According to a recent study by HubSpot, around 75% of users searching their queries through a search engine never go beyond the first page of the search results. No matter how good your product is, how user-friendly your service is, or how good of a brand you are – if your website isn’t ranking in the top 10 search results on Google, none of that is going to help you get any leads online. Simply put, if you’re not on the first page of Google, you are essentially invisible to the large pool of users looking to purchase online.
Search Engine Optimization in 2021
The current online environment is very different from what it used to be a few years ago. Most of this change is due to how COVID reshaped the online market trends and consumer buying behaviors. We saw the eCommerce industry booming in the initial phase of COVID, but then we also saw thousands of new businesses popping up and increasing the competition a lot.
Similarly, the buyers are now more educated on online purchasing channels and already rely on Google to guide them towards the best online businesses they can purchase from. This has dramatically transferred the role of SEO from being a competitive edge for companies to a necessity.
Since Google is already infamous for updating its search algorithm from time to time, all of your SEO strategies must be up to date and compliant with the latest trends. Only then can you stand a chance in the highly competitive online market of 2021.
Best SEO Practices for 2021
Here is a detailed description of all the SEO best practices you must be using in 2021.
- Website Content & Search Intent
The first thing you need to understand before you start optimizing your website for search engines is User Search Intent. This may be defined as the purpose behind every search query the user passes. User Search Intent may be classified into four categories for the sake of understanding,
- Informational intent is when the user passes queries only to learn about specific topics. These may also be used to answer some questions the users might have, such as the meaning of a word or the local weather condition
- Navigational intent is when the user searches just to navigate to an already established website such as Twitter or YouTube.
- Commercial intent is when users try to look for a specific product or service over the internet but are still in the process of deciding. This is the ideal time you can influence their purchase decision.
- Transactional intent is simply the intent to buy. A decision has already been made and now the user is only using the search engine to find an appropriate website to purchase a specific product or service. For eCommerce stores, this is where SEO helps the most.
Once you have a clear idea of what stage you want to enter the customer’s lifecycle, you can start optimizing your website content according to their search intent at this particular stage. You need to actively create and post content that relates to the search intent of the users you are trying to get to.
- Selecting & Using Keywords
All digital marketers would agree that keywords are the backbone of organic SEO. Selecting the right keywords not only provides you with a competitive edge but also helps you optimize your website according to the search intent, as discussed earlier.
You need to conduct proper research to ensure that the keywords you are using are specific to your business and the audience you’re targeting. Also, there isn’t much competition on those keywords, yet the traffic is high. Besides, you should be using these keywords in all your website content, image tags, URLs, landing pages and whatnot.
Negative keywords are equally important when it comes to keyword selection. These keywords make sure that your website is not ranked for specific queries so that the quality of leads you get is not compromised.
- Meta Description & Title Tags
The page title and meta description are two of the most important meta tags on any website. Make sure that the content here includes your target keywords, matches the user search intent, adequately describes the page or the website, and includes a call to action.
- Page Loading Speeds
Websites that take too long to load are automatically ranked lesser by Google’s algorithm. Additionally, if users do end up on your website through one channel or the other, they will quickly get frustrated and leave if the pages don’t load soon enough.
- Internal & External Linking
Links are important as they establish an information hierarchy and build the credibility of your website for Google. Top-ranking websites that link to your website do wonders in SEO; try your best to get links from these credible websites.
Besides, you can also use internal linking where you link to and from your top-ranking pages. This will help you portray a better image of your website to the algorithm and strengthen the life cycle of the traffic landing on your website.
- Using Quality Images
Images and their alt texts play a vital role in deciding the fate of your website when it comes to ranking on Google. Images affect your website quality, user experience, and page load times.
Therefore, you must optimize your images for the best SEO results. Some best practices are deciding on the right size and format, including JPEG, PNG and WEBP, compressing images, using the correct dimensions, and adding a suitable alt text representing the image.
While the Google ranking algorithm remains a secret, it is still possible to use some of these best practices listed above and do pretty good for your website.
The competition for the first page on Google search results is intense, but if you stick with these best practices, you stand an excellent chance to be one of the top results on that same page.