Want to know the single most important SEO ranking factor in 2020?
It's not keywords.
It isn't word count.
I don't even think it's backlinks.
Here it is:
Satisfying user intent.
Even when you hear people say that "great content" is more important than anything, it needs to be qualified.
Great content that answers the damn question.
The 3 primary SEO obstacles
Stop obsessing over minor benefits and focus on what really matters.
There are basically 3 sequential objectives for anyone doing SEO:
1. Getting seen
This is what people spend the most amount of time on.
Foolishly in my opinion.
Getting your website to appear in the SERPS (impressions) is only the first hurdle. For many niches and keywords, it's actually not that hard to get eyes on your listings.
What's the point of "being seen" if you don't stand out and don't solve problems?
2. Getting CTR
This means getting people to actually click your website link once you've successfully made had an impression.
It's pointless having a website in the #1 spot on page one of Google if nobody ever clicks on it.
Without being too clickbaity, your title has to say something so enticing that it pops off the page.
3. Satisfying user intent [MOST IMPORTANT]
I've come to the conclusion that this is by far the most important step you should be spending your time on in 2020.
In fact, if you focused almost exclusively on this one thing, everything else would probably work out on its own to some extent.
Google seems to have worked out how to measure bounce rates and time spent on a result page.
What this means:
Even if you successfully do #1 and #2, if people land on your page for a few seconds and don't get what they want, they'll click the 'back' button and try again.
Google will then register that your page didn't satisfy the visitor.
You'll subsequently drop in the SERPS.
Attention spans are getting smaller and less patient
Take a look at the intro on this post.
It's very short and straight to the point.
One of the biggest problems with my old writing (I actually don't consider it a problem in theory but it is definitely a problem for SEO purposes), is that I like to warm my readers up first.
I usually write a 300-400 word introduction to build up to the meat of my content.
Those days are officially over.
Something has culturally shifted in terms of attention spans and wanting immediate answers to problems.
If people Google a review for example, they want to be told immediately whether or not they should buy it.
They don't want your life story and a bunch of anecdotes.
Just tell me if it's worth buying or not. I'm in a hurry!
I tested user intent and found what I believe to be the answer to falling rankings
Before you hit the 'Publish' button, audit what you've written.
Not for keywords.
Not for formatting and optimization of the text.
Just ask yourself:
Have I given the reader what they want as quickly as possible?
You can still write a 3000 word article but just make sure that the answer is easily retrievable.
If someone comes to your site looking for "best fishing poles", make sure those results are easily scannable within seconds.
You can guarantee that if the reader needs to search through your article to find the answer, they're clicking 'Back'.
Google's AI is figuring out what people want.
Make sure you're the one giving the solution to them.