Google’s 12 SEO Best Practices for 2020

Given what’s currently unfolding in the world right now, there’s a high chance that you’re one of the people who are affected by the mass quarantine imposed by several governments. So why not use this time to plan your SEO strategy and familiarize yourself with the changes that have recently occurred?

To start, you might want to scan the latest trend in SEO and how COVID-19 has affected people’s behavior when it comes to search queries. Then, you’d want to combine these changes with established SEO guidelines to produce a new angle for your business.

Here are 12 tips you can follow to create your outline for your next SEO campaign. These tips will be geared for short-term and long-term strategies as combining both will be beneficial for businesses, especially for those who are severely affected by the current pandemic.

1. COVID-19 and SEO

One of the major shake-ups that COVID-19 did for SEO is that Google is now prioritizing government agencies and established health organizations to show information about the virus. Anyone trying to rank for COVID-19 and keywords related to the pandemic will not stand a chance against the websites of WHO, CDC, and other trusted government agencies.

Indeed, even Forbes, New Yorker, and Independent can’t compete against these sites since Google itself is pushing them up the SERP. Thus, it’s best to limit your use of the COVID-19 keyword in your SEO strategies, which brings us to our next tip.

2. Offer Value for the Quarantined

Interestingly, sites that have experienced a tremendous spike in organic visibility are those that are providing value in times of global isolation. Daily Burn, a site producing workout session content, is the biggest winner to date, gaining a whopping 318% increase in organic visibility, according to data gathered by PathInteractive.

It appears that Google is trying to bump sites that encourage people to stay indoors while remaining healthy at the same time after seeing the change in trend on popular searches. So brainstorm how your product or service can offer value during this crisis.

3. Make Your Product or Service Relevant

Making your product relevant right now is tricky, especially if you’re categorized as a non-essential business. However, it’s still achievable with the right strategy in mind.

For instance, try to find ways on how your product or service can help or entertain people while they remain stuck in their homes. Do you own a bar? You can start sharing tips on how to make homemade cocktails. Do you teach language classes? Why not offer online courses complete with one-on-one practice sessions?

The main takeaway here is to stay relevant in the short-term as it will dictate the success of your long-term goal once the situation blows over.

4. Create a Buyer Persona

A buyer persona is an outline you create to understand your target audience better, making it easier to plan your marketing campaign. Here are a few details that should be included in your outline:

  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Interests
  • Hobbies
  • Purchasing power

A buyer persona allows you to brainstorm content that your target audience might be interested in. It’ll also give you some idea on the pain points your audience have when it comes to your business. You can explore these insights in creating your upcoming content.

5. Keyword Planning

As mentioned earlier, avoid or lessen the use of the keyword COVID-19 and semantic keywords associated with that subject. Stick to your business and the angle that you’re using to attract people to read what you’re publishing.

Following that, try to gauge each of the keywords you want to use by using analytics tools like Soovie, Google Autocomplete, Keyword Planner, and Google Correlate.

6. Understanding Search Intent

After Google released its BERT update, it allowed its search engine algorithm to understand the intent behind a query better. As a business, you want to familiarize yourself with the three types of user intent:

  • Navigational – a person wants to visit a specific site
  • Informational – a person is trying to acquire information about a particular subject
  • Transactional – a person wants to purchase something

As a business, your job is to identify what the intent of your customers is when they search for something on the web. That’ll make it easier for you to write your content and address their query before they even ask it themselves.

7. Prioritize Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are keywords that contain at least four words in them as opposed to its short-tail kin that only has two. “Mix martini at home” and “best ab exercises for men” are some examples of long-tail keywords.

Experts recommend these long-tail keywords as they specifically target a particular question by a user and is what the Google BERT update is all about.

8. Create Pillar Pages

Pillar pages are content containing comprehensive information about a niche and usually have a word count between 3,000 to 6,000. These pages are a great way to rank in Google as it offers a lot of room to insert significant keywords and semantics. Pillar pages should provide unique perspectives about your industry, something that isn’t fully explored by the competition.

9. Cluster Content

Where pillar pages provide broad discussion about a specific topic, cluster content is there to expand on a keyword present in a pillar page. Let’s take a fitness website as an example.

Their pillar page will contain everything people should know about a healthy lifestyle – diet,

exercises, discipline, establishing habits. Now, each of those concepts will need to be expanded by a cluster content, which is then linked to the pillar page and other cluster contents within the site, strengthening its search engine authority.

10. Use Visual Content

Visual content is becoming one of the major foundations in establishing authority on the web. They’re easy to digest, contain relevant information, and provide a mental pause for readers consuming long articles.

Infographics are the best example of visual content. Whether the information is about COVID-19 or simple tips on how to prepare a home-cooked meal, infographics are a great way to enhance the intended purpose of specific content.

11. Publish Videos

Video content is also gaining massive traction in SEO practices. According to Hubspot, consumers want to see more video content from brands and businesses, which is why you’re seeing an enormous upswing in published videos in the past couple of years.

The best thing about videos is that you don’t need to allocate a lot of resources in creating them. Even a simple 10-second clip has the potential of going viral if it’s made with creativity and other entertaining elements.

12. Try to Rank for Position Zero

Position Zero is a snippet of information located at the top of the SERP whenever a certain query is entered in Google’s search bar. This position is the most coveted spot by marketers due to its visibility. You can optimize for position zero by:

  • Dedicating headings to answer specific queries
  • Creating bullet points for certain subjects
  • Using long-tail keywords
  • Limiting words in bullet points to 50

As the pandemic continues to impact people’s behavior, expect to see more drastic changes in the SEO landscape in the coming months. As a business owner, what you want to do is monitor how your industry is adapting, especially the big players in your niche that’s staying afloat amidst the outbreak.