It’s a new year, thankfully, and that means a fresh start. You’ve probably written down your resolutions and are working hard to achieve them (for now) — but what about for your business? The new year is a perfect time to re-evaluate your marketing strategy to find out what’s working and what’s not. One thing that should be a critical component of your overall plan is search engine optimization, or SEO. (And if you’re not doing any SEO at all, you really should get on that.)
In this guide, we’ll examine new and ongoing trends for SEO best practices so that your business can put its best foot forward in 2021.
User Intent for Searches
In the early days of SEO, one of the keys to winning was to cram as many keywords onto your page as possible. Today, Google’s algorithms are much smarter, and they don’t care how many keywords you have — they care about whether your website has the content that your users want to see.
In order to do well with SEO in 2021, you absolutely need to consider user intent when you are creating your content. So what does that mean for you?
Take a look at each page on your website. If you have a page about a service you offer, such as professional landscaping, is there information on that page that addresses questions many first-time customers have? Does it clearly explain your process? Does it showcase the extent of your capabilities? Is all of this information clearly organized so that a visitor to your website doesn’t have to struggle to find the answer they’re looking for? These are the types of things that you need to look at in order to consider user intent.
Page Experience Matters
You can have the best content and the most concise answers on your page, but all of that is for naught if the user experience on your page is severely lacking. Starting in May 2021, page experience will be a ranking factor for web pages. Google will consider “Core Web Vitals” — loading, interactivity, and visual stability as part of how your page ranks. You can check out your website’s Core Web Vitals in Search Console.
Think about it this way: when’s the last time you waited more than three seconds for a site to load? Many of us would rather get the answer we’re looking for as fast as possible, which is why pages with long loading times have much higher bounce rates.
Mobile-First Is Now the Standard
Beginning in March 2021, Google will finally switch to mobile-first indexing. If you haven’t already, you should start preparing your site now. If you have two different versions of your website for desktop and mobile, you’ll want to make sure that they’re both telling the same story about your business. That means having the same primary content and headings, and having high-quality images on both versions of the site. If your mobile site also has different URLs, you may see a slight drop in traffic during this transition.
One solution is to create a responsive website design that will look great regardless of which platform your users are visiting from.
Content Continues to Be King
Over the past few years, it’s become clear that this trend isn’t going anywhere: having high-quality content on your site is crucial. To Google, “high quality” means that your content has Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EAT). Your content is what tells Google what your website is all about so that it can help you show up for relevant searches. Again, this is where considering user intent is key.
Having great content gives you another SEO opportunity: the coveted “position zero,” also known as featured snippets. This is when a short excerpt from your page is displayed at the top of the results as an answer to a search query.