Google SEO changes so rapidly that it’s quite difficult to keep up. One minute you think you are getting it right and before you know it, Google comes up with new updates that “shift the goal post”.
But you can’t blame Google too. They want the best experience for their users (including you) and would continue to update their services to provide that excellent experience. It’s the same thing in every industry.
Imagine Apple had just folded their arms after making iPhone 1 (it was known simply as iPhone then), how would we be talking of the several other improved versions of iPhones that have been made after that, up till the most recent iPhone 11 Pro. And I can bet by the time you’d be reading this, there’d be at least an iPhone 12.
With this in mind, it’s easy to understand that what worked in 2020 for Google SEO may not work in 2021. Just like an iPhone 7 charger can’t charge an iPhone 11.
In this article, you’d find a complete guide on how Google SEO works and SEO trends you must know in 2021.
So, let’s start from the very beginning – what is SEO?
What is SEO?
Known as Search Engine Optimization, SEO involves everything done to organically increase the quantity and quality of traffic to a website to generate leads or sell a product, service or idea.
Ahrefs defines SEO as “the practice of optimizing content to be discovered through a search engine’s organic search results”.
It involves understanding what your target audience wants, giving it to them and letting searching engine know you have done just that.
The problem comes when you skip any of the steps. Sometimes, you don’t understand what your target audience wants and end up creating contents they are not searching for. Some other times you know what your target audience wants, you gave it to them but refuse to carry search engine along.
How Does SEO Work?
Moz compares how Search Engine works to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Remember what that is all about? Here is a quick reminder.
Humanist psychologist, Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivation theory that explains how human actions are motivated to satisfy certain needs.
He listed those needs from bottom to top stating that that the needs lower down the hierarchy must be satisfied before going to the ones at the top. You can read more on the theory here.
In the same vein, Rank Fishkin, founder of Moz, made a similar hierarchy to that of Maslow highlighting how Google SEO works and the most important factors in SEO from bottom to top.
Here is a brief explanation of how each of the listed needs in the image affects SEO:
- Crawl accessibility allows search engines to have access to your website. Yeah, search engines won’t crawl your site except you allow it.
- Compelling content that aims to solve and answer your users’ search queries.
- Keyword optimized so the search engine sees the relationship between your content and what your audience are searching for.
- Great user experiences such as great UI/UX and super-fast load speed
- Share-worthy content to get backlinks in the form of citations and amplifications
- Title, URL and description to further boost click-through rate (CTR)
- Snippet/schema markup so your content can stand out from that of competitors on the search engine.
Key 2021 Google SEO Trend?
Some things have changed slightly from how you used to know them. There are new SEO trends that you probably have not heard about. So here you go, a list of key Google SEO trends.
- Voice Search
Voice search might just be the next big thing in SEO and some stats prove that to be true. Check out the following:
- 20% of searches on mobile devices are done via voice (Search Engine Land)
- Voice searches on Google have increased up to 35x since 2008 (Search Engine Watch)
- 41% of adults perform at least a voice search daily (Google)
This means optimizing for voice search should be one of your priorities for Google SEO. And here is how to go about it.
First, make sure to include question and answer in your content. This is because most voice searches are in the form of questions. So, Google usually answers with a site that contains the question and answer.
Look at this example
- Visual Search is on the rise
Both Google Lens and Pinterest were launched in 2017. ASOS Style Match application was also launched about the same time. Though with few differences in functionality, the applications shared a lot of common features.
They allowed users to upload or snap an object and get information and recommendations on similar objects.
Fast forward to 2020 and visual search has grown to be integral part of search. Google Lens, for instance, has been used a billion times (Google). On the other hand, Pinterest gets as much as 600 million visual searches every month (Newsroom).
To show up in the results for image search, you need image SEO. This involves using descriptive file names and include alt text for each of your images.
That’s not all though. Google wants to feature images from websites that are doing well in regular search. So, you still need your regular SEO.
- Domain Authority
Domain authority revolves around three key terms; expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T).
According to Backlinko, here are some steps you can take to boost your domain authority
- Get an Expert to write your contents
- Be open with your business information (contact information, name of founder, terms and conditions, author bylines and so on)
- Get backlinks (and mentions)
- Featured Snippets
The most coveted position on Google Search engine result page some years back is the number spot. But that has changed slightly. Every current business now wants to be on position zero which is the featured snippet.
How do you get your content to be in the featured snippet?
You have to start by ensuring your content is on the first page of the search engine result page. This is because findings by Ahref show that 99.5% of featured snippets are pages that are already on the first page for the keywords.
Then, add a 40-60 word content to the content to serve as “featured snipper bait”. The number of words for most featured snippets is 40-60, according to SEMrush.
Featured snippets can be of different types including paragraph snippet, list snippet and table snippet with paragraph snippet being the most common.
Video will only get more popular on search engine every year. Cisco says video will constitute 80% of online traffic by 2021.
Videos are now appearing in featured snippets as well. Most businesses have added video as part of their digital marketing strategy and you should too if you haven’t already.
To tap into the SEO opportunities available in the world of video, here are three steps you should take
- Organize your content into sections
Google needs to understand what your video entails and organizing it into sections would greatly help. Also, it means Google would be able to display different sections of your video in a snippet depending on the search query.
- Optimize your video for SEO
Just as with regular contents, you should optimize your video contents for SEO. Optimize your title, description and tag using relevant keywords.
- Upload a transcript or subtitle
Youtube automatically captions for your videos and this can be quite helpful. However, to help your video stand a better chance of making it to the top on the search engine, then you should go the extra length of uploading transcripts for your videos.
The transcripts help Youtube and Google to better understand your video.
A lot of things keep changing on Google SEO, but backlink stays relevant still.
Backlinks can be gotten organically or you can ask for it through collaborative efforts with similar websites.
You get backlinks organically by creating relevant, quality contents that people would find sharable or can cite in their contents. This is the easiest and most effective backlink building strategy. Simply put in the work in your content and the backlinks will come. You see why content is king?
The other way is through guest posting. You can reach out to sites within the same niche offering to publish with them to link back to your site. Win-win for both parties – they get your content for free and you get a backlink to your site.
Seems cool and easy until you realize you have to do this with as many websites as you as possible.
Meanwhile, Google SEO emphasizes quality over quantity on everything, including backlinks. So, while reaching out for guest posting, be sure to be getting backlinks from quality sites with relevant contents.
One other thing that helps with Google SEO but is barely talked about is comments on your site. Google admitted that it is indeed important to SEO.
Google is interested in seeing that people are engaging with your contents. Engagement, to Google and social media, means relevance and approval.