Every year, Google’s algorithm becomes more sophisticated and what once mattered doesn’t anymore, at least not to the same degree. We’re here to help you use search engine optimization (SEO) to get your website noticed in 2021.
Many things contribute to successful SEO performance, including domain authority, page security, voice search, and more. So, while the five areas this post focuses on are not all-encompassing, they’re crucial for your online strategy.
Here are five keys to get your website noticed in 2021:
- User Experience
- Long-tail Keywords
- Core Web Vitals
- Mobile-First Indexing
- Local SEO
User experience is the main character of this post. It is the first point on the list, but it makes an unforgettable appearance in each of the following categories. You need to create content that is authentic, relevant and easy-to-consume for online users. Gone are the days when you could sprinkle in some good keywords within your long-form content to get your site within the top search results on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Google cares about user intent.
Does that mean that keywords and long-form content are no longer important? No. Studies continue to show that long-form content can draw in readers and help build up backlinks. But in addition, you will also want to integrate shorter content that gets right to the point. If it is unnecessarily long, visitors will hit that back button, and Google will notice. Be authentic and easy-to-consume.
Again, keywords are still important, but instead of using broad keywords, concentrate on long-tail keyword phrases. These are commonly three or more words and will be much more likely to connect with user intent and voice searches, not to mention that they will perform better with Google’s friend BERT.
Google’s BERT is short for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. Simplified, it’s an algorithm that helps Google understand a question in a way you’d naturally ask it. Before BERT existed, search engines analyzed each word one-by-one and often missed the context of the question. For SEO, this meant even broad keywords could get your website ranked high even if it wasn’t what that searcher wanted. With BERT’s advanced technique, Google’s Pandu Nayak explains that the search engine can now analyze “the full context of a word by looking at the words that come before and after it—particularly useful for understanding the intent behind search queries.”
In other words, searchers can search in a way that they’d naturally talk and find what they want. When we bring it back to SEO in 2021, using long-tail keyword phrases will rank your website higher because Google cares most about the consumer experience and search intent.
Let’s walk through an example:
My backyard has a dirt patch, and I want to plant grass there. But I don’t know what time of year I should be doing this. I’m not going to go to Google and type “grass” or “plant grass” to get this information.
I’m going to type, “When to plant grass in Wisconsin?”
Or use a voice search, “Hey Google, when is the best time to plant grass in Wisconsin?”
When Google decides what information to show me, it will prioritize the webpages that use the long-tail keyword phrase, “When to plant grass in Wisconsin.”
Core Web Vitals
A significant change to Google’s ranking system is coming in May 2021: Core Web Vitals. Have you ever navigated to a website that took forever to load? You didn’t stay very long, did you? After paying closer attention to loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability, Google confirmed that it would incorporate Core Web Vitals into its ranking system. You may even start seeing labels on search results to help users find the webpages that offer the best consumer experience (told you it was going to be the main character this year).
Google is prepared to help you succeed with their PageSpeed Insights. Use this tool to see how fast your website loads across all devices and what specific things you can fix to make your website faster.
Mobile-first indexing is not new. Smartphones and tablets took over the world years ago. Of all internet traffic analyzed in 2020, 50.3 percent was conducted on mobile phones. Google has been paying attention and, in September 2020, mobile-first indexing was enabled for all websites. This means that the leading search engine looks primarily at the mobile version of the website versus the desktop. To make this as clear as possible, ensuring your website functions well on mobile is not a suggestion – it’s an obligation.
So, what can you do to improve your mobile website? Keep your web design simple and make sure it is responsive and optimized for mobile. It can’t hurt to use larger buttons for people on touch screens too! Google has provided more best practices and you can test how effective your mobile website is with their Mobile-Friendly Test.
What is local SEO? Local SEO helps you rank higher in search results within your geographical area. It’s impacted by keywords such as city names or Google My Business and it’s extremely important when you consider 46 percent of Google searches have local intent. Covid-19 is still driving consumer habits in 2021. Due to the economic crisis and limitations on travel, people are supporting the local market. More and more searches include terms like “near me” and “local” to find products and establishments in the searcher’s area. This practice is especially important for small businesses – optimize your local SEO to rank high in Google’s SERP for a specific location.
Another great way to improve your local SEO is to invest your time and create an account on Google My Business. This free service will help you appear higher in search results and Google Maps results. Make sure you’re describing your business clearly, and don’t ignore the power of reviews and overall activity around your business. Google is still going to show consumers relevant content above all else.
SEO goes through frequent changes as Google develops its algorithm to fit the needs of its users. Your website is going to get lost if you don’t keep up.
If you’re looking for help optimizing your SEO in 2021, don’t hesitate to give Red Shoes Inc. a call at (920) 574-3253.