SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is vital for any publisher. In today’s oversaturated landscape and constant change of algorithms, it may be difficult to keep up with the latest standards and best practices.
Due to recent Google updates, publishers who solely rely on historic ranking may have a hard time, so it’s important to have a solid SEO strategy in place in 2021.
These 10 tips will help you to increase organic traffic:
- Website Architecture for SEO
- Internal Linking for SEO
- On-Page SEO Best Practices
- Image Optimization for SEO
- Google Discover
- Fresh Content
- Optimize Content for Voice Search
- SEO and Digital Marketing
- Local Search Marketing
- Content Authority
1. Website Architecture for SEO
Website structure directly affects how search engines will crawl, interpret, and rank pages in SERP (Search Engine Results Page). But it’s not just that. User experience signals will be the primary factors of organic ranking in 2021. So a neat and consistent website with a great user experience is a must.
- Clear your website navigation
Your website navigation should be clear and consistent throughout. Clear navigation increases click-through rate (CTR), website visit duration, and decreases bounce rate. These are all user experience signals that Google focuses on.
The home button should always be easily seen from any location. It is also useful to have easy access to a personal account.
Our example from Medium has a clear navigation bar, search button, bookmarks for favorite articles, and a notification center. Clear, consistent, and in one place!
- Use categories and tags
Categories are essential for grouping your content, while tags help understand what individual content pieces are about. Both are vital for search engines and visitors alike.
The structure and layout of the website are just as important as the quality of the content.
Structure your navigation clearly from the header and footer so when visitors land on your page for the first time, they understand who you are.
- Create a sitemap for your website
Traditionally, sitemaps were a must for publishers with an extensive pool of content. However, everyone can benefit from having one.
In other words, a sitemap is a list of different pages on a website. There are two types of sitemaps–XML (used by search engines) and HTML (served to visitors).
XML sitemaps help search engines to crawl and index your pages. The HTML sitemap helps users find important content within a couple of clicks. It can also increase the chance of old content getting found. You can also add your images to your sitemap, which will help to crawl them.
Squarespace and Shopify–built websites create sitemaps automatically. If you’re a WordPress user, you can create a sitemap using the Yoast plugin.
2. Internal Linking for SEO
We previously talked about the importance of internal links in our article here. By the way, we just used one!
Internal links help to link different pages within your site using relevant keywords. It can be a huge opportunity for SEO because normally, traffic is not distributed across all pages evenly, leaving a lot of pages orphaned.
But internal links are also beneficial for general usability as they help with the flow of content across pages. They also decrease page depth (a metric that shows how many clicks it takes to get to a page from a home page) as most pages can be accessed within a few clicks.
Additionally, they help search engines to crawl and discover other pages within your site through anchor text. Internally-linked pages get better SERP ranking because search engines think that they provide better value to readers.
TIP! It can also be a good idea to use the ‘Related Article’ to showcase one of your articles.
External links are just as essential for SEO efforts as internal ones.
3. On-Page SEO Best Practices
On-page SEO is central to users’ journey from the moment they discover your page in SERP. Therefore, it should be optimized in the most intuitive and logical way. If you don’t follow on-page SEO best practices, all other SEO efforts may be worth nothing.
For example, best practices include using HTTPs protocol for secured browsing and fast-loading web pages for great user experience.
- Use short URL
URLs should be easy to read and contain a target keyword (user’s query). According to a study, short URLs rank better. They also give an idea of what this page is about to both users and search engines.
Take this as a rule–in most cases, a user will be able to guess your URL.
- Use keywords effectively
The keyword you want to rank for should always appear in:
- the title (be sure to use the H1 tag for your title),
- the first paragraph,
- at least one subheading,
- ideally the first sentence of each paragraph.
This is because when search engines analyze your content, they focus on first words and sentences to understand the topic.
- Write SEO meta description
You should use your creativity and create compelling text so users will want to click on your page. You only get one chance for it! Also, try to keep it under 160 characters. Don’t forget to include a relevant CTA (call-to-action) such as ‘Book today’ or ‘Learn more’.
- Use subheadings to boost SEO
Subheadings help group topics within your text and avoid text clutter. Subheadings don’t have a huge impact on ranking, but they really help with usability from the user’s perspective.
In fact, most users digest only 20% of the information they see and focus on highlighted phrases. Write snappy, compelling subheadings so that users will stay on your page and read through.
- Boost organic traffic
Featured snippets show a piece of information that usually contains an answer to the search query. There are also rich snippets, which can be reviews, products, images, and prices. Appearing in snippets can boost website traffic and increase click-through-rate (CTR).
The whole point here is semantic search, meaning search engines now are even smarter at understanding the query’s context and optimizing results to the query’s intent. Hence, search engines serve users the most relevant information.
Focus your content based on queries rather than keywords, and organize it by topic clusters. Use Google’s markup helper to appear in snippets.
4. Image Optimization for SEO
Not only the visual search has evolved over the years, but images are now used for everything from selling products to serving ads. Thus, it is only natural that 2021 will be a show time for images.
- Compress your images
Always compress your images before publishing. With Core Web Vitals, Google wants your page to load within less than 2.5 seconds. Optimizing image sizes could potentially save you 20% to 40% of page load time.
- Name image files wisely
Make sure you change the file name to a more descriptive. It’s a great chance to insert your keyword there too. File names give a signal to search crawlers what this image is about.
Note, more is not always better. Avoid keyword stuffing (inserting keywords everywhere) as this may result in your site being seen as spam.
- Write seo-friendly alt text
The point of including alt text is to give users who can’t see images an idea of what the image is about. Besides, Google gives priority to pages that are accessible to the broadest audience possible.
When choosing alt text, focus on creating useful, information-rich content. Crawlers also use this information.
- Mobile SEO
Mobile took over desktop search a long time ago. For this reason, mobile SEO should be an essential part of your SEO strategy. Select a responsive template or a theme that supports your website across all device types.
Use the mobile test tool to see how well your pages work on mobile devices, and fix errors if you need to.
- Optimize for additional traffic
Consider optimizing your images for additional discovery. For example, users browse Google Images more from mobile than they do from desktop these days.
Adding structured data can drive targeted traffic to your site. This might include a prominent badge or a snippet displayed for your images. Make sure you follow general structured data guidelines.
5. Google Discover
Google Discover is a personalized AI-driven mobile news feed. It already has 800 million active users, and in 2021 this number is expected to grow.
It lets users discover topics that resonate with their interests and previous search behavior. Discover feed measures visitors’ engagement with the content. Therefore, if they like your content, the chances you will appear in their feed again are pretty high.
Make sure to produce quality, engaging content regularly. Google focuses on trustworthy content, so try your best to get backlinks from reputable sources.
Google Discover supports most languages and is planning to roll out more, so the more languages you support, the wider your reach is.
6. Fresh Content
It’s important to keep the content as relevant as possible. This is because search engines prioritize fresh content. If you blog about the latest news, try to mix it up with timeless, regularly-updated content that will serve value for a longer period.
Regularly revisit your previously created content and update stats, infographics, and dates. This will make Google view your content as ‘fresh’.
SEO professional Neil Patel suggests revisiting pages that stopped receiving traffic and adding up-to-date information to them. That way, when you link back to them, you are still giving relevant information to your readers.
7. Optimize Content for Voice Search
Voice search is not far off to replace traditional search. Today’s speech-recognition accuracy is around 95% to 99%, and we expect the voice search to see rapid growth in 2021.
There are 4.2 billion active voice assistant users today. By 2024 this number is expected to double. This opens a lot of room for publishers.
Try to identify questions your audience asks in a conversational manner. That means people are likely to ask natural-sounding questions which contain long-tail keywords rather than target keywords.
Google auto-fill, related searches, and people also ask are great places to start collecting data.
8. SEO and Digital Marketing
- Elevate social media
Social media sites normally outrank other domains. This is because social media sites have higher domain ratings and authority. So having your company’s Twitter and LinkedIn pages can boost your brand presence and drive more organic traffic.
Create a social media schedule that captures social media activities on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Then do some A/B testing to see which campaigns trigger better engagement. You can also use social scheduling tools like Hootsuite or Buffer.
Set up a public Twitter list that people can subscribe to. Not only will you improve your discoverability, but also give credit to people who produce valuable content.
- Create a Youtube channel
Videos are one of the most effective tools for SEO. Did you know that videos drive a 157% increase in organic traffic from SERP?
Video content is highly engaging and captivating so having a Youtube channel can drive a lot of additional traffic and improve discoverability.
Focus your videos on popular search queries, which you can get from the YouTube auto-fill search bar. Make sure to include your target keywords in the description and video title. Finally, invest time in professional, accurate transcripts to cater to wider audiences and improve your SEO.
- Start a podcast
Podcasts are on the rise and are here to stay also in 2021. They’re mobile-friendly, convenient, and engaging–basically everything a user wants!
Podcasts are also really inexpensive to produce. Consistent podcasts attract loyal audiences and help to establish a strong brand reputation in the industry.
9. Local Search Marketing
Local search is evolving. In part, it is linked to voice search, GPS, and mobile. Today 46% of all Google searches have an intent to find local information. In 2021 it will be even more prominent as algorithms improve to serve users with more relevant information.
Begin with creating a business account by Google. Make sure your contact details and opening hours are visible. For publishers, it can be a chance to win local audiences by creating local content.
Finally, focus on getting strong backlinks and making use of social media geotagging features.
10. Content Authority
It is obvious that to compete in this environment, you need to publish regularly. But good-quality content will always outweigh frequency.
Make sure that your content adds a unique value to your readers. Content duplication can seriously harm your ranking and result in hefty penalties.
Improve your E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) score. Be transparent with your audience and back your content with facts and stats from high-quality sources. Google has made itself clear about E-A-T being a ranking factor.
This also might include showing author bios and pictures, having a dedicated ‘About Us’ page, and featuring content from trusted experts. Off-page SEO, such as advertising on relevant trusted platforms and interacting with customers outside of your domain, can also be useful.
In 2021 as an online publisher, it’s essential to be smart about your SEO. Google will continue to update and improve its algorithms, which will certainly impact your ranking.
Moreover, there is a high chance of getting a penalty for any shady practices such as manual link building and ‘black hat’ SEO. To avoid getting penalized–follow best practices for both on-page and off-page SEO, and diversify your strategy using different social channels and tools.