SEO in 2021: What You Need to Know
If you’ve been an online brand for any amount of time, chances are you’ve heard about SEO. You know that it’s important. But why is it important? What should you know about it? Let’s dive into everything you need to know about SEO in 2021 -- and how to use it to better amplify your brand.
But first, let’s explore the subject of SEO and its journey to the present.
SEO & Its History
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is what Google and other search engines use to determine the rank of web pages. This ranking system can very well put a webpage on a search engine’s first page of search results -- which means that more people are likely to see it and click through to that page.
SEO starts with a keyword -- a word or phrase that embodies the subject of your page. For instance, this article’s keyword is SEO in 2021. When you click on it, you expect to read about search engine optimization in the year 2021. Google will crawl through this article and make sure that it’s about what this keyword claims.
But the history of SEO hasn’t always been so clear-cut.
In the past, SEO was a very different landscape. It was common for people to game the system in order to rank on search engines. All you had to do was choose a keyword and stuff it into your content as many times as humanly possible -- seriously, people would just write it again and again...and again.
You might remember the days… You googled “computer store” and what popped up was a shady guy in some corner of the internet that you were pretty sure would steal your credit card information.
Since that time, Google and other search engines have gotten wise to these scammers and have created certain guidelines to ensure that content is helpful to readers and really is about what it claims. It’s nearly impossible to game the system now. Brands have to invest time into creating top-quality content and know how to implement SEO.
So let’s talk about modern SEO and how you can boost your brand’s search engine ranking.
SEO in 2021: 5 Things You Need to Know
1. Master the Basics of SEO
Here are a few SEO basics that you should always keep in mind:
- Use the right amount of keywords. Once you’ve chosen your keyword, don’t spam it throughout your content. Instead, it should appear between 3-5 times on your page, including within the first paragraph and an h2 heading.
- Make sure all images have alt text and use the keyword in that text.
- Include inbound and outbound links on your page.
- Include a meta description that uses the keyword.
2. Make Sure Your Page is Fully Optimized
Sure, you might have well-written and researched content -- oh, the beautifully written articles people will read! But if there are problems loading your page, then it could tank your SEO.
What do you need to look out for?
Make sure that your page loads quickly. Nobody likes a slow-loading page -- including Google! This is a situation where even seconds matter.
Make your page mobile-friendly. The vast majority of people enjoy consuming content on their phones or tablets. So Google is giving more points to brands whose sites are optimized for mobile. If yours isn’t, now’s the time to change that.
Keep all your security protocols up to date. Your site needs to be secure. If it’s not, you could very well be penalized.
3. A Lot Depends on User Intent
User intent is a fancy word for what people want to see when they type a certain phrase into Google. For instance, when people search “Is the vaccine safe?” in 2021, you know that they want information on the COVID-19 vaccine.
This means that we need to be more vigilant about what keywords we choose. We need to ask ourselves, what do people really want when they use this keyword? How can I best deliver content that will meet that need? Take a look at the world around you and make sure that your SEO strategy is in line with what people are searching.
4. Create Long-Form Content
How long are we talking? Over 2,000 words. This can seem like a lot for brands that regularly publish 400-word articles. But there’s a reason for it.
Google looks at these long-form pieces of content as truly answering the needs of their audience. Chances are, you’re not creating 2,000 words of “fluff” content. This length usually means serious business. And research has shown that brands with this kind of long-form content regularly outrank their competitors on Google.
And long-form content is definitely within your reach. Start by choosing a subject that you’re passionate about. Look at it from every angle. Answer every possible question about it within your blog post. And provide meaningful answers that help your audience.
It might take some time, but I’m confident that your efforts will pay off!
5. It’s Not What They Say But How They Say It
In the past, most search queries were done by literally typing a phrase into Google. While some still do this, many nowadays use their smartphones to speak their query into Google. This changes SEO a little bit.
Well, instead of choosing keywords that are short and typable, you’ll want to choose keywords that mimic human speech. For example, instead of “computer places Boston,” you might want to go for “where can I get my computer repaired in Boston.”
These keywords don’t necessarily need to be complete sentences. But they do need to imitate human speech. Say your keyword aloud. Would a human use that phrasing in a real-life sentence? This can be a key indicator of whether the keyword should be part of your SEO strategy or not.
As technology continues to advance, we can expect that SEO will evolve along with it. Google is constantly making improvements to its algorithms in order to bolster its user experience. So even though these tactics will help your SEO in 2021, we can expect that this will be an ongoing conversation!