People often say that SEO changes rapidly and that the algorithm is updated hundreds of times per year. Some companies and vendors over-index on reacting to changes in the algo, some of the algorithms later adjust, calibrate, and roll back.
A shift in content and site experience philosophy will make you more visible in the SERPs in 2021.
The content principles that Google, Bing, and the other search engines have laid out are pretty consistent over the years: create relevant, helpful, authoritative content that provides an excellent user experience. This is what anyone would expect if they were going to entrust their customers to another website.
So how does a marketer make relevant, helpful content?
1) Understand what problems people are trying to solve with keyword research; this is called intent mapping.
2) Answer that intent and solve that problem with accurate and informative content.
3) Make the content load fast and be easy to consume with ample rich media, like original images, videos, reviews, product info, and prices.
4) Prove your trustworthiness and authority by building an audience with effective distribution and internal and external links.
5) Refresh and update older content to keep it current, relevant, and more helpful.
Things to consider for 2021 SEO
Topical research and authority: Do detailed research on the topics to the point where it can better be described as “depth of expertise.” Achieve this by regularly writing high-quality content that can attract an audience and is comprehensively covering the topic. Building topical authority has consistently proved to be a realistic method that can improve ranking for existing keywords as well.
Answering Intent: One of the most important factors is to optimize the content for the search intent of the user. Google or any other search engine wants to show the results that are the most relevant for the user’s intent. Remember, every query is a question and every listing is an answer. The best answers will be at the top of the SERPs.
One of the most effective means to help structure the answers is FAQs. Sites should include the top 200 questions related to their industry and product or service.
Technical Performance, Core Vitals, Schemas, AMP
For any successful SEO strategy you need to first perform a technical SEO check that covers the website’s content, design, and code structure to help any search engine to discover, crawl, and index the web pages.
By mid-2021, Core Web Vitals is expected to become one of the most important new ranking factors for SEO: page speed, stability, device, interaction, and HTTPS that Google combinedly calls Page Experience signals. Accelerated Mobile Pages, commonly known as AMP, help content load in less than a second and can impact experience, rank, and traffic.
Schemas are semantic tags that are added to HTML to improve the way search engines read and represent your page in SERPs. It has been linked to the Google knowledge panel and Knowledge Graph, so it’s important to adopt a standard schema markup as a tactic to support ranking in 2021.
The choice to adopt AMP seems too obvious in 2021 as webpage speed has become an important ranking factor of Google’s mobile and desktop indexes. Milestone Inc published AMP research that shows that AMP correlates with improved web vitals, impressions, and traffic, yet only about 5% of sites are using AMP.
Case Study: Why do Wikipedia pages consistently rank so high?
Wikipedia gets more than 10 billion page views a month with a significant share of that traffic from search engine SERPs. From nuclear fusion to parliamentary procedure, Wikipedia articles are highly visible in the SERPs.
Wikipedia articles usually rank high because they are: about topics of interest, well researched, authoritative, written by trusted editors, well sourced, well referenced, fact-checked and error-controlled, current, mobile-optimized, and load fast. In other words, Wikipedia pages provide an excellent digital experience. Let Wikipedia be a guide for your 2021 content strategy.
Content distribution in social with influencers and the contribution to search engine pickup
To improve your SEO results, use social media networks for content distribution that can offer viral impressions and traffic at a very low cost and drive positive signals to boost ranking. Social media probably does not directly contribute to rankings, but the links shared across different social platforms definitely increase brand exposure and mentions. Any content or link shared by an influencer drives search engine optimization, longer productive lifespan of content, increases online visibility, brand recognition, and reputation.
Audiences on the social media networks can become your advocates and can pick up the content distribution at a rapid pace when you offer content that has a great value. Content in any format, as long as it can engage your audience, will be an important factor for your SEO strategy.
Refresh and update old content
Another successful and often overlooked SEO weapon is refreshing and updating your old content. Many times, SEO strategies are focused on generating new content, and it becomes hard to compete with bigger players who have larger teams and can produce more. Sites can optimize old content with the latest information and new images and graphics to get higher rankings, better conversions, and increased traffic.
Content rank often degrades over time due to fresher content from competition. A more recent update and republish date increases the chance of a better CTR and can improve SEO rankings.
Add CTAs to all articles
Make sure each content piece has a logical call to action or next step. It can be a ‘Sign Up’ or ‘Buy Now’ and be represented by banners, links, or buttons.
Milestone Inc, a leading digital marketing provider, advises that “In 2021, marketers need to produce useful, relevant content supported by advanced SEO tactics that improve the digital experience to achieve rank and traffic from the SERPs. If you get the digital experience right, you will be rewarded.”