We've worked with SEO for over 20 years and reviewed the most effective areas you should be focusing on for SEO this year.
Here is what you will find in this article:
- Optimise for mobile
- Get your technical SEO in order
- Using citations to help your search rankings
- NAP consistency
- Additional business details
- Local citations as a conversion rate optimisation tool
- Optimise for BERT
- Use structured data
- Show Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness
New Year, new Google algorithm - if that’s not a saying already, it should be.
Google has plenty of plans in store for the new year, as it continues its mission to deliver the best organic search results to users. As ever, that means you need to stay on top of the latest search trends.
Optimise your mobile SEO
It’s well-known that Google considers mobile performance in its rankings, but now it’s more important than ever.
Google is moving towards ‘mobile-first rankings’, whereby it considers the mobile view of your website as a priority. In short this means mobile-friendly sites will flourish, whilst websites that don’t consider mobile performance may find themselves dropping down the list.
Make sure you’re designing your website, and its content, from a mobile-first perspective. It’s usually easier to expand well-designed mobile pages to desktop than the other way around.
Get your technical SEO in order
SEO is about the correct setup of your website, as much as it is about great content and usability. So make sure your website is optimised for Google as well as your users.
In particular, Google has suggested it will penalise slow-loading websites more than ever in 2020 - so that means you need to reduce large images, deal with problematic server response times and optimise your CSS, to name just a few things.
Google Chrome will even display a ‘slow loading’ icon on some websites soon - which will surely tarnish your reputation in the eyes of potential customers.
Use citations to help your search rankings
If you’re a local business - or a business with lots of customer-facing locations - then local citations are your key to being seen on Google and other search engines.
In short, citations tell search engines where to find your business, when it’s open and what it’s called. Users nowadays expect to find out business locations and opening hours with a quick search - so you should meet their expectations.
So while you may not be able to compete on a national scale for your boutique cake shop - you can certainly compete with local businesses just by appearing in the right places online. And that might be all you need.
Quite simply, NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone number - so NAP consistency is basically making sure you are giving the same information everywhere your business is listed.
This is important because any inconsistency could confuse customers, or lead them to the wrong place. Worse still, it could harm your rankings if search engines interpret your listings as incorrect.
Conversely, lots of consistent citations tell Google that the information can be trusted, and you will be more likely to rank well as a result.
The main places you need to consider are:
- Google itself (and other search engines, such as the oft-neglected Bing)
- Facebook and other social media that allows business pages
- Directory listing sites, such as Yelp
It’s good practice to keep a record of where you have business listings, so that you can update them all quickly if anything changes.
A great tool for submitting Citations is BrightLocal.
Additional business details and Google My Business
Some directories allow you to add additional detail about your business, which is great - it means you can tell people more of what they need to know.
But this is one place where things can start to come unstuck if you’re not careful about keeping things consistent - and you’ll need to make sure you’re keeping everything up-to-date, too.
Google My Business is a social media platform that hardly anyone is using to it's full potential. Especially if your services are for localised searches. Keep adding content to Google My Business and you will start receiving more localised traffic.
What if I find local citations that are incorrect?
Google, Bing and other search engines are quite good at filling in local citations themselves (or more accurately, they are normally filled in by locals). This means occasionally business owners will come across a page for their business that they aren’t in control of.
This can be a particular problem with multi-location businesses where one location takes precedence over others. Suddenly important phone calls are going to a small branch, instead of your head office.
Luckily you can claim control of these pages. It usually involves proving you are the business owner, by having a unique code sent to a phone number or address associated with the business. Once you’ve verified that you are the owner of the page, you can update any incorrect details.
Local citations as a conversion rate optimisation tool
Citations aren’t just a case of helping customers find you - they can give your online conversion rate a boost, too. For example, retailers with local branches are much more likely to get a sale if they make the products available for collection in-store. It’s just another way to remove the uncertainty that might stop someone becoming a customer.
Need help with your organic SEO in 2020? We’re an SEO and UX agency with years of experience helping people with their rankings. Get in touch with Higher Ground for a chat about how we can help.
Optimise for BERT algorithm
In a nutshell, the latest BERT algorithm is designed to take user intent into consideration. This means if you’re producing content that is relevant to the search term, but not the actual reasons behind that search, you could fall behind.
As such, website owners who research their users’ journey through the site, access points and top tasks - and optimise their content accordingly - will be at an advantage.
- Read about Why you need to optimise your website for Google
Use structured data to help Google understand
Structured data helps fill in the context that Google isn’t quite intelligent enough to figure out for itself (yet). It gives Google a better idea of page structure, what each element is supposed to do, how the page fits into the wider site structure and so on.
Google Search Console is your friend for finding immediate issues with structured data. But it’s a complicated topic to master, so it’s well worth bringing in the experts if you don’t have the expertise in-house.
To test your structured data use Google's handy tool.
Show Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (EAT)
The concept of E-A-T is bigger than just SEO, but applying a strong business strategy that is aligned to these goals will go a long way towards improving your site’s search performance.
Indeed, Google has confirmed that they will support these principles in 2020.
Practically speaking, this means running activity that will improve your company’s reputation, demonstrate market-leading knowledge and deliver all of this with authority. Conversely, organisations who struggle with reputation and authority will find themselves falling behind.