When it comes to creating content for the web, Search Engine Optimization or SEO is of central importance.
But if you are implementing SEO ideas that were in vogue a few years ago, you will meet with disappointment. SEO is evolving fast, and hot ideas that were a hit not too long ago are getting relegated to the scrap heap. So if you want a robust SEO strategy that clicks today, you must keep in step with the most recent changes.
In this article, you will learn about 12 SEO steps to build a killer SEO plan for 2021.
1. Perform SEO Benchmarking – Where Do you Stand at Present?
Before you embark on your SEO plan, you need to start by asking where you currently stand. This will set the stage for you to fine-tune and refine your SEO strategy for 2021. It will also help you know what to scrap, change, or innovate to put your best foot forward in 2021. You can examine your landing pages and the number of keywords that you’ve used. Some benchmarking areas include
Determine the number of pages you have in Google: how many of your pages have been indexed by Google? And what do they look like in Google’s search results? The answer to these can provide a good overall picture of your website.
Your backlink profile: Look at the link authority of your website. How solid or impressive is it? Your site has a reputation that is based on the number of reputable websites that link to it. You can assess this and determine how well your site is doing.
Social media: social media lies at the heart of any SEO strategy. Google is happy whenever your content is shared widely. This gives a clue to quality content that gets rewarded with high rankings. You can do an assessment and find out how well your social media strategy is laid out.
2. Identify Optimization Goals
SEO strategy and planning are multifaceted. It needs to be approached from many angles as a complete whole. Make sure you know what all your optimization goals are to keep your SEO plan together. Some goals to consider are:
Organic traffic: this is the number of visitors who visit your site due to unpaid or free search results. This factor is a powerful way to drive.
Conversion: what conversion rates do you want to aim for? Conversion addresses the rate at which visitors perform a certain desired action when they visit your site. It can be subscribing to a newsletter, purchasing a product, etc. typically, you want this to be as high as possible to maximize your site’s performance.
CTR: click-through- rate assesses how good the response is to your keywords, ads, email campaigns, or free listings. It is indicated through the number of people who click on a link.
Backlinks: backlinks are the indicator of how reputable your site is. These are the links from other sites that point back to your site. The more and reputable they are, the higher they establish your authority.
Bounce rate: this is a negative indicator, which naturally you should aim to keep at a minimum. They indicate the rate at which visitors who click on a link on your site move away without performing the action you want.
3. Research Your Target Audience
You need to know your customers well if you want to connect with them better. To do this, you need to step into your customer’s shoes and picture their needs, feelings, and pain points. This involves mapping your customer’s journey as they seek solutions to their problems. By the end of this process, you will have built a good buyer persona for your customers. This will guide you to reach and serve them better through your SEO plan. By intimately understanding your customer, you will have SEO elements that respond better to them well.
4. Complete a Competitor Analysis
Remember that you are in the race to win traffic while facing competition. So you need to assess your competition and determine how you stand in relation to it. This will give you a road map to determine where you need to improve. At the very least your site needs to be as good as that of your competitors.
Take a closer look at what your competitors are doing. What are their strengths or weaknesses? By doing a page-by-page analysis, you can discover gaps to give you insights.
How do you rank compared with your competitors when it comes to your keywords? Also, watch out for keywords that your competitors are ranking for but not you.
5. Compile a List of Valuable Keywords
Keywords are the currency for engaging with your audience. However, keywords are not chosen haphazardly or arbitrarily. Your keyword choice must follow a smart plan that revolves around your audience.
Keywords involve understanding the language of their customers. So, you need to pay close attention to customer needs and what words or phrases they prefer to use to express these needs.
You need to speak the language which your audience speaks. You can start by typing your keyword in the Google search bar. Google will generate a list of related searches so that you can compare and pick suggested keywords.
6. Impress Customers with Great User Experience (UX)
How friendly is your site and content to visitors? Creating a positive and seamless experience for your site visitors is important for your SEO efforts. It is all about the usability of your site by optimizing on-page SEO.
How responsive is your site, whether for mobile or desktop users? How fast does your page load? These factors are key to a user’s willingness to stay long on your site. You will get a high bounce rate and lower conversion rate if you don’t optimize on these.
7. Brainstorm Your Dream Plan and Set Priorities
Once you have outlined the details of your plan, it’s time to brainstorm. Generate and list as many ideas as you can. Then you can systematically select the best ones among them to include in a document.
Given your limited budget, not every idea can be implemented. So, you need to prioritize what to include. Consider what lines up with your corporate goals and make the necessary changes.
8. Voice Search Optimization
Recent technology advances have made voice search more relevant today. Remarkable innovations like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google’s Assistant have pushed the accuracy of voice to reliable levels.
This has increased the popularity of voice search. So, more people will switch from typing to voice when conducting their internet search.
To take advantage of this, you need to optimize your SEO plan for voice. People typically use long keywords with voice search compared to type search. Also, they use more natural-sounding phrases than typed words, which are typically abbreviated. Consider using long keywords that use phrases from everyday conversation to help you rank better with voice search.
9. Artificial Intelligence Will Play a Larger Role in SEO
Future trends show that Artificial Intelligence or AI will greatly influence SEO developments. AI brings together several technologies such as computer vision, machine learning, natural language processing, deep learning, and newer technologies still coming into the pipeline.
In 2015, Google introduced an AI algorithm called Rankbrain into its search technology.
In a nutshell, AI intends to simplify tasks that are too hard or mundane for humans to perform. So it can deal with massive amounts of data faster and more accurately than humans. With their integration into search engines, they make today’s AI-powered search technology much cleverer at interpreting queries and delivering more relevant results
10. Content That Will Satisfy the Google EAT Principle Will Rank Higher
To win at producing traffic-generating content, you need to meet Google’s EAT principle. This principle entails the three elements of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. These factors spell out what contributes to quality content in the eyes of Google. So you can’t afford to skip them in your SEO efforts.
To meet these criteria of quality, you need to consider areas like using formats preferred by your audience e.g. videos for teens. Ensure that you build an appropriate buyer persona to know what content to deliver to your clients. You can also include facts or figures in your content to support any claims you make to build credibility.
11. Featured Snippets Will Become More Prominent
If you have been in the SEO game long enough, then you must know of featured snippets. These awesome tools can give you a dramatic effect to improve visibility on your search engines. Unlike the traditional text keyword, snippets are noted for their shortness.
Snippets are small boxes that appear above the SERPs after you have entered your search query. They display information in a nice compact way. The information can be a how-to- guide, a brief bullet point, or a Q&A. The snippets may also feature images, product prices, star-based reviews, etc.
Snippets can win you stunning traffic helping you to beat your competition. You can create snippets by focusing on relevant keywords and question-based queries.
12. Predictive Searches are Set to Improve
With the entry of Google Discover in 2017, search capability has been extended in new peculiar ways. This AI-driven tool makes an incredible difference. It is not dependent on user queries. Instead, it learns your tastes and habits over time. Then it delivers accurate content that is more relevant to you.
This novel tool has a high user level of up to 800 million. To rank your content, Google algorithms check your content quality and user interest. Other factors play into this, such as search history, browsing history, search location history, work or home locations, etc.
The SEO landscape is no longer recognizable from what it was before. It has grown more complex, and the old winning rules don’t apply anymore. As an SEO planner, you need to reinvent your strategy to remain competitive in 2021.
Kshitij is a digital marketer and owner of a Dintellects Solutions. With more than 10 years of experience in the digital marketing industry, he loves blogging on seo & digital marketing and shares his ideas, views on how to market a business.