When it comes to getting ahead in the search rankings, any extra advantage you can find should be leveraged. The new State of SEO 2021 Survey is full of insights, trends and data-driven opinions outlining exactly where you should be focusing your attention to climb up the SERPs.

If you’re ready to take your SEO activity up a gear as we head into the all-important holiday shopping season, try these key takeaways from the report:

  1. On-page factors still matter

The 2800 SEO professionals surveyed for the report agreed that on-page signals remain a key consideration for search engines. For many, the most important areas to optimise remain the meta titles and H1 tags. In fact, over a third of SEOs believe that these are the most important parts of the page.

What to do now: Audit your meta titles, meta descriptions and H1 tags. Check they are unique, relevant to the page content and contain an appropriate keyword.

  • Depth and quality of content is key

It’s no secret that good quality content is a cornerstone of any successful search marketing campaign, but some SEOs now believe that in-depth, original content may be even more important than off-page factors such as links with one expert noting, “Google wants to rank the best answers for any given question someone may type in, so a website’s content needs to answer those questions as best it can. The dynamic needs to change from ‘how can I maximize my profit from search’ to ‘how can I best help my audience.’ Rankings need to be earned.”

What to do now: Perform a full content audit, assessing all site content with a critical eye. Identify any out-of-date pieces that could be refreshed with new information, data and statistics.

Likewise, flag up thin content which isn’t relevant or lacks depth of information.

Next, research Google trends and common search queries to pinpoint where content gaps exist and create a content calendar to begin outputting new, in-depth, relevant and unique content to match search intent.

  • Structured date is important

The presence of structured data was the number four ranking factor according to survey results. Structured data provides Google and other search engines with useful data which makes it much easier for them to understand what sits on the page. This in turn makes ranking easier.

What to do now: This page walks you through how to add structured data or schema markup to your site if you don’t already have it in place. Structured data was also named as one of the key trends which will impact rankings over the next two years by survey respondents so it’s well worth taking time to become familiar with the concept if it’s new to you.

  • The user experience matters

One of the less tangible factors to come out of the survey was the need to put yourself in the shoes of the search engine user in order to deliver the best possible experience. As one SEO noted, “Relevance, satisfaction, brand awareness, uniqueness – I’m sorry, these are nothing you can directly measure! But these goals are much more important to strive for than an arbitrary ranking factor. Google tries to serve the best possible resource for a query, and I will always aim to be that resource.”

Another SEO practioner went further, saying “Above all, a great SEO strategy should start by putting yourself in the user’s shoes and asking yourself if the content is truly valuable, the brand is trustworthy, and the website is easy to use (especially on mobile).”

What to do now: This element covers a lot of ground, from how up-to-date and useful your content is to whether your site is trustworthy, loads quickly, is easy to navigate on mobile and gives the search user what they were actually looking for.

Conversely, taking action on this point might mean you forget about SEO and keywords for a moment and instead focus on the overall experience your site offers. Disregard what Google wants and instead ensure that you’re giving the user what they want. This make sense when you consider that ultimately, it’s the human visitor you’re trying to wow. Search rankings are a means of attracting that visitor but it’s all for nought if you then don’t give them what they want.

If you’d like support putting these tips into action and building a future proofed SEO strategy that delivers real results, speak to Adrac today.

Author Rebecca

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