It’s no wonder that a majority of content creators, businesses, and marketers are switching their focus on the digital front for improved sales and better results, given the fact that more than half the world is now online. And since search engines play an integral role in attaining most of these sales, the race to rank top in the search results is ever fierce.
If you own a website, you must already be familiar with SEO or Search engine optimization and the importance it holds. For those new to the term – SEO is a practice of optimizing the web pages such that the search engine algorithms rank it higher among other web pages with similar content, helping one gain more traffic on their website.
A well-laid SEO strategy not only aims to increase the traffic for a website but also enhance the user experience, both of which greatly decide the search engine rankings.
However, it is imperative to keep track of the latest SEO techniques as Google continually updates its algorithms, meaning the same SEO might not be as effective now as it was a few years prior.
This article aims at exploring the advanced SEO techniques for 2021 for a higher ranking on the search results.
Make sure the site is mobile-friendly
What is a mobile-friendly website?
A mobile-friendly site essentially means a website designed such that it is both readily accessible and visually pleasing across various handheld devices such as smartphones, iPad, iPhones, etc.
Importance and Benefits
The boom in the number of mobile users worldwide in the past decade has made mobile-friendly interfaces one of the most critical factors every website owner needs to consider.
Why would anyone prefer to open a desktop screen to browse a site or look up something when they could do it on a smartphone, easy and quick? The same is why sites that are essentially mobile-friendly rank higher in the search results and witness more traffic.
A good user interface through proper UX/UI design also creates a better image for your brand apart from setting it upwards on the ranking ladder. Moreover, since mobile users give the highest conversion rate, a non-accessible interface is like turning away a plethora of potential customers.
Make the experience visually appealing with animated images
Images bring things to life, and this is equally true for the content on a website.
Visuals on a site not only make the content more appealing, worthwhile, and easy to understand but also prevent people from skimming.
The time spent by a person on a particular website directly links to the search engine rankings. Activities like skimming and high bounce rates create a negative image for your website, seriously impacting how Google ranks it.
However, spicing it up a bit and switching from images and regular GIFs to animated images is a great trick to speed things up in 2021, considering how audiences’ interacting behavior has evolved over the years.
Doing so will increase the time people spend on your site as well as improve the quality and value of the content you put up, giving you a better chance at ranking higher.
Do not miss out on unique keywords
It’ll not be wide off the mark to say that keywords are the foundation of SEO.
People look up a certain thing, a specific word to be precise, and a plethora of relevant websites, articles, among other search results with all kinds of information, in-depth and related, end up on their screens. What do you think directs all that information? That’s right, the keywords.
What do keywords mean in terms of SEO?
In simple terms, keywords are some unique words that users and search engines use to communicate. Whenever someone types out a query in the search tab, the algorithms don’t look at each folder in their systems; instead, it looks for relevant keywords in what they wrote and matches it with sites containing similar ones.
Though there are many ways to find relevant keywords for your content, one needs to be more precise with their targets for better results. Below are some of the latest and most effective keyword types for 2021 you must not miss out on –
What is LSI in SEO?
LSI(Latent Semantic Indexing) are words that are theoretically related to a precise keyword, helping search engines cover in-depth what’s on a website.
For, e.g., a blog on hairstyles wouldn’t be the first on the search results whenever someone looks up ‘hairstyles’ just because the person has cramped the keyword ‘hairstyles’ a 1000 times into it. Well, that might have been the case a decade earlier, but over the years, Google has become smarter and not just scans the blog for a particular keyword to understand what’s on it.
Search engines like Google will also look up for keywords related to hairstyles such as ‘bob cut,’ ‘curling iron,’ ‘conditioner,’ etc., known as LSI keywords.
Using such keywords not only upscales the keywords game for you but also makes it easy for Google to scan it, understand it, match relevance, and bring it up on search results, giving you a chance to rank higher.
Comparison and journalist keywords
Both comparison and journalists keywords have far lower competition than other keyword types compared to a much similar scope in boosting SEO.
What are comparison keywords in SEO, and why are they important?
As the name suggests, keywords that have a comparison factor such as – android Vs. iPhone.
These are keywords many search for but have very low competition when discussing the relevant results that show up. That’s so because people searching them up are already aware of what iPhones and android are and are not looking for a definition but a comparison blog, not what many websites offer.
A rich keyword game driven by low competition makes your content seem more informative and worthwhile to the search engine, making it rank higher on the search results.
What are journalist keywords, and why are they important?
These are the keywords that journalists often look up since their job requires them to find relevant information across the internet for the topic they are working on.
Unlike the ones mentioned above, these keywords do not directly boost the SEO or rankings but help you create impactful backlinks through blogs and articles journalists write.
A journalist keyword will help your content pop up whenever such a person looks it up. It increases the chances of your content or data ending up as a reference, which will help you create a backlink as the person using it mentions the link to your website in their content.
Again, these keywords have low competition and can significantly boost both your content’s credibility and visibility.
Keywords to avoid
If there are keywords that can increase the traffic on a website, there are those which can reduce it. However, it is not really about avoiding those keywords but more about preventing the risk that comes along.
The two main issues to avoid are – keywords stuffing and using keywords with a featured snippet.
What is keyword stuffing?
It is a trick to manipulate the search engine algorithms by cramming the entire website with keywords instead of focusing on bringing relevant information and content.
What happens when you stuff your page with keywords?
Keyword not only does the opposite of boosting SEO, i.e., negatively impact the ranking, but it also goes against the search engine’s guidelines. Keyword stuffing is considered a black hat SEO technique by many. When found guilty, intentional or not, it can lead to high bounce rates, credibility damage, permanent or temporary ban, suspension, and penalties on search engines like Google.
Keywords with featured snippets
What is a featured snippet?
You must have seen those short snippets of text on the top of the search results that give a quick answer to a query? These are known as featured snippets and are extracted from web pages.
Are featured snippets helpful?
To be honest, Yes. If you could ace the featured snippet game, the boost in your website’s traffic will be unmatchable. However, that’s if you could ace that one #0 position on the search results, competing against hundreds and thousands of websites.
Why should you avoid keywords with featured snippets?
It is good to be optimistic, though not when you know that risk is certainly more than the benefits you could ever yield.
Apart from the competition to get that #0 position, the decrease in potential traffic rate is all a part of the risk. Whenever text appears in a featured snippet, the chances of that particular link getting clicked increases by multi-folds, and this increase is balanced through those who might have clicked at your website if not for the featured snippet.
This means that if you use a keyword aiming at featured snippets, you are potentially damaging the existing traffic, with minimal chance of gaining more.
However, if you are confident of your content’s quality and strong on keyword game, giving featured snippets a try is not that bad of an idea.
Focus on linking
Both internal links and backlinks can significantly improve the traffic rates on your website as well as help boost the SEO.
What is internal linking?
Simply speaking, internal links are the links on one webpage directing back to another webpage on the same site/domain.
Why are internal links important for SEO?
Linking the web pages on a website through hyperlinks helps build page authority and makes it easier for Google’s algorithm to find a particular web page, file it, and understand its content. However, it is imperative to place the links strategically, i.e., in areas needed, in a format that is accessible, understandable, and user-friendly.
A page with good internal linking has a better chance of ranking higher than those without it.
What are backlinks in SEO?
Backlinks are links directed to your website through some other domain/website. Meaning some other person mentions the link to your website in their content.
Why are backlinks so important to your SEO?
Backlinks are the perfect tool to create authority, credibility, authenticity, and visibility for your website and content. Popular search engines like Google place great importance on backlinks and consider a site with several backlinks worthwhile, increasing the page’s ranks on the search results.
However, understanding that not all backlinks hold the same value is crucial, e.g., a backlink from an authoritative site will hold importance over a budding site in the traffic difference they have and how Google sees them.
How to get more backlinks?
Though creating internal links is a no-brainer, that’s not the case for backlinks.
First and foremost is to create content that is worth linking. Try to include the latest data, do research, and find hard-to-find stuff that is not only relevant to your content but equally important for the competing websites.
Below are the ways to create a healthy network of backlinks for your content –
Reach out to the niche-specific sites that could use your content up pretty well. However, though to directly ask them for a favor does not work well, neither does going in without proper research.
Find sites that have links to dead and outdated websites, which your content could fill up for pretty well. The moving man method and broken link building are two of the most effective ways for the task.
Other methods include –
- Guest posts
- Link roundups
- Link reclamation
- Research your competitors and find sources
Step up the content game
Though you must have heard it a thousand times that nothing beats good content, however, content is much more than the information it serves. The content that worked five years ago won’t be effective half as practical, given the changing interactions and how data is consumed. To say that the generation today has a wildly different concept of focus and what is worthwhile will not be wide off the mark.
How to improve the content for SEO?
Original and informative content is the most basic SEO technique. However, below are some more advanced techniques you could include to enhance the user experience.
Give everything you know through internal links
Make our website the one-stop answer to every plausible query a person might have, whether familiar or not. It refers to strategically creating and placing backlinks to definitions, suggestions on your own website so that a person doesn’t have to look them up elsewhere.
This gives you a chance to create backlinks and enhance your content’s quality with the information that is readily available.
Add keywords early in the content
Google tends to focus precisely on the content on the top of the website, meaning it works the best if you add the most prominent keyword early in the context.
Optimize the loading speed for your page
Time is valuable, and Google knows it. A page that takes forever to load not just puts off the person visiting but also Google, as it mentions site loading speed as one of the critical ranking factors.
Dig in and understand the areas holding back your website’s loading speed and fix it, especially for mobile devices, since most search queries occur on smartphones.
Add a comment section
Interacting and feedback are a great way to indulge with the audience, but did you know that Google includes comments into the ranking factor?
Comments increase the content value, creates confidence in the source, increases the average time people spend on your website, and for the most crucial part, helps Google rank it better.
Unique and original images, titles, and descriptions
Something out of the box or visually appealing tends to attract attention and make the audience curious, forcing them to click on it.
Be mindful of the SERPs
What are SERPs?
SERP or Search Engine Result Pages are Google pages that show up whenever someone initiates a search query. It can include anything from featured snippets, videos to Google ad results, etc.
Since the first Google page gets the highest click rate for all the obvious reasons, you must create content with that particular aim in mind.
But wait, isn’t that what we have been talking about for this entire time? Yes, but not exactly.
The Two main SERP features
Paid results and organic results are the two most vital SERP features that often take up the critical first-page space on Google.
Paid results are from those who invest in keywords through Google ads and are mostly placed higher in results.
Organic results are when you successfully optimize your content to get a higher rank, i.e., a place on the first page. But, only appearing on the first page does not guarantee a higher click rate, instead creates competition for the audience.
It is where SERPs help with determining the look of your website on that first Google page.
Why do SERPs matter for SEO?
Say that you created content on ‘running shoes,’ now, if your title and description compete for SERP for ‘ running shoes,’ chances are that you wouldn’t get many clicks even if you manage to get a place on the first page.
However, if you chose a SERP for brand comparison or trail running footwear, etc., you place a higher bid.
It is because whenever someone searches for running shoes, they are bound to witness a shopping trail, followed by ads, and further down a blue link to your website, left with scarce hope of being clicked.
One way out of the scenario is to AVOID SERP features. As mentioned earlier in the article, things like features snippets create a greater competition than it gives a chance to gather traffic.
Although this does not mean you cannot optimize the page to look more clickable even when competing against many.
Utilizing ‘schema’ and strategically built content makes Google turn organic snippets ( title, URL, meta description) into a rich snippet( containing additional data such as reviews, stars, among other information on the first page).
This technique is also very effective in building up your SERP real estate( the pixels you have control over on the first Google page), which in turn help you increase the click rate without actually having to rank higher.
Other ways to boost SERP real estate include – guest posts, youtube videos, featured snippets, etc.
Supplementary content is the way to go
Things like infographics, charts, features breakdown, calculators, summaries, pros and cons, and almost anything that increases the content quality while making it seem informative, easy-to-understand, imperative, and different from the rest all act as supplementary content.
Google places huge importance on sites offering such information, helping you, directly and indirectly, get a higher rank through Google.
Update and Revise
There are two main tricks to go about with the yearly trends and new data available to boost the quality of your post –
The first is to reoptimize old content.
Is it better to update your website?
If you have an old article or content that is still relevant, just out of date, it is better to repurpose it than create a new one on the same topic. It saves you effort and time and adds value to your site as the one that is often updated while also helping you not lose backlinks, boost reliability, etc.
To do this, source the latest data from multiple resources, add images, additional content, and anything you feel is lacking on the website.
The second method is to create yearly revised topics.
For example, every year, paint companies, companies like Pantone, etc., come out with a color palette for that particular year. If they put out a revised color scheme on their website early on in the year with the title ‘color of the year 2021,’ they are bound to witness heavy traffic.
It’s because there isn’t much competition on tag 2021 at the beginning of the year as it is mid-year, but there are those interested in noting the event. To move with the trend and create content on hot and in-demand topics is a sure shot way to boost website traffic.
The YouTube SEO
For anyone who does not know yet, YouTube has successfully bagged the title of both a search engine(second most popular after Google at that) and a popular social media site. That being said, since YouTube videos also take up space on the first page of Google search results, not to mention the growing demand for visuals and over a billion searches every year, employing YouTube SEO might exactly be what your website needs.
However, apart from optimizing YouTube SEO for websites, you must make sure that your YouTube videos are SEO-friendly as well.
Local SEO Optimization and Social media marketing
Everyone knows how “near me” searches have gone through the roof in recent times. That is because people are always looking for in-person services around them, no matter how many online options are available. If you have a business or a service, this technique will improve SEO and help you reach a wider customer base.
How does social media affect your SEO strategy?
Social media and SEO both tend to work in symphony, and pretty well at that. Social media works great in increasing your content’s visibility, helping attain more traffic for the sites. Similarly, mentions or links to social media handles on websites make the content more credible and valuable while also giving you a chance to shoot up the follower count.
The Bottom Line
There is no shortcut to building a high-performing website. However, employing the above-mentioned latest SEO techniques for 2021 and a pinch of hard work can undoubtedly set your ranking game up at the next level. Happy Scrolling!