16 Proven Ways to Make Your Website SEO-Friendly in 2020
Creating an SEO-friendly website can result in a headache for you as a non-SEO expert. Your plan of action might be passing it onto the IT guy who knows nothing about SEO optimization.
The result? No improvement in SEO rankings — and a worse headache. Plus, the enduring weight on your back knowing that SEO optimization is something you absolutely need in 2020.
According to one statistics tracker, upwards of 6.9 billion searches are done on Google every day.
And while it’s tempting to use only social media to reach your audience, Google is still the ultimate jackpot when it comes to getting traffic and leads for your website.
But only if you can land on the first or second page.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
SEO-friendliness refers to when a website can allow search engines to scan and crawl through pages efficiently, decipher content and structure easily, and add to their index.
This indexing will then line up website results based on relevancy and value for a given topic. SEO delivers organic traffic to your website for free.
However, SEO-know-how is needed to achieve high rankings on search engines. Sometimes, you’ll need a full-on strategy depending on your business.
For now, here are easy ways to make your website search engine optimized (SEO).
1. Use the right keywords and place them naturally within content.
Learn to efficiently conduct basic keyword research to identify both one or two target keywords and long-tail keywords.
DO NOT Stuff too many keywords into a body of text hoping that Google will pick it up. The search engine has not only done away with this method but will punish you for attempting the practice.
2. Fill out header tags, image alt tags, title tags, and meta description tags with care.
The image alt tag is for describing photos users are unable to see due to slow loading times. The meta description tag shows up under your title tag in your Google listing and should contain target keywords.
A title tag is the largest text in your Google listing and gives strong signals to the search engine. They should be 50 characters or less, contain target keywords, and provide a short description of the page.
The headline tag refers to your page’s major title and, in terms of HTML, has an <h1> tag. Using headline tags speaks to the structure of your page and can increase your click-through rate.
Note: Upping the click-through rate of your pages tells Google that people like your content. This improves ranking.
Typically, web hosting companies make it very easy to apply a Heading 1 style to your content.
3. Make sure headlines are clear, compelling, and accurate.
It’s just as important to use Headings 2 and 3 for subheadings within your text to optimize SEO.
Additionally, you want to make headlines themselves easy to understand and attention-grabbing. Of course, whatever follows should deliver on the headline.
4. Create a proper link structure
Search engines need to establish your website’s navigation and structure by using links between pages. Depending on which pages you link most, they’ll have greater value.
Google looks at both internal and external links in this process. Your home page almost always has the most value because it’s most often backlinked.
By linking another page to home — for example, your latest blog post — you provide more value to that post.
It’s also beneficial to link between posts or pages that are related in what is called contextual linking.
Basic site structure also involves navigational links which most people have on their homepage. Links to your about us, pricing, and our story pages for example. You should also have links for categories and tags.
5. Fix your URL structure
Your page URLs should obviously contain keywords, but it also has a lot to do with site hierarchy — which is important to Google.
There are options for how you want to keep your URL structure.
Ideally, you’ll go from the domain name, to the main category and then a subcategory.
You’ll also want to avoid repetition. Use target keywords no more than twice in the URL.
Also, keep URLs short, use hyphens between words, and, most importantly, make it clear for your target audience to understand.
6. Get to Position Zero
In 2020, websites continue to face the epidemic of zero-click searches.
Zero-click searches refer to when a person’s desired answer to a search query is at the very top of Google results typically in a snippet list or short paragraph form.
The person is not required to click and go to a website to get it. This listing is called Position Zero of Google.
In order to increase your chances of getting content in this position, you can create a separate content block on your page and fill it exclusively with a valuable list, table, or a definition.
7. Optimize for voice search
People are increasingly using voice search to find what they want, and yet websites are still not that widely optimized for it.
Making your site work with voice searching is as easy as putting content in question form and then answering as briefly as possible in a conversational way.
You can also make this work for video content you produce. Make sure videos are well-organized, add titles and a description, and include transcripts and tags.
8. Use structure tools
Since we’ve mentioned video, now’s a good time to add that your site needs much more than text to outrank others.
In making your site valuable for readers — which we’ll discuss further soon — you need to ensure it’s easily scannable.
The use of videos, images, lists, short paragraphs, and proper headings are all factors considered when a search engine evaluates your webpage.
9. Create valuable content
This step can never be overstated enough. Make sure you cater to your specific audience and give them the information they actually searched for, i.e., satisfy search intent.
It’s important to have your target keywords in the first 100-150 words of your pages and posts. It’s equally important to always guarantee that your content is relevant.
Additionally, ensure they have a reason to come back by differentiating yourself from others. Questions will depend on your specific service, but you may want to ask:
Is your advice actionable and up-to-date?
It is the easiest way to go about solving their problem?
It is useful and practical in real-life? e.g., lifestyle advice.
Is there a content gap?
Don’t just insert vague words and call them tips and tricks. Give your audience information that they’ll use and even share with others.
10. Write long-form content
Long-form content is becoming one of the more common ways to increase your Google ranking.
Most people consider posts that are 1,800 words or higher to be long-form. Remember, you want to provide value throughout all content, long or short-form.
Long-form indicates that you have worked harder towards answering your audience’s question and will earn you points with a search engine.
In relation to zero-click searches, long-form content is your way of catering to queries for which your audience WANTS you to go in-depth.
Your competitors may not have the jump on this yet, so use long-form to get a step ahead.
11. Make your site mobile-friendly
Make sure your site’s performance is at its highest and that it’s mobile-friendly. You can use this page to run a quick test if you’re on desktop.
Mobile-friendliness is a must because Google is starting to use the mobile version of sites when people search on either their phones or on desktop.
You can easily make a website mobile-friendly by choosing a theme or template that automatically adapts your site to smaller devices.
Otherwise, you’ll have to use some technical skills to build your website for mobility. If you can’t, you may need to invest in hiring a developer to make your site mobile-friendly.
12. Increase page loading times
Google rankings have been affected by page loading speed for years now. You can use Google’s own site to determine your page loading speed.
Once you’ve done an analysis, Google will provide some tips on what you can do to increase your speed.
13. Get an SSL certificate
The HTTPS you see at the start of a URL means that the site owner has purchased a security layer for visitors — an SSL certificate.
Google has not fully implemented it in its ranking system, but they’re starting to take it into account.
Aside from that, the notice saying that your site is not secure diminishes your brand and reputation and will decrease your click-through rate.
14. Be aware of E-A-T
EAT stands for the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of a content creator. This year, Google seems to be making EAT a big factor in their ranking process.
While it’s still developing, you can show EAT by filling out your author’s’ bios with relevant details including your background and qualifications related to your field.
You’ll ideally want to get your name on authoritative websites, get good reviews for your product or services, and get mentions in relevant forums and communities.
15. Use Off-Page Techniques
All of the techniques mentioned above are done via your website and its pages.
An external ways to improve SEO-friendliness include earning inbound links – links from another website to your site.
The best inbound links are those which come from authoritative sites and are keyword-rich (you may not control the latter).
When you use the methods mentioned above, as well as add visuals like infographics, this increases the chances of inbound linking by boosting shareability. It also brings in more traffic.
An on AND off-page technique is outbound linking. By putting useful, authoritative pages onto your own, Google will detect you’re supplying quality information to readers.
Finally, the use of social media to share new posts and snippets from evergreen content will help bring more traffic and increase shares.
Using social media share buttons on your posts is also great for getting your content out there and increasing its inbound linking chances.
16. Monitor your site
Use google analytics to keep up with your website’s overall performance. For SEO, you’ll want to look at page views, bounce rate, and time spent on your page.
Low averages times and high bounce rates indicate that the content you’re providing may not be relevant, engaging, or valuable enough.
Pages that are doing well will tell you what you should keep doing.
Look at your engagement and social shares as well. It speaks to the virality of your posts, and again, which posts get better reception and have a greater chance of a high ranking.
A lot of things are changing when it comes to SEO in 2020. Still, it doesn’t have to be a game of luck.
By implementing the above techniques, you’ll be on the right track to reaching number one (or zero) on Google.
For Google’s own in-depth guide on search engine optimization, take a peek into Google’s latest guidelines distributed for search quality raters.
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