With each passing year, businesses must adapt to new trends and updated best practices to continue to rank well on search engines and improve their position and visibility. That’s why it’s best to reevaluate your marketing plans and processes each year to be sure that you are implementing the best strategies for continued success. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the best SEO strategies for 2021 to ensure that you are keeping up with – and surpassing – your competition this year. By implementing these suggestions, you can maintain and improve your rankings, and in turn, increase lead generation and conversion.
What’s New in SEO for 2021?
The biggest difference between SEO strategies this year when compared to years past is a stronger-than-ever focus on user intent. Search engines have become better and better at honing in on what their users intend to search for online, and as a result, it’s equally as important for you to tailor your SEO strategies to user intent. Gone are the days of hyper-focused keyword targeting. It’s time to usher in a new era of SEO by improving your processes to include a special focus on user intent and, ultimately, user action. Review these top tips that are put into practice by leading SEO companies and put those same strategies to work for your business today:
Understand Your Audience
It’s absolutely vital that you truly understand your audience and tailor your content, keyword plans, and meta descriptions to those users’ needs. Google has recently published a piece all about how search intent is redefining the marketing funnel, and understanding the search intent of your prospective customers is the ultimate key to any successful SEO marketing plan. There are various types of search intent, and it’s important to know what type of search intent your customers have at different stages of the sales funnel to ensure that you are staying in front of them at every stage of the sales process. At the beginning of the sales process, your prospective customer may be looking with informational or navigational intent, while later on in the sales funnel, their searches could turn transactional. It’s important to capture them early, nurture them throughout the funnel, and be present again when they are ready to make the sale.
Bonus: The more you research your customers’ search habits, the better able you are to focus in on their ultimate needs, and everyone knows the most successful sales people are committed to fulfilling a need their customers have.
Expand Your Keyword Horizons
Instead of limiting your SEO strategy to the highest search volume or seed keyword options only, consider implementing long-tail keywords into your SEO plan. Consider what questions potential customers might be asking when searching for your offerings and tailor your keyword plan around those same questions or phrases. These keywords and phrases are often considered “low-hanging fruit”, but in reality, they can be much more accurate in predicting your prospective customer’s intent, enabling your site to appear to them at the exact moment they are looking for your products and/or services. In addition, long-tail keywords improve your authority with the search engines on topics relevant to your prospective customers, helping to improve your overall SEO rank.
Bonus: This low-hanging fruit is considered “low-hanging” for a reason – it’s less competitive! This means your business has a much better chance of gaining rank on these terms quicker than your business would focusing on seed keywords with much higher competition.
Improve Your Meta Descriptions
Too often, we will hear unseasoned marketing professionals talk about meta descriptions as if they are one of the least important aspects of a successful SEO strategy. While it’s certainly true that not everyone reads meta descriptions before clicking on search results, a good percentage of people do, and we’ll throw down with anyone who dares to question their importance. OK, not really. We are a pretty mellow group overall, but we think you understand our passion for a well-worded meta description now!
The reality is what is written in those meta descriptions might encourage – or discourage – a click. Meta descriptions are one of the last things a user sees before determining whether or not a link will meet their needs, answer their question, or produce their desired result, and we think that’s very important. Sure, the search engines might not put much weight on the content in your meta descriptions, but if you’ve worked hard to appear in the search engine results, you might as well increase your chances for a click by choosing a carefully worded meta description designed to elicit a click.
Bonus: When appropriate, including a call to action in your meta description can encourage users to call your business, contact you via form, or make a purchase before they even land on your site.
Stay the Course with Traditional Methods for Improving Search Engine Rank
While the focus for 2021 seems to be all about a user’s intent, it’s important to not lose track of more traditional – yet proven – methods for improving your search engine rankings. The best strategy is the one that expands your efforts to include a multitude of methods for reaching your goals, so don’t lose sight of all you’ve learned about SEO in previous years. And if you haven’t already started to implement these tips for SEO success, you can’t afford to wait any longer.
Keep Your Website Optimized
There are many factors taken into consideration by search engines when determining whether to rank your website for a user’s search query, and many of those factors relate to how your site is built and optimized. In addition to ensuring you have the proper headings, subheadings, and image alt-tags throughout your content, there are other site considerations at play, including website responsiveness, speed, and more. Search engines have been very clear about their desire to ensure a good experience for their users. In fact, it’s their #1 priority, which means that they will devalue your site if it is not mobile friendly or takes too long to load.
If your site still isn’t mobile friendly, you might notice your rank and positions dropping month after month, regardless of how on-point your other SEO strategies or current positions are, and that’s not a risk any business should be willing to take. Invest in web updates or a new site design now to ensure that your website displays well across devices. If your website is slow to load, this can also cause search engines to downrank your pages. Chances are, your customers will be annoyed by a slow site speed, as well, and could leave your site altogether. By ensuring all plugins and platforms are kept updated, you can keep your site operating efficiently, satisfying both the search engines and your prospective customers.
Bonus: Keeping your website updated also helps prevent site errors from occurring and keeps you in tune with what content, pages, and images you have online, which will prompt you to make updates to imagery and content as necessary. These simple steps will keep your website and business relevant for years to come.
Stay on Social & Continue Expanding Your Business Listings
The more traffic you get to your website, the more search engines will see your business as an authority for the products and services that you offer. The more they see you as an authority, the better you will rank for relevant search queries. Social media pages and posts, as well as business listings like Google Business, are great avenues for producing site traffic. Clever social media posts and great Google reviews can all help usher a user onto your website, so we recommend keeping up with your social media strategies and continuing to expand the visibility of your business listings. Haven’t made your Facebook or LinkedIn pages a priority before? Make 2021 the year you learn the benefits of having a Facebook page for your business, spend some time strategizing on LinkedIn for SEO, and start to grow an online following.
Bonus: Prospective clients like to see updates from the brands they interact with, and they like viewing customer testimonials and reviews even more. It makes your business feel more personable and trusted. By being visible on these platforms, you are increasing your branding opportunities – and the potential to convert that prospect into a sale.
Keep Adapting Throughout the Year
While the above tips, strategies, and suggestions will certainly get you moving in the right direction with regards to SEO in 2021, be sure to stay vigilant throughout the year to keep up with the latest updates and search engine changes. Oftentimes, a search engine will release an algorithm update mid-year, and the changes could begin impacting your rankings immediately. The companies that are the quickest to adapt and put those changes into practice will be ahead of the game for the remainder of the year – and beyond.