How to Promote Your Business with SEO [2020 SEO Guide]
SEO changed dramatically in 2020. Here's the cliff notes on everything you need to know to succeed as a small business.
So you’ve got a business, and you’ve got a blog. SEO seems like the natural next step for getting more customers (on the cheap).
Well, that’s partially true. Billions still use Google every day to find what they need, but it’s not enough to just cram a bunch of keywords into your blog post and call it a day.
Nope! In 2020, there are much more advanced (if a little hush-hush) techniques to get ahead of your competition.
And today, you’re going to find out how to use all the secret tricks to promote your business with SEO and content in 2020.
What’s Changed about SEO in 2020?
If you’re still running the generic keyword game, you’re lagging behind. SEO in 2020 got a lot more intuitive and natural for the end users - searchers.
In 2020, Google sealed the NLP deal with their BERT algorithm.
BERT uses Natural Language Processing to understand the searchers better, and place queries into the right context.
If you’ve ever gotten frustrated about Google not understanding what you meant, then BERT is going to solve that.
On the SEO side, that means we no longer have to stick to exact keywords as much. However, we need to keep the search intent in mind.
Before BERT, you could look up this query, and you’d get news articles.
But BERT is a smart AI cookie, so it knows that you want info on visa requirements - not news about Brazilians who traveled to the US.
With BERT, content and user intent are more important than ever.
More SEO Competition than Ever
With a plethora of free tools, it’s gotten a lot easier to optimize your websites for search engines on the cheap. However, that means some of your competitors are breaking the bank trying to stay ahead of the game.
But as always, we believe in working smart, not hard.
By targeting the right search intents, long-tail keywords, and writing really good content.
All the changes made to SEO in the past few years, culminating with BERT in 2020 have shown that Google is putting customers first.
Fortunately, those are your customers, too.
So in addition to thinking about what your customers might want, now’s the perfect time to actually ask them what they want and need.
Customer personas can make your SEO an effort as serious as your paid marketing campaigns.
SEO is no longer the ugly, cheap duckling of marketing.
Instead, you have to pay attention to SEO as much as you pay attention to PPC campaigns. This means investments, yes, but it also means returns.
Fortunately, we believe in growth hacking our way to success. Here’s how you’re going to succeed with SEO:
Clean Up Your Site Architecture for 2020 SEO
It doesn’t matter if you have an established site and you want to improve your SEO lead generation, or if you’re just starting.
There’s only one rule:
Do everything with your audience in mind.
1. Audience Research
First, start talking to your customers to create a customer persona:
- Basic demographic data (Age, gender, location, income, etc.)
- What are their goals?
- What are they struggling with?
- What problems do they want to solve?
We really love HubSpot’s Buyer Persona tool.
It’s made for B2B audiences.
However, you can easily adapt the questions to suit your B2C audience, as well.
For example, the question: “What metrics do they use to track progress within their role?” can be transformed into: “How do they evaluate their success?”
Yes, you can get plenty of data about your audience online. However, nothing beats actually talking to (or surveying) real people who are using your products.
You need to understand them as people, not just as vague audience members.
Ultimately, you should understand what your customers want, and why they want it.
2. Create your Site Wearing Your Customers’ Shoes
Keeping the intent and reasons why your customers would navigate to your site and purchase your product in mind, it’s time to set up your site structure.
Yes, there’ll be some aspects purely to please the bots, but since Google is more and more aligned with your own desires to attract customers, it’s not going to be a problem.
First, come up with user scenarios:
- What is your customer searching for when they land on your site?
- What are the first pages they check?
- What are their objections?
- Is there any friction?
UXForTheMasses have a phenomenal scenario mapping guide.
The goal is to focus completely on the tasks your customers are trying to accomplish, and create your site structure with that in mind.
Previously, businesses have simply copy-pasted traditional site structures, complete with navigation bars, and pages they thought their customers wanted to see.
But today, you’re going to need to pretend the customer persona is taking you by hand on their journey.
The same goes for user flows.
How do different prospects use your website? How do they behave if:
- They know what they need?
- They want to make sure your products will help them?
- They need more information?
- They are returning to your site?
Once you understand them, it’ll be much easier to design stellar UX.
When it comes to SEO, Google pays attention to signals such as dwell time (how long someone stays on your site), and bounce rate (coming back to SERPs because they haven’t found what they’re looking for). If your visitors stick around, Google will get the hint that your site is great.
3. Give Purpose to Your Pages
Forget everything you’ve learned.
Every page on your website needs to fulfill a specific purpose, help the customer resolve their problem, and give them pointers for what to do next.
In short: every page on your website should be just like a landing page:
- Match the customer’s intent
- Give them the right information
- Focus on one thing at a time
- A CTA to learn more or perform a target action
Keep the intent and purpose of each page clear in your mind when mapping out the structure of your site.
You’ll only do this once (in a while).
4. Extra Technical SEO Goodies
We’ve already covered the majority of SEO foundations in our SEO checklist. They still apply if you want your site to be crawled, indexed, and ranked properly.
However, a few relatively new features are hotter than ever:
1. Schema Markup
The main reason why the majority of sites don’t implement Schema is because it has a reputation of being complicated.
In reality, you need Schema to appear in the top spots on Google and actually get free, qualified traffic from search engines.
There are specific Schema codes for everything:
- Post types (e.g. recipe, product, review, audio object)
- Organizations (e.g. small businesses, restaurants, lawyers)
When you add Schema to your website and your content, you’re specifying what your content is.
Plus, the search results with Schema look way cooler than your garden variety results:
And if it’s cool, it grabs more attention.
There’s also a new Schema type: News.
While it’s primarily for websites that cover news, you can use the right elements when commenting on things happening in your industry, and offering advice.
2. Leave a Trail of Breadcrumbs
SEO is a delicate balance between on-page optimization for quality, and making sure your results are prominent in SERPs (search engine results pages).
Breadcrumbs cover both.
Breadcrumbs are navigational menus that allow users to see more of your site, or retrace their path:
Breadcrumbs are great if you’ve got plenty of categorized pages on your site:
... but you can use them for easier mobile navigation and SERP real estate, as well.
Breadcrumbs contribute to BERT’s purpose: matching searcher’s intent, and giving them the information they need to improve user experience.
3. Voice Search, FAQ, and Featured Snippets
Look, if you ask SEOs about any of these terms, they’re going to go on a spiral talking about how to optimize for each.
In reality, stuff’s simple: optimize for intent, use natural language, pose questions, and provide answers.
All three - voice search, FAQ sections, and featured snippets - use the question & answer content structure:
- Pose a question your customers would pose in a subheading of your article or page
- Answer it succinctly below
And that’s literally all there is.
This structure works for all three features because it provides clear answers to common questions.
And speaking of content...
Do You Need Keyword Research in 2020?
Just because Google understands keywords differently these days doesn’t mean that keyword research is obsolete. Maybe Google doesn’t need them - but you do, in order to create the right kind of content.
Instead, you should perform keyword research with the following in mind:
- Keyword intent
- Funnel position
- Search volume
- Topic clusters
Each keyword AKA search query has a particular intent.
We commonly distinguish between three types of intents:
- Informational - the searcher wants to get information about something (e.g. How to remodel a house, What is SEO)
- Navigational - the searcher wants to reach a particular place on the internet (e.g. MailChimp, ContentFly)
- Transactional - the searcher wants to take action or perform a transaction (e.g. Where to buy Nigerian coffee beans in Chicago, hairdressers near me, best email marketing software 2020)
This is incredibly important for the latest BERT update.
Because Google now uses natural language processing to understand what the searcher wants, you have to do the same.
You can create specific content for each intent type:
- Informational intent - How-to guides, tutorials, FAQ pages
- Navigational intent - About Us pages
- Transactional intent - Reviews, sales pages, landing pages
You can satisfy all three intent types, which we’ll talk about in a bit. However, not every intent type has a high conversion rate.
Your conversion rate depends on...
Every lead in your funnel has specific needs, depending on their funnel stage.
For example, someone navigating to your “How to remodel a house” post already knows they want to remodel their house, but they don’t know where to start.
Conversely, someone looking for “Best eco paint 2020” doesn’t need your tips. They need concrete offers on sales pages. And if they see your results in SERPs, they’ll be more likely to convert if you convince them your paint is 100% safe.
In order to make bank with SEO, you’re going to need to think about different keywords, and how they fit into your funnel.
Top-of-the-funnel keywords usually get the lowest conversion rates, and they require more work from you in order to educate your leads about their problems and the benefits of your products.
Middle-of-the-funnel keywords are used by searchers who know that they’ve got a problem, and they’re focusing on finding the best solution.
Finally, bottom-of-the-funnel keywords are specific, detailed, and used by people who know what they want to buy.
They’re your cash cows; they’re the ones with the highest conversion rate (if you play your content cards right).
As a rule of thumb, we recommend starting with bottom-of-the-funnel keywords, and creating highly optimized content for them.
They bring in revenue ASAP. Top and middle-of-the-funnel keywords usually require a lot more work, but they do give you access to a wider audience.
Why Does Search Volume Matter for SEO?
Look at it this way: if you’re in a competition with 50 other people who all have significant results behind them, and you’ve only got a great idea, who do you think the jury is going to pick?
The same goes for search volume. The higher the search volume, the more people competing against you for that sweet, sweet #1 spot in the SERPs.
Google sides with sites that already have a high Domain Authority (lots of reputable websites link to them).
If you’ve got a new site or you haven’t gotten any links from other websites in your niche, Google isn’t going to pick you to rank first for really popular search queries.
However, if you target search queries with lower search volume (not many people look them up), you’ll have much higher chances of ranking.
At the same time, low search volume keywords are also usually bottom-of-the-funnel keywords, so you’re killing two birds with one stone.
You can get search volume data from Google’s Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest, but take them with a grain of salt.
Sometimes it looks like no one is searching for a particular keyword (that makes sense), when enough people are.
If you’re not sure...
Social Media: A Keyword Goldmine
New SEO techniques are all about common sense and actual access to our audiences, so when you’re researching keywords, make sure you hit up social media:
- Social networks like Facebook (Groups) and Twitter
- Message boards like Reddit and Quora
When you use social media for keyword and audience research, you’ll be able to actually see how your customers are discussing their problems, and what kind of solutions they expect.
While social media is great for market research, it’s also great for keyword research.
Let’s say you spot a lot of similar queries in a Reddit thread related to your business’ niche. If the post is popular, the problem is likely common, and you can respond to it with a blog post.
This is an example from a subreddit about content marketing, but it’s a pretty common question.
Similarly, you can find a subreddit related to the problems and areas your product helps with, filter by top posts, and get a great feel for what your customers want to read from you.
Social media is especially important if you’re working with an unaware audience that may not be using the right terms.
For example, we’re using the term “SEO” because we know you know what’s up.
But if we were talking to people who are starting to market their first online business, we’d use “how to appear first on Google.”
Not to mention that browsing social media is going to give you plenty of content ideas.
Topic Clusters: Becoming the Go-To Resource
If your customers can find all the information they need on your site, they’re not going to leave and keep looking.
(If they stay, that sends all the right signals to Google.)
So your goal is to cover a topic in depth.
But how do you know what your readers want to learn?
For example, we’ve searched for “content marketing” on Google, and here’s what other folks looking up the same query wanted to know:
From there, we know we could flesh out our “How to do content marketing” piece with the following sub-topics:
- Content marketing examples
- Content marketing strategy
- Types of content marketing
You can go the extra mile by using other keyword tools.
For example, AnswerThePublic will give you a list of all the questions people search for.
We searched for “content marketing” again and we saw plenty of other great suggestions:
- Why content marketing is important for B2B
- How content marketing works
- What are content marketing tools
- Content marketing with SEO
- Content marketing for charities
And many, many more!
Just make sure you use common sense and interview your customers, too.
What Kind of Content Do You Need for 2020 SEO?
There’s never been more content than there is today. However, only 1% of that content actually serves its purpose and helps you boost your SEO results.
Consider the typical scenario: you look up some keywords, hastily scramble a 2,000-word article, and call it a day.
Unfortunately, that means that you’re not going to rank well. You’ll have wasted your time, without accomplishing anything.
We recommend a smarter strategy:
Content Types for Each Intent and Conversion Funnel Stage
Since contemporary SEO is all about matching user intent, your content should be the same.
If you want to attract customers who aren’t yet aware of your product (and how it can help them solve their problems), you can create top-of-the-funnel, informational content
- Simple posts answering common queries (e.g. “How can content marketing help my business?”)
- Guest posts on websites relevant to your audience
- Quora and Reddit content
The goal with this kind of content is to provide the answers your audience is searching for, and educate them, so they can enter your conversion funnel and become your customers.
If you want to attract an audience that already knows how to solve their problems, but they’re looking for the right solution, go with middle-of-the-funnel content:
- Reviews and comparisons
Your goal at this stage of the funnel is to convince your prospect that you’re the best provider of the products they’re searching for.
Finally, bottom-of-the-funnel content allows you to attract people who are ready to buy:
- Case studies
- Landing and sales pages
- Comparisons with your main competitors
Top of the funnel is where you seal the deal, and so your content should be oriented towards proving that you’re the best of the best, and exactly what your customers need.
Don’t Forget to E-A-T!
Google now gives each site (particularly sites in the medical, financial, and legal niches) an EAT score:
And while that score is incredibly important for the niches above, it’s also important for other websites that want to rank properly on Google.
You can improve your EAT score by:
- Including author boxes with your content, and explaining who wrote or reviewed the content for accuracy
- Including trustworthy links within your content
- Improving your social media signals, and making sure you respond to reviews
Most website owners completely forget about this part of SEO.
However, you could have the best post in the world, but if it’s not backed up by fact-checked research and written by someone who knows what they’re doing, your rankings could be less than favorable.
Find Expert Writers for Your Content
SEO is a major part of your online marketing, and it’s not enough to just write a post and call it a day.
You need an expert to create trustworthy and useful content. Finding a freelance writer can take time but if you follow some basic tips when hiring one you can offload a lot of the hard work that comes with content creation.
Fortunately, that’s what content writers are here for.
If you sign up for ContentFly, you’ll get content from writers who specialize in your industry.
EAT score? Check!
All your content will be fact-checked, tailored to your target audience, and ready for Google to rank it #1.
ContentFly content is:
- Thoroughly researched
- Written to fit your target audience’s needs
- Delivered quickly and affordably ($250 per month for 4,000 words)
You can learn more about ContentFly here.
Improve Your Domain Authority
Finally, with more and more websites using SEO to drive free traffic to their pages, it’s never been more important to have great Domain Authority.
With a little help from links.
How to Get Good Backlinks
Consider every backlink (a link from another website to yours) to be a vote of confidence.
If you get a vote of confidence from a reputable site in your industry, Google will perceive your website as a reputable one, and improve your search rankings.
But if you get backlinks from spammy sites (or no backlinks at all), you’ll have a much harder time ranking.
The best way to get good backlinks is to reach out to other websites, and create relationships in your niche.
For example, if you offer an email marketing tool, you should reach out to popular websites that review similar tools, and ask them to review yours. Perhaps even include it in their Top # lists.
Guest posts are still a great way to attract more attention from both your audience and search engines. However, they should be written with your target audience in mind, which is again where ContentFly writers can help.
Guest posting also increases your brand authority, which contributes to your EAT score.
Of course, the number one way to attract backlinks is to create amazing content, and share it wherever you can:
- Repurpose your content for social media
- Promote it on social networks
- Create infographics and enticing visuals
- Motivate your readers to share your content with free tools or downloadables
What about Your Own Links?
Remember what we said about site structure?
You have to know how each user is going to use your website, and every page you publish has to have a specific purpose in their journey.
The best way to help your audience is by using internal links - links from one page on your website to another.
The more relevant your internal links are, the easier will it be for prospects to navigate your site and become convinced of your value.
However, internal links have another very important purpose: spreading the “link juice.”
Let’s say you get a backlink from Forbes to one page on your website.
If that page doesn’t have any internal links, then you’re only ranking well for that specific page.
But if you’re linking to other pages, the “link juice” you got from Forbes will affect other pages on your site, as well, improving your Domain Authority - not just Page Authority.
Here’s the thing: everyone keeps forgetting about image SEO.
But when someone is writing their own content, they’re looking for images elsewhere on the internet. And they usually provide them with a source link.
So if your images are properly optimized, they’ll get picked up and displayed in Google Image Search.
So make sure you explain what the image is about in its name, and use Alt Text for further explanations.
SEO Is Not the Be-All, End-All, but...
There are still plenty of marketing methods other than SEO. However, even if your leads see your ads, they’re going to look you up on Google later.
If you’re not showing up, you’re missing out.
And if you’re not creating content that proves you’re an expert, you can’t get your leads to trust you.
So this year, instead of following old rules, approach SEO from a holistic standpoint: understand your customers, create a useful site, and write excellent content.
We promise you, the results will be amazing.