In episode 3 of The Brendan Egan Show, Brendan talks about the state of SEO in 2020 and the three largest factors which will impact your website ranking.
Spoiler alert: The three biggest ranking factors are still backlinks, on-site optimization, and content.
There are a lot of SEO “experts” who claim these three things are no longer the cornerstones of SEO. But in reality, these three aspects are still the largest factors that play into organic rankings, and likely will be for the foreseeable future.
Listen along as we explore the basics for business owners about SEO and what’s important in these three areas in 2020.
Brendan Egan: Welcome to Episode 3 of the Brendan Egan Show. I’m your host, Brendan Egan and today, rather than interviewing a guest, we’re going to dive into a topic of my specialty which is SEO and digital marketing. This episode is going to be all about the current state of SEO in 2020 and beyond, things that business owners should be looking for when picking someone to work with SEO or doing it on their own, and just some basic information in kind of what an SEO is and how you should approach that as a business owner.
So, to start things out, there’s a graphic that I’ve always loved. It’s a cartoon. I’ll post it down below in this podcast and it shows a young marketer sitting at a business table with an older owner of a business and he’s asking, “What’s the big idea for your campaign?” And the younger guy’s saying, “We’re going digital. We’re going to use Facebook, YouTube, Google, mobile app, Pinterest.” And the business owner being savvy says, “And what are we going to do with all those channels?” And the younger marketing guy says, “I’m not sure. We’ll figure that out later.” And I feel like that’s the approach that a lot of businesses take these days to all the different flashy, new marketing mediums that are available to them, whether it be social media, SEO, Pay Per Click, email advertising, TikTok, Instagram, all the different avenues that are available that the current generation of business owners really doesn’t know too much about and didn’t grow up with. They’re relying on people whether it be internal, external, or otherwise, to help them with their marketing. A lot of times, they hear that they should be doing something but they really don’t know what they’re doing or what the end goal is or how to get there. So, I always tell people first and foremost, start out with understanding what your end-goal is, define that end-goal, find the mediums that are going to get you the best ROI, whether you are looking for leads, brand awareness, sales, eCommerce, whatever it may be, and start there and then figure out the mediums that make the most sense to use to achieve those goals.
So diving into SEO, in my opinion, SEO for most businesses is probably one of the best avenues to get the highest ROI no matter what you’re trying to achieve. Whether it’s brand awareness, lead generation sales, or otherwise. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, for those that don’t know, and basically what it is: it’s a process of optimizing your website to rank higher in search engine results. There’s a variety of different search engines that exist, obviously Google, Bing, Yahoo!, AOL, or some of the biggest ones but Google is really the giant and for all intents and purposes, we’re going to talk about Google today. Any time we talk about SEO on this show, we’ll be talking about Google.
There are over 3 billion searches per day on Google alone and over 93% of online experiences begin with a search. That is a staggering number and something that the business owners have to know, understand, and realize if they want to succeed online. SEO absolutely must be part of your strategy. Search is by far the number one driver of traffic to a website and has the best ROI and biggest impact on lead generation and website convergence. That’s just not me saying that. That’s every digital marketer out there, these are hard stats and my experience working with nearly 300 clients is that almost every single one of them, a search is the number one driver of their traffic to their website and truly does have the biggest ROI.
Now, getting into search, there’s three main components that are really going to dictate whether you rank well on google. Those are links, those are your onsite optimization and your content. Now, there are over 200 different factors that Google looks at in terms of your ranking, but those three are really the three largest ones and they’re going to account for the majority of whether or not you rank well.
So, diving a little bit deeper into those areas. What are links? Most simply put, links are going to play the largest role in where you’re site ranks and anytime a third party site links to your site, that’s a good thing. You want to have a large quantity of links but in 2020, you also need to focus on the quality of those links. You don’t want to get links from bad websites or shady websites or things that are known as link farm that just exists for the purpose of linking to your site. You want to get them from legitimate sources. Third-party websites, partners of yours, living testimonials, maybe your vendors and distributors, content curation sites, news sites, blogs, article hubs, social media. These are all sources of getting good links to your website in 2020. And now, while Google seems to think that you’re going to naturally attract those links which to an extent you will, really, the reality is that you have to go out and manually build those links. So, whether you’re doing it yourself, someone in your office is doing it or you have a trusted company that you’re working with to partner with on your SEO, link building has to be a critical part of that campaign. Otherwise, you’re not going to see success.
The second-largest factor in 2020 in SEO is still your onsite optimization. There are literally dozens if not hundreds of onsite factors that you should be considering when you’re looking to get your onsite SEO. However, the crux of it breaks down to about six or seven main factors and those are your title tags, your static contents on your website, your site map or site structure and hierarchy, your headers, your meta descriptions, and your user engagement.
So, I break those areas down very briefly. Your title tags simply should be descriptive to what your page is about. If your company is selling widgets, your title tag should say that. It shouldn’t just say your company name or shouldn’t just say homepage.
Your static content is critically important. Those are things like your homepage, your service pages, your about page- all the contents on your website that really doesn’t regularly get updated. That content should be unique, it should be long and it should be descriptive, and it should be well-written.
Your site map or your site hierarchy is critical and I’m not talking about just having a site map on your site. I’m talking about the architecture of your website, how your site is structured, the hierarchy of your pages, the navigation and the user flow. Those are all critical for SEO and must be set up properly.
Your headers are important. So, as you write content on your website and you add different headers, those headers should describe what that content is about and should integrate your keywords.
Your meta descriptions are critical. Well, this doesn’t really directly impact your organic rankings. The meta description is what people will see when they search and find your site in search results and it needs to drive engagement and click-throughs otherwise, people will see your site and never click on it.
And lastly, a new topic in 2020 is really user engagement. How are people interacting with your website, how much time are they spending on it, what’s your click-through rate from search results, and what’s the overall user experience of your website? Google is now using this as a factor to determine whether or not your site should rank higher than your competitors. So all things equal, if you have less engaged users than your competitors, you’re going to rank lower in search results.
Lastly, let’s talk about content creation. Content creation is a critical part of SEO and is continuing to grow as time goes on. When I started in the SEO world about 12 years ago, content really wasn’t important. We were writing content really just a jam-full of keywords. It was 200 or 300 words long and often times, we would use robots and technology to spin the content and create more content for us. As the years have progressed, Google has gotten smarter and smarter as have searchers, and really today, you have to write handwritten unique content that should be authoritative. It should be long and it should be created regularly. Having a blog these days or having a spot to share articles is no longer an option. It’s something that is absolutely mandatory for SEO.
Some of the top ways to create content for your website include blogs and articles, the creation of industry pages, the creation of what Google refers to as doorway pages and lastly, writing for third-party sites and contents indication.
So diving into those a little bit deeper, as I mentioned, your website really should have a blog. If you don’t want to call it a blog, that’s fine but have to have somewhere to share content. That could also be a podcast that you write a summary for or transcribe. That could be videos that you created and write a synopsis of. It could be articles that you comment on from your industry and share your perspective but in some form, you have to be creating content on a regular basis. That content ideally should target a keyword and it should be a long-tale keyword. What that means is that you don’t want to unnecessarily target the most competitive keyword in your industry through your blogpost but you want to target some variation of it or a commonly-asked question.
Industry pages are also critical. Let’s say your company is selling security systems and you work in 12 or 15 different industries. You should certainly have a content-rich page that describes each of those industries. Let’s say you’re working with manufacturers. You should have a page that says security systems for manufacturers, and dive deep with your content into why those manufacturers should work with you.
A doorway page is a very controversial topic because Google says you should not have them; however, in my experience, having them is actually something very successful for SEO if they’re done right. Doorway pages refer to pages that are created simply with the intent of tricking Google into ranking you for a particular keyword. Commonly, companies will create these with very thin or junky content and will create them for different cities. For example, if you’re an SEO company in Chicago, you might create a doorway company that says, Austin SEO Company, Dallas SEO Company, and all the major US cities that you rank highly in those areas. The problem with this is that you’re typically putting junk content on those pages and not really providing any value. However, if you create doorway pages with value, you find a way to provide information that’s helpful. They can actually be a great thing. For example, if you look at Best Buy, they have a page for every single one of their stores, which technically is a form of a doorway page but they can get away with it because they’re actually providing useful information. They’re sharing things like the address of their store, the hours, what services they offer at that store. What products they sell. So, if you can find a way to create doorway pages and still share helpful, useful, unique information with the visitors, it’s something that can be very helpful to your SEO.
And lastly, in terms of content, writing for 3rd-party sites is syndication. This ties back to a few different things in marketing including link building for SEO but it also ties into your content strategy in terms of creating yourself as an authority in your space. Whenever possible, you should find ways to write content for 3rd party sites and syndicate your content. Make sure you’re not posting spawn articles or junk content and also make sure you are posting unique content but it’s something that can be incredibly helpful to your overall content strategy.
These are the three main areas that are critically important for SEO in 2020 and these are really the areas that we focus on for our clients. Now, there are certainly other subsets. There’s plenty of other things that are important in the SEO world like having a mobile-friendly website, having a site that loads quickly, serving your visitors’ pages on HTTPS instead of HTTP, and a whole host of other topics that we’re not going to have time to dive into today but we may dive deeper into on future episode. However, for most businesses that have never really done any sort of SEO before, if you cross off those three areas, link building, onsite optimization, and content creation, chances are you’re going to rank much better tomorrow than you did today. And there are easy things that you can do to tackle those areas and really optimize your website. Now, of course, being someone in the SEO industry, I’m certainly going to recommend that you work with an expert. SEO is something that there’s a very fine line between what you should be doing and should not be doing and quite honestly, even if you only work with an expert to form your strategy and you carry out the work, it’s money well-spent. So I certainly recommend talking with an expert if you’re going to engage in a new SEO campaign especially with something that you’re not familiar with.
Lastly, I do want to give a shameless plug for my book which was just released this week, 101 Tips from the Marketing Masters. We have a whole section in that book that covers SEO in much more depth than I can do in a 15 or 20-minute podcast and goes over some of the items that I shared today as well as much information. That book is available on Amazon. Be sure to pick up the ebook for 0.99 cents or print copies as well.
Thank you again for listening. This has been Episode 3 of the Brendan Egan Show. I’m your host Brendan Egan and will be bringing you episode 4 shortly.