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Search engine optimization is always evolving, making it difficult to keep up with trends. But if you’re looking to increase brand awareness, site traffic, and search engine rankings in 2021, you’ll want to become a bit more familiar with the best practices for optimization. If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll start seeing results without flying in the face of Google guidelines.

Prioritize Visitor Experience

If you’ve ever read advice from an SEO agency, you might be inclined to believe that it’s all about keywords. While keyword research and selection are still extremely important, you can’t underestimate the importance of having a great website. Google cares about user experience, which means you should, too.

You can optimize a page all you want — but if a visitor can’t navigate your site, your work will be all for naught. Before you focus on optimizing title tags and meta descriptions, make sure that your site is fast, mobile-friendly, and accessible to all. It should be easy to navigate on any device, without any potential barriers (like slow loading speeds, intrusive interstitials, or layout shifts) that interfere with the user experience.

By making improvements to your website that align with the metrics included in the upcoming Page Experience algorithm update, you can likely improve your SEO and ensure your site is compliant with Google’s recommendations. 

Create Content For User Intent

Content creation is an integral part of digital marketing. But while you’ll want to publish new content regularly, you shouldn’t post new content simply for the sake of it. You’ll want to make sure that the content you develop serves a greater purpose — and that it supports your overall sales goals.

You need to understand what web users are really searching for and create content that helps them solve their problems. That means you’ll probably need to develop a mix of informational content (for people who are early in their buyer’s journey) and more promotional content (for those who are closer to finalizing a sale). This doesn’t mean you should post a slick sales pitch, but it may mean that you should devise a strategy that includes both helpful, educational content and posts that demonstrate how specific products or services can be beneficial to customers. 

For best results, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the differences between informational, navigational, commercial, and transactional search intent. Then, you can develop a content marketing strategy that addresses each of these to guide customers through their buyer’s journey.

Build Authoritative Backlinks

Link-building has been a component of search engine optimization for as long as most of us can remember. But the way in which we build backlinks to our sites have changed quite a bit. While link farms were once an acceptable source of backlinks, Google has cracked down on this practice.

Now, any link-building you do should center around obtaining authoritative, relevant backlinks for your site. Backlinks are seen by Google as endorsements, but only high-quality backlinks will help your own rankings. Take the time to examine the backlinking strategies of your competitors and make connections with site owners who have high domain ratings, substantial numbers of ranking keywords, and audiences that align with your own. Then, you can work on creating content that they’ll love to share with their readers in exchange for a link back to your site.

Leverage Local SEO

Local SEO ended up being a literal lifesaver for many businesses during the pandemic. At a time when so many consumers were turning to online resources for everything from essential goods to little luxuries, optimizing both on-site and off-site for local searches paid off for many organizations.

In 2021, you’ll want to continue applying local SEO principles to your website and your local listings. Consider adding individual location pages to your site or utilizing location-based keywords with decent search volume. Platforms like Google My Business can also be immensely helpful, allowing you to show up more prominently in nearby web searches and optimize for your audience. Generating online reviews can also boost your local SEO, as can  optimizing for voice search. Being able to more readily reach customers in your community should be a main focus as we prepare to leave the pandemic behind.

With these SEO best practices in mind, you’ll be prepared for what’s to come. If you want to improve your site’s performance and overall rankings this year, refer to these tips when developing your strategy and trust the professionals to guide you along the way.