Here is the harsh truth, if you are not ranking in Google’s top 10 results for your target keywords, your website might as well be invisible on Google.
According to HubSpot, 75% of searchers never go past the first page of search results — this is why it is so essential to rank on the first page of Google.
There are several strategies and techniques you can follow to rank higher on Google, but if you don’t get the basics right, your chances of ranking on page 1 of Google are minimal.
By following SEO best practices, you will be laying the groundwork for your site to increase its visibility in search. Once you have laid the groundwork, you can move on to more advanced keyword research and link building strategies.
In this article, I will be sharing the 9 SEO best practices that you should follow to achieve higher search rankings in 2020.
- 1. Align Your Content with Search Intent
- 2. Write a Compelling Title Tag and Meta Description
- 3. Optimize Your Images
- 4. Optimize Your Page Speed
- 5. Use Internal Linking
- 6. Improve the User Experience on Your Website
- 7. Include Keywords in Your URL
- 8. Focus on Getting More Authoritative Backlinks
- 9. Publish Long-form Content
Let’s get started.
1. Align Your Content with Search Intent
Search intent (also called “user intent”) is the purpose behind every search query. Understanding and satisfying search intent is Google’s ultimate priority. Pages that rank on the first page of Google have all passed Google’s litmus test on search intent.
For instance, take a look at the search results for “how to make oatmeal cookies.”
The top search results are blog posts or videos, not eCommerce pages selling oatmeal cookies. Google understands that people who are giving this specific search are looking to learn, not to buy.
On the other hand, top search results for a query like “buy oatmeal cookies” are eCommerce pages. Because in this case, Google understands that people are in buy mode. Therefore, the top results don’t include links to oatmeal cookie recipes.
For that reason, if you would like to rank your pages on page 1 of Google in 2020, you need to understand the concept of search intent and create content that aligns with user intent.
There are four common types of search intent:
- Informational: A search falls under informational intent when the user is looking for specific information. It can be a simple search like “what’s the weather today?” that provides instant results or something complex like “best SEO strategies” that requires a more in-depth explanation.
- Navigational: In this case, the searcher is looking for a specific website or app. Common examples of navigational searches include “Facebook login,” “SEMrush,” and “Amazon.”
- Commercial: The intent behind a search is commercial when the user is looking for a specific product but hasn’t made the final decision yet. For example, searches such as “best SEO tools” and “best DSLR cameras” are all commercial searches.
- Transactional: Here, the intent is to buy. The searcher has already made a decision to buy a specific product or tool. Examples include searches such as “buy Nikon d500,” “buy Macbook Air,” and “buy groceries online.”
An SEO best practice is to always keep the search intent in mind while creating content for your website.
For instance, if you would like to rank for the keywords “best DSLR cameras,” you need to realize that the search intent here is commercial, not transactional. The user is still undecided on which DSLR brand to choose.
There is no point in optimizing your DSLR landing page with those specific keywords. Google understands what users want when the search query is “best DSLR cameras.” They are looking for options. They are looking for a blog post or video which lists down the best DSLR cameras, not product pages or eCommerce pages.
Bottom line: Create content that aligns with the search intent of your target audience.
2. Write a Compelling Title Tag and Meta Description
Your page title and meta description are two of the most important meta tags on your page. Let’s cover title tags first.
Title tags are clickable headlines that appear in search results and are extremely critical from an SEO perspective.
According to Google:
“Titles are critical to giving users a quick insight into the content of a result and why it’s relevant to their query. It’s often the primary piece of information used to decide which result to click on, so it’s important to use high-quality titles on your web pages.”
Search engines like Google typically display the first 50-60 characters of a title. Google will display the full title to your page as long as you keep your title tag under 60 characters.
Here are some other best practices to keep in mind while creating title tags:
- Include your target keywords.
- Write a title that matches search intent.
- Avoid creating duplicate title tags.
- Avoid keyword stuffing.
- Keep it descriptive but concise.
The second most important meta tag on a page is the meta description. A meta description is a brief summary of a page in SERPs it displayed below the title tag.
Meta descriptions do not directly impact search rankings, but they can influence click-through rates.
Google explains it best:
“A meta description tag should generally inform and interest users with a short, relevant summary of what a particular page is about. They are like a pitch that convince the user that the page is exactly what they’re looking for.”
Google typically truncates meta descriptions to 155–160 characters, so make sure you provide an accurate summary of your content while keeping it under 160 characters. – Read more