We can all agree that 2020 was a crazy year in more ways than one, and that means that we way that users interact with content and webpages in different as well. There are a few things to keep in mind when developing your SEO strategy for 2021. We’ve put together some of our top finds to help you get started.
Focus On Intent
This year will start to see a shift in strategy when it comes to optimizing pages for SEO. This means a transition away from traditional best practices that will hold less value as the algorithms get stronger (such as meta descriptions for every page) and a stronger focus on better understanding what’s happening within the SERPs.
It’s no secret that Google has unlimited information on consumer behavior, and they are constantly optimizing their strategy based on what they learn. They know what people search for ‘x’ want to see, and are constantly optimizing their SERP to provide that. By monitoring what sites show up on SERPs, you can get insight into what Google thinks serves it’s user’s intent. You can then use this to fuel your own strategy and create content that gets to the core of why they are searching. As Google’s algorithm becomes more sophisticated, this practice will only grow in importance.
Google wants to create the best experience for their users, which means providing them with relevant content and expert advice. This means prioritizing those pages that have E-A-T, and leaving behind sites filled with keywords and filler content (if you’re wondering what that means, we’ve got you covered with this SEO guide). To outrank, your need to provide relevant information to your users, and do it well. The goal is to cater to the search intent and build your pages around that.
Be Flexible in Order to Keep Up
We get it, the future can be unpredictable, especially when in comes to search intent and volume. While you can’t control searcher behavior, or even predict it, you can monitor it and adjust accordingly.
It’s not always in your best interest to invest your strategy into something that is ‘tried and true’. By monitoring target SERPs, you can identify potential changes in search intent. If the results start to shift to showing pages that don’t align with your intent, this could be a sign that the algorithm is changing. Google may be serving up content that they believe is more relevant to the users search intent. This is a sign that you may need to switch your page content, or risking being left behind when it comes to rankings. By utilizing tools such as SEMrush, Moz, or Google Trends, you can get some insight into monthly search volume by term, and give some sense of direction when it comes to search interest.
In 2021, you should never get too comfortable with how your pages are performing. We’ve seen people learn the hard way that you’re never too safe to make changes to your strategy. Being flexible and having the ability to adapt to shifts in the market is a critical virtue for success moving forward.
Work Your Own Data
If there’s something you can do to level up your site, it’s leveraging your own data to cater to your own audiences. Evaluating trends and keywords is great, and has its place in SEO, but your own data can help you get insight into how your site users are operating, and where you can better cater to them.
If anything, start with your own first-party data and build on what you learn about your user behavior. Learn what your customer is doing, how they are doing it, and how we can get them to do more of it quicker. Then, reverse engineer what you learn and apply that to the content you produce.
Tailor Your Content
Brands are going to need to forget about promoting themselves and instead cater to their visitors. Provide the information they want, without making them work for it. Not only does this mean a quick and fast rendering site, but also eliminating forced registrations or pop ups that will only work to deter visitors.
Be sure that your website copy addresses your users concerns, rather than the company as a whole or why your product is so awesome. Rather, focus on what your users are looking for when they come to your site. Take inspiration from the questions you receive most often and build from there. Answer common top of mind questions and eliminate any doubts in their mind about the message you are trying to get across.
Another thing to keep in mind is preferred content type. Yes, brand voice and copy is essential to catering to your audience, but part of their experience includes how they like to digest their content. Are they more likely to watch a video, download a report, or read a blog post? By creating content in your audience’s preferred form, you can increase your chances of people found in their search, and keep them engaged.
Analyze the search data and on-site journey of any organically acquired leads – not just the search terms that they used to find your content, but also on-site search and highlighted keywords for all pages that they visited. Aggregate that data and map it to a content journey.
Optimizing Page Experience and Core Web Vitals
Google’s ranking factors are changing, and Core Web Vitals are a big part of that. Google wants to provide the best experience for their users, and that means only ranking pages with strong performance metrics. Those ‘nice to haves’ are now expected. Everything from page speed, mobile-friendliness, image optimization, and security protocols need to be optimized for. By making these changes to your website, you can ensure that you are prepared for Google’s algorithm changes, but also improve the users experience on your site.
When implementing an upgrade to your website, don’t settle for the bare minimum or current industry standards if you want to make changes that will last into the future. Use the tools available to you to measure and test through the use of machine learning. As said in a roundup by Search Engine Journal: “Google’s focus on Core Web Vitals shows that they’re starting to measure how annoying sites can be, so give your users a pleasant experience and Google will do the same for you.”
Mobile is No Longer a Secondary Factor
Mobile first is the new norm, especially when it comes to your Google ranking. Essentially, Google will be ignoring your desktop site moving forward, and focusing on the mobile experience to determine your rankings. This means an increased focus on mobile experience should be a critical factor in your SEO strategy if it’s not already.
Is your content every to find? Are the pages easy to navigate? These are all questions that should be ‘yes’ if you want to outrank your competitors.
Read More: How User Experience and SEO Work Together
In Short – UX is Key
Whether it’s creating content to answer their questions, or optimizing your website for mobile, all these changes are focused around one thing: the user experience.
With this in mind, you can help stay ahead of the trends and help build your SEO in 2021.
Read More: SEO Basics for Beginners