10 SEO Best Practices to Follow in 2021

10 SEO Best Practices to Follow in 2021

Picture this. Your oven has broken and you need to buy a new one ASAP. However, you want an electric oven with a rustic design to match your kitchen furniture. Now, imagine you own an electronic e-shop that has that product available. Since search engines help online customers find the products they are searching for, you will want your online store to appear in the first results. However, if your e-shop isn’t properly optimized, Google won’t rank it on top of its results. To avoid losing prospects, you need to make sure your Search Engine Optimization is up to date. Here you will find 10 SEO best practices for 2021.

1. Make sure your content is perfectly aligned with the search intent 

The search intent is the purpose behind every user’s journey. In order for your online store to rank high, you need to make sure your content matches users’ intent. For example, if users search „oven“ as a keyword for Google, they most likely want to know more about ovens. However, if they type „buy oven“ they have already made the decision to buy one.

Understanding search intent will help you target the right kind of audience for your business. Here are 4 common types of search intent that will help improve your SEO best practices

Informational search intentthis kind of users search for information. It could be news reports, fashion trends, or the location of a certain restaurant. The results could come up either as a simple guideline or something more complex that requires a more thorough explanation, such as fashion trends. 

Navigational search intent → this kind of users generally look for specific websites or apps, such as Saas (Software as a service) programs. They could be searching how to log on to Facebook, Amazon, or Retargeting.biz

Commercial search intent  these kind of users are willing to buy but haven’t decided yet which product to purchase. They are usually searching for options and reviews from blog posts, YouTube video tutorials, etc. 

Transactional search intent this kind of users, however, have already decided to buy a specific product such as an „I-phone 12 pro max“ or „a Volkswagen Tiguan 2020“.

person searching on mobile

2. Use high ranking titles

For relevant content, you need relevant titles. Create one for each page. They have two purposes. One is to help users understand the content of your page. The other is to let search engines understand the information you are providing to users.

If you want your title to be properly optimized,  limit it to 50-60 characters. Google will cut off longer titles. 

The best recipe for top-ranking titles is to make sure they are relevant, attractive, and unique. In order for your title to be relevant, you should include your primary keywords at the start of your title tag. However, avoid keyword stuffing. Remember! Your title should be descriptive but straight on point. If you own a brand don’t forget to use your name, most preferably at the end. 

One of the best ways to enhance your Click Through Rate (CTR) is through successful title listicles. For example, if you create educational blogs you can count out X reasons why the product is the best. Using questions that address customers’ curiosities, such as „How to“ can be hidden gems to capture their attention. Remember to provide answers for common queries without actually revealing the answer. One good example is the titles that include from the very beginning „best ways to“. 

Reviewing a business article

3. Write compelling meta descriptions 

Any complete guide to SEO will tell you that engaging and teasing meta descriptions are still major for your business. Even if they do not necessarily impact search ratings, they can influence Click-Through Rates. 

Google typically displays up to 160 characters for a meta description. Thus,  keep it between 155 – 160 characters. If you are using WordPress, the recommended length for a green Yoast is between 121 – 155 characters. 

Your meta descriptions should be relevant summaries of your content that trigger curiosity and excitement. In order to provide value, make sure you use primary keywords. To put it simply, a good meta description will match the search intent, provide an accurate summary, and call to action. Since every page is unique, create one meta description for every page. 

Thinking while navigating online

4. Turn internal linking in your own resume 

When you apply for a new job you need a solid resume. The same goes for your website. Enhancing internal linking means helping Google better understand the content of your pages. It is like handing him your resume. If he can navigate from one page to another, he will get a better view of your content. Internal links will help you boost your ratings if you use them when relevant. An SEO best practice is to add internal links on top-ranking pages. This way, you will send users to pages that need a boost. 

5. Make backlinks your partner in crime 

According to research carried out by Backlinko in 2020, 95% of all pages have zero backlinks. That is zero references from one site to another. If backlinks were Google’s students, they would all fail. So make sure, your site won’t go on bad references. 

There are two ways to attract backlinks. One is through existing relationships and partnerships with other sites and the other is through great content.  

If you aim for the stars, use quality backlinks. High-quality links are the ones placed by someone who found your content to be valuable. They are a form of trust from one website to another. However, if your backlinks come from websites that aren’t topically relevant, Google will qualify them as toxic and derail your ranking. So make sure, they come from reputable sources if you wish to enhance your SEO best practices. 

Illustration of links

6. Do your best to achieve featured snippets 

If you want to make sure your site ranks high in Google Results, take time and learn how to create the appropriate content to earn a featured snippet. While it might take time and practice, you will eventually master it and improve your SEO best practices. 

Here are some tips you should follow to earn featured snippets:

Create content that answers specific questions →  if you want to rank high, think of questions your users might be typing on Google. Then make sure your content provides the most valuable answer. Google algorithms search through millions of sites to find the best answer. If you provide qualitative answers you might just win the race!

Leverage the power of questions → Turn questions into titles. Make sure they start with „How to“, „Why do“, „What are“, etc. Think about the questions your users might be searching for and apply them to your content. If you want to read their mind, type the kind of questions you think they would search for. The next thing you know, some suggestions might pop up and ease your work. 

Make sure your content is high-quality material → another primary thing you should keep in mind is that featured snippets respect SEO basics. Thus, your content needs to be comprehensive, focused on users, and entertaining. 

However time-consuming these requirements ought to be, the good part is that snippet boxes are available to everyone, for free.

Illustration of a featured snippet

7. Optimize your images 

A picture is worth a thousand words. And your online business makes no exception. Even if you’re focusing on your blog photos or website visuals, your pictures should speak highly of your brand or topic. However, having beautiful, relevant photos isn’t enough if you aim for SEO best practices. You need to make sure your images are also properly optimized.

Here are some hacks:

Choose the best file format → Site speed is important for your SEO. If it takes too long to load, readers might churn. The same happens for crawlers. Since photos are often the largest contributor to page size, you need to optimize them. JPEG and PNG are the best file formats for your photos. While JPEG is best for photographs, PNG is better suited for photos that contain text or drawings. 

Make sure your images are compressed → Large photos take ages to load. This is why you need to find a tool to compress them. If you’re using WordPress the ideal size is 1200 x 628 pixels. Another way to avoid slow page loading is to lazy load your photos. To put it simply, images and videos are loaded only when users need them.  

Help Google „read“ → If you want your photos to rank high, help Google understand your visuals. Since it can’t really know if your images are relevant, write alt text descriptions. Go straight to the point and avoid keyword stuffing. 

Two people selecting pictures

8. Generate a pleasant user experience – create well-structured content  

There is no right or wrong recipe when it comes to your content length. While some studies suggest that search engines look for long-form content, the ideal length is the one that perfectly suits your topic. If you can convey the message, don’t stuff your content with extra words. Relevance is more important than length. 

We, therefore, advise you to mix them. Use short content when it is appropriate and long content when you elaborate subtopics that offer value to readers, such as SEO best practices.

Here are some other amazing content rules that will definitely improve your SEO:

Short sentences rank better  → instead of writing long phrases, divide your ideas into multiple sentences. Shorter sentences have a stronger impact. If you’re using WordPress, limit yourself to 20 words. 

Short paragraphs for good readability → if your text is too long to read, users might bounce. In order to avoid that, write short paragraphs. The ideal paragraph is 3 sentences long and below 150 words if you’re using WordPress.

Leverage subheadings → subheadings make your content more accessible to readers. So make sure you highlight your keywords in your subheading. 

Use white space → if you want your subheadings to be easier to comprehend, use white space to delimit them. White space is also fundamental for good design. 

Use bullet points → if you need to highlight some tips or tricks, use bullet points to make it easier for readers to find them and efficiently visually scan them. 

Make it visually appealing → as we previously stated, a picture is worth a thousand words. They can help readers better understand your topic.

User Experience

9. Make your content visible – use striking keywords 

Creating a pleasant user experience is nothing if your readers can’t find your content. So how do you avoid being invisible? Keywords. Yes, you heard me right, keywords are the master of all SEO best practices

How should you pick your keywords? Well, put yourself in their position. Think of the words they are using when they are searching for your content. Now go to Google Search, write the first words that come to your mind. Some suggestions might pop up. But since there are millions of sites that already use them, try adding a unique keyword that speaks for your content. This is called a long-tail keyword phrase. It will help find your right audience. 

How often should you use keywords? A key phrase should be used once in your title and a minimum of four times within your content. For successful topics use long-tail keyword phrases. We recommend three since you don’t want Google to ban you. 

Making keywords visible

10. Enhance originality

Think about your favorite pair of shoes. Feel them, remember what made them unique. Now picture yourself going out to buy groceries. The moment you step foot out, you notice everyone wearing your favorite pair of shoes. Now tell me. Do you still find them unique? 

The same goes for content. If everyone has the same one, readers will no longer find it unique, appealing, or valuable, for that matter. So how can you make sure your content is original? Here are some valuable tips. 

Find your own approach → keep the idea but find a different approach. For example, if you’re selling baby products don’t just add a description label with size, width, etc. Since you are addressing parents, make sure you tell them how those products will keep their baby safe and ease their work.  

Put your content into context → if you are selling flowers, don’t just tell them how to take care of them. Tell them how flowers have become the most romantic gestures over time and how they have set a new trend for Instagram influencers during Valentine’s Day, Women’s Day, Name Days, etc. To put it simply, show them the bigger picture.

Add a little extra to spicy things up → make sure your content speaks for your brand. Add some research, such as case studies, customer testimonials, experiments to your content.

Just ask yourself. Why would Google rank your content? And why would readers find it valuable if the topic has long been addressed? Steal ideas if you must, but add your own fingerprint if you wish to improve your SEO best practices!

Illustration of being different

Let’s recap!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) might seem brain-damaging, especially if you’re a beginner. However, if you just follow some smart guidelines, you can’t fail. So what are the SEO best practices for 2021? Understand search intent to target the right audience and use catchy titles. Don’t neglect meta descriptions since they trigger curiosity and attract backlinks to gain Google’s trust. Do your best to earn a featured snippet and create well-structured content for a pleasant user experience. Use keywords to put yourself out there and don’t forget to be original.

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