Marketing used to be a nagging-like and pushy affair. Companies foisted their text messages on random customers, hoping a small number of them would be interesting enough to make a product purchase.
Thank God, the birth of the Internet and search engines have reshaped the marketing world.
Undeniably, digital marketing has taken our world by storm. Now, content marketing is a lot more fun and rewarding with search engine optimization or SEO. With the right SEO marketing strategy, your business and bottom line certainly will be taken up to a notch.
The thing is SEO ranking factors have constantly changed over the years. Some SEO practices that used to drive results just don’t work any more. Don’t get us wrong, we don’t mean SEO is dead, but it requires more SEO efforts and flexibility in a viable marketing strategy rather than just having great content.
In this article, we’ll shed light on the vital role of SEO in digital marketing 2021 and why all your effort to boost SEO will definitely pay off. Plus, tips to ace your SEO website ranking will wrap up this post.
Why your SEO strategy is important
Most online activities, including news consumption, product and services research, all start with search engines. As such, SEO is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies that yield long-term results.
As a searcher, you think it’s just 2 minutes of throwing queries to the search bar, hit enter, and browse the first results showed up. However, to site owners and the marketers, that’s all about SEO efforts and strategies on both technical SEO and content optimization.
Optimizing useful and relevant content is among the most vital SEO ranking factors. Content related to search queries get higher chances to show up on SERPs, driving organic traffic and increase your site visibility.
Along with that, showing up at the top of search engine rankings also depends on the user experience your site provides. It’s measured by many other essential elements, such as site speed and performance, mobile friendliness, etc.
Users refuse to scroll further looking for best-suited results but only click links placed from 1st to 5th positions. That’s why having an SEO strategy that places you high up on page one of SERP is very important. This placement will get you noticed and reward you with the benefits that SEO can bring.
Most importantly, SEO, as well as search engine algorithms, have dramatically evolved over the years. If you don’t have a well-prepared and up-to-date SEO strategy, you’re risking your site being beaten by other sites.
2021’s SEO industry updates
2021 has been marked as a big year for SEO. Never before has digital marketing grown vigorously like in 2021. This is partly because the outbreak of the pandemic has pushed more brick-and-mortar companies to move online. Plus, the remarkable release of Google algorithm updates also accounts for this change.
Google’s 2021 Page Experience Update
Google introduced its page experience update in June 2021. This update focuses on three “core web vitals” metrics to assess the page experience for websites. They are based on user experiences, including Loading experience, Interactivity, and Visual Stability.
#1. Loading experience
This ranking factor is measured by the largest contentful paint, aka LCP. In short, it refers to how fast the main content of a page loads. LCP is measured in seconds. Around 2.5 seconds or less for a load time is perceived as optimal.
Interactivity is determined based on first input delay (FID). It refers to how long it takes a webpage to interact with a user’s click on any elements on that page. FID is estimated in milliseconds, and the ideal delay time is 100 milliseconds or less.
#3. Visual stability
Visual stability is determined depending on cumulative layout shift or CLS in short. In plain English, it’s how stable your layout is. If your images and other elements jump around a lot when a page loads, meaning you have high CLS. Only a CLS score below .1 is acceptable.
(Image Source: WordStream)
Besides this massive update, there is also a revamp of Google’s search results pages:
#4. Google Ads
Commonly, ads appear on top, even occupy the spotlight of organic search results. This can hugely impact CTR. Now, they can show up at the bottom of the page. Sometimes, you’ll spot 3-4 ads on top and 3 at the bottom.
#5. Featured Snippets
Featured snippets or the zero position refers to the first result that Google displays even on top of the organic results.
A featured snippet jumps the queue to rank in “Position 0,” that’s why it has a higher CTR than organic results. Depending on the query intent, the biggest search engine returns the corresponding feature snippets types, including paragraph, list, or table.
#6. Image Packs
Anytime Google considers image content to be valuable for specific searches, it displays image packs. These special results appear as a row linking to Google image search. Image packs happen to be another valuable piece of real-estate on SERP. If your image content is listed here, this equals your website getting a great ranking opportunity.
#7. Knowledge Panels
Knowledge Panels help you get the hang of a key fact of a particular subject, e.g, local business, brands, celebrities, etc., via a special information box. All the details you see are cited from Google index library and Wikipedia.
In case your panel is showcased, it will take up the right side of SERPs like this.
#8. Local Packs
For searched keywords with a local intent, you might see local packs featuring a map of business locations along with the top 3 local businesses relevant to the search.
#9. “People Also Ask” Questions
Google displays these questions as it thinks that there are more relevant questions to your search queries. Any page ranks for the featured snippet will result in ranked-related questions cards.
Having ratings included in search results is especially necessary for e-commerce and local businesses, as consumers often read reviews before making a buying decision.
If you have a five star review above your meta description, congratulations, not only is your website going to receive a bump in CTR but also a boost in sales.
#11. Shopping Results
Shopping results comes as the most powerful PPC arsenal of every eCommerce business. It lets you sell products right on SERP with proper images and prices displayed.
#12. Site Links
When you look for an exact brand or domain name in Google, site links may appear as the top result in SERP. They can take up five organic positions, which can lead to more exposure and traffic to your website. Besides, Site Links improve CTRs as it allows users to land on exact pages.
You can spot some relevant tweets in Google SERP for certain keywords related to trending topics.
#14. Video Results
Only when Google thinks video content is useful for certain keywords, it displays video results. Videos play a powerful tool to engage users in digital marketing in general and the future of content marketing in particular. If you want your content to appear as a video result in SERP, you must implement video SEO.
Why SEO is still a must
1. Everyone uses search engines
When you need an answer to your question, a review for your wishlist product, when are you going to find it? On search engines, of course. Not only you but millions of people rely on search engines every day, searching either on mobiles or desktop.
In 2019, online search usage accounted for 30% of the global web traffic. This figure has spiked up to 59.5% in Jan 2021.
According to Web Site Rating, Google alone has been actively used by more than half of the world’s population. The platform has already performed 360 billion searches this year, and this number is still counting.
In this digitalized world, search engines undoubtedly have become an indispensable part of our life and it continues to innovate day by day, for example with the growth of voice search. Businesses relying on digital marketing are not even able to survive without search engines presence. They need their websites, products, and services to rank high on the 1st page of search engine results. This is the fastest way to gain website traffic and bring potential customers to the businesses.
2. Your content visibility is dependent on SEO
High-quality content is a goldmine, no doubt. But that goldmine won’t be able to have a ghost of a chance to shine on SERPs without SEO. SEO makes sure your top-shelf content is discoverable by search engines and receives the amount of publicity as it deserves.
As we stated above, relevant and high-quality content plays one of the most crucial ranking factors. The more you optimize your content to meet SEO standards, the better chance it will rank higher on search engine results.
3. Keywords make an impact
None of SEO optimized content exists without starting with keyword research. Keywords play the backbone to form quality content. In other words, they are the core of SEO even more so for eCommerce companies.
Having said that, the way search engines process keywords has changed a lot. Google algorithm now ranks on more than 200 factors, such as links, speed, navigation, etc., making keywords no longer the mere ranking factor for your website. Despite this, keywords still keep a firm hold in terms of improving user experience.
Google algorithm updates have called a halt to stuff keywords and brought semantic keywords to life. Since it no longer asks for exact matches for keywords, the way you sketch out digital marketing strategy also changes. Besides accurate, quality keywords, building your content toward natural readability and the actual way a human would look for information yields greater benefits. Keep in mind that SEO targets can differ according to the platform too, such at Etsy SEO or Amazon.
4. Organic rankings impact local businesses
Organic search proves the golden ticket in driving more prospects to local stores.
As stated by Bright Edge, organic traffic accounts for over 51% of all visitors coming to websites. Plus, BrightLocal also points out that 95% of customers have looked for a business in their local area via search engines.
On top of that, over 52.94% of internet users worldwide performed local search on mobile devices. 28% of those searches even result in a purchase at local stores.
These figures are persuasive evidence of how important organic rankings are to local business. One more thing, organic ranking drives local pack ranking. If you have a good local SEO strategy, your business website shows up and gets ranking within the top 4 organic listings, but it also drives more leads, conversions, and revenue to your store.
Tips to ace your SEO ranking in 2021
To rank and even rank higher on SERPs in 2021, you need to pay attention to 2 aspects of SEO: on-page and off-page optimization.
1. On page optimization
True to its name, you need to optimize this type of SEO on your website. In general, it involves 2 sections, that is technical SEO and content optimization.
Technical SEO is all about website performance and user experience (UX). Your duty is to make sure your site has a fast loading speed. Along with that, it’s of importance to have schema markup implemented, correct site architecture, sitemaps, and SSL certificate. Don’t forget mobile-friendliness as it carries weight in ranking your website on SERPs.
On the other hand, content optimization is related to content only. It begins with the process of doing keyword research to find content ideas and highly SEO-based topics. There are various robust free keyword research tools out there, Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, SEMrush, just to name a few.
Once the target keyword is set, you can start building up your content in parallel with optimizing SEO. You can start with a title, then meta descriptions, headings, subheadings, image SEO, build internal and external links and ensure keyword density.
Title tags and meta descriptions are the two key elements to convert SEO rankings into website traffic; you need to give them the right length (140-160 characters for meta descriptions and 50–60 characters for title tag). Remember to come up with a killer title too.
Check out this handy on-page optimization checklist for more inspiration!
2. Off-page optimization
Off-page optimization happens when you’d like to increase your site authority within your specific niche. In brief, it refers to the process of link-building or gaining high-quality backlinks to your site.
When your site gets a backlink from an authorized source or a website with higher domain authority, this indicates to search engines your site offers high-quality content. The more solid backlinks you’ve got, the higher your site authority will gain.
The most popular way to build quality backlinks is via doing guest posts. You can do it yourself, but it may take you several light-years to see the fruitful end result. Alternatively, you can contact an SEO company providing SEO services, helping you exchange guest posts, conduct link-building, and increase your website authority in a short time.
Never lose your faith in SEO!
SEO is evolving. You may find it hard to keep up with all the trends and updates. But one thing is certain: digital marketing still banks on search engines to survive in this dog-eat-dog world and SEO is yet the magic bullet to make your site content outshine your rivals.
Keep in mind that SEO is more humans-first now. Aside from awesome content, you need to pay extra care to technical SEO, including site speed, uptime, mobile-friendliness, etc.
Investing in SEO helps your site stand out on SERPs. No matter how it changes, never lose your faith in SEO!