SEO in 2020: This 8 SEO Guide Grow your Website in 2020

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Contents

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Chapter 1

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Domain Authority 2.0

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Chapter 2

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The Rise of Visual Search

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Chapter 3

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Video Continues to Surge

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Chapter 4

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Voice Search Optimization

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Chapter 5

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Optimize for Featured Snippets

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Chapter 6

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Master Search Intent

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Chapter 7

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Combat Decreasing CTRs

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Chapter 8

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Backlinks Are Still Key

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CHAPTER 1:

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Domain Authority 2.0

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”shadow” border_width=”2″ el_width=”50″ css=”.vc_custom_1576577096239{margin-top: 0px !important;margin-bottom: 0px !important;border-top-width: 0px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” accent_color=”#ffffff”][vc_empty_space][vc_row_inner css=”.vc_custom_1576578790787{padding-right: 15% !important;padding-left: 15% !important;}”][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″ css=”.vc_custom_1576578921705{padding-right: 20% !important;padding-left: 20% !important;}”][vc_single_image source=”external_link” external_img_size=”200*200″ custom_src=”https://cdn-backlinko.pressidium.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/chapter-domain-authority-2-0.svg”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Domain Authority used to be all about links.

Not anymore.

Today, Google also evaluates your site based on Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

Also known as E-A-T.

In many ways, E-A-T is Domain Authority 2.0.

And in this chapter I’ll cover everything you need to know.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” css=”.vc_custom_1576684617410{background-color: #f2f2f2 !important;}”][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

Last year’s Google Quality Rater Guidelines REALLY focused on E-A-T.

E-A-T section of guidelines

To be clear:

E-A-T has been a part of the guidelines for years.

But Google seems to be emphasizing E-A-T more and more.

For example, Google’s new “How Search Works” report mentions that they want to rank “reliable sources”.

Google search report on prioritizing reliable resources

They even cite E-A-T as a key ranking signal:

Google search report on E-A-T

Here’s how to bump up your site’s E-A-T.

 

Be An Expert (Or Hire One)

If you hire random freelancers to write your content, you’re in trouble.

That’s because Google wants to feature content that’s written by legit experts in their field.

Google guidelines – Creator of the main content

They even go as far to say that medical content needs to be written by health care professionals.

Google guidelines on creating high E-A-T medical advice

This is a tough thing to fake.

In fact, Google might be using a new form of Google Authorship to figure out who’s behind a piece of content… and whether or not they’re experts in that space.

Google may be using a form of Google Authorship

So if you want your content to rank in 2020, it needs to be written by people that know their stuff.

(Especially in the health niche)

 

Be Transparent

Google probably focuses on off-site signals to figure out your site’s E-A-T.

That said:

The rater guidelines spend a lot of time on evaluating the site itself.

For example, the guidelines point out that:

Google guidelines on creators information

This means having:

  • Thorough about page
  • Easy to find contact page
  • References and external links to sources
  • Privacy policy and terms of service
  • Author bylines on every article

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Get Cited

Most of Google’s evaluation of E-A-T happens off of your website.

Which makes sense.

Any random person can claim to be an expert.

But getting other websites to agree with you?

That’s a totally different story.

In fact, Google’s guidelines state that:

Google guidelines on trusting external sources

So:

Besides creating an awesome site, how do you get other people to mention you and your site as a go-to resource?

First, you need to be cited on lots of other trusted websites.

These don’t even have to be linked mentions.

Marie Haynes tweet about external mentions

Something like this can help Google see you as an expert on a given topic:

HackTheEntrepreneur – Brian Dean podcast

Second, your site as a whole needs to be associated with a specific topic.

Again, this comes down to off-site mentions. Specifically, mentions from other authorities in your field.

Google guidelines on website reputation

For example, getting listed as the #1 SEO blog by Ahrefs probably boosted Backlinko’s reputation in Google’s eyes.

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CHAPTER 2:

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The Rise of Visual Search 

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Is Visual Search an SEO game changer?

 

Not yet.

 

But based on how things are trending, visual search is poised to take off in 2020.

 

Here’s what you need to know.

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Visual Search is Taking Off

More people are conducting more visual searches than ever before.

Just take a look at these stats:

Google Lens has already been used 1 billion times (source).

Google Lens has already been used 1 billion times

Pinterest gets 600 million visual searches per month (source).

Pinterest gets 600 million visual searches per month

36% of American consumers have already used visual search (source).

36% of American consumers have already used visual search

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Visual Search Technology is Insanely Good

Visual search is still in its infancy.

And it already works REALLY well.

Don’t believe me?

Whip open Google Lens on your phone and start scanning stuff around your room.

You’ll probably find that it can identify pretty much everything.

Today, Google Lens can identify 1 billion objects. And that number is growing every day.

Heck, even Bing’s visual search works super well.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” css=”.vc_custom_1576684897020{background-color: #f2f2f2 !important;}”][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

People WANT to Search With Images

Once you start using it, you’ll quickly notice that visual search is super helpful for:

  • Shopping
  • Directions
  • Identifying landmarks
  • Local business reviews
  • Translation
  • Recipes
  • Nutrition information
  • Lots more

Which is probably why 62% of young consumers want more visual search tech:

62% of young consumers want more visual search capabilities

How to Optimize for Visual Search

If you want to show up as a visual search result, image SEO is key.

So you want to use descriptive file names and write alt text for every image.

But that’s just the first step.

According to Google, they want to feature Google Image results from pages that are authoritative:

Google blog on image results from authoritative pages

Fresh:

Google blog on image results from fresh pages

And feature the image at the top of the page:

Google blog on image results with image on top

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CHAPTER 3:

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Video Continues to Surge

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Online video is EXPLODING right now.

In fact, according to Cisco, online video will make up 80% of all online traffic by 2021.

80%!

And that may still not satisfy the world’s demand for video.

 

Despite the fact that there are more videos out there than ever, HubSpot states that 43% of people want even MORE video content.

 

In short:

If video isn’t part of your digital marketing plans, you’re missing out. Here’s how you can use video to improve your SEO this year.

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Video Featured Snippets

You’ve probably noticed more Video Featured Snippets in the search results.

Google search featured video snippet

In fact, Google highlighted Video Featured Snippets in their “Reintroduction to Featured Snippets” report.

Google blog on featured video snippets

And I expect to see more of Video Featured Snippets in 2020.

From what I’ve seen, here are the 3 most important things to do to get your video content in a Featured Snippets.


1. Organize Your Content Into Discrete Sections

This is huge.

Clear sections help Google understand the content in your video.

Clear sections help Google understand the content in your video

Which makes it easy for them to use different clips from your video in a snippet.

Organizing your content into discrete sections makes it easier to use different clips from your video in a snippet

2. Optimize Your Video for SEO

Google uses your title, description and tags to figure out what your video is all about.

Google uses your title, description and tags to figure out what your video is all about

So besides publishing videos that have clear sections, you also want to make sure that your video is optimized for SEO.

In fact, a small HubSpot study of 165 Video Featured Snippets found that 80% of them contained a keyword in the title.


3. Provide a Transcript

The captions that YouTube automatically generates are REALLY good.

YouTube-generated captions

But it’s not 100%.

Mistake in YouTube-generated captions

So to increase the odds that YouTube and Google can understand every word of your video, upload a transcript.

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Grow Your YouTube Channel

YouTube is already the world’s 2nd largest search engine.

(In fact, according to a study by JumpShot and Moz founder Rand Fishkin, YouTube’s search engine is 2x more popular than Bing)

Search engine popularity

Amazingly, YouTube is still growing.

In short, more and more people are searching for stuff on YouTube than ever before.

So if you want to get more traffic from SEO in 2020, I recommend creating and optimizing content specifically for YouTube.

It’s a search engine that’s too big to ignore.

The best part? Most marketers are too lazy to make videos. So it’s pretty easy to get your videos seen (assuming you know what you’re doing).

For example, my channel has 26 total videos. And those 26 videos generate over 224k views per month.

Backlinko YouTube channel monthly views

(And as you might expect, a good chunk of those viewers turn into website visitors, leads and customers).

It gets better: when you publish SEO-optimized YouTube videos, you’ll own more Google real estate.

Why? Well, for starters: 55% of all Google search results contain at least one video.

55% of all Google search results contain at least one video

(And almost all of those videos are from YouTube).

Here’s an example of what I mean:

Google search results with video results

And considering that Google owns YouTube, expect even MORE YouTube videos in the search results in 2020.

Embed Video Content Into Text-Based Blog Posts

If people want to see more video content, why not give it to them?

That’s why I recommend embedding video content into your blog posts. In my experience, this can significantly improve your bounce rate.

Embedded videos can decrease bounce rate

Here’s an example of this in action:

Backlinko YouTube video embed on SEO Site Audit post

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CHAPTER 4:

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Voice Search Optimization

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”shadow” border_width=”2″ el_width=”50″ css=”.vc_custom_1576577096239{margin-top: 0px !important;margin-bottom: 0px !important;border-top-width: 0px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” accent_color=”#ffffff”][vc_empty_space][vc_row_inner css=”.vc_custom_1576578790787{padding-right: 15% !important;padding-left: 15% !important;}”][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″ css=”.vc_custom_1576580219457{padding-right: 20% !important;padding-left: 20% !important;}”][vc_single_image source=”external_link” external_img_size=”200*200″ custom_src=”https://cdn-backlinko.pressidium.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/chapter-voice-search-optimization.svg”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Is voice search “the next big thing” in digital marketing? It sure looks like it.

For example, check out these eyebrow-raising facts:

  • 41% of adults perform at least one voice search every day (source)
  • Voice searches performed in Google are up 35x since 2008 (source)
  • 20% of all searches on mobile are voice searches (source)

 

Knowing that, smart SEOs are starting to optimize some of their content for voice search.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” css=”.vc_custom_1576684936858{background-color: #f2f2f2 !important;}”][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

How to Optimize for Voice Search

Last year we conducted the largest voice search SEO study to date.

Here’s what we found:

1. Your content needs to rank high in the search results

Preferably in the top 3.

We found that Google tended to source voice search answers from content that ranked in the top 3 search results:

Voice answers tend to come from the top three results

2. Include a question and answer in your content

The vast majority of voice searches are question based (“How do I do a pullup?” or “Who starred in Shawshank Redemption”?).

When that happens, Google usually picks a page that contains a) the question and b) the answer.

For example:

“How do weather satellites work”

I get this answer:

Google voice search results

And when I go to the actual page, I see that the content includes my question and a short answer:

Content that includes question and answer

Just what Google’s voice search algorithm wants to see.

In fact, that’s one of the main reasons that FAQ pages are GREAT for voice search SEO:

FAQ pages are great for voice search SEO

3. Ranking in a Featured Snippet helps A LOT

Featured snippet content is used in voice search results

Google’s algorithm has already put together a convenient little snippet.

So it makes sense that they would use that snippet in their voice search results.

In fact, our data revealed that 4 out of 10 voice search results come directly from a Featured Snippet.

4 in 10 voice search results come from a Featured Snippet

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CHAPTER 5:

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Optimize for Featured Snippets

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”shadow” border_width=”2″ el_width=”50″ css=”.vc_custom_1576577096239{margin-top: 0px !important;margin-bottom: 0px !important;border-top-width: 0px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” accent_color=”#ffffff”][vc_empty_space][vc_row_inner css=”.vc_custom_1576578790787{padding-right: 15% !important;padding-left: 15% !important;}”][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″ css=”.vc_custom_1576580219457{padding-right: 20% !important;padding-left: 20% !important;}”][vc_single_image source=”external_link” external_img_size=”200*200″ custom_src=”https://cdn-backlinko.pressidium.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/chapter-optimize-for-featured-snippets.svg”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]According to SEMrush, 11.52% of all search results have a Featured Snippet.

And yes: Featured Snippets are stealing A LOT of clicks from the #1 spot.

(As I like to say: “#0 is the new #1”)

The question is:

How do you get your content to appear in the Featured Snippet?

Well, that’s what this chapter is all about.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” css=”.vc_custom_1576684950074{background-color: #f2f2f2 !important;}”][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

Last year I decided to make Featured Snippets a priority for us.

And it helped us go from a handful of Featured Snippets rankings to over 190.

Backlinko – Featured Snippet numbers

Here’s the step-by-step process that I used.


1. Find Featured Snippet opportunities

Your first step is to find:

Keywords that you already rank for.
AND
Keywords that have a Featured Snippet.

Why is it important to focus on keywords that you rank for already?

99.58% of all Featured Snippets are from pages that rank on the first page for that term.

So if you don’t already rank in the top 10, you have zero chance of ranking in the Featured Snippet spot.

How do you find Featured Snippet Opportunities?

Ahrefs “Organic Keywords” report.

It shows you keywords that you rank for… that also have a Featured Snippet:

Backlinko ranking keywords with featured snippet

3,117 keywords? Looks like I have some work to do ?


2. Add “Snippet Bait” to Your Page

“Snippet Bait” is a 40-60 word block of content specifically designed to rank in the Featured Snippet spot.

Why 40-60 words?

Well, SEMrush analyzed nearly 7 million Featured Snippets. And they found that the most Featured Snippets are 40-60 words long.

Most featured snippets are 40 to 60 words long

For example:

I wrote short Snippet Bait definitions for every page of The SEO Marketing Hub.

Backlinko – SEO Hub: Content Gap Analysis

And these helped my content rank in the Featured Snippet spot for lots of definition keywords.

Featured Snippet for "content gap analysis"

HubSpot takes Snippet Bait to another level.

They add little boxes to their posts that actually look like Featured Snippets:

HubSpot featured snippet

3. Format your content for other types of Featured Snippets

Snippet Bait works best for so-called “Paragraph Snippets”, like this:

Google search – "YouTube description" featured snippet

Even though paragraph snippets make up 81.9% of all Featured Snippets…

Type of Featured Snippet

…they’re not the only one.

If you want to rank for List Snippets…

Use H2 or H3 subheaders for every item on your list.

If you want to rank for list snippets use H2 or H3 subheaders for every item on your list

Google will pull those subheaders from your content… and include them in the Featured Snippet:

Google will pull those subheaders from your content and include them in the featured snippet

If you want to rank in Table Snippets…

You need to create a table that Google can easily pull data from.

For example, the content from this Table Snippet…

Table snippet SERPs

…is pulled directly from a well-formatted table.

Table snippet source site

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CHAPTER 6:

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Master Search Intent

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”shadow” border_width=”2″ el_width=”50″ css=”.vc_custom_1576577096239{margin-top: 0px !important;margin-bottom: 0px !important;border-top-width: 0px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” accent_color=”#ffffff”][vc_empty_space][vc_row_inner css=”.vc_custom_1576578790787{padding-right: 15% !important;padding-left: 15% !important;}”][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″ css=”.vc_custom_1576580219457{padding-right: 20% !important;padding-left: 20% !important;}”][vc_single_image source=”external_link” external_img_size=”200*200″ custom_src=”https://cdn-backlinko.pressidium.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/chapter-nail-search-intent.svg”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Search Intent was a massive topic in the SEO world in 2019.

 And for good reason:

Content that doesn’t match search intent simply won’t rank.

And as Google gets better at giving people the exact search results they want, creating content that’s a 1:1 Search Intent match is going to be a must in 2020.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” css=”.vc_custom_1576684968395{background-color: #f2f2f2 !important;}”][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

Identify Each Keyword’s Intent

Every keyword has an intent behind it.

Maybe it’s to look something up.

Or buy something.

Or compare product A with product B.

And the better your content can match that search intent, the better it will rank.

So your first step is to figure out your target keyword’s Search Intent.

Sometimes the intent is right in the keyword.

Google search for "buy beats by dre headphones"

But it’s not usually that obvious. So for most keywords, the search results will tell you everything you need to know about that keyword’s Search Intent.

For example, take a keyword like: “protein powder”.

Someone searching for that term could want to buy some protein. Or maybe they want to learn more about it.

Well, according to Google’s first page for that keyword, most people searching for “protein powder” are looking for information.

Google search results for "protein powder"

Create Content That’s a 1:1 Search Intent Match

Now that you’ve identified Search Intent, it’s time to publish something that gives searchers EXACTLY what they’re looking for.

For example, when I analyzed the SERPs for “how to get YouTube subscribers”, I noticed that they were mostly list posts.

Google search results for "how to get YouTube subscribers"

So even though this was a “how to” keyword, I didn’t publish a step-by-step tutorial.

And because my content is what users want, that page ranks in the top 3 for that keyword.

Backlinko "how to get YouTube subscribers" SERP rankings

Re-Optimize Old Content for Search Intent

Search Intent optimization isn’t just for new content.

You can tweak your older stuff to make it a better Search Intent fit.

But as Google got better at figuring out what people that searched for that keyword actually wanted, my post started to drop in the rankings.

Which made sense: someone searching for “SEO campaign” doesn’t want a case study about a random guy. They want a list of steps.

So I transformed that post into a step-by-step guide that was easy to follow.

Backlinko – "SEO Campaign" post

Which boosted organic traffic to that page by 57.98%.

Backlinko – "SEO Campaign" traffic boost

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CHAPTER 7:

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Combat Decreasing CTRs

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”shadow” border_width=”2″ el_width=”50″ css=”.vc_custom_1576577096239{margin-top: 0px !important;margin-bottom: 0px !important;border-top-width: 0px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” accent_color=”#ffffff”][vc_empty_space][vc_row_inner css=”.vc_custom_1576578790787{padding-right: 15% !important;padding-left: 15% !important;}”][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″ css=”.vc_custom_1576580219457{padding-right: 20% !important;padding-left: 20% !important;}”][vc_single_image source=”external_link” external_img_size=”200*200″ custom_src=”https://cdn-backlinko.pressidium.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/chapter-combat-decreasing-ctrs.svg”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]There’s no denying it:

Organic click-through-rate is down. Way down.

In fact, one industry study found that organic CTR on mobile search is down 41.4% since 2015.

It’s no secret why: Google is crowding out the organic search results with Answer Boxes, Ads, Carousels, “People also ask” sections, and more.

And to stand out in the SERPs, your result needs to scream “click on me!”… or else it’ll be ignored.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” css=”.vc_custom_1576684982738{background-color: #f2f2f2 !important;}”][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

Include Your Keyword in Your URL

Earlier this year we published the results from our large-scale organic CTR study.

Backlinko study on Google CTR

And one of our most interesting findings was that keyword-rich URLs get 45% more clicks vs. URLs that don’t contain a keyword that matches the person’s search.

Keyword-rich URLs correlate with a higher organic CTR

Use Emotion (Without Going Overboard)

Our study found that emotional titles had a relatively high CTR.

Emotional titles have a higher organic click through rate

But we also found that title tags that contained “Power Words” reduced clicks by 14%.

Power words in title tags were correlated with lower CTR

It looks like Google searchers want to click on compelling titles. But if a title veers into clickbait territory, they’re going to click on something else.

Write Meta Descriptions for Every Page

This is a simple 2-minute step that can increase your CTR by approximately 6%.

Pages with a meta description have a higher average CTR .vs. Pages without a description

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CHAPTER 8:

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Backlinks Are Still Key

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”shadow” border_width=”2″ el_width=”50″ css=”.vc_custom_1576577096239{margin-top: 0px !important;margin-bottom: 0px !important;border-top-width: 0px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;padding-top: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” accent_color=”#ffffff”][vc_empty_space][vc_row_inner css=”.vc_custom_1576578790787{padding-right: 15% !important;padding-left: 15% !important;}”][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″ css=”.vc_custom_1576580219457{padding-right: 20% !important;padding-left: 20% !important;}”][vc_single_image source=”external_link” external_img_size=”200*200″ custom_src=”https://cdn-backlinko.pressidium.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/chapter-backlinks-are-still-key.svg”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Even with all of the SEO trends that I’ve covered in this guide, SEO in 2020 is still all about content and links.

Without amazing content, you’ll never get links.

And without link building, you won’t crack the first page.

Also, if you’re not on Google’s first page, Visual Search, CTR and Search Intent won’t matter.

Those only come into play once you already rank on page 1.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” css=”.vc_custom_1576684993802{background-color: #f2f2f2 !important;}”][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

In fact, Google recently came out and said that links still play a key role in their algorithm.

Google search report on importance of links

And a study by Perficient Digital found that links have virtually the same importance as they did in 2016.

Links have virtually the same importance as they did in 2016

In short, quality content and links should still be the foundation of any SEO strategy.

And once you have a handle on that, it’s time to optimize your site for the new SEO trends that I outlined in this guide.

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Source: Backlinko

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