12 Smart SEO Strategies in 2021 To Increase Organic Traffic

We’re in 2021 and it’s time to make new SEO strategies for your blog. What should you focus on in terms of SEO for your blog’s future?

There are tons of information from SEO tools and Google itself that suggest important aspects of SEO and keyword research that can transform your content marketing strategy for the incoming year and beyond.

Here in this article, I’ve rounded up these example-backed SEO tips so you can start this year on the right track and get more traffic to your blog.

The Contents

  • 1. Optimize for Featured Snippets
  • 2. Write content with natural language
  • 3. Check and improve site speed
  • 4. Find user-generated keywords
  • 5. Understand E-A-T when creating content
  • 6. Optimize for mobile
  • 7. Use FAQ Schema
  • 8. The importance of voice search for SEO
  • 9. Leverage Local SEO
  • 10. Get Backlinks
  • 11. Boost traffic with Google Discover
  • 12. Optimize for the Knowledge Graph
  • Conclusion

1. Optimize for Featured Snippets

What’s even better than ranking on the top 1 spot of a Google search results page? Showing up in Featured Snippets, which appears before the #1 spot and is referred to as Position Zero.

Featured Snippets can be a short paragraph, a list, a table, or a video. Its purpose is simple: to answer a specific search query (especially those that come in question form) as quickly and as accurately as possible.

Some ways to make sure your blog is optimized for Featured Snippets include:

  • Adding an FAQ page on your blog posts
  • Write clear, specific answers with authority
  • Write in the same way your audience might write it (do not limit the content to keyword structures)
  • Include the search query or question as a heading and answer it in a paragraph (40-50 words)
  • Answer other related questions in one piece of content
  • Use numbered lists or bullet points for How-To type of posts

As long as your content answers a query with accuracy and authority, getting a place in Featured Snippet can be possible.

2. Write content with natural language

We’ve recently written about Google’s new algorithm BERT, which affects Google shows Search Engine Results more accurately by a better understanding of how words relate to each other.

In the past, some answers to questions have been incorrect or inaccurate in Google search results, but with BERT, Google claims it can give correct answers that understand the context behind the words being used.

The example below clearly illustrates the difference in search results before and after BERT.

Before BERT, the query: “2019 brazil traveler to the USA needs a visa” was misinterpreted incorrectly, therefore, giving the incorrect answer. After BERT, Google understood this as someone from Brazil who needs a US visa, not the other way around.

BERT_example1

This is a huge shift both for Google search users and content creators. Keywords still matter, but limiting content into strict keyword phrases might put you at risk for attracting traffic that is not relevant to a user’s search query.

The important thing to remember is to write content that sounds natural and matches a user’s search intent. This means using the right words, phrases, and sentences that are specific to your chosen topic.

3. Check and improve site speed

Google claims that 53% of mobile users will leave a page if it takes more than three seconds to load. That’s more than half of potential traffic all gone just because of slow site speed.

Even with patient visitors, site speed still plays a major part in ranking your blog. Way back in 2018, Google announced that it is including site speed as a criterion for mobile ranking.

Do you know how fast (or slow) your site loads? If it’s more than five seconds, then you might want to improve your page loading time.

Some factors that can slow down your site include:

  • A poorly-coded theme
  • Too many plugins
  • Uncompressed and/or large image files
  • Low-quality web host

You can use free site speed checker tools like GTMetrix, Pingdom, or Google’s own PageSpeed Insights. These tools will usually give your website a speed rating and some recommendations for speeding up your site.

If you want a tool that is easier to understand, you can read our review of the Varvy SEO Tool here.

We’ve also discussed improving site speed in greater detail in this blog post.

4. Find user-generated keywords

Start focusing on LSI and semantic keywords.

While general keyword tools are great for searching a top-level keyword or getting related keyword ideas, there is a growing trend in finding user-generated keywords. These are actual keywords or questions that users type into Google’s search page.

A prime example of this would be the automatic suggestions that come up when typing something in Google. Another one would be to find questions with targeted keywords in Q&A forums like Quora or Yahoo Questions.

An excellent tool for this SEO strategy is AnswerThePublic.

You don’t have to think of keywords yourself. Just enter a general topic or keyword and it will generate multiple questions about that keyword.

answerthepublic_keywords

AnswerThePublic is free and is a gem when it comes to creating content that is relevant to your audience.

5. Understand E-A-T when creating content

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness in the SEO world. These three metrics drive page rankings on Google and are highly important.

Some examples of meeting these standards include creating content that is backed by evidence-based studies and research.

Publishers in the health and financial industries are required to provide professional licenses and certifications as they provide information that can greatly affect a person’s physical, emotional, and financial health.

It looks like we can predict that Google will apply the same strict standards to other industries in the near future.

How do you meet E-A-T standards in 2021?

  • Make sure that you and your writers are qualified to write about a topic.
  • Include an Author box and a byline in all blog posts.
  • Update your professional profiles such as LinkedIn or Twitter profile with a link to your website.
  • Cite trusted third-party sources.
  • A secure website is a must. Find out how to add an SSL and secure your site if you don’t have one yet.

6. Optimize for mobile

A report claims that the average smartphone user spends 2.5 hours each day on his mobile phone. That’s not uncommon, as more tasks for work and play can be done on a smartphone.

Additionally, having a mobile-optimized blog will earn Google’s good graces as it announced its mobile-first indexing method. This means that your site’s mobile version will be considered your primary website.

Considering this fact, it only makes sense to optimize your blog for mobile users.

First, you need to do a mobile audit of how to make your site mobile-friendly. We have discussed a tool like Varvy SEO, which is a beginner-friendly tool with a feature designed specifically for mobile optimization.

Mobile friendly test by Varvy

Choosing a theme that is mobile-friendly and responsive can also help you create a great mobile version of your site that looks great on any device and loads in less than 5 seconds or so.

People reading blogs on their phones want to get the information they want fast and be done.

Consider your site visitors and make sure that you are not interrupting them with oversized pop-ups or unnecessary graphic elements. Make it easy for your visitors to navigate your site, with mobile-friendly menus that are easily accessible and visible on a smartphone.

You can start by using the AMP plugin to make your blog mobile-friendly without changing anything in the main site settings.

7. Use FAQ Schema

Have a blog post that’s not ranking as high as you want? Add an FAQ section that is structured with Schema.

An FAQ Schema is a group of code that structures FAQ so they appear as rich snippets in Google SERPs. Rich snippets mean that the FAQ section would appear along with your web page link.

Google has allowed and confirmed that FAQ’s with Schema markup will be qualified for rich snippets in SERPs. In their own words, Google said:

“A Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) page contains a list of questions and answers pertaining to a particular topic.

Properly marked up FAQ pages may be eligible to have a rich result on Search and an Action on the Google Assistant, which can help your site reach the right users.”

Below is an example of an FAQ rich snippet in Google search result:

FAQ Schema uses the JSON-LD markup.

If you’re not a developer and have little coding knowledge, you can use a code generator like this to create your own FAQ schema and add it to the bottom of your web page or blog post in WordPress if you’re using the Classic Editor.

Make sure you switch to the Text tab of the editor before pasting the code.

You can use this guide to easily add FAQ sections with Schema without ever adding or touching any code.

After adding Schema, you need to validate your code. This ensures that your FAQ Schema was created correctly. Google has its own Rich Results Test for this purpose. A successful FAQ Schema would return the results as shown below:

rich results check

8. The importance of voice search for SEO

Voice search is continuing to grow, and Google itself has revealed that voice is the fastest growing form of search.

With voice-controlled tech like Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa, more people are expected to perform searches using only their voice.voice search

How to optimize for voice search

There are a few things to remember when optimizing for voice search. Voice queries are done differently from regular search queries and should be treated differently.

  • Use natural language – Unlike regular search terms, you need to remember that people do not type the same way that they speak. This means you have to think about how a person might say his/her search query out loud. Be aware of what slang or words someone might use to search for information. Also, expect a casual approach to language when thinking of keywords that might show up on voice search.
  • Long-tail keywords also make more sense for voice search, as people are more specific when talking as compared to typing in words.
  • People who use voice search are usually multitasking and want short, accurate information. Keep this in mind when creating your content.
  • Plan your content to answer multiple, related queries about a topic. For instance, you can take a topic like Hiking and anticipate all possible questions related to Hiking such as:

What is Hiking?

What do you need to bring to a hike?

Where are the best places to hike in Colorado?

Why do people hike?

How do I prepare for a hike?

  • People are more likely to ask questions during voice queries, so consider creating an FAQ section for your content. As mentioned earlier, you need to ensure that the FAQ section has Schema-approved code as mentioned earlier.
  • Google’s John Mueller also suggested that content that is voice-friendly would need to be written with natural language.
  • He also added that the way the content is structured can affect the chance of getting featured in the results of a voice search. For instance, complicated data tables are hard to translate into voice.

9. Leverage Local SEO

Most business owners who have a physical location have the opportunity to leverage local SEO to drive more traffic to their site as well as their place of business.

When you optimize for local SEO, you make it easier for people to find your location outside of the internet and in real life. Not only that, a 2014 study showed that 78 percent of local searches on a smartphone resulted in in-store purchases.

How to optimize for Local SEO

A classic example of optimizing for Local SEO is the use of the keyword + “near me” format such as:

doctors near me

barbers near me

laundromats near me

In addition to adding these keywords in your website’s content, you can add your business address using Google My Business and Google Maps.

  • To do this, simply go to Google Maps and type in your business address.
  • Click Claim this business (if you are already listed in Maps) or Add a business (if you are not listed) and then click Manage now.local seo add business
  • To choose a different business, click I own or manage another business.
  • Select a verification option, and follow the on-screen steps.

Note that when adding a Contact page to your site, you need to enter the same contact information indicated in Google My Business.

Another factor to consider when optimizing for local search is crawl ability, which simply means that your site is structured properly so Google’s algorithm and bots can “crawl” the site and understand what your site is about.

10. Get Backlinks

If you’ve been blogging for a long time, you’ll know that getting quality backlinks for your site is an important part of link building or off-page SEO.

If you’re a beginner, it’s important that you know what backlinks are and why they are important for SEO.

Backlinks, which are created when another site links back to your site, tell Google that your site can be trusted. This is assuming that the site linking back to you has high domain authority.

Google doesn’t just take a look at your site’s keywords and relevance. It also considers how many other websites are linking back to your content. This is why backlinks for SEO can affect how content ranks in Google SERPs.

You can use SEMrush to spy on your competitors and perform backlinks analysis pretty easily.

There’s an amazing free WordPress plugin called LinkBuildr that can help you build connections and get more backlinks on automation.

How to get quality backlinks to your site

  • Create better content than your competitor

Study big blogs in your industry and make a list of their backlinks. Create better content than these backlinks and pitch it to other authority sites. Your chances of getting a “yes” is now higher because your content is better.

  • Start email outreach

If you haven’t tried email outreach, the process of emailing target sites in the purpose of getting them to link to your content, then it’s time to give it a try in 2021.

Here’s an example of an email outreach template for link building:

Hi [Site Owner],

I recently read your blog post, [Blog post title], and wanted to say thanks for putting together an informative and useful piece of information.

I noticed you mentioned [something that is related to your content]. Would you be interested in including my blog post as an additional resource?

Here’s the link: {Link to your content}

If you have questions about the blog post, I’ll be happy to answer them.

Thanks,

{Your name}

  • Don’t forget internal links

Internal links — links that point to the same domain — are just as important as external ones. They help Google discover new content and they help Google understand what your site is about. Internal links are great because you have complete control over them.

11. Boost traffic with Google Discover

Google Discover is the new version of the old Google Feed. Google Discover is a news feed that appears in the Google search app and Chrome’s mobile version. The content is shown by categories based on your interests.

google discoverGetting featured in Google Discover can increase your site’s traffic, so it’s definitely worth the effort. What’s great about Google Discover is that you don’t need to rank to be featured.

How to get featured in Google Discover

According to Google, there’s no method for boosting your ranking for Discover other than creating content that you think will be interesting to your audience.

The three requirements would be that the content:

Google also mentioned that older content can get featured as long as it matches a user’s interests, so creating evergreen topics are great for this platform.

More tips for Google Discover

Even though Google does not explicitly mention it, it is expected that you create above average content that is preferably evergreen so it can get featured long after you published it.

Google also expects you to use high-resolution and royalty-free images for your featured image since these images are prominently displayed on the Discover feed.

It’s also a prerequisite that your mobile site speed is optimal so visitors are immediately able to view your content once they click on it from the Discover feed.

12. Optimize for the Knowledge Graph

Do you know what a Knowledge Graph is? It’s the box of information that appears in most search queries at the top right part of Google SERPs. Other than Position Zero, the Knowledge Graph is prime real estate in Google SERPs.

Some examples of a Knowledge graph are facts about companies, famous people, countries, brands, and nutritional information on food.

Knowledge graphs are different from your average search result or rich result because it collects various facts about a query and organizes them in a Knowledge “card” for the user to study.

knowledge graph

How to optimize for Knowledge Graph

Ensure your content has Schema markup

We’ve mentioned the Schema markup earlier in this article, and it is relevant to optimizing your content not just to optimize for rich results, but for Knowledge graphs.

Google has posted its own resource and step-by-step guide in establishing your content so it qualifies for a Knowledge graph and rich results.

Create a Wikipedia page

The purpose of creating a Wikipedia page is to provide the facts about your business so it’s easier for Google to gather this interconnected information and feature it as a Knowledge Graph.

Create a Wikidata.org profile

This is another way for you to “feed” Google the fact-based information it needs about your business, topic, or brand so it increases the possibility of getting positioned as a Knowledge Graph.

wikidata

Although seeing your content on a Knowledge Graph might not happen overnight, it is still possible as long as you work on following the steps mentioned to gain more traction and eventually get visibility from Knowledge Graph results.

Conclusion

With the start of 2021 comes a fresh start for your blog’s SEO opportunities. We hope the strategies mentioned will help you shape a better plan for your content marketing.

While these are only a few of the many approaches you can take with SEO, we believe that these cover the most important ones that will have the biggest impact on your blog.

Do you have an SEO strategy prepared for this year? Let me know in comments.

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