11 SEO and Keyword Tips for Your Best Google Ranking in 2021

If you are new to SEO or just want to be updated on what’s happening in 2020 and 2021 – the SEO tips in this article will give you valuable insights.

Now, we will briefly explain what is SEO, why it is essential to implement SEO and we will give you easy to apply tips – through simple steps and tips on how to write SEO successfully.

What is SEO?

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SEO is an abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization. Applying SEO principles to your content helps Google find it, “scan” it and if the content is “good” it will show it in the first SERP’s (search engine result pages). Google wants to show the most relevant results to users, so you have to prove your content is quality material!

Why it’s essential to implement SEO?

People implementing SEO

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We can spend time and effort in creating the most engaging content, but if we don’t know how to write SEO, Google (a search engine) won’t show our content in its first result pages. And no one wants to click on search page 7 or 9 to find what they need. Shortly put, you need to make it easy for Google to understand your content and show it to people – that is why we optimize.

What is QRG?

QRG guidelines illustration

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Ok, but that raises the next question. How to know what is quality content for Google, how to prove our content deserves a top spot – in the first search result pages?

QRG stands for Quality Rater Guidelines. The Quality Rater Guidelines give us a clear list of characteristics Google values on webpages (for example, Google values quality content). Although they are not giving away how Google algorithms work, they are hinting as to what kinds of quality issues the algorithm looks for. QRG is great for predicting trends. That’s why QRG is a very useful baseline for your SEO, making the users happy, therefore making the search algorithms happy as well.

 

How to write SEO in 2021

By now, we’ve learned about the importance of SEO. The next step is to acknowledge that Google is constantly updating its guidelines and algorithms, so it is good to follow what’s happening, what the trends are (again that word) and to regularly apply it to our SEO strategy.

There are numerous cases of large websites, that have done a great job in popularizing their websites in the past – establishing solid SEO practices, but over time, they notice a problem with the engagement. That’s largely because they fail to follow how SEO rules evolve over time and Google “directs” its attention to other, more up-to-date sites.

seo tips illustration

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Here are the best Google practices and the most important SEO tips for 2021 in a nutshell:

  • Be relevant – quality, in-depth but scannable content, answering the users’ questions
  • Create quality backlinks – links to sites with authority
  • Create quality internal links – point to only other relevant content on your website
  • Aim for a great user experience – satisfy users’ needs and engage
  • E-A-T – Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness – aim to be an authority within your field
  • Optimize your images – so they are accessible for everyone
  • Optimize your content – keywords, headings, meta descriptions, etc.
  • Site structure – organizing your site pages
  • Improve your technical SEO – SSL, mobile-friendly, structured data, broken links
  • Have good On-page SEO – optimized content and page
  • Don’t forget Off-page SEO –  your content promotion

Now we will take these SEO tips and go more in-depth one by one. Don’t be overwhelmed, you will see how easy and enjoyable writing SEO could be. All you need is to understand the basic principles of it.

 

Important SEO tip for 2021 #1:
Be Relevant

1.1 Provide quality

Part of being relevant is to provide your audience with quality content. Often, quality for us and for the user are two different things. You have to speak the user’s language and answer his/her questions. Furthermore, you should focus on content that is original and sets you apart from the competition. Users are not happy seeing generic blog posts with very little difference between them.

users having a question illustration

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Do’s:

  • think what question the user is typing
  • solve a problem for the user, answer a question, satisfy a need

Don’ts:

  • try to sell hard
  • try to create viral content (which works on social media but not on Google)

Always think first: “What is the question the user is typing”. The idea is to solve a problem for the user, answer a question, satisfy a need.

Example:

Let’s take a keyword – “washing machine”. Most probably, the majority of users won’t type: “Why did John/I put a lasagna in his washing machine”(viral content).

Instead, they might ask: “Why is my washing machine making funny noises”, “How to use a washing machine”, “How to repair a washing machine” – you got the idea!

Take the user’s “pain” into consideration first!

 

1.2 Offer scannable, in-depth content

It’s a must to understand your audience if you want to create successful content and SEO.

And who is your audience? Most of today’s internet users are skimmers and scanners. The way we read on the internet is different from reading a book.

Research shows that only about 10 percent read a post till the end.

People often look for particular pieces of information, which they can easily locate in your content.

Image by Freepik

Let’s think about how to create content for this kind of users:

Do’s:

  • have posts of various lengths
  • evaluate if the user needs a short answer or more in-depth information on a topic
  • make your posts scannable (use visuals, subheadings, lists – everything that divides big chunks of information, into smaller, digestible ones)

Don’ts:

  • try to artificially make your posts longer
  • create information clutters without any visual separation

If you fail in creating scannable and in-depth content (that can separate you from the competition), your risk disappointing the audience. Most probably they will leave your site quickly. That tells Google bad things about the users’ experience and that’s not what you want!

The next two points of SEO tips are about how to create links – both internal and backlinks:

 

Illustration of quality backlinking to trusted sites

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Do’s:

  • Link to reputable sites, where your audience can expand their knowledge
  • Link to sites which have good reviews. Chech this Quality Rater Guidelines PDF for more info.

Don’ts:

  • Avoid linking to sites with a questionable reputation

Example:

Not so long ago, many content creators and marketers used to spend a lot of time contacting other websites asking them to create backlinks. And it was a matter of time for Google to figure out that this kind of backlinking is not organic and naturally happening.

Let say you are selling ovens and someone who is selling socks is asking you to link to them. But maybe socks are not relevant to your audience (who searches for ovens) and maybe you haven’t checked the reputation of this company, their blog success, and overall, their appeal to Google.

Many websites got penalized for linking to other unrelated, questionable sites.

 

illustration of quality internal linking for a website

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Do’s:

  • link only to relevant to the current topic/question places on your site
  • use descriptive keywords, that give information

Don’ts:

  • Don’t try to link only to your product, services, best-performing pages, discounts – that repulses the users
  • Avoid spammy and generic text for your link: “best lipsticks here”, “read more here”

Example:

Avoid sentences like: “If you want to read more about some awesome design bags, click here (your backlink).

Instead, you could write something along those lines: “… To complement your festive look for New Year’s Eve cocktail party, you can add a matching design bag, (your backlink), warm gloves, and don’t forget the smile!”

 

Important SEO tip for 2021 #4:
Aim For a Great User Experience

Google also looks at the user experience on your site – how much time a user spends on your website, do the users share, comment, and talk about your content. That’s one more reason to think about the users’ needs. The same recommendations can be given also in this section:

happy people with likes illustrating a great user experience

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Do’s:

  • create a clear structure of your website, so that the user is not confused
  • always look to provide valuable information, to keep the audience on your site
  • give an opportunity to the audience to comment on your posts and share them, be present on other channels as well (social media)

Don’ts:

  • overwhelm with chaotic, unstructured posts
  • try to “sell” your product/service hard
  • miss the opportunity to let people know about your blog/content

 

Important SEO tip for 2021 #5:
E-A-T – Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness

So far, we’ve given you some ideas on how to build authoritativeness and trustworthiness for your website. And one more thing Google considers when evaluating your expertise – is your content’s age.

It’s a little bit disheartening when you first start blogging and nothing happens, in terms of engagement and visibility. Even if you create great content, it will take some time before it takes off – so you have to commit.

Image by Freepik

Through testing, Income School found out that it takes 8 months to a year and a half on average to see results from your new blog, even if you are doing most of the other things right.

That’s the first step to proving your expertise to Google. Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness, as you can guess, are achieved also over time, by creating quality content for your audience and showing that you know your topics. We’d say improving on E-A-T is one of the best SEO tips we can give you.

 

Important SEO tip for 2021 #6:
Optimize Your Images

One of the easiest SEO tips, still relevant each year, is to optimize your images.

Illustration wo people holding and image in front ot computer - illustrating optimizing images for SEO

Image by Freepik

Do’s:

  • Use image compression software – to make your images smaller, resulting in quick load times
  • Test your page speeds with PageSpeed Insights tool by Google
  • use alt text for your images
  • use keywords also in the alt text, when suitable

Many content creators forget to create alt text for their images and this one more chance to rank for a high position on SERPs (search engine result pages).

The alt text is shown as a description of your image when it can’t be displayed and helps the user know what you wanted to show. Visually impaired people also use the alt text of images to understand your content and after all, content is best, when accessible for everyone.

Let’s continue with the next SEO tips, which are a bit less exciting to apply, but they still make a huge difference:

 

Important SEO tip for 2021 #7:
Optimize Your Content

A big part of your SEO efforts is to optimize your body of text – your content.

Here are three main points to make sure are taken care of:

seo optimized content illustrating example

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7.1 Keywords – use them naturally

You should include keywords in your body text naturally. Some people try to stuff their content with keywords and that repulses the reader.

Also, try to use Google’s related searches to see what users are looking for and it hasn’t been addressed.

Most of the time, it will be hard to compete for a keyword like “hair”, but your keyword could be something along the lines of  “natural curling hair product” – be specific.

Try not overusing the keyword research tools, because they are able to show you only a small glimpse of the users’ searches.

7.2 Headings – be descriptive

Be descriptive already in your headings. Again, instead of writing “Curly hair”, you can write “How to was your curly hair”, “Drying curly hair” – already in the heading, give a hint of what you will be talking about in the paragraph.

In long paragraphs, use subheadings to ease the eyes and separate the big chunks of information.

7.3 Meta description

This is the short description under your heading, shown in Google search. It’s important to grab the reader’s attention and to ensure him/her, that they will find the answer to their question in your content. So be descriptive and informative again. Meta descriptions like: “The best…”, “Only here you will” are not that effective, compared to: “Learn”, “See”, where you suggest what the user will benefit from reading your content.

Keep your meta description short and also try to include your main keyword there.

 

Important SEO tip for 2021 #8:
Site Structure

Often site structure is overlooked. But this is how you show Google which of your pages are most important, therefore what part of your content will rank highest.

Not in the last place, the structure navigates your audience through your site.

Illustration with woman clicking menus

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Example:

If you are a user and come across GraphicMama in your search result, you immediately see the site’s main structure and you get an idea of what to expect content-wise. In many cases, having your site structure already in SERPs increases the chance of the users exploring your site deeper. That’s why it’s good to create a meaningful site structure, that Google can crawl (“read”) and display to people.

Graphic Mama’s main categories seen in search

 

Important SEO tip for 2021 #9:
Improve your technical SEO

Illustration with computer screen and statistics

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Although the technical SEO is not something new in 2021, it still deserves a spot in our most important SEO tips.

9.1 SSL certificate

Simply put, an SSL certificate keeps sensitive information on the Internet encrypted. That way, only the intended recipient can see it. As privacy on the internet is a big concern, Google gives you extra SEO points if your website has the certificate.

You can obtain such a certificate at Let’s Encrypt for free. It has to be updated every few months.

9.2 Mobile-friendliness

Users today spend more time on mobile, and it has become a standard to have a mobile-friendly version of your website.

HostGator provides you with the most crucial, first steps in making your website mobile-friendly.

9.3 Structured data and broken links

This section is pretty much self-explanatory. It makes you focus again on organizing the data on your website, fixing errors, links that don’t work – everything that might hinder Google crawling your site or harm your reputation as a quality content creator.

 

The next sets of SEO tips are probably the easiest to apply and once you get used to implementing them, writing an article optimized for SEO will be like a game for you.

 

Important SEO tip for 2021 #10:
Have good On-page SEO

People holding a folder with documens

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On-page SEO means content and page optimization and is exactly what we need to know for the actual writing of our content. Here are the SEO tips for writing your content:

10.1 Headings

Google looks at headers (scans) before body text. That’s why it’s important to include keywords already in the headings of your post.

Also, divide your main points by headings for easy scanning of your text.

10.2 High-effective keywords

In 2021 it’s not useful to through a keyword here and there in your content. There is a big competition for ranking for the same keywords, so with these tips, you can improve your chances to get noticed:

Do’s:

  • use language your audience is familiar with
  • conduct keyword research periodically to stay relevant
  • research your competitors’ highest ranking keywords for inspiration (you can use SEMRush)
  • use long-tail keywords
  • naturally integrate keywords in your writing
  • loof for inspiration for keywords in “related searches” at the bottom of a search page

Don’ts:

  • use short-tail keywords
  • use only keyword research tools
  • don’t overdo the use of your keyword in your writing

Research shows that 70% of all search traffic contains specific, long-tail keywords. So it’s good to try and target these.

Example:

A short-tail keyword: hair product

A long-tail keyword: leave-in curly hair product

If you are still stuck for questions, you can use sites like Ahrefs and Woorank to crawl search engine.

Also, try to divide your bigger topics into smaller ones. If you are site is about “Cooking” you can divide it into “Vegan cooking” “Traditional recipes” and so on. Thay way. you will come up with keywords for the different subcategories easier.

10.3 Meta description

Meta descriptions are usually up to 158 characters description under your title, shown in search. It helps the user figure out what’s the article about, even before clicking on the link. It is also a chance to impress and ensure the readers they will find what they need.

You can also use your keyword in the meta description.

10.4 Featured snippets

A featured snippet aims to answer the user’s question, right on the search results page, before even clicking on a page.

Here is an example of a featured snippet shown in the first result page, when “types of SEO” entered in the search bar:

Image by Google Search

You can see that Google tries to read your content and extract a summary which is useful for the audience. Avoid extreme formatting (keep it simple of your content, because Google may find it hard to scan. The content should be between 54-48 words long.

You might ask: Ok, but why should I try and make content, which Google will convert into a featured snippet?

The answer is simple: because Google displays websites, earned a featured snippet, at the top of the result page.

Google is adding new snippets all the time, so it is one of our top SEO tips to optimize your page and have an advantage when one appears.

Here are 2 quick SEO tips on how to organize your snippets:

  • if your answer is in a paragraph – try to write your best 2 sentence summary of the question
  • if your answer is in list form – use actionable verbs “create”, “make”, “show” and don’t just use keywords for your list

You can read more in-depth for types of snippets and how you can organize your content to be ready for Google in our dedicated featured snippets article.

 

Important SEO tip for 2021 #11:
Don’t forget Off-page SEO

Your work doesn’t stop with creating awesome content. Now people need to learn about it.

illustration of promoting a blog

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Off-page SEO means website/content promotion.

We already discussed why it is a bad practice to spend time asking other sites to link to you. Instead, you can focus on creating valuable, unique information, which will build your authority and other websites will naturally want to link to you in their posts.

Also, be pro-active – engage in conversations within your expertise, be part of a community and your industry, let people know about you, and provoke their interest in what you do and what you have to say.

 

Final words

With that, we finish our easy how to write for SEO tips for 2021.

Do you have anything to add or ask? Leave us a comment below.

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Bilyana Nikolaeva

Bilyana is an inspiring content writer and illustrator at GraphicMama with years of experience in art and design. When she’s not busy writing for the blog, you will usually see her working hard on new illustrations and graphic resources.

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