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SEO Best Practices in 2020: The Definitive How-To Guide

SEO Best Practices in 2020

In 2020, developing a cutting-edge website is no longer enough to be found by your buyer persona: in fact, the truth is that you absolutely need to rank in Search Engines’ first pages for your focus keywords.

Search Engine Optimization – the so-called SEO – which consists of a series of On-Page and Off-Page tactics that can make you position higher on SERPs, since (according to HubSpot) 75% of searchers never go past the first page of search results.

11 SEO Best Practices in 2020

11 SEO Best Practices in 2020

1. Setting your SEO’s SMART Goals

The first best practice is a must for any kind of marketing strategy, including SEO’s:

We’re talking about setting up your primary SMART goals. The ‘SMART’ acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. To do so, you need to think about your website and answer the following starting questions:

Main Starting Questions
What’s your business’ main Unique-Selling-Proposition (USP) and buyer persona?
Till now, did you put into place any form of SEO strategy? If so, do you have any previous report, keyword research, or SEO audits?
Which actions and goals would be the most important ones on your site (e.g. subscriptions, lead generation, downloads)?
Do you have an ongoing content strategy? If so, which platforms and content are you adopting?
Are you already using the Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and SEO tools like SEMrush or Moz?
Have you ever planned a specific link building and guest posting strategy for your website and blog?
Are you actually using any specific focus keywords throughout the website?
Are you paying attention to your competitors or market leaders’ SEO strategies?

If you’ve correctly answered, you should already have in mind a starting picture of the main goals you’d like to achieve with your SEO strategy.

2. Planning a First – and Periodic – Site Audit

The first SEO step is to undertake a throughout Site Audit of your website, in order to identify and take note of any issues related to:

  • Crawlability and indexability;
  • Meta-tags, titles, headlines, URLs’ structure;
  • Canonical tags and redirects;
  • Duplicated content and cannibalization;
  • Page speed and mobile-friendliness;
  • Link building, both internal and external.

To perform this analysis, you can use different SEO tools as SEMrush, Moz, Ahrefs, or Ryte, but never forget that the help of a SEO expert can make you save a lot of efforts and time.

Planning a First – and Periodic – Site Audit

SEO audits should be reviewed periodically, because a SEO strategy is dynamic and needs to be updated month by month to identify any new threats and opportunities.

3. Figuring out your Clients’ Search Intent

After the Site Audit, it’s the turn of the implementations, which include the on-page SEO measures – based on the site audit’s results – that should be undertaken by the SEO expert and the website developer.

This is surely the most crucial part of any SEO strategy, and that’s why we’re going to split it up across the rest of the article.

Yet, prior to start, the first thing you need to pay attention to is the so-called Search Intent’ (also called ‘User Intent’), namely your potential clients’ purpose behind their search query, to which your content should be aligned with (e.g. buying, learning, subscribing). This is important because satisfying the search intent is Google's pivotal priority and all your pages have to pass Google's test on search intent.

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4. Improving Page Title, Meta-description, URL, and Headings

Now, we can dive into some more practical steps: your SEO implementations should be mainly based on structuring the following elements.

Page Title

The Title Tag – or Page Title – is the clickable headline that’s shown in search results.

It is the first piece of information seen by the users, so it can really drive their decision to click on your link or not, as well as being one of the elements that Google’s algorithms take into consideration when it comes to position your web pages.

Page Title

So, in order to create the perfect title tags, you should:

  • Keep them descriptive and concise, under 60 characters, to be fully displayed;
  • Include your focus keywords;
  • Always write a title that matches the search intent and the page topic;
  • Don’t create duplicates: the title should be unique on each page;
  • Avoid keyword stuffing.

Meta-description

On the other side, the meta description is a brief summary of what the page is about, displayed right below the page title, which can highly influence your click-through rates.

Meta-description

Before writing it, just remember to:

  • Keep it under 160 characters;
  • Write unique descriptions for each page;
  • Be action-oriented and include a call-to-action;
  • Include your focus keywords and match the search intent.

URL

Moreover, also a well-structured URL provides both users and search engines with an idea of what the page is about, so it’s an important SEO aspect. To create it, remember that it should:

  • Be short and descriptive;
  • Include the focus keyword;
  • Never involve any unnecessary stop words;
  • Be written according to the HTTPS format, as it makes the page be more secure and is been a Google ranking factor since 2014.

Headings

And finally, never forget to optimize your headings, which would provide your pages with the correct SEO copywriting structure.

Headings

Pay attention above all to the H1, which should be unique for each page and include the target keyword, and always use the subheadings properly (H1, H2, H3, H4) to help both search engines and users understand – and read – your content.

5. Optimizing your Website’s Images

Another SEO best practice is image optimization, both in terms of ALT texts, titles, and format, since they play a crucial role in improving your page speed and user experience.

To optimize them, you should:

  • Choose the most suitable file format to improve your website’s speed: while the JPEG format looks great for photographs, the PNG one is more suited to images that contain text and drawings;
  • Compress them before uploading on your website, to make the navigation faster, by adopting tools like TinyPNG, ImageOptim, or ShortPixel;
  • Provide them with an ALT text and title that include the focus keywords, to improve accessibility and voice search, by helping browsers understand what your images are about.

6. Paying Attention to your Page Speed

As above-mentioned, Page Speed is another meaningful ranking factor and should be part of your implementation measures.

Paying Attention to your Page Speed

Luckily, there are plenty of tools to check your page speed, including Google PageSpeed Insights, SEMrush, and GTMetrix, where you’ll grab also some meaningful recommendations on the steps you should take to improve your load time, such as:

  • Enabling browser caching;
  • Removing any unnecessary plugins;
  • Reducing the number of redirects;
  • Minifying CSS and JavaScript files;
  • Using a CDN for international websites;
  • Compressing images, as we’ve already said
  • Adopting lazy-loading.

7. Looking for the Best Focus Keywords

Besides, mastering a keyword research is one of the most important steps for any SEO expert, and it can be done by using SEO tools like SEMrush or Moz.

Looking for the Best Focus Keywords

In this regard, always remember that the best keywords – indicatively – are the ones with the lower difficulty and the higher volume, due to it is simpler to compete for them

Furthermore, you should know that long-form content ranks better on Google, as a recent SEMrush research shows: so, when creating long-form content for your blog, try to target long-tail keywords even if they have a lower search volume.

8. Planning a Strong Link Building Strategy

After that, one of the SEO best practices you cannot ignore is the Link Building strategy.

In fact, Google algorithms still consider backlinks a remarkable ranking factor: more backlinks you have, the higher you can rank in SERPs.

One of the best ways to discover new backlinks opportunities is by replicating your competitors' strategies, studying them with tools like SEMrush’s Backlink Gap Tool and Backlink Audit.

9. Optimizing for Voice Search and Featured Snippets

Optimizing for Voice Search and Featured Snippets

Moreover, BERT – the new Google’s algorithm – understands human language and questions: this means that SEO experts should focus on creating the most useful and natural content, as – in 2020 – 20% of mobile queries are currently done with voice search (Review42).

So, in order to optimize your content for voice search, you should:

  • Insert a question and an answer within your pages;
  • Try to rank in the Featured Snippet, the so-called Position Zero, as it seems that 4 out of 10 voice search results come directly from them (SEMrush).

10. Doing Off-Page SEO

Last but not least, after completing the On-Page best practices, you can move forward with the Off-Page steps, which refer to all those channels and platforms that can boost your online presence and traffic, both organically and paid, as:

  • Social media platforms and ads;
  • Blog, guest posts, and backlinks;
  • Google Ads;
  • PR and Influencer Marketing.

Conclusions

As we’ve seen, SEO is still one of the most important marketing aspects in 2020, and its best practices are always evolvin

Therefore, if you aren’t a SEO expert and haven’t a dedicated team within your company, you should start paying attention to your business’ goals, buyer persona’s needs, and creative resources.

After that, if you really want to make a difference, you should look for the help of a valuable SEO expert.

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