SEO Tips 2020: A Guide for Beginners (w/ SEO Checklist)

seo tips 2020 with an seo checklist

SEO.

You probably heard the term before. Perhaps, a digital marketing agency approached your business, offering its SEO services or you search for ways to rack up traffic to your website. Yes, that’s SEO in action.

Now that we’re talking about it, you want to learn what SEO is before you schedule a meeting with a particular company. Here’s what you need to know about doing SEO in 2020 and beyond.

Doing SEO in 2020

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is a marketing discipline that is geared toward enhancing your site’s findability in search engines. The goal is to grow website visibility organically.

In some instances, SEO is about structuring your website so that Google can easily understand what it is about and why it should display your site. In improving rankings, driving traffic, and increasing awareness, SEO takes into account the technical and creative side.

While the purpose of SEO is more lenient to search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo, the results are more lenient to human users. After all, it is a user that will search for a term in Google.

How important is SEO?

While the search engines are increasingly becoming sophisticated, they still have some limitations. SEO is a way to help the bots, for instance, to figure out your website. With SEO, the bots will be able to crawl your website and its pages and return the right page for a specific query.

Without SEO, your site will be buried deep in the search engine results page (SERP). Meaning, your website will be nowhere near the first or even second page.

Did you know that the users are mostly clicking the first three results in a SERP? More than 70% click the first result, and only 3.73% of the users click the results 6 to 10. That’s essentially less than 2% of users clicking the next page if they will click the second page at all.

Not to mention, Google is the main navigation of the users. Thus, if you are not going to optimize your website, the search engine won’t be able to display your site.

How to do SEO in 2020?

SEO is processual – the main reason some people are discouraged to continue with their efforts to learn more about SEO.

1) Conduct a keyword research

A keyword is the word or group of words that a user types into Google’s search box, for instance. For example, if you are looking for SEO providers, you would key in ‘seo company philippines.’ That’s the keyword.

However, you can always look at the long tail keywords or the unique key terms that your target users are searching for. Long tail keywords often convert better than the non-long tails. An example of a long tail keyword is ‘low-cost seo services in the philippines.’

When choosing a keyword, you should go for keywords with high search volumes and low competitions. Of course, the keyword should be relevant to the nature of your business as well as the contents of your website. There are many tools online to help you with this so you can easily decide which keywords to target.

Doing keyword research in 2018 is trickier than expected. The problem is SEO companies are doing keyword research in almost the same way. Find an agency that provides you with keyword suggestions that match what your users are trying to find, not just keywords that match what you are trying to sell.

Strike a balance between the two.

2) Craft the content

Google and other search engines attempt to ‘read’ a site to determine what keyword a particular page is trying to rank for. There are no hard rules regarding this, but experts agree that a page should target only one keyword and perhaps, its variations.

Going back to the previous example, the main keyword is ‘seo company philippines’ hence, the variations could be ‘seo firm in the philippines’ and ‘philippines seo service.’ Keyword variations must be mentioned in the article or other content to publish.

When crafting contents, make sure that you are writing for the human readers, not necessarily for the bots. The title should clearly describe the content. The content itself should be unique, informative and fresh.

If you are going to put links on your content, make sure that the hyperlinked texts you use are descriptive so the readers would know what to expect when they click on the link.

It’s all about guiding their expectations.

3) Optimize the code

Dubbed as technical SEO, Google bots also crawl your site’s code. Thereby, make sure that the code itself is crawlable. First, put the main keyword or its variation in the title tag. Each page of your website must have a unique title tag.

Second, put the main keyword or its variation in the meta tag. The meta tag is a description of what the page is about. The meta tags should be unique as well for each page. Don’t make the meta description too long; it should be between 150 to 165 characters because anything beyond this will be truncated. Use full sentences, too.

Third, put the keyword in the heading. Headings are from H1 to H6. A page should have one H1, but it can have up to five H2 to H6 tags. However, make sure that you won’t skip any heading and that they are in the right order. For instance, you may have one H1, two H2, and two H3. You cannot have H1 and H3 only. If not necessary, you may only use H1 up to H4 and drop the H5 and H6.

4) Secure the website

Users are big on security because they don’t want to compromise their personal and financial information. You would not want that either.

The perfect solution is to migrate from http to https. Google requires that all websites that collect information must be already on https (starting October 2017). The https version must be available on the mobile version of the website too.

If that’s not reason enough, Google also elevates the status of security as a ranking factor, not just a signal. And it is actually a ranking factor since 2014.

5) Speed up the site

Another ranking factor that should be on your radar is speed. Thus, speed optimization is an essential element of your 2020 SEO strategy.

Speed is essential for SEO as well as for user experience (UX), overall user satisfaction and thereby, conversion. If your website loads more than 5 seconds, the users will leave and proceed to the next available website. For Google, all other things being equal between two websites, Google will rank the faster website on SERP than the slower one.

Check the speed score of your website using PageSpeed Insights then, implement the suggestions accordingly.

These are just the basics, but these are all a beginner needs to know. Evidently, SEO is not all about the rankings. Instead, it is about helping the people, which will be your traffic, to find your website.

Hypocrisy aside, of course, you’d want the highest rankings and volumes of traffic. These things will come naturally if you are doing white hat SEO. In simpler terms, you need to match the contents of your website with the information that your target market is looking for.

Couple this with the right on-page SEO elements and your site is on its way to ranking at the top positions in the results pages.

(SEO) SEO in the Philippines and elsewhere is not without difficulties. However, you need not be an SEO specialist to determine whether your website is delivering what is expected of it, ranking-wise.

Here’s an SEO checklist that you can use as a guide. The SEO checklist is divided into three major groups: on-page, off-page, and technical.

On-page factors

  • Is the main keyword in the URL?
  • Is the main keyword in sub-headlines?
  • Is the title of the content 100% unique?
  • Is there an H1 tag?
  • Is the main keyword on the H1 tag?
  • Are title tags 65 characters in length or less?
  • Are the meta description tags 155 characters or less?
  • Are the titles 70 characters or less?
  • Are the description tags 150 characters or less?
  • Are there relevant images?
  • Are the images captioned including the targeted keyword for the page?
  • Do the images have descriptive filenames and alt tags?
  • Are the images compressed to the right size?
  • Are the contents at least 300 words?
  • Do the contents include wrong spellings, wrong punctuations and grammatical errors?
  • Are the texts properly formatted?
  • Does the website regularly publish fresh contents?
  • Are there any duplicate contents?
  • Is the targeted keyword repeated in the page for 3 to 10 times?
  • Are the internal links from 2 to 10 links?

Off-page factors

  • How many external links are there?
  • Are the external links relevant to the content?
  • Are the anchor texts of the external links relevant?
  • Have you performed a competitor link profiling?
  • Are there any broken links?
  • Are 301 redirects required?

Technical factors

  • Have you created a new [Google] email address for the website?
  • Have you installed Google Analytics (GA)?
  • Have you installed Webmaster Tools?
  • Have you used Google’s keyword research tool?
  • Are you using WordPress?
  • Have you installed GA for WordPress?
  • Is authorship markup already added on the site?
  • What about semantic SEO markups?
  • Have you created social media profile on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn?
  • Are the social media widgets apparent at the end of each page?
  • Have you checked site speed?
  • Is there an XML sitemap?
  • Is a Robots.txt file already created and submitted?
  • Is the site responsive?

In reality, this checklist is for the SEO specialist. However, even a non-SEO can use this as a quick reference to check with their SEO consultant whether everything (or most) is covered or not.

Some SEO companies in the Philippines might have different versions of SEO checklist that they may use in conducting SEO audits of their clients’ sites. However, the checklist above lays a solid foundation of what a perfectly optimized website or web page contains.

The SEO checklist includes technical terms that you are not familiar with. If it is too technical for you, you might as well let the SEO specialist do the SEO audit for you. Anyhow, some well-experienced SEO companies in the Philippines actually include audit and analysis in their optimization service packages.

Based on the results of your or your SEO company Philippine’s audit, recommendations must be made to make your website more Panda and Penguin friendly.

Remember that none of these factors will make your website appear at the top of the results page alone. They work in combinations. While not all factors listed above can be possibly integrated on your site as well as onto all its contents, at least try to accomplish most of the factors listed in the SEO checklist above.

Did you find this SEO checklist useful? Let me know.

A disclaimer: SEO factors may change. The factors relevant today may not be as relevant in the coming months. This post will be updated from time to time to reflect the changes. So, make sure to visit the posts regularly.