Brian Dean’s SEO Checklist for 2020
Learn how to get more organic traffic with these tips from the founder of Backlinko.
Over the past few years, Brian Dean—an internationally recognized SEO expert—has been publishing educational SEO content that is trusted by marketers from companies like Disney, Apple, and Amazon.
Dean recently published an incredible video that overviews a 7 step checklist that will help you get better SEO results in 2020:
In this article, I’m going to highlight some of my biggest takeaways from Dean’s video:
1. Take Advantage of Established SEO Tools
Brian recommends using, at the very least, Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Yoast SEO. These tools are absolutely essential for tracking and optimizing the performance of your SEO efforts.
Google Search Console – A tool that allows you to track metrics such as your total clicks, impressions, average click through rate, and your average position in Google rankings. Most importantly, Google Search Console allows you to see the exact keywords your website is ranking for and where you rank for them.
Google Analytics – A tool that allows you to see metrics for your website such as high traffic pages, other websites that send you traffic, webpage bounce rates, average user session, audience demographics, and much more.
Perhaps the most important feature of Google Analytics is the ability to conduct conversion tracking. With conversion tracking, you can configure your website to track certain actions a user takes on your website.
These actions can be anything from email newsletter signups, adding products to a shopping cart, landing on a specific landing page, and much more. With conversion tracking, you can see exactly where you need improvement in the user journey of your website.
Yoast SEO – If you’re running your site on WordPress, you need to install Yoast SEO on your website. Yoast SEO is the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress and it’s easy to see why. Yoast allows you to easily optimize important SEO elements for each of your pages. Additionally, Yoast will grade the performance of each of your pages and offer suggestions on how you can improve your pages.
2. Find the Right Keywords
Finding the right keywords that your potential customers are searching for can be a difficult task. Dean recommends finding long tail keywords with Google suggest. To use Google Suggest, type a keyword into the Google search bar, but don’t press enter. Look at the suggestions that Google provides you and use them as inspiration for potential target keywords.
Another way to find potential keywords is through the Google Keyword Planner. Although it is technically designed for Google Ads, the Google Keyword Planner can still be a great SEO keyword research tool. To use the tool, simply type in a keyword into the search bar and consider the suggestions the tool provides you.
3: Keyword Optimize Your Website
Dean suggests that you should use your target keyword in the first 100 words of your webpage, as Google puts more weight on the terms that show up at the top of your page.
Another tip is to use your target keyword in the beginning of your H1 tag. Google puts more weight on terms that show up in the beginning of you H1 tag.
Finally, Dean suggests that you should keep your your URLs short. Dean cites a recent study that found a potential correlation between short URLs and higher search engine rankings.
4: Fix SEO Issues and Errors
There are a few technical errors that, if they occur on your site, can tank your search engine rankings.
The first error you should look out for, according to Dean, is a lack of mobile friendliness. Google runs on a mobile first index, so if your site doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to on a mobile device, Google will penalize your rankings.
The easiest way to check your mobile friendliness is with Google’s very own Mobile Friendliness Checker. To use the tool, simply type in the URL of your website and Google will tell you whether or not your website is mobile friendly. If your website is not mobile friendly, Google will offer you suggestions on how to correct the problem.
The second issue Google will search for is your page load speed. If your page takes too long to load, Google will penalize your search engine rankings. The easiest way to check your page load speed is to use Google’s Pagespeed Insights tool. To use this tool, simply type in the URL of your site and Google will test your site’s page load speed. If your page speed is too slow, Google will offer some suggestions on how to correct the issue.
5: Create Content that Ranks in Google
Dean’s suggests using a “Skyscraper Technique” to create content that fuels quality rankings in Google. Dean’s Skyscraper Technique involves 3 simple steps:
- Identify a popular piece of content in your industry.
- Create a piece of content that is better in quality and more comprehensive
- Promote that piece of content
6: Build Backlinks for Your Site
Backlinks are still an incredibly important factor in your website’s ability to get higher Google rankings.
Dean suggests building backlinks through blog posts he refers to as link roundups. Link roundups are essentially blog posts that link to great pieces of content on a specific topic.
In my opinion, if you post a truly great, comprehensive piece of content, you should do some research and find websites in your industry that have posted link roundups in the past. Once you find some websites, try to reach out to the owner or editor and send them a link to your blog post. Let them know that they can use your blog post if they plan on posting link roundups in the future. The better your content, the better your chance the website will mention you.
Brian Dean also suggests using strategic guest posting to acquire backlinks. Guest posting has been quite a divisive topic among marketers as of late because over the years there has been an influx of poor quality guest posts.
A quality guest post is a blog post by an outside author that publishes a comprehensive piece of content on your website that provides value to your audience.
So, in order to use guest posting to your advantage, you could offer to write valuable blog posts for other websites in your industry. In your post, you should include anchor text that links back to your website in order to drive some organic traffic from the post. Additionally, ask the editor of the website to include a link to your website in the “About the Author” section of the blog post (if they have one).
7: Start Using Advanced SEO Techniques
The first advanced SEO technique that Dean suggests is deleting “zombie pages”. These are pages that don’t drive any traffic for your website. Google doesn’t like to see websites that have a large number of pages that don’t drive any traffic.
This is an indicator that the website is not a good source of valuable information and should be lower in the search rankings. In order to avoid being penalized for zero traffic pages, Dean suggests slowly deleting the pages over time instead of all at once.
Another technique Dean suggests is improving your organic click through rate. Google considers pages with a high click through rate to be a great result for a given keyword. In order to get a feeling for how your site stacks up against your competition, insert your target keyword into Google and look at the title tags and meta descriptions for your competitors pages. If the titles and descriptions for their pages sound more appealing than your page, it’s time to update your tag and description to make it more “clickable”.
Brian Dean offered much more valuable information than what I covered here, so I highly recommend watching his video by clicking here. What SEO techniques are you going to start using in 2020? Let me know in the comments below!