Search Engine Optimization - SEO - for 2020

11 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tactics

(Updated for 2021)

Optimizing your website for search engines, commonly referred to as Search Engine Optimization or SEO, takes a 360 degree outlook on your website. In 2021, people can access your website in many different ways and even access content from your site without even going to it. Here are 11 SEO tactics for getting your site noticed by Google and other search engines in 2021.

1. Keyphrases get Semantic

A key phrase in SEO terminology is how someone is searching for something. As methods of accessing internet content have changed, so have how key phrases have been looked at by search engines. Key phrases need to be more natural language based rather than technical. This is known as semantic search. For example, instead of searching for “family law” a user may search for “how do I file for custody?”.  Key phrases are just as important as they have always been, but using more natural language is very important for 2021 and into the future.

2. Semantic Voice

Semantic search is not just for text searches. Voice search has been part of SEO since 2011 when Apple first started using Siri in its devices. Semantic search is almost always done with voice. When asking Siri or Google Assistant to find a local chinese restaurant people are more likely to say, “what is a local chinese restaurant” rather than “chinese restaurant local”. Search engines can figure out some of these things themselves, but any help we can give them goes a long way toward pinpointing users wants and needs.

3. Listings

When searching for local restaurants or businesses in general, Google loves to show businesses in their own way. Businesses with a Google My Business listing will show up in more search results and in Google Places boxes. Yelp listings are also very helpful especially if users search using Siri. Keeping both listings up-to-date will help keep your business in the eyes of potential customers. These listings are highly authoritative so getting links from these sources are an invaluable part of SEO strategy.

4. Getting Snippet

Special places on searches pages are becoming more popular as Google tries to learn more about what users are searching for rather than just providing links. For example, if you look up a famous historical figure, you will likely find a panel of information that appears with a good bit of information directly on the search page. This information can come from many different sources and Google has provided it in a special panel. 

These special sections are called Snippets. There are a variety of different Snippets Google uses and they are constantly adding more. Making sure to have rich information that people are searching for on your website will get Google’s attention and possibly grab a snippet or two from you. This will help with your SEO efforts and get you more traffic to your site.

Albert Einstein Snippet
Google Search Snippet of Albert Einstein

5. ML and AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is something that more big technology companies are integrating into their products and services. Machine Learning (ML) is the most common way AI is created. Basically, computers get a ton of information about the same thing and start to find patterns in that information which can then be applied to other actions. For SEO that means that Google is having its computers identify trillions of pieces of data we give it every day to understand what we are looking for when we search. The more it can understand, the better it can provide us what we are looking for. The more it knows the better it can serve up the right information. To make sure your customers are finding you, Google needs to know all about your business. It needs to know what your business is all about. The more information you provide, the better it can find you. The bottom line is to make sure you are getting found by your customers, you need to make sure Google knows as much about your business as you can.

Blogger shooting content
Blogger shooting video content

6. Content is still King

Google gets a ton of information from the content you provide on your site. Blog posts, pictures, video, and graphics all tell a story to Google. For it to find you, you need to focus on providing content. Google loves long form content and so do users. Breaking up your content into sections for longer blog content will provide information that search engines and your customers need. For the benefit of SEO and your customers, make sure you are creating great content.

Images – Make sure you are using high quality images on your site. They should have file names that make sense. They should also include alt tags. Alt tag naming can not only help to classify images, but also describes the image in a way that those with visual impairments can understand what the image is about.

Blog Articles – Blog articles are a great way to provide content to customers and search engines. Including images and video along with the text also helps feed Google’s AI computers to better understand your site and business.

Video – Providing video can help your customers better understand what it is you do and the value you can bring to them. In addition to the video itself, you can add transcripts and schema tags so Google can better understand your video. 

7. EAT

No matter how much content you provide Google, if your content isn’t high quality then your influence will be limited. Google has a simple system for evaluating what makes high quality content. They rely on expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (EAT). To prove your expertise you need to have content that is not only accurate, but can also be shown to be valid. You can link to sources to show you’ve done your research. It is especially helpful for SEO if these sources have URLs with .gov or .edu. Also, having links to your material from more authoritative sources gives you more credibility. Create your content, but make sure it is good content that your audience will appreciate. 

8. Mobile

If you are primarily focused on desktop browsers, you are not only missing a huge possible market, but Google won’t like you as much either. Mobile users are a huge market and the primary market for many websites. Making sure your site is mobile-friendly might not be enough. You may need to specifically target mobile users as part of your SEO strategy. Looking at your site analytics could tell you how much traffic you get from desktop and how much from mobile. Starting in 2019 Google started rolling out a mobile-first indexing bot which prioritizes the mobile version of a site. The demographics for mobile users are changing also with more and more older people using mobile devices. Know your audience and meet them where they are. 

9. Old School

Many of these tips are not really new. Semantic keyphrases, EAT, Snippets, Mobile, and even ML and AI are all things that should have already been part of your SEO strategy. However, if they haven’t been, you should definitely start incorporating them. 2021 is going to be a big year for SEO. 2020 took a big toll on small businesses, so a highly competitive market will be in place in 2021. You’ll need to be ready to capitalize on that trend. Be competitive by showing Google and other search engines that you are serious about optimizing your site for being found.

Search engines have really turned their attention to security of the past few years. Having an SSL certificate on your site is an easy way to score SEO points. Users also are paying attention, often not trusting a site if it isn’t secure. Privacy policies should also be updated to reflect any GDPR Rules if the European Union is part of your SEO strategy. Also, don’t ignore other search engines. Privacy-centered DuckDuckGo has gained traction the past few years also while Bing is also a popular search engine. 

GDPR Lock

11. Google Ads

Although Google Ads is paid marketing and not essential for SEO, keep in mind that any new search engine strategies you introduce will take time before the search engines pull it in organically.  Google Ads can help jumpstart any promotional campaign and can help drive traffic getting Google to notice your other SEO strategies.  Google has many ways to place advertising and be found online. We can set up an effective Google Ads campaign, monitor and make changes accordingly. We are a GOOGLE Partner with our specialty in GOOGLE SEARCH ADS. We charge a flat monthly fee to manage and optimize Google Ads campaigns. The monthly fee is based on the competitiveness of your market, ongoing work involved, and budget for clicks.

SEO FAQ

Backlinks are when other websites link to your site. Depending on how they are configured they can give you credibility. For example, if a high quality site links to your content that is a signal to Google that you know what you are an authority.

Google is the biggest search engine. There are many alternative such as Bing, DuckDuckGo, and giveWater. It is good to explore alternatives as each offers a slightly different approach to how it works and can produce different results. 

Nofollow links are a way to tell Google that even though you are linking to them you are really promoting them. Any link by default is considered a follow link so Google assumes your site is giving them some credit. 

Alt text is tricky. It is really important to make sure your images have appropriate alt text. It is also important to not stuff alt text with keywords when not appropriate. Google may penalize you if you do. Also, it becomes a navigational issue for users using screen readers. 

Most likely if you have a business website you are too busy managing your business to concentrate on all the aspects of SEO. Having someone that can manage it for you is usually the best option.