SEO is not a topic that you can learn once and never come back to it again. In one year only, Google makes more than 3000 algorithms updates, which makes the need to constantly update SEO knowledge quite evident.

To make sure 2020 will not bring us soul-crashing drops of rankings, we gathered a list of SEO basics, as well as  hacks and experiments that will help you stay alive in the cruel battle with algorithms. The list below is a simple list with experiments suggestions based on the gathered performance data from various blogs and websites. Don’t forget that you always need to test things out. What is proven to work for one or several industries might not be the case for you – so test, measure, preserve or pivot and keep experimenting! 

1.  Keywords & External Links

As a general rule of thumb you want your article to focus around a certain keyphrase/keyword. This keyword needs to be mentioned in the title, slug, as well as in the first paragraph of the article. Per one article of 4000 words you would want to mention the keyword approximately 30 times.

To improve the whole SEO score it’s important to have other sources having links to your published article. It could be other blogs and magazines that already published content with the relevant data and can be interested in linking back to your piece. When choosing a link source it is important to pay attention to the website Domain Authority (can be checked on moz.com) – the higher the score the better results it will bring to your original article. 

2. Creating Viral Headlines

As statistics shows, 80% of people will read the headline of the article and only 20% of them would actually read the whole thing. Needless to say, with the attention span and overflow of information, having a catchy headline is important for both engagement and SEO reasons. However, sometimes it can be hard to not cross the blurred lines between an engaging curiosity gap headline and a cheap clickbait title. Here is the list of tricks for a high-conversion high-quality headlines: 

  • Using numbers in a title – that can be a year or a list. “10 types of cheese to try in 2020”, “Top 20 types of cheese to try before you’re 20”. (Lists containing 10 elements are proven to perform better than 5)
  • You can also add a curiosity element to the title to experiment with click-through rates (Top 10 Cheese Types in France. Number 3 will surprise you).
  • Using questions in a title. “How to buy more cheese for a cheaper price?”
  • Using negative words vs positive statements can bring up to 65% higher CTR. “How to avoid overpaying for your cheese” vs “How to buy the best cheese for the smallest price”. This is connected to the fact that people are tired of  everything “best” and “cheapest” and “most….” and tend to engage more with content that is relatable.
  • Separate headlines for SEO and Social. If you plan to repost you article to your social media channels, think about experimenting with two separate titles – one for the blog, and one for Facebook. This experiment is connected to different algorithms being used by Google and Facebook. More provocative and shocking headlines, or using words like “amazing” can perform well on Facebook, however can be considered click-bait content by Google, and therefore could be pushed down in relevance. Another thing to keep in mind is that Google cuts off the majority of headline after 58 characters. Social media displays 100 characters – and that is another reason to use separate headlines for Social and SEO. 

3. Using Online Tools for Creating Headlines: 

CoSchedule – analyzes headlines and gives a score and a detailed analysis of the input. It analyses whether the headline contains common/uncommon words, powerwords or emotional connotations. It also gives you tips on improvement.

Emotional Value Score – as a rule of thumb, headlines that have a higher emotional score, get more clicks. This online service analyzes your headline and gives a score to it with regard to emotional value. But once again, it all depends on  the industry and might not work in each and every case.

A/B Testing with Headlines – to create two separate headlines for the same article and test out which one performs better, you can use this free WordPress plugin.

4. Less New Content, More Updated Content.

If you had your blog/magazine/website for a while, you probably have a lot of old content that needs to be updated. Your old articles can be still ranked high by SEO, however can be not relevant anymore. If the reference in an article goes back to the year 2010 you might want to find a new reference source closer to the year 2020. It’s good to go over old content regularly and check whether all the information is still relevant – and if not adding new sources for referencing, adjusting the year and some of the facts can help. Also, check regularly that all the links still work without brining to 404 page. It’s not the amount of new things that you post, but the overall quality of the whole blog that matter. 

5. Time Spent on a Page is the Main KPI

Average amount of time spent on a certain page is a far better indicator than the amount of clicks. Google sees pages with more time spent on them as more relevant and higher-quality content, therefore whatever keeps people on your page has to be added. That can be videos, podcasts, slideshows or surveys. Add a gamification element and that will bring you both – engaged users and a higher SEO ranking. 

6. Content Delivery Network

Loading Speed of your website is an important factor of the SEO score. If you have your readers all across the globe, you might need to consider CDN services (Content Delivery Network) which allows localisation of the website by putting it on the cloud and having it in different locations hence resulting in faster load time. One of the free services for doing so is Cloudfare.com

At the End of the Day…

…no matter how great and valuable your content is, it will not matter unless its visible and seen. Your target audience will engage if you speak their language, make sure to grab their attention, do not oversell yourself and fin the right channels to get to your readers. To fin your own key to SEO success in 2020, make sure to always try out new things, get feedback and analytics and keep evolving.