Semalt: 2021 SEO Secret Trends To Follow
SEO can be vast and confusing. Without knowing what works per session, SEO professionals will continue failing to hit the target. We must focus on factors that range from Core Web Vitals to understanding semantics, knowledge graphs, and entities. Here are some SEO concepts you should familiarize yourself with within 2021.
Last year, we all had to reiterate the significance of SEO with a redoubled focus on creating the best user experience for visitors across our clients' sites. We saw Mobile-first indexing rolled out through the impending introduction of Google's page experience update and its updates ranking Core Web Vitals. It has become more important than ever to stay on top of our core SEO concepts if we are to stand any chance in keeping our clients as №1 on their respective SERPs.
As we move through 2021, there are some concepts that remain fundamental as we gear up for success.
Core Web Vitals
Set to roll out June 2021, Google's Page Experience and Core Web Vital (this should be hyperlinked to the article on Core Web Vitals) is something both our technical and non-technical SEO teams are familiar with.
What are Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals are the new standards that Google intends on using to evaluate is a page indeed provides a top-quality user experience.
These metrics include:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): this metric measures the speed at which a page's main content gets loaded once clicked. On a landing page, the earlier, the better, and anything above 5 seconds will register as a failure or below standard performance.
- First Input Delay (FID): it measures the speed at which a user can interact with a page after landing on it. FID measures to see if this can occur with 100 milliseconds after the page has loaded.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): A metric that measures how often a user is likely to experience an unexpected layout shift. On average, pages should maintain a CLS score of less than 0.1.
Google has introduced all these new metrics to make sites near perfect. Google stated that the minimum threshold for all Core Web Vitals must be met before any site can enjoy the associated ranking signal.
While focusing on Core Web Vitals, we try to focus on:
- Mobile experience
- Informational Page Content
- Image compression (to make a page's load as light as possible)
- Site speed and technical structure.
Late last year, Google made an announcement that mobile-first indexing was going to become the new norm.
Mobile-first indexing means that the ranking signals of sites are now going to come from its mobile version and not the desktop version alone. Approximately 55% of all web traffic today comes from mobile devices. People like to search on the move, and using a mobile device is a lot more convenient. The number of searches from mobile devices is only set to increase. Unlike before, having a mobile-friendly site is no longer enough. Now, we need to b mobile-first.
What that means is that we need to stop considering the mobile aspect of a site as an adjunct to the desktop site version. Instead, we must prioritize a mobile-friendly version of your site first.
Here are a few practical ways we can improve the mobile SEO of a site:
- Take a Mobile-Friendly Test.
- Fix broken links and other incorrect redirects.
- Compress images as best we can.
- Remove unplayable content and blocked resources.
- Eliminate all intrusive pop-ups and interstitials.
- Improve mobile usability.
- Run an audit for the mobile site to find any additional elements that we can optimize for a better mobile experience.
Machine Learning and Automation
Machine learning has become an integral part of search engine ranking algorithms. In March 2016, Google announced that RankBrain (the algorithm behind its machine learning capabilities) had become its third most important ranking signal.
Machine learning is closely related to semantic search. Through machine learning, a search engine can make educated guesses about what an ambiguous search query means. With machine learning, a search engine will know what you intend to search for even if a query is put in the wrong way. At the end of the day, machine learning is the reason why Google delivers better search results as a whole.
Rank brain, like other learning systems, first examines the user's behavior to be able to predict their actual intent, so it can deliver the best search results. Unfortunately, what becomes "the best" result differs from one query to another. This makes optimizing for machine learning very difficult.
We've discovered that the best way to get this done is to keep creating robust resources that are optimized for search and user experience. Thinking ahead of Google's current use of algorithms, machine learning, and automation, these elements are also powerful SEO tools. Combining them with our SEO efforts will help us generate real-time insights, and we can automate repetitive tasks, which may include:
- SEO insights and audits
- Internal linking
- Content activation and syndication
- Automated web error detection and quick fixes
Some may find it surprising that the EAT (this should be hyperlinked to the article on EAT) concept is not a new concept. EAT has been a thing since 2014, when it first appeared in Google Quality Guidelines.
E-A-T is a concept that focuses on Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. These three factors contribute immensely to the success of any site as well as any brand / business with a presence online.
Although E-A-T is not an algorithm, it has an indirect effect on rankings, especially if the content published on a site does not guarantee expertise, authority and gives your audience a reason to trust you.
- Your subject matter content should be able to indicate expertise and knowledge.
- The credibility and authority of the website should be visible in its contents.
- The structural quality and security of a website tells users if it is trustworthy.
- Off-page content by experts.
Knowledge gap, Semantics and Entities
Google's Hummingbird update of 2013 was primarily to improve search accuracy by teaching its search engine to understand every query better. Rather than looking at each word as a single element, Google learned to look at the entire search query and the relationship between words in that query.
Today, semantic search has become better than ever. Search engines have gotten much better at understanding query context and the relationship between words. The goal of semantic search is for search engines to be able to understand what you mean while you speak naturally.
If a user asks Google, what is its review? And the searcher is standing in front of a hotel in Italy; ideally, Google will use their location to know that in this context, the "it" is referring to the hotel, and the searcher wants to know if it is a good pick.
E-A-T is also assisted by structured data and schema.org. In E-A-T, we also have to pay close attention to the knowledge graph. There are many subtle nuances to the mechanics of semantic search. Ultimately, an authoritative page that dives in and provides in-depth insights on one topic is most likely to rank better than dozens of other pages you build around different keywords.
This occurs because one comprehensive resource is more appealing to Google because it is in-depth and it satisfies a searcher's intent completely.
With a knowledge graph, Google can better leverage structured data about topics, and with semantic data, it can populate the knowledge graph. SEO professionals like Semalt can now create targeted content on these topics that can influence the graph and Google's understanding of the content on your site.
Google will continue pushing and focusing on better user experience, and we must continue to expand our understanding of how these key SEO concepts are vital for success. Our new normal is not optimizing all content for the consumer experience and adopting technology and technical traits to help scale the SEO performance of every client.
SEO has gone far beyond stuffing keywords right into sentences across the page. We have reached a stage where SEO is more focused on providing better and more significant experiences for visitors through your content, website structure, and performance.