There are several fundamentals to optimise your site for search engines, such as SEO-copywriting, link building, site speed, etc. These continue to be relevant in 2020. On top of that, there are several new factors to pay attention to this year. An overview:
1. Check the Crawlability of Your Pages
You can check if everything is rendered correctly via Google Search Console. Inspect a URL by pasting it in the top search bar and click on the Test Live URL button. Next, you can see the rendered HTML and a screenshot by clicking on the view tested page link.
Alternatively, you could use a tool such as Screaming Frog to crawl and render the content.
2. Write Natural, Readable Content
In 2019 Google launched the BERT algorithm update. The goal of this update is to better understand the context of words. It helps Google match queries to relevant results by giving more weight to certain words and linking them with synonyms.
Although you can’t directly optimize your content for the BERT update, you can optimize for user intent. Write naturally, focus on meeting your visitors’ needs and don’t overuse certain keywords. Keyword-stuffing should be something from the past.
3. Beware of Mobile-First Indexing
Google announced that since July 2019 mobile-first indexing is enabled by default for all new websites. Older websites are switched to mobile-first indexing in phases.
What this means for SEO? Well you should:
- Invest in a responsive design if you haven’t already
- Test the mobile version of your pages and check if everything is displayed correctly and works as intended
- Improve the loading speed on mobile
- Make sure that the mobile version isn’t missing important content that is available on desktop
4. Test Whether Featured Snippets Improve Your CTR
Featured snippets are the direct answers that are shown on top of the search results. They usually answer queries that start with who, when, how, etc.
Most websites are happy when they show up as a featured snippet. But this isn’t necessarily a positive thing. Several studies show that they steal significant traffic from the top organic results. And since January 2020 pages from rich snippets aren’t repeated in the search results. So maybe you’re better off without this snippet.
It’s always worth a test though. You can implement the
nosnippet tag to prevent Google from using the page as a featured snippet.
nosnippet tag applies to all snippets. If you want to retain all others, you can use the
max-snippet tag based on the length of the snippet text.
5. Useful Plugins for Your WordPress SEO in 2020
Roughly 63% of all websites run on WordPress. That’s why I’ve collected some useful plugins to help optimize your WordPress site for search engines.
Structured data has two benefits.
- First of all it helps search engines understand your content. What if they see the number 63 on a page? Is that a price, a measurement, an age, or something completely different? With structured data you can tag your content and tell more about its meaning.
- The second benefit is found in the search results. Structured data can generate rich snippets. For example a recipe with a thumbnail, preparation time, and calorie count. This extra information helps your website stand out from competitors–resulting in a higher CTR.
With a plugin such as SNIP: Structured Data Plugin for WordPress you can easily implement structured data in your WordPress site.
Multilingual websites are pretty complex. Not only for developers, but also for search engines.
Thanks to hreflang-tags you can tell search engines that a page is written in a certain language. You can even target a specific country (for example the US or GB).
So hreflang tags are pretty useful. But a lot of developers make mistakes implementing them in their websites. WordPress has several plugins to simplify this task, for example Hreflang Manager.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are great for websites that aren’t optimized for mobile users or sites with very slow mobile loading times. AMP pages can improve your visibility on smartphones. They load extremely fast (something Google and Bing like) and provide visitors with a simple, straightforward UI.
Note: implementing AMP doesn’t always have a positive effect. An optimized, responsive site can perform the same or even better. Nevertheless, it’s worth a test.
Add AMP to your site with a WordPress plugin such as WP AMP — Accelerated Mobile Pages for WordPress and WooCommerce and analyse your search performance.
Copywriting remains an important aspect of SEO. You want to create quality content that meets the needs of your visitors and has the right keywords in the right places.
Sounds complicated? Well, it isn’t. With a little help from WordPress plugins like RankMath and Premium SEO Pack you’ll optimize the content of your pages in no time. Simply add a focus keyword and the plugin tells you what to do.
So How Should You Approach SEO in 2020?
- First of all, make sure that you understand your visitors’ intent. Answer their questions with quality content that is well-structured and presented in a user-friendly manner.
- Furthermore; keep things natural. Don’t focus too hard on implementing certain keywords in certain places, but write naturally. The same goes for link building. Watch out for a high number of over-optimized anchor texts from low authority domains, because they could result in a penalty from Google.
- Last but not least: test your site. See how it looks on mobile devices. Check the loading speed. Test forms and other interactive elements. Make sure structured data is implemented correctly. A good technical optimization can go a long way.
That’s it for this quick look at SEO in 2020–I’ll see you in the next one!