With the upcoming Google Page Experience update, search engines will favor websites with excellent user experience and performance. If you’re starting to get frantic messages from clients, you need not fret! I'm here to share learnings from my agency and run through the latest SEO techniques that will keep your clients visible.
Why do you need to improve clients’ SEO?
SEO is a crucial element in 2021. Whether you believe it or not, your clients will not succeed if you don’t optimize their SEO strategy. Here’s why:
- 75 percent of internet users don’t go beyond the first page of search results
- Google takes about 94 percent of the world's organic traffic
- Over 81 percent of consumers search for a product or services online before making a purchase
- Over 6.5 billion searches are conducted every day
With such statistics at hand, it’s generally unwise to ignore SEO for a website.
Top SEO techniques to use in 2021
Google's ranking algorithms are always changing. As such, you need to stay up to date with the current SEO trends to rank or maintain ranking in 2021. They include:
You’ve probably heard about Google's new metrics called Core Web Vitals, announced in May 2020. Core Web Vitals are user-centered metrics that put more emphasis on user experience:
- First Input Delay (FID) - Interactivity
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) - Visual stability
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) - Loading
These things will measure how fast a page loads, how soon it gets interactive, and its stability while loading.
If you want a website to stand out from the rest and appear on the first page of search results, you need to pay much attention to Core Web Vitals. Some of the steps you can take to speed up a site include:
- Start with testing website speed.
- Optimize website images
- Select the right image solution
- Install lazy loading plugin to upload images
- Remove unnecessary slides, images, or videos.
- Avoid using unnecessary plugins.
- Remove unnecessary widgets
- Get quality hosting
- Enable caching
- Use a CDN
- Choose a high-quality DNS provider.
- Minimize the number of redirects
We recommend testing these features on a website to see how they work. An excellent way to get a Core Web Vitals report is to use the free tool Google Search Console.
User experience will help determine how a website ranks starting May 2021, meaning if you are not working on improving WP website and site speed, you’re doing a great disservice.
Mobile-friendliness is a key SEO trend
Today we have a surge in smartphone use, with statistics showing that about 81 percent of Americans own smartphones. More so, about 75 percent of internet users will access the internet solely through mobile devices by 2025. Making a site mobile-friendly comes with many benefits, including:
- Improved user experience
- Better mobile SEO
- Increased average time on site
Google announced in March 2020 that it would henceforth use its mobile smartphone user-agent to crawl sites. That means Google will crawl the mobile version of a website first before the desktop version.
The best thing is that you can use Google’s free mobile-friendly test to check a mobile site's effectiveness. You can also use the Google Search Console to check mobile usability.
The bottom line is to ensure that all the content on a site — including images and videos — is optimized for mobile to avoid being penalized by Google and lose rankings.
Proper keyword research
The use of keywords in SEO ranking is not a new thing. However, unlike in the past, keyword density no longer rules SEO. Using keywords repeatedly in content or on a web page is a bad SEO practice and will not work in 2021.
More than 50 percent of searches are zero-click searches, meaning they end without a click.
Websites with featured snippets with related questions and answers allow users to get the answers they are looking for without necessarily having to click a result.
You must invest in keyword research to ensure that you use keywords that can drive traffic and boost sales for a business. To that end, here's how you should go about finding keywords:
- Use long-tail and target keywords that match the business (Google Search Console can help with this).
- Consider the intent. Besides using the SEO tools to find the right keywords to use, you must understand the intent. With the right intent, even a low-volume keyword can give excellent results.
- Don’t rush when doing keyword research. Remember, your goal is to find keywords with less competition, and that can generate revenue for the business.
Google will also consider website security when determining its ranking. As a marketer, you need to add specialized security features, including plugins and SSL certificates, to make your SEO strategy successful.
More than ever, internet users are aware of the threats that non-secure internet environments can cause.
If you are yet to include website security in your 2021 SEO strategy, you better do it now. WordPress Hosting from GoDaddy, for example, includes SSL for all multiple website plans and does a great job of updating plugins and backing up sites daily.
People need to feel safe on a website; otherwise, they will leave the site for another, which will drop the ranking on the search engine results pages. Some steps you can take to improve website security include:
- Ensure software and plugins are up to date
- Choose a secure web host
- Add HTTPS and SSL certificate
- Malware scans
- Install web application firewall
Search intent takes center stage
Google has, for a long time, worked to provide content based on the user's intentions. In line with this, Google launched the Bidirectional Encoder Representations from transformers algorithm (BERT) to promote user-focused optimization.
With the BERT algorithm, Google can interpret the intention of a specific search. That being the case, it is imperative to produce content based on a user’s intent.
Although producing content that is not BERT-friendly will not lead to a penalty, it’s important to remember that Google search engines will use it to determine the most relevant and useful content to users.
Google is always striving to provide the best results to users, and if content is not BERT-friendly, it will not rank or maintain its ranking.
To optimize your content for Google’s BERT, perform a Google search for the keyword you want to rank before creating the content to ensure that it matches the searcher’s intent.
Video content will help boost engagement
With over 1 billion users globally, YouTube (the second most popular search engine after Google) makes an excellent marketing platform. If you’ve yet to use videos in marketing, you are losing a lot.
However, no one will see video content if you don’t optimize it for search engines.
The first thing you need to think about when optimizing video content is the video channel name and description. Of course, you shouldn’t overload your video description with keywords, but include an excellent description of what the video channel is all about.
The best way to optimize YouTube SEO is to make a list of topics you want to discuss. After that, type the topics on the YouTube search bar, and YouTube will provide a list of search queries.
The suggested queries will include keywords that YouTube users have searched repeatedly — and make an excellent target keyword.
Voice search is the latest SEO trend
According to Google, about 27 percent of internet users are using voice search on mobile. As such, you will be forgiven to assume that voice search makes a crucial component of SEO strategy in 2021.
Since most people are likely to use voice search when asking a question, it will be best to start some of your paragraphs with questions like “when,” “what,” “how,” etc.
It is important to note that when a user makes a query using voice search, they will be given a single answer and not a list. In most cases, the answer will come from the snippet and, in other cases, from the web pages.
That means when you create featured snippets, you will also be naturally optimizing for voice search.
Original and relevant content continue to rank on SERPs
If there’s one SEO trend that will never change, it’s the need to produce relevant and valuable content for your audience.
As we have stated earlier in this article, Google aims to provide the best results for its users. Visitors will only feel satisfied if they find valuable and authentic content that solves their pain points.
On this, there’s no shortcut.
If users don’t find your content valuable, they will leave a page and choose another option from SERPs. That means you will leave money on the table — and I bet you don’t want that.
Besides, an increase in bounce rate will hurt digital authority. To avoid this, you must create original, relevant, and valuable content.
The best approach toward this is to develop a content strategy with the persona’s needs in mind. Your content should be interactive and touch on the users' needs.
Don’t ignore long-form content
Although content length is not a ranking factor, long-form content has been found to earn more links and shares.
Long-form content allows you to gain expertise, authority, and trust (E.A.T.), all of which are crucial in content marketing. After all, only people with authority and credibility can create long-form original content on a given topic.
Besides, one study found that long-form content (over 7,000 words) can drive four times more traffic than shortreads (900-1,200 words). Also, longreads tend to rank higher on SERPs than short-form content.
This doesn’t mean that short-form content will not rank, but longer reads have more SEO ranking potential, including h2, h3, h4, lists, backlinks, etc.
Add alt tags
Today, alternative tags form a crucial part of an excellent SEO strategy. Alt text refers to image descriptions that Google crawlers use to scan through the images to determine whether they match your content. Besides Google, alt texts are crucial for virtually impaired visitors who use screen readers to interpret a web page's visual content.
Adding alt images on WordPress site images is not complicated.
Go to the “Image Settings” of the specific picture and type the alt tag in the “alternative text” section and save the changes.
The best approach to add an alt tag on images is to include your focus keyword in them. Of course, don’t use the same alt text on all images because it will appear like you are spamming — and Google hates that.
Focus on local SEO
As the name suggests, local SEO is designed to direct visibility for websites in a specific geographical location. The truth is many people are searching for local information on Google. In can be:
- Local coffee shop
- Grocery store
- Best pizza shop
If your client is a local business using WordPress, local SEO will help them stand out from competitors. You can create WordPress website templates or use an existing backup as a starting point for your latest creation.
The first step towards local SEO is to sign up for Google My Business (GMB) and include the client’s current address, contact information and operating hours.
Long-tail keywords are exceptionally important for local SEO. Therefore, you should optimize the site with such keywords to boost your chances of ranking locally. Examples of long-tail keywords include:
- Best hotel in Lexington KY
- Best Lexington luxury hotels
- Best five-star hotels in Lexington
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