If we asked you about your readiness to take on SEO in the next year, some would probably respond and say that 2020 is months away. Why do you need to worry about it now, you ask? Well, Google rolls out changes more frequently than you thought. And if you don’t know how to rank a website on Google in 2020, then you’re in danger of losing business opportunities.
- 67% of clicks go to the first five organic results on search engines (Zero Limit Web).
- 78.01% of the search market share goes to Google (Net Market Share).
- There are approximately over 70,000 searches on Google every second (Internet Live Stats).
- 51% of the search traffic comes from organic search, 10% from paid search, 5% from social, and 34% from other sources (Bright Edge).
The whole point of doing SEO is to rank your website and get free and organic results. Now let’s look at the actual process of how to rank a website on Google in 2020.
How to Rank a Website on Google in 2020
93% of people’s buying decisions begin with an online search. And SEO is the practice of elevating a website or blog up in the search engine ranking results. For this reason, SEO and its core functions need to be factored into the development and ongoing optimization of the website for your business.
Step #1: Doing a technical SEO audit
The process of knowing how to rank a website on Google in 2020 starts with a careful website audit. Technical SEO along with content marketing can make or break a website’s performance on Google. To do an SEO audit means checking the health of a website and seeking which parts need fixes and which tweaks are needed to improve site performance.
Tools like SEMrush are great for doing SEO audits. And the most common issues that plague many websites can be:
- Missing title tags: Title tags are one of the most important factors of SEO. It’s an HTML element that describes a web page’s main topic.
- Duplicate content: This is content at shows up on the Internet in more than one web page. Having this makes your website suffer from traffic losses and drops in keyword rankings. Content should be unique across every web page.
- Non-existent SSL certificate: SSL or HTTPS is one of Google’s ranking factors. Security is one of Google’s number one priorities. So it goes without saying that a website that’s not secure won’t be ranked in Google’s engine.
- Slow website loading: Improving your website’s loading speed is crucial to SEO success. Slow loading websites hurt user experience and Google search engine rankings.
- Overlooked broken links: Broken links pertain to 404 errors in your website. 404 pages hurt the user experience. So make sure these errors have 301 redirects so your users won’t have to see them.
- Low-quality pages: By typing site:yourwebsite.com in Google, you can see how many pages Google has indexed from your website. And you need to check this because Google prefers fewer pages and high-quality content.
Step #2: Analyzing competitors
Competitor analysis is an absolute must. Competition is a healthy part of the industry. It keeps you from being complacent, and in turn, it encourages innovation and motivates you to be better if you want to succeed.
It’s no different in doing work to one-up your competitors in SEO.
So there are a couple of things you need to do to conduct a successful competitor analysis. We won’t get into too many details with the tools used, but you should know that the use of tools are important. They will come very handy and will help you in your competitor analysis endeavours.
Identifying SEO Rivals
Perhaps you can name one SEO rival. But never forget to consider the fact that you may have more than one SEO competitor. Sometimes they exist outside of your niche, and you may need to contend with them in the SERPs.
Take for instance, a hardware store in Los Angeles would want to try ranking for keywords along the lines of “top hardware store in Perth” Doing so would mean competing with other hardware stores for the first page positions.
And if that same hardware store is also doing their best to rank for a helpful how-to blog, they would be going up against other publishing giants well-versed in the subject of DIYs or hardware tools.
The easiest way to identify your main competitors is to look up your niche and see the names that appear first on the search engines. And if you work in several niches, you may even compile a particular list of competitors for each service that you operate on.
You can identify your SEO rivals by:
- Enter your top keywords into Google.
- Write down the domain names of your companies appearing on top search results.
Looking at Keyword Difficulty
Before investigating link building strategies or on-page SEO, you need to look at the strength of your SEO competitors first. This is where your competitor analysis tool would come in handy. With it, you can look at your competitors’ domain strength and analyze factors like:
- Backlink data
- Domain authority
- Search engine indexing
- Catalog listings
- Volume of traffic
- Social signals
- Alexa rank
- Domain country and age
If you’re starting out, set your sights on competitors with a lower overall score ranking. Because the higher the difficulty of target competitors, the stronger SEO would be. And the more difficult it is to outrank them.
Finding Competitors’ Backlink Profiles
An important part of doing competitor analysis is finding where your rivals are earning their backlinks. You can use that information to build high-quality links for your own website. In dissecting your competitors’ link profiles, you can find new opportunities.
For this, you’ll need an SEO tool. It’s impossible to pull it off manually.
Step #3: Creating even better content
SEO is as much a part of content marketing as content marketing is a part of SEO. The two are tied together, and complement each other. They fulfill each other’s goals. And with Google’s recent focus on the experience of the users, content has become even more valuable.
Achieving first place on Google’s ranking in 2020 requires valuable and amazing content. Think about the fact that there are over 2 million blog posts published everyday.
But how exactly do you know that you’re creating the kind of top-notch content that will get people’s and search engines’ attention?
- Long-form content: Longer content ranks on Google not because of the length itself. But simply because it’s more detailed and holds more value. The best way to one-up your competitors through this is to look at your competitors’ word count and double it. In general, 1,000-1,500 words is already good.
- Plenty of visuals: Multimedia is the hottest thing around right now. Whether your competitors use multimedia or not, you definitely should. Images, videos, and audio all contribute to the success of your website in search engines and among users. Original visual content is even better. So where possible, use screenshots in your content and photos from your company.
- Proper formatting: Your content should be fairly easy to read and understand. That’s why proper formatting is so important. Make efficient use of subheadings, bullet-points, short sentences, and bite-sized paragraphs.
- Keep content updated: Both people and search engines delight in up-to-date content. Google wants to make users happy. So if users are happy, then so are search engines. Plus, keeping content up-to-date ensure that they’re evergreen.
- Content that satisfies search intent: And above it all, content you create should satisfy search intent. Simply put, it should answer to people’s needs, and they need to appear when people needed the most. The way to get this right is to do sufficient keyword research. You need the right keywords, so the right people can find it.
Step #4: Create content for voice search
Experts see SEO in 2020 as one field that is dominated by the continued rise of voice search. Think about it:
- 50% of online searches are speculated to be voice-based by 2020.
- 31% of smartphone users use voice technology at least once a week.
- 55% of US households will have smart speakers in 2022.
With the relevance of voice search, yes, it’s still important to have your links appear in the first page of Google’s search results. But when smart speakers are brought into the equation, links just on the first page don’t matter a whole lot.
In links, the first page of the search engine results matter. But in voice search, only one matters. And if that’s not you or your content, then you’re losing.
Aside from the mobile responsiveness and mobile-first design that comes with designing a website these days, the biggest advice is to create content aimed for Google’s Featured Snippets.
Have you ever noticed that when you search for something in Google now, you get a box (or boxes) with queries answered? They come in paragraphs, lists, or tables. And these are what people call featured snippets.
To optimize your content for a Featured Snippets list, here are a couple of tips:
- Title tags and headers ask questions: Let’s say for instance your article is “The Complete Guide to Stress-free Living.” And you want your snippet to answer the question, “What is stress-free living?” So make that your title tag. It doesn’t have to be the same as your headline. Repeat the same question in your first header and provide a clear-cut answer. You can elaborate later on.
- Use long-tail keywords: Nowadays, when you create content, think about questions your readers have and how they ask them. Aim for these phrases.
- Write brief and concise answers: Average paragraph length for featured snippets are 40-60 words. Don’t worry about not providing details. You can expand on your ideas in the body of the article. Just make sure to answer the questions directly and concisely to motivate people to investigate further.
Step #5: Using content to build backlinks
Learning how to rank a website on Google in 2020 means also knowing how to use content for earning backlinks.
Alongside the site loading speed, high-quality backlinks also improve a site’s ranking in the search engines. It was relevant before, and it remains relevant until today. When high-authority links point to a website, that’s a signal to search engines that a page is important. It tells them that a page contains valuable information, and people recommend it. That’s why it should take first page in the search results.
People know that there are countless tactics proven to help build links. But there is one tried and tested method that is effective: content marketing.
- Monitor competitors’ backlinks: If one site is willing to give your main competitors a link, then they probably won’t have problems giving you one too. Track who your competitors are ranking for and reach out to them too.
- Do guest posting: Don’t just do this for any random blog. The sites you create guest posts for should be relevant to your niche. Also, choose the ones that have a good online presence, credible, and have considerable domain authority.
However, remember this: only natural links are beneficial for indexing and ranking a website on Google. People will very rarely link to your service or product pages. Whenever possible, focus on promoting your blog posts (your content assets) to build links.
Step #6: On-page optimization
The final step is to ensure that your content is SEO friendly. When people think of on-page SEO, they immediately jump to think about keywords. But it’s more than that. SEO content is more than just slapping keywords on a webpage — although the use of keywords are very important.
- Keywords and titles: Begin your title with a keyword — as much as possible. Don’t force it if there aren’t. But if there’s an opportunity, then do it. Title-tags are one of the most important on-page SEO factors.
- Content keywords: Ideally, focus keywords should appear in the first 1– words of an article. This increases the chances of Google understanding better what your page is all about.
- Mind your URLs: Make sure your URLs are short and simple. Also include the target keyword in the URL. According to Google, more weight is placed on the first 3-5 words of a URL.
- Outbound links: Outbound links to related pages can help Google figure out what your page is all about. It also tells Google that your page is a hub of free-flowing information. Articles or webpages without outbound links are dead ends.
- Internal links: Internal links help Google find and index all the pages on your website. Using them strategically and with structure, internal links can send page authority to pages that are important.
- Using modifiers: Modifiers help rank your page for long-tail versions of your target keywords. Great examples of modifiers are: top, best, advanced, easy, simple, etc.
SEO is an industry that goes through many changes. And all of them are geared towards what’s best for the future. For sure, you’re not in the wrong when you learn how to rank a website on Google in 2020. It’s something you always need to be prepared for. And what better time to prepare for SEO 2020 by getting ahead?