tags for any smaller headings.
- Make sure your H1 tag contains a unique keyword.
Include your keyword or a related keyword in the H2 or other subheadings as well as in the body.
- Make sure you do not spam your content with keywords by using a variety of related terms.
9. Review your keywords
First, ask yourself if the keywords you’re planning to use will be valuable to your visitors. They need to be relevant to your content to keep visitors engaged on your website while providing the value they are looking for.
Like everything else, Google has the answer when it comes to what’s the best and most relevant keyword to use. The goal is to match the keyword to your intent. You can use these free tools to help you do so.
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool – Google Keyword Planner is designed for advertising but it’s the best place to begin your organic keyword research. You can base your search on your product or service, your competitor’s landing page, or a specific product category. What does the Keyword Planner do?
- Gives you ideas for new keywords and ad groups.
- Show search volume and other useful metrics for a list of keywords, or group them into ad groups.
- Give you traffic forecasts for a list of keywords.
- Use an existing keyword list to get new ideas.
Keyword Planner also helps in determining which keywords are better to target organically or use with advertising if you plan on doing SEO and paid-advertising together.
- Moz Keyword Explorer – Like other keyword research tools, Moz’s Keyword Explorer can help you figure out the keywords people are searching and ranking for, the demand for certain keyword searches, and the strength of competitors against your target keywords. When you use Moz’s Keyword Explorer, you can see:
- Standard volume and keyword difficulty metrics
- Relative click-through rate (CTR) of the organic results on a SERP
- Importance of the keyword to your campaign
- A combination of all keyword metrics
Moz’s Keyword Explorer generates its data based on Keyword Planner, Google Suggest, and Related Searches. It is perfect if you already know the keywords you’re targeting but are just looking into more insight.
- LSI Graph – If you already know the main target keyword for your content but need alternatives to avoid keyword stuffing, LSI Graph is the best place to go to.
One of the good things about LSI Graph is that it has an easy to use interface. You just have to enter your keyword into the search bar and it’ll present you with a list of related keywords that have been previously searched for.
To help you evaluate keyword statistics which will get you ahead of the competition, you have to learn these things:
- Volume – This is the number of times a given keyword is searched for. The stats can be based on monthly data but may also vary depending on the tool you’re using.
- Keyword difficulty (KD) – This gives you an estimate of how difficult it would be to rank organically for a specific keyword.
- Cost per click (CPC) – This is the average price that users pay for an ad that’s triggered by a keyword search.
- Competition – This tells you how many advertisers are using a given keyword to display their ads.
Analyze the stats to determine your keyword selection. Volume isn’t always the answer. A mid-length or longer-tail keyword will be easier to rank for and provide more context since 50% of the search queries are four words or longer. This makes it simpler to target with page content.
A good idea would be to target a keyword that has a good amount of volume with an easy to medium level of difficulty. This will allow you to rank as highly as possible without having to compete against other websites.
10. Optimise your pages for featured snippets
Featured snippets are selected search results that are shown between paid-for and organic results. They can take the form of a short paragraph, a list, or a table and aim to immediately answer the user’s questions without requiring them to click through to a webpage. Though most people don’t click through them, being featured in the answer boxes can get you additional brand exposure in search results since reports have shown that content with a featured snippet gets twice the chance of getting a click-through.
A study of 6.9 million snippets run by SEMrush and Ghergich & Co. showed that 42% of searches that included questions generated snippets. On the other hand, 18% of searches included prepositions such as ‘for’ or ‘with’, 23% of searches included comparisons such as ‘vs’ or ‘compare’, and 7% of searches without questions, prepositions, or comparisons showed a featured snippet.
Featured snippets also take up a lot of screen space, up to the point of obstructing top ranking search result. To get your page in featured in a snippet and send free traffic to your website, do these:
- Decide which pages to prioritise – Focus on the ones that can answer questions and provide information, rather than those aimed to sell or entertain.
- Tell Google which question you’re answering – Create an area on the page where the search query appears in a header such as H2, H3, or H4. The content you want to appear in the featured snippet — the answer to the query — should be between 54–58 words long and placed in a tag directly below the header mentioned above.
- Optimise – Apply everything that you have learned in this article and focus on long-tail keywords. Think of it like your website talking to search engines using clean and structured data. The more words typed into a search box will bring you greater chances of bagging a featured snippet.
11. Review your page’s content
Produce content that your prospects would actually want to read and find useful since it is the driving force behind a page’s ability to rank. Make sure it is at least as good if not better than your nearest competitors. Create a strategy from these tips:
- Determine the type of content you want- Content such as articles, white papers, case studies, and guides attract people. You can look on the first page of Google for a pattern. If you see that the majority of the results are in the form of guides, then you should be doing the same thing since this is what the readers want!
- Determine the age of your content – If you see an old content ranking, this could only mean two things. One, the content is evergreen or stays valuable no matter how old it is and two, there is no new content being produced. Now, if you see the latter, act on it! Rewrite and get ranking!
- Check for duplicate content – Every page on your website have a specific purpose and if more than one page features the same content, it sends Google a confusing signal. Rewrite your content to reflect its specific and unique purpose.
- Check the length of your page content – Articles on Google’s first page average 1,890 words and the ideal length of a blog post is 1,600 words which is equivalent to a seven-minute read. Writing longer-form pages has its advantages. It gives you room to explore your subject at greater depth and hit more related keywords. Make sure to format it properly and link out to your other related posts.
- Attribute the author of your content to a person of relevance – Improve the credibility of your content in the eyes of both your site visitors and Google’s bots by attributing the author of your content to a relevant expert, specialist, or authority within your company.
- Include video content – According to HubSpot, video content has 50 times more chances of driving organic search results than plain text. Use it alongside plain-text content to create more effective content with significant organic presence.