As tech advances and online activity increases, you’ve got to constantly reevaluate your SEO practices. We’ve outlined the 10 most important SEO ranking factors for 2020 to show you what steps you need to take to optimize your site and bring in more traffic.
Your URLs are going to be some of the earliest and most informative signals people will use to learn about your page. By structuring your URLs in a specific way, you can actually show users what to expect when they click on it. Your URL should clearly show the hierarchy of the information on your pages. This also allows Google’s web crawlers to understand exactly what’s on your page and determine its relevance to a query.
Images are crucial to the execution of any SEO strategy. And in order to make them work in your favor, you can’t stop at simply adding photos on your pages. Every part of your images should be optimized for your SEO, including the related text.
Alt text, or the alt tag, is a description added to your image. It is most helpful if your user can’t load or see your picture. This might happen if your site visitor has visual impairments or if their device doesn’t load images. Adding alt text ensures accessibility and clarity for all of your users, so you communicate all of your information effectively despite their ability to visually take it all in.
You should also include accurate titles and captions to your images, and make sure they’re in the right context on your page. This increases the helpfulness and usefulness of your images, resulting in higher user satisfaction and greater traffic.
Not much has changed on the content front in the realm of SEO. At the end of the day, users don’t come to your site to look at a pretty picture or read your About Me page. They come to be helped by useful, engaging content that gives them solutions they need. Outperform your competition with your content, and you’ll be a step ahead right from the get-go.
This means writing copy, creating videos, and including images that are beautiful and answer questions your audience is asking. But it also means updating content that’s already on your site, as well as creating new long-form content to remain relevant and accurate.
Read more about how long-form content can impact your SEO.
Building internal and external links is one of the best ways to show Google—and its users—that you’re a legitimate brand with the authority to provide real solutions. There are two types of links: internal and external (also referred to as inbound links or backlinks.)
- Internal links connect internal pages of the same domain or site. If done in a natural way, Google’s crawlers recognize that the page is important and will tend to rank it higher.
- External links, on the other hand, are links on one site that bring users to another.
Think of backlinks as a reputation marker. The more other brands recognize that you’re legitimate and want to align themselves with you, the more backlinks you’ll get. While building internal links on your own site is fairly easy, link building with other sites takes work. You’ve got to create something great, get other sites to notice what you’ve created, and usually you’ve got to link those sites as well. This can seem like a big undertaking, but ultimately, backlinks from authoritative and respected sites will only bring more traffic to your pages.
You want to make your pages are as easy to read and useful to your users as possible. That’s because once they land on your page, you have just seconds—if that long—to rope them in, and then you’ve got to actually keep their attention. And while you’re formatting your pages, avoid an obnoxious amount of advertising. It’s distracting and annoying, and if done poorly, ad placement can really take away from the content you actually want folks to notice.
Along the same lines as having a nice page layout is optimizing your site’s architecture. Your site should be easy to use by your visitors and easy to read by Google’s web crawlers. If either of these things is inhibited by your site’s structure, you can kiss your high rankings goodbye.
A good rule of thumb is to keep each page of your site reachable within three clicks. It’s also important that you create a site map. This gives Google a blueprint of your site and shows them exactly what you’ve got on your pages, and it allows users to quickly find what they’re looking for.
Page speed is not only convenient for your users, it’s actually one of Google’s official ranking factors. As stated earlier, you’ve got milliseconds to capture your audience before they close out the tab for your page and return to Google to find someone else who can help them faster than you can. With that in mind, you need to ensure your pages and their content load at the fastest speeds possible. Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a great tool to evaluate your speed; it then gives suggestions to make your pages faster.
Optimizing for Voice Search
Siri, Alexa, Google Home: we have voice-optimized search in our homes, cars, and hands, wherever we go. That means users are making queries everywhere, which is good news for you if you’re optimizing your pages for voice search. In order to make your content more searchable when a user has entered a spoken query, you should use conversational language for your content. Write in a way that people speak, target long-tail keyword phrases, and even include “filler words” like conjunctions in your target keywords.
In 2020, you’d think this would be a no-brainer, but we still come across sites that aren’t optimized for mobile users. Every statistic in the book (or should we say, online) shows the ever-increasing role of mobile devices in Google searches. If your site isn’t catered toward both desktop and mobile users, you’re missing out the a majority of Google traffic that could and should be coming right to you!
This point is the vaguest of the ten, but it’s also one of the most important. The user is king in SEO. Every choice you make should convince Google that you, better than anyone else, are going to give its users an exceptional experience. Your entire site is built around pleasing Google, whose entire mission is satisfying their users. Therefore, create a site that is built to cater to your users’ whims, needs, and wants. If the user is happy, Google is happy, and that means you’ll be happy with your rankings.
SEO is more important now than ever, and that pattern will only continue. When you take note of these ten important ranking factors and structure your SEO efforts around them, you’ll see better rankings and more traffic in 2020.