Of Google’s billions of daily searches, an estimated 75% of users do not look past page one. SEO is the study of how to get your own sites as high up as possible so that it’s visible to that 75% of potential visitors. However, as the concept of SEO becomes more commonplace, advanced SEO is necessary to stay competitive. Upgrading your brand’s SEO strategy requires expert knowledge that incorporates the new insights coming to us during 2021 and the next few years.
Here are the best ways to enhance your content’s reach with SEO. Be prepared for some brand new SEO techniques for 2021, as well as some refreshed classics to help customers spot your site and sniff around for longer.
Image via Flickr by derekGavey
The heart of effective SEO is making people happy with your website. Keeping your site quick to load and aesthetically pleasing improves the overall user experience, and the nicer your site is to explore, the longer visitors will stay and engage with more pages, boosting its credibility to Google’s algorithm.
Based on the trends of this decade, it’s a good idea to:
All of these tips have worked for years and should become even more important factors as time goes on.
SEO is not just about ranking a page so it shows up higher. To actually increase click-through-rate (CTR), the meta description and title tag are crucial. They help passersby understand what your site has to offer. A few tips to improve them include:
Also, be sure to stay within the upper meta and title tag length limits, or character limits. A good maximum for titles is 60 characters, while a good maximum for a meta description is 160. Stay close to, but do not exceed, these lengths when possible.
Snippets are the summary/preview of your content in a search results page, which helps grab attention. When you look at a Google results page, you’ll see not just the title, but the meta description and a little extra info. Everything in total is called the snippet.
A rich snippet, however, can take many forms. For instance, here is a rich snippet of a site that was also featured at the top of the page.
If you rank in the top 10 for a Google search query, you can gain more traffic by expanding and optimizing the snippet to be more useful or attractive. Keep it simple, though. A rich snippet should include a useful piece of information that compels the user to click, ideally unique from what competing snippets do.
In the above example, the article offers eight ways to grow a business, but thanks to the rich snippet, people get to see what all eight are without having to click, which helps build trust and interest. It also covers much more space on the first page than it otherwise would, helping draw more clicks.
One recently popular search engine optimization strategy is to find gaps in the content marketplace that your competitors have not yet tackled. What do your ideal customers crave? Are people clamoring for in-depth research articles, something more entertaining and dramatic, or just an alternate perspective? Provide exactly what they want, and if it works, keep making more.
You may also be able to find content gaps that your audiences are unable to tell you about, content that they would love but have never imagined before. Once you have a decent backlog, start studying analytics on what was most popular. You can usually start to see the potential for tapping into multiple sub-audiences at once, almost like a crossover of two TV shows.
One of the biggest benefits of social media is that it allows you to not just speak to customers, but also listen to them. There are always ways to get ideas and insights from real data on what people say online. But most marketers know that people may say they want or care about one thing and then behave differently.
You might not get your best marketing angles until you study your target audience outside of direct surveys, sales data, or engagement with your profile. Try to discover what else they talk about on social media, or what else they like and share online. What sort of moods, genres, and ideas inspire them?
Many brands and website owners struggle with producing visual content. Compelling infographics are an excellent way to present information attractively and understandably. Since most people are visual learners, infographics have a better chance than a wordy article of being read all the way through. Plus, because of their insightful nature, they’re highly shareable.
There are two sides to a great infographic: interesting, easily digestible facts or ideas, and the graphics bringing those figures to life. It’s also not quite as challenging as you might expect. There are even infographic generators now, although as with anything online, the more time and expertise put into a project, the bigger the splash it will make.
Ranking is more difficult when a webpage is still new. However, you can gain not only traffic but also credibility through social media platforms. For this purpose, you’ll have to find the trending blog topics in specific, relevant communities, such as a group where brands and influencers relevant to your audience hang out.
Once you do find the best networks, create posts or comments revolving around trending topics. Do not treat your followers like customers. Participate in discussions, be a positive presence, and build a reputation, without selling or spamming. Over time, this will unlock new opportunities with other site owners who might want to exchange guest posts or work on other collaborations.
Internal links are how we navigate through a website that has caught our attention, moving from one page to another. It is believed that internal links can significantly impact Google rankings by making sites both more satisfying to explore and easier for the algorithm to scan.
With internal linking for SEO, your first and biggest goal is to make navigation easier, which encourages real visitors to stick around for longer per visit. It also helps distribute page authority, giving underperforming pages a boost. As with many sides of SEO now, what’s good for the reader is good for the publisher.
Roundup, in the context of new SEO techniques, refers to content based on interviewing/surveying various sources of relevant content and then publishing the information in an organized, convenient, or entertaining format. Summarize something big — anything from the current state of your industry to a huge ranked list of different kitchen appliances. Just make sure that whatever you choose is relevant to your customers and gives your own brand a chance to shine.
On top of it being an easy form of high-value content, roundups allow you to gain new insights by keeping up with your industry or conducting research, which inevitably helps with improving your SEO ranking, often in the form of higher-performing content ideas.
Google will only rank sites high if they trust them, and that is where outbound links can make all the difference. Link juice, or link equity, refers to the ranking credibility of a webpage, which it can potentially share to other web pages it links to. These outbound links from higher authorities give Google an indication that your content is also of high quality.
Be careful, as well, not to tarnish your own credibility by getting backlinks from sites that are less credible than yours or by doing careless backlink-for-backlink deals. More is not always better.
For organic traffic driven by search, a site’s title is its first impression. It’s the heart of your snippet and the crux of why people would care, so make sure that your title is based around at least one high-value, attainable keyword.
From there, you might be able to come up with alternate titles that fit in a second or third useful search term as well. However, be careful not to stuff too many keywords. Google values titles that actually get clicks, so think of it like a front-page newspaper headline: to the point and informative.
Many of us now regularly ask Google, Alexa, and other virtual assistants for information rather than typing. Voice search optimization is different from the usual text and visual optimization. In particular with voice, two SEO tactics prove valuable to most marketers.
The first is to use structured data. Put briefly, you can implement a Speakable schema, allowing Google to automatically speak sections of your article or webpage that are suitable for someone’s voice search. The second critical tactic for voice search is targeting long-tail keywords in your content, since they are more commonly used in the longer phrases or questions people say in voice searches.
Similar to our point on roundups, Google loves long, comprehensive content. You can show more banner and video ads on longer articles and insert more ad breaks into longer videos, so Google has all the incentive to assist sites with the most content — longer videos that cover more ground or depth on a topic, bigger infographics, longer articles, you name it. If it was going to take effort to break up the content anyway, why not try the same thing in bigger, less frequent chunks and see if it does better?
To improve your return traffic on this strategy, use bullet points or list format for text, time stamps for videos, or anything that makes skimming easier. Help the viewer quickly get to the sections or answers they care about most.
Not all SEO is about imitating others. Besides searching for ranked keywords, you must experiment with some keywords that aren’t valuable yet but might become valuable. To do this, just think during normal keyword and topic research about what kind of keywords have not yet been discovered.
Sometimes, with enough insight and experience, you can predict a keyword and rank for it before the first big wave of trending traffic. In our current, unpredictable times, it will pay off to continuously experiment and try to predict a shift or trend in the market. Even if you don’t hit it big, you’ll be creating more quality content for your site.
Suppose your content was ranked well, but one day it started to fall back down. How does that happen? Short answer: your competitors are also using SEO. Your content and pages can go down as a result of online marketplace forces and, in some cases, algorithm updates.
To cope with this challenge, valuable content pages should be periodically refreshed. Refreshing content can be broken down into a few different activities but is fairly straightforward:
In general, try to grow an authentic community of fans. These people can encourage strangers to visit your keystone, classic content pieces, getting you new visitors and keeping them up in the rankings.
The future of SEO will likely continue to reward innovation, testing, and a customer-first approach. Exactly how it will do so in future years beyond 2021, however, isn’t guaranteed. With these tips, no SEO goal is out of reach — but it won’t be instantaneous or easy, especially for someone who isn’t trained in SEO.
You don’t have to bear all of this frustration for yourself. Taking little steps, such as consulting with a content writing team to try new SEO techniques, can breathe life into a webpage, brand, and business. It will also give you the insights you’ll need when (not if) something changes again.
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