Google Search Future: SEO Strategies You Should Follow in 2021
SEO had been in use since the mid-1990s, much before Google even existed. It was only seven years after its inception, that the search engine giant began personalizing the results of our searches as users. And, by the end of December 2009, Google started using the search history of users to populate further search results.
In the last decade, SEO as a concept, and reality, has gained the immense potential to positively impact our searches as users and benefit businesses by bringing them closer to the customer and requirement. The ranking signals have changed with every subsequent year. In 2014 HTTPS was a ranking signal which gave way to ‘mobile usability in 2015. And, now in 2021, it seems to be accessible as well as a secure website. Google’s success lies in its changing algorithms which constantly create a need to focus on the current ranking factors. In this article, we seek to highlight the popular ranking factors that you can consider for your site’s optimization.
Most new and upcoming SEO trends will be a result of the current algorithm. Understanding this can help you achieve better ranking factors for 2021. The website content should be informative and high in quality. While in past the focus was to optimize the website’s content, it has now tilted towards ensuring that the written words are relevant and confined to the natural flow of language. Individual keywords are gradually losing their significance as Google has demonstrated that its latest algorithms are evaluating the site’s content by its relevance to the seeker.
Take the example below for instance:
The above screenshot is the perfect example of how the search results are optimized based on the quality and simplicity of the content. Garden Express offers nearly 3000 words covering all aspects of ‘Tulips’ – from how they can be cultivated to their online delivery. You need not go to another page looking for information on tulips. 2021 trends have proved that the site content needs to be relevant for its audience and easily understandable at the same time.
2.BACKLINKS / EFFECTIVE LINK BUILDING
The next relevant SEO component is ‘Links’. Before we start, it’s important to keep in mind that link building is a gradual exercise and can’t be rushed. You can greatly benefit by incorporating some strong link-building techniques that help you promote the carefully crafted content for your site. According to recent researches, something as basic as blogging can grow your inbound links by as much as 97%!
The more your content gets linked when it is read the more it will be considered relevant by Google which will then make it pop up more often. Some examples of strong link building methods are,
- Blog outreach: This means reaching the blog owners in the relevant niche and ask them a sponsored link (or a free one). This proves to be a successful strategy in acquiring quality backlinks. But to make this work, make sure the blog has a high DA (Domain Authority) and a few thousands of real traffic.
- Client Testimonials and Case Studies: Clients can share their experiences that can be more relevant to the visitors of your site. This way you can have some backlinks from client’s sites to your website.
- Infographics: Infographics are easier to share on blogs and other sites and help provide an instant view of the data required. Nicely created informative infographics are linkable contents that always attract new backlinks.
- Free Tools: Tools like questionnaires, customized reports, eBooks, etc., can provide useful and relevant information which might be completely new for the audience.
Other than this, there are various other methods of building backlinks like social bookmarking, forum posting, directory submission, article directory submission, press release submission, blog commenting, guest posting, profile creation of established sites, and many more.
3. BUILD A BRAND
SEO and brand strategy need to work in tandem to gain maximum benefit from the two important aspects of any successful online business. Something as basic as strategic link building can increase brand recognition substantially. Technology has helped brands become more interactive with their audiences. Therefore, targeting niche audience groups using smart keyword research techniques can help give your brand the required edge.
Know the customer’s intention and be prepared to grab them before they think they are ready to buy. Tools like Google Correlate show you a list of terms that users search for on Google which has a similar search marking as the object you are branding. You can find all terms about your brand that will result in a sale as your original term. Additionally, be bold in your approach and try something different from what your competitors are doing.
Building a brand is one activity; retaining the brand image is an equally important task. SEO can help you assert better control over your brand’s perception among its audiences. Be mindful of the keywords you want your brand’s image to be associated with and optimize the content accordingly. Lastly, continue to measure the traffic. Try and achieve regular real-time insights into the performance of your brand.
4. MOBILE FRIENDLINESS
Google does not favor any particular type of mobile website, however, the site must be responsive to achieve maximum rankings. The algorithms created by google can assign indexing properties to the page more accurately and the idea is to reduce the need for signaling the presence of a parallel mobile or desktop version.
Since 2018 Google’s index has been crawling mobile versions instead of the desktop versions of the websites. This makes Mobile-friendliness another important SEO Tactic. Make sure that the content of your website responds on all mobile platforms and is identical to the main desktop version. It is always a good idea to consult Google’s guidelines on the subject of Search Engine Optimization and mobile+desktop version similarity.
5. OPTIMIZE VOICE SEARCH
The gradual increase in the number of AI-enabled homes and offices is a testament to the popularity of voice commands in the use of technology today. Voice-activated devices like Alexa, Google Home, Siri, etc. have revolutionized the way we activate and control our gadgets, and exploring options on SEO regarding Voice Search optimization can catapult your site to a whole new level.
Also, try and organize your content in a manner that is suitable for the voice assistance tool. Read the content aloud and you will know if it is suitable for voice search or not. A well-written content may still not get picked out in a voice-enabled search if it cannot be read aloud. Therefore, focus on creating more natural-sounding content on your page.
6. OPTIMUM PAGE SPEED
It’s simple, the speed at which your webpage loads is directly connected to the number of visitors that you may gain or lose. Slower loading pages will make you lose not just visitors but will also impact your revenues. The internet offers various tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, and Pingdom to assess the speed of your website pages. Faster loading web pages not just provide an overall better experience to your visitors but also help you retain existing clients. After all, no one likes waiting!
Google wants to make sure that its users stay satisfied. The search engine giant cannot achieve this if the pages take longer to upload. Google’s Pagespeed Insights tool can provide you with a more accurate rating of your webpage’s speed.
7. RANK IN GOOGLE SERP FEATURES
‘Search Engine Results Page’ or SERP is Google’s response to a query. These features can be AdWords, Instant Answers, Top Stories, etc., and are designed to offer helpful information to users without going through too many clicks of the mouse. The click competitive search features like those popularized by Google in 2021 have changed how the game was being played earlier.
Companies need to constantly adjust their SEO strategies to keep up with Google’s evolving SERPs. And some of the most beneficial SERP marketing strategies are derived using both SEM and SEO. Even though it may take you longer to come out on top of SERPs it is worth the effort as higher SERPs translate into higher clicks for your site. As a marketing channel, it is definitely more sustainable in comparison to the costs that come with paid listings. 2021 has proved that Google’s SERPs are more relevant and accurate than what they were a decade ago.
8. OPTIMIZING FOR MOBILE-FIRST INDEX
Google’s mobile-first indexing has been introduced in 2019 for the new sites that were previously unknown to Google’s search engine. This is again more focused on the mobile versions rather than the desktop versions of the websites. More than half of the indexing done by Google is over mobile-first indexing now. This is an important SEO factor especially if you are planning to build a new site. Follow Google’s blog post to make sure that the site is built using a mobile-first manner else it may encounter issues with indexing and ranking in Google.
9. OTHER TECHNICAL FACTORS
Apart from the top factors listed above, there are other technical factors that can help your website rank better. For instance, even though HTTPS was an older trend it is still an important criterion for Google’s first page rankings. In fact, websites without HTTPS are highlighted as unsafe in Google Chrome. Switching to HTTPS encryption can be a good strategy.
2021 has seen more landing pages that have an H1 & H2 within their source code. The use of at least one H2 heading has been shown to provide a higher rank. It is a popular practice by the top URLs in most categories.
Another technical factor is the relevance of your anchor text. Make sure that it is semantically relevant and diverse to read. Having a backlink anchor that is organic and diverse can help your website in the long run.
Google and other search engines change their algorithms all the time which means that a factor that may be relevant today in 2021 may not be relevant in 2022. However, the above article highlights that certain trends like a secure webpage, relatable content, and page speed are ever-popular SEO trends. Therefore, it is important to get the basics right, be aware of the current trends, and remember that the important criteria will remain unchanged over the years.