The Foundation of SEO in 2020 and Beyond
SEO changes and evolves all the time. You have to understand what these changes mean and what areas to focus on.
For instance, early low-budget SEO tactics involved spamming pages with keywords. This no longer works and, outside of making your content unreadable, it can actually count against you in Google’s algorithm. That, in a nutshell, is why you must stay up-to-date on SEO. Using outdated tactics doesn’t just mean you’re behind; it means you’re hindering the very process you’re working toward.
Everyday SEO: Basic Tactics
Like many other areas of technical expertise, SEO starts with a solid and well-defined foundation. It consists of four key components, which are:
- Targeting specific keywords and using them on the site
- Researching keyword search volumes
- Getting traffic from organic searches, rather than through ads or other tactics
- Increasing the conversion rate of people who search the keywords that have been targeted
Essentially, you pick the words and the audience you want, and then you need to get people to see your site and decide to click on it instead of one of the other search results. This campaign strategy is supported by four tactics:
- On-page SEO using the targeted keywords
- Building out links and networks of sites
- Creating content that gives the reader what they want
- Using technical SEO
You can break each of these focal points down much further, some of which we’ll do below, but this gives you a good sense of the foundation and the areas you need to focus on first with your SEO efforts.
Starting with Keywords
Keywords are still the most fundamental part of SEO, the backbone of the entire thing. But, in the modern era, that doesn’t just mean picking one popular word and using it many times. You don’t want to spam the site and you have many types of keywords to pick from, including:
- Long-tail keywords
- Short-tail keywords
- Keyword synonyms
- Supporting keywords
- Head keywords
- Money keywords
- Phrase-match keywords
- Branded keywords
- Negative keywords
- Exact match keywords
- Broad match keywords
Searches have become more complicated. Voice search, in particular, has led to the rise of searches for sentences and long strings of text, rather than just a word or two. You must know your audience, looking at what they search for, how they perform those searches and what gets the best results.
On top of that, new searches often revolve around entities. This concept essentially refers to related nouns: a person, a place or a thing. They are very well-defined and unique, and many experts consider them the true key to modern SEO.
Doing Your Research: Topics
Before doing any SEO work, you must research your topic thoroughly. Topics lead you to keywords. They also guide you through content creation. Older tactics used to focus on one topic per page. These days, you can put multiple topics on the same page — if you do it correctly. In many ways, the topics are what your audience is interested in and what they’re trying to find with their keywords and phrases.
Many people get so focused on SEO that they forget about the true game-changer: high-quality content.
Want to know if your site is going to perform? Just look at your content. Your keywords can increase your ranking and make you show up, but it is the content that fulfills the promise of those keywords and gives the reader what they want.
Good content increases dwell times, works on branding, establishes you as an authority and engages the reader. In the best case, it even makes the reader want to share that content with others. This is what really puts a gap between you and the competition. Anyone can put keywords on a page. It takes talent to fill that page with high-caliber content that people love.
This should give you a solid idea of the basics of SEO as you get started. There are many finer points you can iron out as you go — doing a competitor gap analysis, comparing white-hat and gray-hat SEO, doing in-depth industry research — but this allows you to begin with a foundation to build upon. SEO has never been more important.