SEO in 2020: What Basics You Need to Know to Be Successful

My Post - 2020-01-30T104703.455.pngIn the field of SEO, it’s safe to say that things are always changing.

Optimization techniques that worked years ago fall by the wayside, and SEO as a whole evolves into a more intelligent discipline that evolves beyond spamming Google with links and keywords.

Sophisticated strategies for increasing organic traffic exist, along with things like competitor gap analysis, keyword gap analysis, and so on.

There are a number of strategies that one must use to be successful in the ever-increasing competitive landscape in SEO.

The Absolute Nuts & Bolts Basics

There are four basic components of SEO that we all focus on as a daily part of our jobs. These components include:

  • Keywords (and keyword targeting).
  • Search volumes behind keywords.
  • Traffic coming from organic search.
  • Conversions of customers searching for our targeted keywords.

The actual techniques revolve around the following:

  • On-page optimization.
  • Link building.
  • Content.
  • Technical SEO.

These are all a focus of our professions as we report on our efforts and assess next steps in any SEO campaign.

How do you move forward through a campaign and make sure that these factors are nailed down sufficiently enough for you to either launch or expand an existing campaign?

Well, you’ve come to the right place.

This SEO for beginners guide is designed to do exactly that, going through in detail the basics, in order to give you a solid foundation with which you can then use on your own.

Topics, Entities & Keywords

The first basic component we’re going to look at includes keywords and keyword targeting.

In the olden days of SEO, keywords were really all we had. Keywords and keyword targeting. Keyword targeting involved creating pages based on specific keywords and optimizing them.

The content would be laser-targeted and built around this keyword.

As you move forward with your SEO, you could technically include keyword synonyms, and related keywords in such a way that would help improve your rankings.

The problem with keywords, however, is that they can become redundant, too repetitive, and you can run out of SEO pain points in industry-related keywords fast.

There’s very little room to move forward.

For the process of keyword optimization, it used to be executed in the following way.

Say perhaps that you did keyword research, found the highest-performing ones in terms of search volume, created a page for the keyword, and ensured keywords were inter-weaved throughout your content accordingly. This was one way.

Let’s also not forget the different types of keywords, which are many. The goals of these keywords will change depending on how you want to approach your SEO:

  • Money Keywords
  • Head Keywords
  • Short Tail keywords
  • Long Tail Keywords
  • Supporting Keywords / keyword synonyms
  • Branded Keywords
  • Phrase Match Keywords
  • Broad Match Keywords
  • Negative Keywords
  • Exact Match Keywords

And many other keyword types. By the way, don’t get me started on LSI Keywords. Yes, they are a scam. And nothing more than a marketing attempt to brand synonyms and keyword relationships as something else.

That’s why LSI keywords are SEO snake oil.

Why are we going through such a detailed introduction of keywords? Because they are a fundamental skill of the SEO profession.

Recently however, there has been a shift from keywords to topics and entities.

If keywords are specific words and phrases, topics can be considered broader terms and concepts.

While there has been a shift, you still cannot do without keywords. They are the backbone of any SEO strategy.

A new wrench was thrown into the works with the introduction of entities. Just what’re entities, exactly?

Entities are places, persons, things. According to Dave Davies, entities are the world in the new SEO.

Davies says the following:

“Entities are, in my not-so-humble opinion, the single most important concept to understand in SEO right now. Full stop.

Think I’m just another SEO professional spouting the latest “silver bullet” that will die on the table along with many before it?

Consider this:

Three of the most important ranking factors, at last disclosure, were:

  • Content
  • Links
  • RankBrain

An entity is anything that is:

  • Singular
  • Unique
  • Well-defined
  • Distinguishable”

And this is why it is so important to ensure that your site is optimized with entities, keywords, and topics.

Topics, Topics, Topics – So What’s the Deal with Topics?

Just what is the deal with topics? As mentioned previously, SEO is traditionally about optimizing for targeted keywords.

And it was – used to be – considered an SEO best practice to create 1 page per single targeted keyword.

You can come up with your topics by performing topic research using a tool like AnswerThePublic.com.

SEMrush also has its own tool called the topic research tool.

Using both of these tools, you should be able to uncover suitable topics for the type of website you are working on.

That’s all well and good, but what should you do if you are optimizing for multiple topics?

Kristopher Jones here on SEJ has a wonderful method on how to optimize your site for multiple topics in his post, How to Optimize Your Website for Multiple Topics.

There are other basics, including content, links, and technical SEO that will make or break your success.

Let’s take a look at some of the most defining factors that will help your SEO in 2020, and basic elements that you must learn.

High-Quality Content

Does Google’s algorithm suffer from issues when it comes to assessing whether or not content is of high enough quality?

It can, as this SEO found out recently when trying to game Google’s algorithm with Lorem ipsum text.

In general, high quality content is what’s going to help your site perform. But that takes on different forms depending on different attributes of your marketing campaign including:

  • Your site’s main industry.
  • What has been done to your site previously.
  • What is being done to your site now.
  • Your industry’s overall competition.
  • What your competition is doing.
  • What Google’s algorithm is doing.

Your site’s main industry

There are industry variations in SEO – no doubt about it. I highly suggest taking an open approach to SEO strategies, and not think that once you’ve learned a strategy, that you’re done. Not hardly.

Industry norms vary, and can be as different as the website itself. The way you find out about these norms is you should be doing a competitor gap analysis.

What a competitor gap analysis does is it will help you find what you need to do to increase those rankings above your competitor.

You can read more about how to perform a competitor gap analysis here.

The things that you’ll want to gain from your competitor gap analysis includes insights like:

  • Your competitor’s rankings.
  • Your competition’s content (frequency of posting, word counts, etc.).
  • The link profiles of your competitors.
  • And, to a lesser extent, on-page SEO and technical SEO.

Important: Correlation Is Not Causation

In SEO, you may think that if you make a slight change to some keywords on a site, or you make changes to some links, that an immediate improvement is perceptible, and likely due to that change.

The problem is that it seldom works out that way in the real world.

When it comes to SEO, correlation is not causation. It’s not enough to say that you did this, this, and this, and that that was a contributor to your results.

On the contrary, detailed organic traffic data analysis and interpretation is needed to find the full story.

That’s what makes SEO so complex – the fact that it’s not a simple correlation / causation paradigm.

Instead, SEO is far more complex with layers of algorithms, not to mention the fact that Google makes changes to their algorithms daily.

The ones they choose to announce just so happen to be the most devastating if you’re in any way engaging in spammy practices.

Which brings me to the following topic: white hat SEO vs. black hat SEO. – Read more