With over 200 ranking factors, SEO requirements are constantly changing, making it tough to keep up with the latest algorithm updates.
In this practical guide to SEO in 2021, I’m going to cover 14 lesser-known, yet extremely effective tactics you can use to reach the coveted top spot on Google’s search results.
Let’s jump into it!
Create Content Your Customers Search For
Great content alone is not enough to rank well. It also needs to be packaged appropriately and delivered to the right people.
After all, if you don’t know who your target audience is, there’s no way you can appeal to them.
What do they search for online? What are their pain points?
Once you define your customer persona (or personas), you can create relevant content that appeals to their interests and addresses their concerns.
Doing so ensures that your site will show up in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and be seen by more users.
You can then leverage that information to capture email addresses and remarket to subscribers.
Update Your Most Important Content
When it comes to how to rank on page 1 of Google, there’s a strategy that’s often overlooked.
Instead of consistently churning out new pieces of content, you can opt to refresh your old content. Not only does this take less time and energy, but it delivers faster results.
Basically, when you tell Google that your content is new, you’ll get a boost in traffic.
A good rule of thumb is to update high volume pages that drive the most conversions on a monthly basis, secondary content on a quarterly basis, and any remaining content on an annual basis.
Include Long-Form Content, Images, and Videos
On the surface, it seems that since attention spans are getting shorter, it makes sense to publish 400-word blog posts, right?
Well, not exactly.
Data actually suggests that longer-form content has proven to be more shareable, engaging, and better for SEO in 2021.
In fact, longer content that exceeds 2,000 words has a higher chance of earning quality backlinks, which can contribute greatly to improving search rankings.
And remember that content with visuals performs better than plain text content, so be sure to supplement your 2,000+ words with optimized images and videos.
Check Your Click-Through Rate for Better SEO in 2021
Utilized in PPC, email, and on-page web design, click-through rate is a metric used to measure the effectiveness of an online marketing campaign.
It’s calculated by taking the number of people who clicked-through your page divided by the total number of people who saw it.
The Google Search Console offers a variety of reports and data analytics for your website, including click-through rates from search results.
If one of your pages has a really high click-through rate, then you’re providing visitors with exactly what they’re looking for and no further action is needed on your part.
If your page has a lower click-through rate, it’s time to take a closer look at where things may be going wrong and tweak your strategy accordingly.
Pro-tip: I’m a huge fan of using heat maps to see where visitors are spending the most time on your page–and where they’re dropping off. Try a tool like Hot Jar for a better analysis of what is and isn’t working on your page.
Consider Accelerated Mobile Pages
If you’re still wondering how to get page rank 1, look no further than page load time.
Speed is one of the most important ranking factors to consider when measuring bounce rate for mobile web pages. Research shows that nearly 80% of users won’t return after having a slow experience on a web page.
To ensure mobile web pages can operate at optimal speed, Google launched the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) open-source framework in 2016.
The AMP project is a mobile marketer’s best friend, allowing you to create web pages that are high-performing across devices.
Define a Schema.org Strategy
It takes time for search engines like Google to fully comprehend the contents of a page. That’s where Schema.org comes into play.
Schema is a type of metadata added to a website that tells the algorithm how to categorize your content in the hopes of delivering better, more accurate information to users.
Every website has a different Schema strategy:
- For an ecommerce site, you could markup your product pages with pricing reviews and shipping.
- For a local website, you could markup your local pages with the exact location.
- For a general website, you could markup your logo with Schema.
- For a news website, you could markup your website with speakable markup.
Whether you’re launching a brand new website or migrating an old website, securing your site with https is a must.
As of 2018, Google started classifying unencrypted websites as “unsecure,” a label that visitors are paying more and more attention to.
In addition to a minor spike in search rankings, Google Chrome and Firefox provide your site with a small padlock symbol once you make the switch to https.
Without this symbol, visitors may receive warnings about the security of your site, which means they may refrain from coming back.
Set a Linking Strategy
Link building involves building backlinks to a website with the intent of improving search engine visibility.
For every different type of website, you should be choosing 3-4 different strategies that make the most sense for your brand.
Common linking strategies include unlinked mentions, public relations, content marketing, and email outreach.
Selecting the right linking strategies and then making sure you’re allocating plenty of time to refining those strategies will improve your SEO in 2021 and help you outsmart competitors.
Use Social Media for SEO in 2021
Every modern business needs to have a social media presence.
While this is pretty much common knowledge at this point, did you know that you can elevate your SEO ranking if people share links to your site on your social media?
A ton of traffic comes from social networks like Facebook and Instagram, so make sure your content is “social-friendly.”
Titles and captions should be engaging and images should accurately reflect your brand identity. This will encourage your followers to like, comment, and share your content.
If you’ve got a page that has plummeted in search rankings, try sharing it again. Many times, that will help it rank higher faster.
Increase Brand Searches
SEO in 2021 is expected to become more brand-centric than in years past.
SEO isn’t just about earning traffic anymore. If you want your business to be more credible and profitable, you need to focus on branding.
When more people are searching for your brand on Google, it’s viewed as an indicator of quality and will automatically start to rank you on top.
Master BERT and EAT for SEO in 2021
If you want to know how to rank no 1 in Google search, modern SEO techniques like BERT and EAT need to be part of your strategy.
BERT, which is an acronym for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, is Google’s latest search algorithm, which is designed to help bots understand language the way humans do, as well as decipher the intent of the user.
EAT, which stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, defines the three core factors that Google uses to measure how trustworthy a website is.
If your business follows the EAT framework, it’s going to allow you to rank in competitive niches, especially in industries like legal and medical.
Create Video Content
According to Cisco, video content will represent roughly 80% of internet traffic by 2021.
As the fastest growing type of multimedia, your SEO strategy won’t be complete without video.
Videos aren’t only viewed, but read, shared, and linked to, providing numerous signals to amplify your ranking in the SERPs.
The best part is there’s plenty of opportunities to get creative—you can build a dedicated landing page for each video, optimize titles and descriptions, and create playlists to increase the overall watch time of your channel.
Focus on International SEO
Certain markets are more competitive than others.
With international SEO, your goal is to optimize your search presence for people who are in different countries and/or speak different languages.
Take the US and the UK for example. Both of these countries are competitive markets for SEO, while countries like Mexico, Spain, and Canada are not.
Regardless of which products or services you sell, you need to know your market and you need to know your ability to expand outside of your market.
In some cases, it can be easier to get ranked in a different language or a different country’s version of Google than it is in your own.
Review Core Web Vitals
Earlier this year, Google announced that it would be releasing a new set of metrics called Core Web Vitals.
These scores will be determined based on everything from visual stability and loading times to interactivity and user experience.
To give yourself a competitive advantage, make sure to familiarize yourself with these metrics and measure your Core Web Vitals often to reduce your odds of encountering any usability errors.
BONUS ITEM: Add Google Web Stories
Google is now offering a Stories feature to its app for iOS and Android as an alternative to the stories found on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.
Unlike these platforms, Google’s Stories are more focused on publisher content and are predicted to bring an abundance of traffic to sites that use them.
Now, over to you.
Remember—SEO requires a multi-pronged approach and the competition for the top spot on Google’s first page is fierce.
As long as you follow these best practices, I have no doubt you’ll achieve immense success with SEO in 2021 and beyond!