What’s your SEO strategy for 2021? In all the messiness of 2020, you probably haven’t had much time to think about the future while you’re so busy salvaging the now. With the new year swiftly approaching, though, it’s time to focus on building your 2021 SEO strategy.
Goodbye (and maybe good riddance?) to 2020. As 2021 approaches, it’s time to build your SEO strategy for the year. Research by BrightEdge shows organic traffic accounts for 51 percent of all website traffic. Without an SEO strategy, you’re giving much of that traffic (and revenue) to your competition. So, how can you prepare your website and your SEO strategy now to be successful in the new year?
Google is constantly updating their algorithm to give searchers a better search results page that quickly and accurately answers their query. If you want your content to show up (or continue showing up) for your applicable queries in 2021, there are a few strategies and tactics you’ll need to work on now.If you want your content to show up (or continue showing up) for your applicable queries in 2021, there are a few strategies and tactics you’ll need to work on now. #SEO #contentmarketing Click To Tweet
The top five most important SEO strategies and tactics for 2021:
There are a multitude of SEO strategies to put into play both on and off of your website, but there are five that are the most important to focus on right now for 2021.
1. Align your SEO strategy with your company’s “new normal.”
Before you take on any other strategy, your SEO priorities need to be aligned with your company’s. Chances are, there was some sort of shift due to the pandemic. Maybe your company is prioritizing a new or different product or service, some messaging has changed, there’s been a new launch of a service or initiative, or the budget has just been rearranged. Whatever your company or organization’s changes are, your SEO strategy must be updated to match.
Here are a few SEO tactics to consider in this kind of situation:
- Google My Business might need to be updated to reflect a change, or posts shared to publicize said change
- On-page SEO may need work for any new or updated pages on your website
- Keyword research is vital for any new product, service or initiative
- Content may need to be created and optimized
- Build backlinks to any new content
2. Be on point with your content strategy.
Content has been and will remain the top priority in 2021. SEO cannot exist without content! It’s easy to let your content strategy become some vague bullet-pointed list in some strategy document that nobody on your team opens much, but we’re here to tell you that you will reap the rewards from a well maintained and thought-out strategy.
To revamp and ready your content strategy for 2021, here are a few key points to keep in mind:
- Research BEFORE you write. Content strategies must always be data-driven! Instead of “I think our audience would be interested in [topic],” you need to be saying “I know our audience would be interested in [topic], let’s research keywords, subtopics and search intent.”
- Create a core content strategy collaborative folder to share with your team. Include goals, ideas, style guides, keyword/topic research, and any other content planning documents in one hub. If you’re not doing this yet, it’s time.
- Revise, revise, revise. What’s working? What’s not? What can be improved upon? Is there something new that popped up in your industry to write about? Your content strategy should flex and change often as new data comes in.
3. Shift from keywords to topics and search intent.
Keywords are so 2016. Google’s not thinking that way anymore, so why are you?
OK, yes, your bread-and-butter keywords for your main site pages still matter a lot. However, Google’s algorithm has changed significantly over the past couple of years, shifting from providing search listings for specific keywords to actually answering searchers’ questions. So, to rank your informative content, think like Google and answer your audience’s questions.
In October of 2019, Google rolled out its BERT update, which helps it understand natural language processing. Google said:
With the latest advancements from our research team in the science of language understanding–made possible by machine learning–we’re making a significant improvement to how we understand queries, representing the biggest leap forward in the past five years, and one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search.
In a nutshell, Google is trying to get closer and closer to conversing and understanding language like a human does. So, now more than ever, you need to write for human beings. Your targeted human beings, to be precise — the ones you want to visit your website. Research and write about topics, not just keywords.
On top of that, think about your users’ intent. What are they looking for when they use certain words or phrases? The CEO of Yoast, Marieke van de Rakt, spells it out pretty simply:
You want to make sure that a landing page fits the search intent of your audience. If people search for information, you don’t want to show them a product page. At least, not immediately. You’d probably scare them away. If people want to buy your product, do not bore them with long articles. Lead them to your shop.
4. Always keep E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) in mind.
E-A-T is, in SEO terms, an old idea. It was first introduced by Google back in 2014. It gained a ton of popularity, though, in 2018 when a core algorithm update heavily favored E-A-T guidelines.
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, and is not an official score or ranking factor from Google. It was originally used as a guideline for Google’s team of “quality raters,” or people who manually review content to check up on the performance of Google’s search algorithm.
That means that, while E-A-T isn’t some sort of official score that your content gets, Google is manipulating their algorithm to give favor to content that follows E-A-T guidelines. Using Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness guidelines is incredibly important for your content to perform and should be considered while you’re creating and publishing content.
What exactly are these three buzzwords?
Is your content written by an expert in your industry/niche? How can readers see/find that information out for certain?
To make sure your expertise is clear, you should (usually) include author information and credentials with your content. If there’s no author listed because your content is on a core website page, for example, it’s your company/website that needs to be trusted as the expert.
Answer these questions from Google:
Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?
If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely-recognized as an authority on its topic?
If you know a little bit about domain authority, this is similar. You don’t want to just be seen as an expert — you want to be an authority on your subject.
To be a subject authority, your number one concern is links. You want other people (other websites) to link to your content to refute their own points or opinions.
Beyond links to your content, you also should strive for:
- Mentions (of your content or brand)
- Social media shares of your content
- An increasing number of Google searches for your brand, product or organization name
So you’re an expert, and you have authority, but how do visitors to your site know if they can trust you?
To increase your trustworthiness, one thing you should definitely work on is your reviews. Do you have good ratings? Is your product or service trusted?
Beyond reviews, you should:
- Make it hit-them-over-the-head easy for anyone to find your contact information on your website
- List a physical address
- Have a very visible phone number
- Link out to other authority websites
- Use HTTPS
5. User Experience (UX) & Core Web Vitals
In May of 2020, Google announced an upcoming change to their core algorithm. In 2021, they’ll be rolling out a page experience update that will include their new Core Web Vitals metrics as a ranking factor.
While Google says they’ll provide a six-month warning before rolling out the update and it hasn’t come yet, it’s definitely a good time to start reviewing your website’s Core Web Vitals metrics.
This is about as technical as SEO can get, so make sure your web developer is ready to partner with you on this.
There are three Core Web Vitals metrics:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – Your website must load quickly.
- First Input Delay (FID) – You should be able to interact with your website within a second.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – Elements on the page shouldn’t shift while loading, potentially making a user click something he or she didn’t mean to click.
To find out all about what they are and how to improve them, here are a few resources you’ll need:
- Web Vitals – Google’s main page for Core Web Vitals
- PageSpeed Insights – Use this tool to find your website’s Core Web Vitals metrics
- Introducing Core Web Vitals – Google’s blog post explaining CWV
- Evaluating page experience for a better web – Google blog post about adding CWV to their algorithm