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Search engine optimization (SEO) goes a long way to getting ranked top on search engines. In fact, it is the main factor that affects your ranking on SERPs (i.e., Search Engine Result Pages).
Google holds over 90% of the desktop searching market and for your website to perform well in the organic search results, you need to know what factors are taken into consideration by Google’s algorithm. We cannot say exactly the factors used for the algorithm for 2021 because Google has not officially published those details. However, they have confirmed that they use about 200 different ranking signals when determining organic search page rankings.
Every year, Google’s focus shifts and changes onto new ranking factors, and in 2021 their main focus tends to go what it calls the Core Web Vitals. These factors are split into three parts: Loading, Interactivity, and Visual Stability. Here are the main aspects that will affect the rankings for 2021.
The Core Web Vitals
As of May 2020, Google announced the three new metrics, named the Core Web Vitals, to measure user experience on a website. They are Loading, Interactivity, and Visual Stability, and while slightly differing from one another, the three metrics are generally related to one thing: a webpage’s speed. Nevertheless, here’s a small breakdown of all the parts of the Cover Web Vitals as per Google’s own blog.
- Largest Contentful Paint measures perceived load speed and mark the point in the page load timeline when the page's main content has likely loaded.
- First Input Delay measures responsiveness and quantifies the experience users feel when trying to first interact with the page.
- Cumulative Layout Shift measures visual stability and quantifies the amount of unexpected layout shift of visible page content.
These new factors have been in effect since May of 2021 and are definitely a thing to look out for when conducting SEO optimization on your website.
Google aims to prioritize user experience while using its search engine, thus the Google BERT update now impacts the page’s SEO as well (although it didn’t when the update originally came out). BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers and is a machine learning algorithm that aims to understand the context of a user’s search. Therefore, it can provide a better result: one that is more relevant to the user’s search.
Put simply, using BERT, Google can now better understand the intent of the search instead of just searching for word combinations on its database. Unfortunately, this also means that websites with content-intent mismatches are impacted negatively by it.
It is important to note, however, that your overall website or webpage ranking does not get affected by BERT, but the search engine will prioritize content that better matches the user intent, regardless of how high-quality or long-form the content is.
As of the first quarter of 2021, the worldwide online traffic generated by mobile phones was more than 54.8% according to Statista reports. Due to the current path of mobile usage, Google began using mobile-first indexing. This means that Google will rank the website depending on how it’s being viewed from mobile devices. The recommended format by Google is a responsive website even though they have stated they don’t favor any specific way of the mobile website (responsive, dynamic or separate URLs). Fixing everything can be done on any CMS (Content Management System) by using a responsive template. It’s not a low effort change, but a definite high result.
In order to deliver the best user experience, Google has taken the speed of the webpage as a ranking factor.
- There are many ways to make the website faster but the biggest factor to cause slow page speeds is the usage of uncompressed images.
- To compress your images click here. Another way to increase the speed is by removing the unnecessary plugins and extensions installed in the website.
- Having lots of complex and heavy types of media on the website is also a reason for the speed.
Pages that load in less than three seconds are considered as fast for the visitors which leads to an overall better experience.
The reason why users visit any website is for the content published. The SEO ranking matters the most on the quality content. When making the content, bear in mind to make the content helpful and interesting so that the users will increase the time spent on the page. Keep in mind to have better content in order to have a lower bounce rate. Also, Google’s search engine in 2021 focuses more on in-depth content where the quality and depth of the content are taken into consideration. While providing long-form quality content with easy-to-understand structure like points, lists, and images keeps the readers engaged and boosts up the ranking.
Voice Research and Keywords
Smartphones getting smarter the use of voice searches have been added to the SEO ranking system in Google. When considering keywords, it is also better to include long-tail keywords which have a better click-through rate than short ones. Voice searches are also more likely to be a question phrase something like this. “What is the closest hospital near me?” as opposed to “hospital near me.” The keywords should relate to the description written and something the users will use to search for the relevant information.
Better User Experience
Google considers the user experience as one of the main factors in the ranking algorithm. Keeping the website attractive, updated, and optimized makes all the difference. Having an easy and simple layout for the users to have better website navigation also increases the user experience. Having clear strings of text at the end of each subdirectory of your website makes it easier for Google to locate your web pages. Having snippets installed lowers your bounce rate and increases the click-through rate because it gives users a preview of your content before they decide to enter the website.
Optimized websites make the content to be found easier and faster by Google.
- On your website, the most important structure is the navigation bar as it is the first thing linking to your other pages. This is usually located on the top of the website giving those links most of the weight.
- The images on your website cannot be read by google algorithms as it does for the text of the website. Therefore, it is recommended to write everything relating to the image in the alt text.
- Track your ranking and traffic as it is the most important tool in order to spot the issues with your website.
- Having a custom-made 404 page with a call to action placed on the page itself will save you from losing potential clients from leaving your website.
- Keeping the metadata updated makes it easier for the users to have an idea of what your website has to offer. The brief descriptions shown underneath each blue link in Google summarizes the content inside.
- Regularly posting blogs on your website shows Goggle that your website is active and this increases the trust of the website. With this technique, it is also a great way of earning new backlinks as people tend to share the blogs rather than your service pages.
All the hyperlinks that direct back to your page from all over the internet is known as inbound links also known as “backlinks” (mentioned earlier). It will affect the ranking of the website to have as many backlinks as possible. Social media profiles can be the main way of getting initial backlinks to the website and having inbound links from external sources proves to Google that people trust the content of the website.
In order to get to the top is not an easy task but it’s not impossible either. With hard work and following these steps, it’s possible to show your presence. By having a more comprehensive and sophisticated SEO strategy, the better SEO in 2019. This year there are some new factors taken into consideration, but SEO should focus on quality over short-term gains in order to be on the top of the SERPs.