By | Natasha Ramirez
“The best place to hide a dead body is page two of Google’s search results.” If your business is appearing on page two, page three, or perhaps page ten of Google’s search results, you already know that not a lot of customers find companies there, either. By contrast, if you can manage to get onto the first page of Google your customers will automatically find your website and you’ll immediately start landing the easiest sales available. Not only that, but a popular website greatly increases the overall value and equity of your company.
SEO can be time consuming, tricky, and expensive. But it’s the long-game business strategy that your brand will need if it’s really going to succeed in 2021 and beyond. Here are five key things you should do this year to rise to the top of the Google searches and seize the golden goose of SEO.
Nail Down Keywords You Want To Focus On
Just because you think you know what terms people would use to look for your product or service, doesn’t mean that’s actually what they’re typing into their search engine. If you aren’t already, use a tool like Ahrefs or Moz to generate a list of keywords you want your business to rank for. Knowing what people are searching for to find your company will also help you know who your customers are and what they’re looking for. Once you know your company’s most important keywords, be sure to tailor your ads, your landing pages, and your emails with these terms in mind in order to appeal to your target market.
If the prospect of getting expensive keyword research intimidates you, reach out to a marketer or SEO expert you know and have them just take a quick look and give you some suggestions! A little keyword research can go an extremely long way, and you’ll be glad you asked. Even if you don’t personally know someone that can help you out and you don’t have the funds for long term SEO services, many SEO agencies and freelance marketers will be more than happy to do some high-level keyword analysis for your company if you just ask. They want a shot at pitching their services to you, and you want a little advice. Everyone wins!
Regularly Update Your Blog
Long-form blog content is a must in 2021. Not only does quality blog content help show you’re a competitor and leader in your industry, it gives search engines a better understanding of your site and more opportunities to find potential customers. Your content needs to be relevant to your business and industry, and be helpful to your viewers. Think about the kinds of questions people in your target audience ask, and write a separate blog post answering each question in depth.
If you have a piece of content that used to perform well, but has dropped in rankings recently, it’s probably time to update it. Try out new keywords, update the information, or add new sections specifically designed to work as Google snippets. Doing a content audit is a great way to find easy SEO opportunities that require minimal effort.
Focus On Local Traffic
Local searches are going to be your bread and butter in 2021. Around 46 percent of all searches on Google are local—if you want to be competitive, you want to make sure you’re focusing on potential local customers (and competitors). For many companies these are also the most valuable google searches. If you own a Vietnamese restaurant in Tallahassee, for example, the search “Vitenamese food in Tallahassee” has a lot more useful buyer intent in it than just the search “Vietnamese food”.
Someone who searches “Vietnamese food” might just be looking for recipes, or looking to learn about the nature of the cuisine, while someone who adds the location onto their query is probably looking for a vendor.
Some simple ways to take advantage of local searches are:
- Create a Google My Business account (if you haven’t already)
- Target local keywords that include phrases such has “near me”,”tonight”, and “today”
- Take advantage of any online business directories in your area
- Create content focused on local events, news, and locations
- Create pages on your site specific to different cities in your area you would like to target
Build Out Your Link Profile
Paid ads and keyword optimization are only part of the SEO formula in 2021. You need to think like a PR agency and get the word out about your product or business locally. Approach local news agencies with stories about your business that might catch their attention along with why your local community should know about it. Since Google uses links back to a site essentially as a vote of confidence, having more links that direct back to you means they will rank you higher.
If you don’t have an internal and external link building strategy in place, your other SEO tactics will only take you so far—it needs to be a large part of your larger SEO strategy.
- External Link Building. This link building strategy is where you get other websites relevant to your industry content that includes a link back to your own website. It’s a time-intensive and often frustrating process, but can drastically improve your SEO rankings over time. Your content needs unique and high-quality, and the link needs to be naturally placed in a way that is relevant to your audience.
- Internal Link Building. While external link building is extremely time-intensive and can cost a pretty penny, internal linking is easy to do and free. Placing relevant links on strategically selected anchor text across different pages on your website can improve your website ranking.
In 2021, Google is going to be scrutinizing links much more critically than before. Above all else, don’t try to buy links. If you get caught (and you will), your website will take a big hit in the SERPs and it will be difficult to regain a search engine’s trust enough for you to rank again.
Improve Your Website’s UX
According to a study from Small Biz Genius, 88 percent of online shoppers who have a bad experience on a website never return. That same study shows that 70 percent of businesses that fail do so because of bad website usability. Some UX and UI qualities you should test and prioritize include:
- Fast loading times
- Easy to navigate interface (both on desktop and mobile)
- High-quality images and fonts
- User-friendly URLs and sitemap
- Easy-to-use dashboards
- Keyword-rich content and relevant headlines
Testing for each of these qualities is crucial to find out what features and layouts perform better than others. Look at metrics such as bounce rate and session duration to see where improvements could be made. Your bounce rate should be in the 26 to 40 range according to The Rocket Blog Study.
SEO can often feel like a guessing game—but taking a hard look at the data and making informed decisions from it will help you understand your customers and target audience better, while also helping more people discover your business.