The sky is fallen, and SEO is dead — or is it? That is an ongoing concern every year, but what is the current situation about organic search in 2020?
Is it possible that one URL can be worth $106.000 in organic traffic? — stay tuned! :-)
Why should you even bother about our organic rankings in 2020, why not use your entire marketing budget on PPC and social media?
You are not the only one that would think that way — and in fact, Google is always busy trying to make it as easy as possible, spending your entire advertising budget with them.
Sponsored Google listings all above the fold
If you search on for a commercial keyword like “iPhone 11”, “Samsung TV,” or similar, you can be pretty sure that everything above the fold is is sponsored ads and product feeds.
You might even ask yourself if any users at all would bother scrolling down to any of the organic results — and also consider clicking.
Before you decide to handle over your entire advertising budget to Google Ads, let’s dig a little deeper — perhaps SEO is not dead in 2020 — in fact, it might be evolving!.
The share of organic traffic in 2020
According to a study by Bright Edge, organic traffic is responsible for more than 51% of all visitors coming to websites, trumping all other sources such as paid (14%) and social (5%) traffic. (stablewp.com)
If more than 50% of the traffic is organic, it might be worth considering investing a fair share of your digital marketing budget in Search Engine optimization — and if you do, you are not the only one investing!
By 2020 it’s estimated that companies will spend a whopping 79.27 billion dollars on search engine optimization. (impactbnd.com)
With an estimated value of over 70 billion dollars, SEO isn’t going anywhere soon. (coredna.com)
Why leave money at the table?
If you already do your best to serve your customers with quality content and trying to drive traffic and make sales, then why not try to rank in Google?
According to them, almost 95 percent of newly published pages don’t get to page 1 within a year. (coredna.com)
Imagine that for a while, 95% percent of the content doesn’t hit page one within a year — that seems to be like some severe room for search engine optimization.
The beauty of content marketing and SEO is that it is not only one particular keyword that you can rank one URL can rank for hundreds or even thousands of related keywords in the Search Engine Results pages.
So if you are involved in content creation and online marketing, I strongly suggest that you consider Search Engine Optimization as one of your primary marketing channels in your efforts to attract more potential customers.
How to get started with Search Engine Optimization
If you want to get your fair share of the free traffic from Google’s search results, today is the perfect time to make that decision!
If you are new in this game, it might seem like a lot of moving parts. Some people think that SEO is just a bunch of geeks that are doing black hat tricks and trying to manipulate Google’s search algorithm to dominate page one in Google.
The reality is that big established companies are aware of the impact of SEO, and some of them would even insource the work instead of paying an agency.
Yes, granted, of course, there are a lot of affiliate and Internet marketers using a “churn and burn” strategy to rank websites to make a quick profit. Still, in the long run, it certainly pays off to build an authority website with quality content.
The core foundation of SEO
- Onpage SEO: Your content and site structure and user experience (UX)
- Off-page SEO: External backlinks links from other websites
- Technical SEO: Is the Search Engines able to crawl and render your website
The first step to rank in the organic search results is to target the right keywords. You need to perform keyword research, so you can locate the kind of keywords that has enough search volume.
Search volume alone is not the only metric you should look at — popular keywords might have a high search volume, but they might be tough to rank.
You also need to consider the user intent behind a search term — what do you think a user wants to find? If you look at a single keyword like “iPhone” compared to “Buy iPhone 11 256 GB” the first one is way too general.
A) You are probably not going to beat Apple on the word “iPhone.”
B) iPhone is too general — is the user looking to buy, seek information, or maybe compare with other brands?
C) With a keyword like “Buy iPhone 11 256 GB,” you can be pretty sure that the user is in the market for an iPhone 11
Several free tools can help you perform keyword research. Google keyword planner is a free service that can provide you with the essential search volume.
If you are looking for more free tools besides the Google keyword planner for doing keyword research, I have written an article about keyword research on a shoestring budget.
Measuring the competition
After creating a list of relevant keywords you consider to target, the next thing is to look at your competitors. If you are staring with your first blog post on a brand new domain name, you are pretty much the new boy in class — without any Domain Authority.
You need to do a little spy on your competitors — how much domain authority do they have, and how many external websites are linking to them.
Ahrefs is a great tool to monitor domain authorities and backlinks.
After creating a keyword list, it is time to move on and create some high-quality content for your users. Content marketing is not only about pleasing the search engines — it is about engaging your users and hopefully make some conversions.
You have probably stumbled across content strategy, and keyword advises like
- Use your primary keyword in the URL
- Use your primary keyword in the page title.
- Use the primary keyword in the meta description.
- Use your primary keyword in the H1 tag.
- Use your primary keyword in the first paragraph.
- Aim for a specific keyword density (Avoid keyword stuffing)
These steps not exactly outdated — naturally, both the internet users and Google should be able to understand your content. Just make sure that you always focus on the user experience.
Write naturally — don’t try to force keywords into your title tags, meta descriptions, or headline if they make no sense.
Think about a newspaper article — how is it build up?
- There is a headline that tries to grab the user’s attention.
- The first paragraph supports the headline and elaborate.
- The rest of the article supports the headline and add additional value and information.
In a digital world where a search query often is performed on a mobile device, you need to focus on the user experience “visual content above the fold.”
The market for voice search is also increasing — according to the Search Engine Journal, almost 50% of internet users are using voice search.
Questions and answers, food recipes, route directions, weather forecasts are just examples of voice searches where the users need a quick solution — for you as a site owner; it can be your chance to pop up in a Google search.
Use schema markup when it is possible — that improves your ability to show up in the search results.
Marking up your content using structured data can earn you a featured snippet, or you can show in the SERPS up with a knowledge graph or in the knowledge panel — remember that you can also update your Google knowledge panel.
By using schema markup, you help the Search Engines to understand the semantic of your content — it also improves your chances in voice search results.
It has been debated among webmasters if it is an advantage or not to show up in a Google search with a featured snippet.
Some webmasters were afraid that if an answer were shown on Google’s organic results on the first page, the users might not want to click on their website.
A case study performed by Moz showed that after opting out of featured snippets, traffic dropped by 12%.
Appearing in a featured snippet or the knowledge panel would give your website more exposure in Google search results — so if it is possible, then claim it!
If you are working with local search, schema markup is also usable for showing up in the local pack rankings.
Local searches keep increasing — in fact, more than 46% of organic searches are looking for a local business.
After you have used your keyword data and generated your outstanding content and published it, you just need to sit back and wait for all the free traffic to pull in, right? Sadly not.
Even with high-quality content and relevant keywords, you need a bit more to secure your high rankings.
You need links from authority websites — and it is best if they are typically related to the main topic of your website.
It might be tempting to see if it would be possible to do a link exchange with relevant websites (reciprocal links).
Sadly that is not a viable marketing strategy when it comes to SEO — and in fact, it can hurt your website. Ahrefs made a case study about reciprocal link exchange.
You need one-way contextual links from authority websites — and they might not always be easy to get.
5 Effective ways to gain high authority links
- Create link-worthy content — Infographics can be appealing for others to link to
- Consider writing guest blog posts (high-quality content) or articles
- Check authority websites that have broken outgoing links to similar content — then notify the webmaster that he has a broken outgoing link and suggest that he can link to your content
- Publish press releases Even you might not get a link; you will get brand mentions, which are also a strong signal fro brand building).
- Leverage websites with high authority (share PDFs, presentations, etc.)
The lazy way of link building — and the risk
At this stage, you might have asked yourself — can’t I just pay someone for a helpful juicy authority link?
Sure you can, but there are a few things you need to consider before ordering a sponsored post:
A) Google is not very keen on paid links. They demand that a paid link is marked as a “sponsored post” and that the link is a nofollow link (with a very little value). Before you even consider that route, please read what Google states about link schemes.
Other ranking factors
- Page speed: Your website’s load speed is critical! (use Lighthouse to measure it) cheap web hosting on cheap web servers leads to slow site speed
- Mobile friendly: If you can’t make your site mobile friendly, consider a mobile version. Google has clearly stated: Mobile-first!
- Bounce rate: If your website visitors bounce, it is a clear indication to Google that the user didn’t find what he needed. (That’s a pretty strong signal that your site does not belong in the top of the organic search results) Remember to sign up for Google Search Console and monitor your bounce rate.
- Social Media Marketing: Google has access to data from millions of Chrome browsers, Android smartphones, and a lot of websites are using Google Analytics. So even social media is not directly SEO, it gives Google a pretty solid statement how the users from social media behave on your website and how many social shares you get
- Click-Through rate — If your content is showing up on page one in Google, but no one is clicking, it is a strong signal. You can measure it in Google Search console (Consider changing titles and meta descriptions to improve your CTR)
The $106.000 organic traffic URL — A Real case study
Yes, it sounds crazy, but that is the case — and no, it was not the front page! :-)
It is an individual URL that ranks for 1.100 keywords which are driving an average of 176.000 monthly visitors — estimated traffic value: $106.000
These are the moments when I feel that SEO is very much alive in 2020! ;-)
I hope you made it through and even better if you feel inspired to work with SEO on your own!
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