SEO Strategies You Should Use
It’s 2021 and the start of a new decade in SEO and digital marketing. As we step into this new territory, we need to consider the strategies that we will take with us as web designers, internet marketing professionals, business owners, or employees. The user experience should be at the forefront of our strategic thinking as we seek to streamline the process in which people find solutions to their problems. Providing searchers with the data they demand in the fastest and most convenient way possible is paramount to this experience. This post is all about joining the optimization of websites for users and search engines and the top strategies to help you do so!
Google and other major search engines have been pushing “security” for the past few years, and 2021 is not going to be different. The search engines and the internet browsers we all use are requiring websites to have a valid SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), the protocols that authenticate encrypted communications through the site. A non-secure website address is http://www.xyz.com while the secure version is https://www.xyz.com. Internet browsers have been updating the technologies and requirements to ensure secure websites and are now actively notifying users they are entering a non-secure site or page. They are also blocking various types of non-secure content to help ensure security. These non-secure warnings and blocked website content affect user experience, resulting in many visitors leaving websites. Due to a poor user experience and decreased activity on the website the search engines could deem the site as low quality and decrease visibility (rankings) in the search results.
Is an SSL Required to Rank on Google?
Google has put user security as a high priority and has been including SSL as a ranking signal since 2014. A widely debated topic in the SEO industry is that Google will provide a boost to your website rankings if you have an SSL, which may have been true in 2014. A better way to word that in 2021 would be, Google may devalue your website if you don’t have an SSL thus hurting your rankings and traffic. Providing your potential customer security while using your website should be the goal for every website owner in 2021.
Secure Websites Are a Must
Since most websites have a contact form, it is your responsibility to protect the personal information of the users on your website. Without an SSL, the data entered and sent through the contact form is sent as plain text and can be easily hacked. When using SSL, the process of stealing that information from a website is much more difficult.
Before you buy SSL and install it yourself, make sure you have a professional assess your site and help migrate your site from http to https. For additional help, Google has a document of best practices when implementing and SSL.
Responsive Web Design
Mobile UX (User Experience) has been a big part of Google search results since Mobilegeddon in 2015. Mobilegeddon is a name for Google’s search engine algorithm update of April 21, 2015. It was a huge direction change for the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages).
Let’s face it, almost everyone carries a smartphone. As a follow up to Mobilegeddon, Mobile First Indexing, as Google calls it, was rolled out in 2018. In 2019, they started deploying it to all websites currently indexed with Google and any new site indexed with them is automatically placed there. Mobile First Indexing takes the way that a webpage would be viewed via a mobile device and indexes that version of the page to be shown in the SERPs. That means if your website is not mobile-friendly, your rankings and traffic can decrease severely. Updating your website design so that it will cater to both mobile and desktop users has become an essential part of SEO and is one of the most important strategies you should implement in 2021.
Mobile UX Will Help Determine Your Rankings
When set up properly, Google Search Console (GSC) will notify you when your site was added to mobile first indexing and can help to identify areas of your site that need to improve to make it mobile friendly. There are many other features within GSC to help with UX optimization strategies that you may not know about. Learn how to get the best use of Google Search Console, and maximize your potential in Google search results.
More people use their smartphones or mobile devices than ever before, and we aren’t going backwards with that trend. If you want to reach your target audience and get them to use your services or buy your products, having a responsive website design for your business is extremely important.
Website Speed – 4 Seconds or Less
It doesn’t matter if you have the perfect website, with the perfect content. If your site doesn’t load in 4 seconds or less, 40% of users say they will not wait for a website to load. They will leave and look for the information they need elsewhere. We have become a society which requires the fastest information possible at our fingertips, an “on-demand society”, if you will. Using tools such as GTMetrix, will give you a detailed evaluation of your page load speed.
Google’s Page Speed Score
Once you improve your page load speed, you can move onto the next phase of UX. The site flow and navigation should be easy to understand. Don’t use industry slang that would be unfamiliar to your potential audience. A good site will have a simple flow towards an end goal, whether that is a sale, service, or providing resource information – it doesn’t matter, the flow should be seamless and easy to navigate.
Content Is Still King
For years, the top-ranking websites for highly competitive search phrases have had not only the most text on their page but also the best quality content. When you provide the user detailed information, formatted properly, with on-page SEO, the results speak for themselves.
Studies have shown that websites which have pages/posts of 2,000 or more words usually get more readers than those with fewer words.
E.A.T. (Expertise, Authority, Trust) Makes A Difference
Writing gibberish for an hour won’t get you to the top of the search results. Creating content just for the sake of “creating content” doesn’t work. The content you have on your site needs to be informative and detailed enough to answer all the reader’s questions and address closely related topics which could also be of interest to them. You need to establish Expertise, Authority, and Trust (E.A.T) from your content.
There is a bonus to spending the time on writing detailed content. The more time a user spends on your site the more likely they are to convert to a sale. Also, when people spend more time on your page, Google will reward that page with more traffic and better rankings. Google’s machine learning knows you are covering the topic well for the human user and wants to promote that.
Do I Need to Create Content Every Day?
Publishing content of this caliber is difficult. There is no need to create a 2,000+ word document every day. Creating a schedule that works with your budgeted time is important, even if it is only once a month. Quality content published once a month will beat poor content published every day, every time.
Featured Snippet Optimization
Position #1 in the Google SERP’s is considered the holy grail for search marketers. Featured snippets or position “0” is now getting more attention. Feature snippets get placed above the local pack (maps) and organic results. In many search phrases that return a featured snippet, there are no paid ads which puts the featured snippet at the top. When a search phrase returns paid ads, they are still placed above the featured snippet.
How Many Clicks Do Featured Snippets Get?
According to Ahrefs, 8.6% of all clicks come from the featured snippet result when the SERPs showcase one. This is lower than the percentage of users that click the normal organic results because the answer to their question is in the search results. The traditional organic paid, and local results are still amongst the most effective ways in 2021 to get leads or sales from your digital marketing efforts.
(Image provided by Ahrefs)
The featured snippet section is becoming more prominent and competitive. According to Moz, 23% of searches return a featured snippet section. These search results can be a video, paragraph, list, table or accordion style. Although this area doesn’t produce the volume of clicks the advertisements or organic results produce, it can still be a good way to promote your brand while providing useful information to the searcher. The question of value comes into play here though. And, it is necessary to make informed business decisions when it comes to where you need to place your marketing efforts. Featured snippets provide the user an answer in the SERPs which can generate less traffic to a site, so it may not be as cost effective for many businesses to pursue. But in terms of brand recognition and visibility, it is something to consider as it may not be something your competitors are doing.
SEO in 2021 is evolving into new areas as Google rolls out algorithm updates and people continue to demand data in new ways. The days of keyword optimization are not over, but now we are optimizing for the user in tandem.
Google has become more than a household name, in fact, they were added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary because they are such a huge impact on society. Google has a very strong impact on how businesses and people interact globally, and with each new year comes new trends and ways to interact.
If you’re not new to these topics and trends of 2021, that’s great, you’ve got a head start. But, if you are new to SEO, or need a little more guidance for your business, now is the time to get going and start providing all users with the best possible experience.