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SEO in 2021

March 10, 2021
Matt Southam

Let’s have a little disclaimer first of all. Google doesn’t tell us exactly what its algorithm is for ranking websites. It does give us some guidance, and when it releases a significant algorithm update, it will often provide website owners with some advanced warning.

For example, in 2018, Google told us that it would be using page speed as part of its algorithm… six months later, this came into play.

But this is just one from over 200 factors that Google uses within its algorithm to rank website content, and the ranking factors they rely on can change on a weekly basis.

So, if Google doesn’t tell us exactly what works, how do we know what to do? First, we need to understand what Google is trying to achieve and then look at the data from work we do on websites to determine what has the most significant impact on SEO.


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The algorithm

When a user types something into the search bar, Google quickly sorts and references all of the data it has to give the user the best possible website choices based on the subject or question that was searched. When you click away from Google instead of searching again, their work is done.

It’s not you, it’s them.

Google doesn’t care about you. Let that sink in.

You can’t just say “here are my keywords” and expect Google to put you at the top of page one.

Googles responsibility is to the searcher. You need to put yourself into the searcher’s shoes and ask, “Is my content relevant to their search?”

Top tips

Search intent

This leads nicely onto our number 1 tip for SEO, which is to create content that is about the visitor.

Create less copy about yourself and more that addresses the needs of your visitors.

Look at what search terms are being used, what search terms you want to be found for and then create high quality, relevant content relating to that keyword or phrase.

Secondly, it is worth looking at the type of content visitors are clicking on. You will have noticed that videos appear at the top of a google search for many question searches. If your visitor would rather see a video, then create a video!

Your brand as a whole

Google knows lots about you, so with this in mind, it is not merely enough to create keyword-specific copy and expect google, or a visitor, to trust you.

There is an acronym in SEO which is E.A.T. This stands for Expertise, Authority and Trust.

As well as creating good quality content, you need to ensure you are improving your E.A.T.

How do you do this?

  • Increase the number of Google reviews you have, and when someone leaves you a review, respond to them.
  • Regularly build great content for your social media and interacting with your audience.
  • Increase the number of relevant backlinks to your website from trusted sources.

In a world of fake news and bots, E.A.T. has never been more important.

Core Web Vitals

Now, this sounds a bit techy, but in short, it is all about having a great website.

What makes a great website in Googles eyes? Fast loading, easy to navigate and running on a secure server.

This metric is going to become even more critical in 2021. If you are competing with another business and you both put out great content, then it will be your Core Web Vitals which decides who outranks who.

All SEO is mobile

It is the mobile version of your website, which determines its ranking. With this in mind, your website should be designed mobile-first and with the visitor in mind. Simplicity is critical to ensure you present a great experience. We mentioned Core Web Vitals above. How your website works on a mobile does affect your ranking.

What doesn’t work?

As important as it is to know what you should be doing, it is also worth knowing what you shouldn’t be doing. Don’t waste your valuable time doing the wrong things.

Keyword stuffing

I still hear people asking if we have “put their keywords into their website”. When you understand how googles algorithm works, this sentence doesn’t make much sense. You can’t just add some keywords, and boom, Google goes, “ah, we should put them at number one.”

Do write a list of keywords and phrases that you want to rank for and use this list to create great content. Simply adding lots of your keywords to your homepage will not help it rank highly.

Keyword heavy meta descriptions

First of all, meta descriptions are not a ranking factor. Google has confirmed this. Secondly, Google will rewrite your meta description nearly 70% of the time!

Thirdly 25% of the top results don’t even have a meta description. Crazy eh?

You can easily argue that for that 30%, it is worth adding them, and I would agree. A well-written meta description can improve your click-through rate. But if you think adding a great meta description to a rubbish bit of content is going to get Google to rank it, think again. Content first, meta description second.

Conclusion

SEO hasn’t changed a considerable amount in the last year or two. Google has got cleverer in understanding search intent, but the tips I have listed here have been accurate during 2020.

If you can create great content on a website that is well built and build trust amongst your audience then this will give you a solid foundation to start moving up those rankings.

Want some help? Just get in touch.

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