When it comes to SEO, there were no bigger changes that happened in 2020. Though there were several algorithm updates, they had mild effects, and there is no need to do any big adjustments to your SEO strategy. However, there have been slight shifts in the weight of existing ranking factors, and for that, having an extensive review of the SEO priorities for the next year is crucial for the upcoming year. Let’s read on to learn more about the SEO changes in 2020 that might affect your SEO strategy in 2021.
Fix technical issues
One of the most crucial steps in search optimization is technical audits. Remember, if your website audit is not done efficiently, Google won’t be able to access your pages despite having the best content and the most backlinks. So, the first thing you need to do this year is to perform a website audit and find out if any technical issues need to be fixed. We have shared below the best practices to follow with technical SEO:
- Set up proper redirects by resolving conflicting versions of your website (www/non-www, HTTP/HTTPS), use 301 redirects, or rel=canonical to deal with duplicate pages.
- Make your pages available to search engines, and it must be equipped with an XML sitemap and a valid robots.txt file.
- Use a secure protocol by installing an SSL certificate on your website to switch from HTTP to HTTPS.
- Design a shallow website structure so that all of your pages remain less than three clicks away from the home page.
- Strive for short and readable URLs that are clean (lower case, no special symbols beyond hyphens and slashes), logically structured, and readable to a human.
- Check for broken links and fix or remove if there are any.
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly since Google is soon going to enforce mobile-first indexing and the mobile version of your website will be the main one by default.
Optimize for Core Web Vitals
Recently, Google has introduced the concept of Core Web Vitals. These are three user experience metrics that will soon become crucial for ranking factors. All three metrics deal with different aspects of page speed as perceived by the user. If your website pages perform well on these metrics, they will get ranking advantages as AMP pages.
You can use PageSpeed Insights to check the vitals of a particular page. Also, you can use the Search Console to check your vitals sitewide. Google will calculate your optimization score and then offer some recommendations on specific things to boost your website. Here are the best practices for a good Core Web Vitals score:
- Keep Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) under 2.5 seconds and make sure your screen loads under 2.5 seconds.
- Keep Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) under 10% and remember no more than 10% of the screen should shift during loading.
Implement Schema markup
Schema markup refers to the collection of HTML tags that can be used to describe your content to search engines. There are thousands of different tags that can be added to anything from phone numbers, to author’s names, to working hours, to recipe cooking times, to product prices, and more.
When the tags are added, Google becomes much more confident interpreting your content and showing it to search users. When those are properly structured, Google will use the data to create amazing rich snippets:
Apart from improving search snippets, Schema markup can also be used for local SEO and for building stronger entity associations. To be honest, there is hardly a type of website that can afford to ignore structured data because of its undeniable importance. Here is how you can give it a try:
- Use a markup helper. To do so, you can go to the Schema website and learn how to apply the markup by hand.
- Add markup to your website. Once you are done with it, click CREATE HTML. It will supply you with a piece of code to the head section of your webpage.
- Tag your content. Simply choose the type of content you are working with, add your URL, and start tagging.
- Test your markup. To understand your page is eligible for rich results, you can test it on Rich Result Test once your page is live.
Create quality content
There might be a number of things included when the content is termed as quality content. However, in terms of SEO, quality content refers to the content that includes a proper structure, length, and keyword saturation. Here are the best practices to follow when optimizing content for search:
- Use keywords naturally and make sure there is no stuffing of keywords nor the exact matches.
- Benchmark content length against competitors. Though there is no such benchmark for content, to make your informative content length standard, you can consider your top-ranked competitors and their content length.
- Use HTML tags to create content structure. The HTML tags and headings help to split your content into sections.
Send EAT signals
EAT or Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness has always been a controversial topic in SEO. It is still not clear if Google is capable of calculating all of the signals associated with EAT. However, it can definitely measure some of the easier ones. To make your EAT signal a trustworthy one, you can do the following –
- Maintain transparency about the content creation and ownership. Include the date of publication, the author of the content, and the owner of the website that Google claims to look for in your site.
- Make sure your website is loaded via HTTPS and not HTTP.
- Use relevant websites of high quality. Remember, backlinks are one of the most important ways to attract Google.
- Prioritize editorial backlinks because editorially placed backlinks are the only type of backlinks that are not persecuted by Google.
- Place links where they matter means there they have the chance to be clicked and bring quality traffic.
- Diversify your link sources. The more you diversify your backlinks, the better you extend your network.
- Make sure the links are Dofollow because the Nofollow links do not pass any link juice, and hence they are not worth the effort.
- Claim your GMB listing.
Boost your GMB listing. Make sure your GMB listing includes book a table, make a call, view the menu and other CTAs that help users.
- Add local business Schema to your website. Apart from GMB, it can also improve your local search performance.
- Consider other local directories. GMB is not sufficient to enhance your business presence. Pick a couple of directories that might be actually used by your target audience.
- Use text formatting to get into featured snippets. With proper HTML tags, you can create a structure for your pages. And try to keep your paragraphs under 50 words.
- Use alt tags to get into image search. The best way to describe an image and make it understandable for Google is by writing a simple but keyword-rich alt text.
- Use Schema to create rich snippets since Schema markup is the only way to turn your regular snippets into rich snippets.
- Use markup to get into video search. Google can show not just videos but the parts of videos most relevant to a query. Therefore, you should provide all the information so that you can consider your video for search results.
Build quality links
Till today, one of the strongest ranking signals is building quality links, and it has been unchanged for years. The only change that has happened over the years is that now Google accounts for the quality of your backlinks, whereas in the past it was just quantity. We have shared below a few best practices to build high-quality backlinks:
Double down on local SEO
If your business has a physical address or if you serve a certain area, then it is absolutely crucial to show Google you are tied to this area. And since the introduction of Google My Business (GMB), the process has been fairly straightforward. The process is as following –
Go after SERP features:
In the last few years, Google has updated a number of SERP features, and sometimes there is no organic search result insight. There are images, featured snippets, videos, knowledge panels, all kinds of recommendation systems, and rich snippets. They are much more prominent than your regular search snippets. So today, it is more about being featured than being ranked for many types of queries. Luckily, some of these features are still attainable, and with the features you can do the following –
There is no denying the fact that search optimization goes far beyond the advice discussed in this content. These are just the SEO basics that you should follow. If you manage to implement these eight points, you will be in a strong position to move towards page one. You can talk to an SEO expert to create the most effective SEO strategy by following the proper SEO guide.