As an avid marketer, you know that outshining your peers and ranking on the first pages of search engines is no child’s play. You also know that search engine algorithms keep shifting from time to time. Unless you keep up with the changes, you will lag and lose out. That’s why doubling down your Search engine optimization (SEO) efforts in 2021 is not an option but a necessity.
Beating competition with SEO in 2021 is becoming harder. Competitors are investing time and money into SEO efforts to attract prospects – including yours. In 2020, US marketers spent approximately $79.2 billion on professional SEO services to optimize their sites.
Consumers are also getting smarter by the day. They know better than to settle for ads that put websites at the top of the search results page (SERPs). In fact, 70-80% of users completely ignore paid advertisements, according to research. Again, these users don’t have time to scroll beyond the first page of SERPs. So, 75% will go with what’s available on the first page – mostly the top three. This is part of the reason marketers are doubling down on SEO in 2021 and why you should too.
SEO and how it works
In a nutshell, SEO is the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your website through organic (or free) search engine results. The term SEO also describes the process of making the pages on your site easier for search engine crawlers to find, scan and index. SEO involves many different strategies, including HTML code optimization, keyword usage and much, much more.
It takes time to create and implement the right SEO approach. If you rush the process, you may inadvertently violate rules or make mistakes. When developing your online marketing plan, it’s crucial to adhere to the best practices to avoid being penalized.
Marketers who use “black hat” methods sometimes get quicker results, but they always end up being flagged at some point down the road. Unfortunately, this hurts their image and reputation across the industry. It is better to use “white hat” methods when creating your marketing strategy, as they will be both long-lasting and effective.
Why SEO is important
On average, Google handles 3.8 million searches a minute worldwide. That translates to 5.6 billion searches a day on Google alone. If this statistic is anything to go by, there is an immense amount of specific, high-intent traffic. SEO allows you to identify your prospects’ search queries when they’re searching for products or services like yours. It also helps you work towards ranking well for those searches.
Optimizing your website will help search engine crawlers to find, index, and display your content within search results. The best thing about SEO is that it’s the only online marketing strategy that can continue to pay dividends over time.
Besides, between 80 and 90% of consumers now check reviews before making a purchase – and the number is set to rise. It won’t be long before everyone is searching for a product or service online. The shift from physical to online was already happening, but COVID-19 has made the transition even more evident. Without organic SEO in place, these people will not be able to locate you, so they’ll instead opt for your competitors.
Why are marketers doubling down in SEO in 2021?
SEO impacts the largest volume
Irrespective of your industry, organic traffic drives the most traffic to your website. SEO is critical among all the digital channels because it impacts the largest volume. As we mentioned above, people search and click more on organic results than ads. Investing more in SEO means leveraging organic traffic.
Besides, many clients won’t buy things from companies they don’t think they can trust. Since it’s virtual, they count on Google to recommend the best options. If you don’t appear on the first pages, it will imply that you haven’t invested in marketing, leaving clients to believe something’s wrong. Businesses who are visible in organic search gain more trust and reputation and have a higher chance of convincing clients to buy their solutions.
SEO to stand out in the market
High-quality SEO is a critical piece of content marketing in 2021. Second-movers are trying to find ways to set themselves apart from the SEO giants – capturing niche and long-tail keywords and coming up with more engaging content. This means spending more time digging into keyword research and creating a solid SEO strategy.
SEO is a survival strategy
Doubling up on SEO is no longer optional, but a necessity for the survival of your business. Your peers are spending millions of dollars on SEO. Unless you increase your efforts, your business may fall back and never regain its position in the market. Still on survival, the recent “mobile-first indexing” change by Google means the search engine is predominantly using the mobile version of the content for ranking and indexing. And with more people using mobile devices, this shift makes SEO a bigger factor and one that needs to be implemented for your business in 2021.
SEO creates a better visitor experience
All the effort you put into creating great content and optimizing your website enhances its usability and creates a positive and seamless user experience. For instance, when you take steps to make your website load faster and more responsive, you make it convenient for users on the go using their mobile devices or laptops. Happy users tend to buy products and services and even refer clients. Unhappy ones run, and convince others to do the same.
SEO is pocket friendly but with higher returns
SEO is affordable, especially when compared to other marketing techniques, like paid advertising. When implemented correctly, it will attract, educate and convert visitors into buying clients.
What makes a good SEO strategy?
Search engine optimization can be complex. But we’ll break down its key elements into four main categories or pillars to make it easier to digest.
- Technical SEO
- On-site SEO
- Off-site SEO
Content is king – it is the hook that draws in visitors and gets them to stay. Content – videos, blog posts, articles, images – tells your audience about you and what you can do for them. Be sure to include relevant keywords throughout your content (don’t over-do it) so users can find your content when searching for your products. Your content should be precise, deep, and engaging. It should not be thin, hard to find, copied from another source, or automatically generated. Think of the end user and try to create content that is relevant to them.
Your content management system will take care of this, but tools like Deep Crawl or Screaming Frog may come in handy when you’re inspecting for issues. The main ranking factors or areas you want to focus on here are:
- Speed: quick loading times are critical for user enhancing experience.
- Responsiveness: check for your site’s ability to adapt to other devices.
- Index: identify the pages that the search engine should index and return.
- Crawl: find out whether search engines can explore your website.
- Tech: find out if your CMS or tech are search engine friendly.
- Hierarchy: how is your content structured on your site.
As the name suggests, this SEO strategy involves the things you do away from your site to improve your website and ranking. It includes things like link-building and social media, which help in authority building. When building links, it’s vital to get links from relevant sources.
You’ll need to optimize your entire website and every other page in it. Note that there will be some crossovers with your technical SEO, but you want to structure your content in a natural hierarchy optimally. Once that is done, you should then focus on:
- Meta descriptions
- Page titles
- Descriptive URLs
- Keyword research
- Content optimization
- Structured data markup
- A strong call to action
This SEO guide will help you make informed decisions in your SEO efforts. It tells you why marketers are doubling down on SEO in 2021 and how you can also join in. In case you are still having a hard time implementing some concepts, you might benefit from working with an SEO expert.
Paul has worked with many Fortune 500 companies including Apple, HP, Wells Fargo, and Google in the technology sector focusing on online psychology & marketing – forming campaigns for digital & traditional use over every possible medium.