Of course, SEO will remain a central topic for inbound marketing and content marketing in 2020 and beyond. But what exactly is relevant and what can/should you do without? We take a look at the current SEO practices and see whether and how search engine optimization has changed.

Internet marketing and therefore SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) focuses on real user interests and experiences.  A trend that search engines, above all Google and Bing, contributed to.  For a long time now, Google algorithms have no longer primarily focussed how often you place a keyword into text, but also, for example, how relevant the content is or how strong the “Page Authority” of your website or blog is.

So you no longer have to worry about additional SEO measures? Not quite, because even the best content won’t be able to do without a few SEO tools as you can read. 

Yes but What is SEO?

If you want to carry out SEO (Search Engine Optimization) yourself, it is helpful to clarify the meaning of the term itself.  Of course, SEO doesn’t just consist of keywords!  In order to bring the content of your website or your corporate blog to the front of the search results, in itself a mammoth task for many, search engine optimization in 2020 and at any other time also starts elsewhere. Such as:

SEO and Pillar Pages

Pillar Pages are inherently a logical consequence of modern search engine preferences and strategies such as inbound marketing and content marketing that are adapted to customer behavior. Pillar Pages contain a lot of content, are helpful, dynamic and geared towards growth and information.  On the one hand, you use Google with fresh, detailed content and condensed information that contains all the relevant keywords – on the other hand, website users also benefit from a high-quality, detailed summary of a topic.

SEO and Topic cluster

Although a pillar page is already designed in great detail, it makes sense in the course of an SEO-effective content strategy to create more specific content for individual keywords of the pillar page, which link back to this main page and vice versa.  This contributes to the good structure of your website,  but is also popular with search engines. Ever new, interlocking content allows the conclusion that you are a real expert in your subject area and can therefore also provide an expert answer to the queries from search engines although people take the term ‘expert’ with a pinch of salt these days as the term is far too flung around (especially in SEO circles).

SEO tools

So that you don’t lose track of keywords, pillar pages and content clusters, there are plenty of tools out there to help you with tracking of data and ranking.  For example, Ubersuggest have plenty of free and paid for options.  Pillar pages and content clusters are visually easier to track and it is easier to monitor the performance of the individual keywords and pillar topics, enabling you to edit or update content as and when required.

Mobile First

This SEO tip is not really new, but is still up-to-date: Make sure that your website looks good on mobile versions and is perfectly usable.  Because it is now widely known that the implementation of the “mobile first” premise is included in the evaluation for search engines. 

Page speed

Page Speed also is also relevant to the previous point with regards to mobile use: The mobile version of a website should, of course, load particularly quickly, but this applies a little less to the desktop version. Search engines have been pulling out the stopwatch for some time, although this is debated, – slow loading pages can ‘possibly’ have a bad impact on the ranking.  There are numerous factors that affect page speed. This includes the size of the images to be loaded, the programming of the website itself and the performance of the servers of your hosting service provider.  Google has it’s own Google speed check you can use for free.

HTTPS encryption

GDPR (in Europe) presupposes them, and Google is now neglecting sites that do not meet its standard: HTTPS encryption is an important SEO standard.  Make sure your site has it.

Semantic search

Many have already brought them in: voice assistants and smart speakers.  We enter into an almost human dialogue with them – and internalize this user behavior in such a way that it also influences typed entries in search engine fields.  Just as advertising shows us, this semantic form of questions affects search engine queries. Examples:

– “Where can I buy food near me?” is understood by search engines as well as “food shop near me”

– “What’s the weather like tomorrow?” is increasingly being replaced by questions in the style of “Do I need an umbrella tomorrow?”

Meta descriptions

Search engines not only show the address of a website in the results, but also a short description – the so-called snippet.  Google does not always use the pre-written meta description, but with a relevant short description of your content you can attract the attention of readers and search engines and should therefore also pay attention to keywords here.  This is old hat SEO and should always be implemented anyway.

User experience

If your website is listed in the first place in the SERPs and is also clicked on, something that us your aim of course, then this is an important partial victory, but it is only half the battle.   After all, you want visitors to not only come but stay – and ideally also return them.  Therefore, visitor behavior is also very important within SEO . You can use the following factors, among other things, when analyzing the user experience of your website:

  • Length of stay
  • Interaction rate
  • Bounce rate

These are all things you can see for free using Googles own Analytics and Webmaster tools.

So there is a little bit about what I think what SEO is.

But Was is SEO not (or shouldn’t be!)?

The list in the previous chapter has already shown you: Actually, pretty much all technical and content elements of a website also affect search engine results. But then what is not part of SEO? Simply put: exactly what was known as SEO in the early days of search engines or what is often referred to as Blackhat practices.

The earlier approach of SEO was a very abstract one: With more or less obvious tricks for webmasters and SEO ‘experts’ to use.  The focus of many was on “optimizing” your own website, as the search engines expected.  The benefit for the actual reader was not necessarily in the primary interest – it was the search engines that mattered most. The SEO measures included:

Backlink purchase (which still goes on I might add – see this short article!)

Backlinks, that is, links from other websites to your own site, are a coveted commodity.  When a website that one knows and trust that recommends a link, the confidence level increases and the willingness to click increases.  This attractiveness also reflected the search results and Google rates websites with a lot of backlinks as well as very trustworthy – in some case.  This ensured that backlinks were traded for money.  The value of backlinks is still there, but purchased links are now penalized by Google. Quality now counts more than the sheer number. Just like clicks and likes that can be bought on social platforms, this deal did not (and does not) work in the long term: Maybe in the past you made up a few ranking places in this way; however, if the content of a website disappoint, most of the traffic is of no use. Sustainable and qualified contacts can hardly be won in this way.

Keyword spamming or stuffing

Search engine needed keywords so search engines got keywords! Website designers, SEO’ers and marketers acted according to this maxim for many years and this attitude is still difficult to revise today. Search engines include the readability of a text in their evaluation. And if you can no longer see the content for the keywords, it has had negative effect and this is something that is very relvant today.  Keyword stuffing gets you nowhere.

Conclusion

Here you can see just some elements of what makes good SEO and bad SEO.  There are plenty more that could be added too but these are just some of the ones that I think are most important.  When you ask “what is SEO” then you will get different comments and ideas from everyone you ask.  Remember that no one is an ‘SEO Expert’ as a person in this field should be honestly saying that they are always evolving as do the algorithms that are released by the major search engines.

As a quick example, Google released the May 2020 Update and you can search all over the internet to see the reaction of ‘experts’ to this update.  Many will tell you what it was for and how it has impacted on their site but the reality is just keep making sure you maintain you site in the best way you can.  Update the content and stick within the rules – especially Googles!

Please do add your comments below if you think anything else should be added to this and I will gladly consider!