Search engine optimization is incredibly important for your website’s visibility. It is also a moving target. It is important to maintain the efforts you’ve made, while staying aware of the latest information on what you can do to improve. Much has remained the same. Read our previous article, “Optimize Your Blog,” for the basics. But given an increasingly mobile-first world, Google’s algorithm changes in response to user behavior and more, you have to stay on your game. Here are some important updates to SEO best practices for blogs in 2020.
- Keep it brief. In the not-too-distant past, it seemed that filling out your title tag completely by using 60 -70 characters was the ideal. Doing so gives you the opportunity to use your target keyword right up front followed by other search-friendly terms and information about the page. However, it seems that shorter is now better. Keep your title tags brief and to the point. 14 to 40 characters are ideal. Try streamlining your meta title by using the target keyword followed by only the most pertinent terms relating to the page.
- Ask a question. What catches users’ attention? How can you get more clicks? One factor seems to be putting your title tag in the form of a question. Try asking what you think your ideal client or audience wants to know like “Who is the best writer in Silver Spring?” You may also try a question that the client would answer enthusiastically with “Me!” like “Looking for a doula in Danbury?” Question-based title tags have been performing with a 14% greater click-through rate, so ask questions first!
- Meta descriptions matter. It can be hard to keep up with every detail of your SEO, especially when you are creating new content frequently to keep your blog fresh. That said, writing a meta description for your post is a step you shouldn’t skip. Your meta description won’t appear anywhere on your actual blog post. Rather, it will show up just under the meta title in a Google search. If you do omit this step, the first words that appear on your post will populate the description by default. That may seem ok, but why not take control of what you want to appear in that space? As with your meta titles, this is another place to use a focus keyword prominently. The number of characters you can use in your description varies by platform – some may allow 300 or more – but in many cases only the first 160 or so characters will be seen. Just adding a meta description can get you 5.8% more clicks.
- Keywords are still key. As mentioned above, using keywords still matters. Choose them wisely and then give attention to how you use them. Choose a target keyword for each page and use it in the meta title, meta description, and H1 tag. How often should you use your keyword? 1% keyword density is enough to signal its importance to search engines. That’s once every 100 words. Stuffing more keywords than that into your text will not only annoy your readers, but it could earn a demerit from Google. Stick to reasonable, consistent keyword usage and you’re on your way up in rankings.
- Your keywords are your address. Another place to give your keywords a place to shine is in the web address, or URL for your blog post. Adding keywords to your URL can give you an amazing 45% higher click-through-rate than one that doesn’t use keywords. So try for a URL that uses a focus keyword for the post like website.com/piano-movers-dc, website.com/catering-in-nashua, or website.com/custom-home-project.
- Pay attention to your parents. Or at least optimize for the parent topic! According to Ahrefs, a parent topic is the main topic of a web page, the most popular version of a keyword phrase on a page that may also rank for many other similar keyword phrases. So while considering individual keywords is one approach to optimization, you may not have to write a separate blog post with a focus on every single one. Do some research to find the parent topic for your page and optimize with the topic in mind. Vary the phrases you use to discuss the topic and you can expand the searchability and reach of the article.
- Optimize for Featured Snippets. What’s better than a regular old high organic ranking? Getting a Featured Snippet on Google is one way to a big jump in visibility. While you can’t tell Google directly to feature your excellent blog post, you can maximize the chances that Google’s algorithms will deem it excellent and worthy. To increase your chances, make sure the information on your page is easy to read and useful. Craft it to answer a specific question. Use structured data, or schema markup behind the scenes to highlight the information you hope to have featured.
- Write long-form. Articles with a high word count get 77% more clicks and social engagement. So rather than keeping it short and sweet when it comes to your blog posts, try going for 1,500 words or more. In-depth, valuable information gets attention. If you can provide a comprehensive answer to an exact, frequently asked question, you just may have struck internet gold.
Incorporate as many of these guidelines as you can, and expect to see your blog posts rise up the ranks in 2020.
“On-Page SEO: The Definitive Guide,” Backlinko. Retrieved from https://backlinko.com/on-page-seo
Patel, N. “Neil Knowledge” video post. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/posts/neilkpatel_seo-digitalmarketing-traffic-activity-6609094502919520256-tJFF/
Smarty, A. “How to Optimize for Google’s Featured Snippets to Build More Traffic,” Moz.com. Retrieved from https://moz.com/blog/optimize-featured-snippets
Soulo, T. “Parent Topic,” Ahrefs.com. Retrieved from https://ahrefs.com/blog/keyword-generator/#section5