Whether it’s a global pandemic or the new Google Page Experience update, things are changing in the way people search the web. These are some best practices for formulating an SEO strategy for your website in 2021. 

SEO 2021

Latest Changes to Google Search Algorithm

The latest update from Google is a stark reminder that internet users are evolving, and search engines will continue to evolve with them. Google has predictably begun to account for metrics relating to user experience and plugged it into the ranking algorithm. The Page Experience Update will take effect in May of 2021. 

Google Page Experience Update Summary:

  • Improve Website Speed
    • Google will be closely monitoring how fast content on your page loads. If you have images without set parameters or javascript on your site it would be a good idea to have someone run speed tests.
    • Take a look at your hosting options. Firestarter offers lightning-fast web hosting to keep visitors on your site longer.
  • Mobile-Friendly Sites
    • It should go without saying that any site needs to be easily viewed on mobile. Google will be taking a closer look at mobile users specifically and how they interact with your site. This is not surprising if you are familiar with Mobile-First Indexing implemented by Google in 2016.
  • Safe Browsing
    • You should be using HTTPS already, especially if you allow customers to submit personal information through your website. Google has officially implemented site security as a ranking factor.
    • If a site contains any malicious downloads or malware it may also face penalties.
  • Pop-Ups and Spam
    • In order to create a better mobile browsing experience, Google will now be penalizing websites with spammy popups that detract from the content. You can find the full list of interstitials here.

Enhanced Search Results

There are pros and cons to Google’s obsessions with enhancing the search engine result page. On the positive side of things, it does create an effortless user experience. If your content is featured in a rich snippet at the top it can have a big impact on website traffic. A big negative, however, is that more and more searches are ending without a single click. This is called a zero-click search. While this shouldn’t have a large effect on searchers with the intent to buy, it still reduces the amount of overall traffic to websites. Google has provided resources on how to optimize different types of content with its enhanced search results page features. If Google continues the trend towards a “one-stop-shop” on its search pages, companies need to prepare. Just enabling the features and hoping your content is selected to be on the carousel at the top of a search page is not enough. Websites are going to have to get more creative with their content strategy. We may reach a point in the future where there are no classic blue links we are accustomed to scrolling through on a search result page, where only featured snippets exist.

Future of SEO

If there is one thing to take away from 2020, it is that nothing remains constant. Everything we know to be true can change very unexpectedly. When it comes to SEO, we can do better than just optimizing websites for what is current and known about Google’s search algorithm. It only makes sense to plan for Google to continue down its path of including user experience as a major factor in ranking. While Google may not currently include bounce rate, dwell time, or session durations in their algorithm, it is a good bet they will in the future. Planning ahead for these potential ranking factors can help to avoid massive Google penalties if or when these updates take place.

Google is constantly changing the way users search. As an SEO company, it is imperative that we evolve to keep up. Contact us today to get a free comprehensive website analysis and find out how we can prepare your business for the future of SEO.