If you are among the SEO professionals who feel that SEO tactics and their effectiveness are changing rapidly, you are not alone.
Remember the days when webmasters used to lose their sleep whenever Google announced an algorithm update? There were obvious reasons for such panic attacks as even the most successful websites, when hit by a Google algorithm update, lost all their rankings and traffic overnight. Ezinearticles.com is a prime example.
Google is investing a lot to keep its users within its framework and improve user experience. It’s also spending on research and development to identify, analyze and understand web pages in a better way thwarting the attempts by the SEO community to manipulate its algorithms.
Google saves your time when it answers queries within the SERPs (search engine results pages) as 75% of searchers never go past the first page of search results. That’s why it’s crucial to rank or “get featured” (through elements like featured snippets) on the first page of search results, and if you are not ranking in the top 10 results for popular keywords, your website will almost be invisible on the web. So if your business is heavily dependent on Google’s organic search traffic, you can be in trouble.
Google is changing its SERPs in many ways, and it may not be good news for many businesses. Knowledge cards, top stories, featured snippets, ads, Q&A on Google, and reviews are some of the features introduced in Google search results recently.
With the increased visibility of knowledge panels and disguised ads along with image display and videos, organic rankings have gone down further and retailers have no option but to spend money on paid listings, which favors Google.
So, if you want to rank on top, you need to work harder. Better pages, an excellent user interface, and faster mobile-friendly websites are the features you should focus on.
Here are some of the best SEO practices to rank your website on top in the SERPs in 2021.
From search keywords to user intent, Google has evolved in recent years. Google has introduced various features such as a snippet box to answer the user query within the SERPS. Earlier, the focus was on the keywords, but now it has shifted to the context and the user intent. You can’t rank your web page just by optimizing it with the relevant keywords; you will have to create content on different topics that your users can be interested in.
You need to identify your “target audience” to succeed in any digital marketing stream. Don’t attempt to define it just by the keywords they use. For example, if someone is searching for “Aspirin,” they could fall into different categories:
If you don’t understand your target audience, you would likely create content around the general topics related to the product. But you can’t attain any rankings by creating generic content as a single piece of content may not provide value to different customer types.
Instead, building buyer personas and creating content on relevant topics to your audience will bring significant results. Identifying the shared traits of your ideal customers will also help find the appropriate titles.
According to HubSpot, rather than focusing on standalone keywords, if your content is organized based on different themes or groups, you would attract more traffic from organic searches.
Having great content and using the right keywords just aren’t enough to get Google’s attention these days. With so much content being published online, Google wants to confirm that you’re an authority in your niche. And one of the best practices to establish authority is to divide your content into pillar pages and topic clusters.
To organize content using clusters, you need to create a pillar page and a few related cluster pages, which must be linked to the original pillar page. These pages would answer different questions and cover topics related to the pillar page.
Let’s define what a pillar page and topic clusters are. A pillar page is a part of cornerstone content that we add to our website to provide a comprehensive synopsis on a topic. The topic clusters supplement the pillar page; these are the articles and web pages created to cover subtopics listed on the pillar page.
Both pillar page and the topic clusters are interlinked to provide an enhanced user experience that helps in exerting your authority to Google.
For example, suppose you’re creating content on decluttering. In that case, you can create a topic cluster around different subtopics such as decluttering of clothes, household stuff, cutlery and crockery, books, electronic gadgets, toiletry, and cosmetics, etc. In these clusters, your readers, who are likely to be “minimalists” or “want to be minimalists,” will easily find the topics of their interest.
It will make your website a better resource where your audience can find information on different topics in your niche in one place. It will also help Google index your site as a valuable content resource for the minimalists. Any of these cluster pages can rank high in Google search and drive traffic to your site.
There are four types of search intents:
One standard SEO best practice is to always keep the search intent in mind.
Even though search intent is more important for Google, the present algorithms still consider keywords as the signposts that help Google index your web pages based on different queries and matching keywords. You can use the SEO tools such as Ubersuggest, Moz’s Keyword Explorer, or SEMRush for keyword research.
According to a study by Backlinko, long-form content is the best for getting backlinks and better rankings. According to Snap Agency’s research in 2017, the word count of the blogs with the largest organic traffic volume ranged between 2,250 – 2,500. However, search intent is more important than the length of the article for rankings.
Use your common sense to determine the length of your article. The article length should justify the user intent and information they are looking for. You should also not target multiple keywords and search queries in one post.
Use jump links for the people looking for just a fraction of the information to quickly navigate the relevant information in your long-form content.
A. Sky-scraper technique
To create long-form content, you can adopt various strategies. The skyscraper technique is one of them in which you can pick the best points from different articles and create posts that cover the highest number of subheadings.
B. Update old content
You can also refresh your old content by updating the existing information and expanding it to make it more useful and relevant. This way, you can easily convert a current 1,200-word article into a 2,000-word article.
You can also update time-sensitive content. For example, if you have a published article titled “SEO tips to rank high in 2020” on your website, you can update this article by including the latest info and trends and change its title to “SEO tips to rank high in 2021”.
Backlinks were and will remain an important ranking factor for search engines. However, search engines are getting smarter in identifying quality backlinks and penalizing spam links. So focus on link building from high domain authority sites. However, you will be under Google’s radar if your site is squeaky clean and contains the backlinks only from higher authority sites.
High-quality links may look like engineered links rather than earned links. Google may flag your site for a manual review. So ideally, a diversified link portfolio not only looks natural but also helps you rank high. Google doesn’t ignore link equity from smaller sites as they also add value, but they should be from your niche. Disavow links that are harmful and shady.
SEO is incomplete without reporting and analytics, which are crucial to your overall marketing strategy. Effective reporting also helps you improve your content marketing and UX issues. Analytics tells you what kind of content appeals to your customer more. It also enables you to identify the UX issues in your website and which page received the most or least traffic.
You can monitor the following metrics to improve the UI/UX of a website:
In the absence of monitoring and reporting, it can be challenging to understand these complexities. For measuring SEO performance, you can use various tools such as Google’s Data Studio, Wayback machine, SEMRush, Google Search Console, etc.
User experience is an essential consideration by Google because it’s ultimately the users who matter. It includes page speed and some other factors such as readability and visual appeal of the content.
Over the past few years, Google has evolved and it can figure out whether your website is UI/UX friendly or not.
You can use the following tips to improve the user experience on your website.
Google continues rolling out various algorithm updates, but BERT was a significant update announced in October 2019. It negatively impacted numerous websites, so it’s essential to understand how it can affect your website’s rankings. BERT update was focused on content quality along with content relevance, keywords, and user intent.
If you want to improve the search engine rankings of your website, pay attention to the overall reputation of your website using the following factors:
Tips to address BERT Update:
To create content that adds value, avoid creating content mainly to stuff keywords. For better conversion and improved rankings, use lots of data in your content that helps your target audience.
You can follow these tips:
Page load speed affects user experience on the site, so it’s an important ranking factor.
To check your page load speed, you can use PageSpeed Insights, a tool from Google Developers, and start tweaking your website accordingly.
Follow specific useful tips published on Search Engine Journal to improve page speed.
With voice search catching up, 55% of US adults are expected to use smart speakers by 2022. So, your SEO strategy is incomplete if you don’t incorporate voice search into it. Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Cortana, and Siri, are already influencing it in a big way.
Follow these tips to make your content voice search-friendly:
According to Yoast.com, snippets with rich content have a higher click-through rate. They provide more information on the search results page than the standard snippets.
You can take the following steps to create rich content:
Almost 50% of searches include users seeking information about local businesses and stores, their opening and closing hours, phone numbers, and locations on the map. Local SEO can direct massive traffic to your store if the searchers are within a 5-6 mile radius. According to a study, 72% of searchers looking for local business info end up visiting your store.
You can take the following steps to improve your local SEO.
According to a study, the number of video viewers in the US is expected to touch 248.9 million by 2022. With increasing video viewership, many businesses have started using video content as part of their marketing strategy. It keeps the website visitors hooked by using storytelling and situations to relate and connect with your audience.
Videos help trigger a chain of thoughts in viewers’ minds when the products are shown in action. Video making can be expensive and time-consuming, but it’s highly engaging and has a high ROI.
Social listening involves monitoring all your social handles to get your audiences’ pulse and connect with them using engaging content on your website. It includes tracking customer feedback, monitoring online conversations about your brand, and gaining insights to revamp your existing marketing strategy for better results.
Here are a few things you can do to leverage social listening to improve your SEO.
If you act on the tips mentioned above with a proper plan, your organic rankings will improve tremendously and sales will rise sharply. If you haven’t started investing in the SEO of your company website, it’s never too late. Even with content marketing making waves, You can’t ignore Search Engine Optimization. It provides the right mix of digital marketing and compliments content marketing to help your site rank on top.
Here are a few pro tips you can begin with:
Follow these tips and if the information seems overwhelming to handle, hire a professional SEO agency to leverage the enormous potential of SEO for your website.