Effective SEO Strategies for 2021
Steve Wiideman 

Last year’s holiday season saw the largest boom of online shopping and e-commerce in digital history, almost doubling from 2019’s winter holiday season despite certain industries and markets having forecasted lower projections through the end of 2020. Because of this, many businesses and brands are now revisiting or creating strategies to improve their rankings in search engine optimization (SEO) in order to generate more traffic to their social media platforms, products, and official websites.

Growing a business through best SEO practices is more complicated than ever, meaning organizations that design and utilize successful SEO strategies today must do so with pinpoint accuracy. The following are the five most-crucial steps that every business should implement to generate a winning SEO strategy for the remainder of 2021.

1. Set Subjective but Realistic SEO Goals

Each goal that either you or your organization sets for a winning SEO strategy must be crafted to fit your brand and your target market. For instance, if you operate an ad-selling business on one or more social media platforms, you might want to include “Increase Instagram Partnerships by 20-percent” for your SEO goals, whereas a 501c3 nonprofit that offers scholarships to POC students may want to include a goal such as “Increase Q3 Organic Web Traffic by 25-percent” or something similar for their SEO.

The industry or market your organization falls into is irrelevant. Remember: your SEO goals are set by you in order to help your brand or company grow. What works for one of your top competitors may not work the same for you or be the best course of action for your brand.

2. Make Sure Your SEO Goals Are Measurable

Goals mean nothing if there is no way to gauge whether or not they are on-track. Choosing and setting the metrics used to track your SEO goals is crucial, but understanding why those metrics are chosen and how they will affect your SEO strategy is absolutely vital.

Regardless of what metrics you choose to measure your goals, remember that they need to be directly tied into the SEO goals you set. Some example metrics you might use include:

  • “Q2: Improve Search Rankings by 20-percent Week-Over-Week”
  • “Q2: Improve Average Click-through rate (CTR) by 20-percent Week-Over-Week”
  • “Q1-Q3: Improve Interactions via Google Search Console by 30-percent Month-Over-Month”
  • “Annual: Reduce Bounce Rate by 25-percent Month-Over-Month”

3. Audit Your Customer’s User Experience (UX) And Fix Any Prominent Issues

Though this step may seem obvious, you would be surprised at the number of brands who fail simply because of technical errors on their website or sales platforms. This step is likewise crucial for those who have not produced new content in a while (two-to-three-plus months) or have yet to update their old content. Each piece of content that connects back to your organization or brand needs to be not just better, but starkly different from content published by your competitors. Otherwise, you will never have a chance to stand out.

The quickest way to start on this step is to go through your website and platforms with a fine-toothed comb. Each individual page and every piece of content published on them needs to be digitally scouted in order to update all outdated content, as well as identify and fix any technical issues fix such as:

  • Website compatibility with various mobile devices and platforms
  • “404 Error” pages and broken web links
  • Pages/content with word counts that are too high or low
  • Missing, duplicated, or incorrect content, visuals, language, etc.
  • Improper or unintentional redirects

4. Refine Your SEO Keywords to Match User Behavior

In today’s ever-changing digital landscape, settling on a predetermined list of SEO keywords to use isn’t enough. Since 2016, the majority of Google searches made by users have been inputted through mobile or cellular devices. Those same devices now account for over 50-percent of all digital e-commerce traffic. To add to this, the advent of voice-to-text optimization likewise means a growing number of users are conducting mobile searches with their voice, which impacts the language used when it comes time to refine keywords for our SEO strategy.

In understanding specific words or phrases used in conversational language by users, as well as types of behavioral norms those users show when they use their voice to search for your brand or your competitors, you can easily get ahead of the competition while simultaneously improving your keywords’ SEO search rankings.

For example, let’s say that you operate a family-owned pizza shop in Atlanta, GA. In this case, you would want to include keywords and phrases such as:

  • “Best Pizza in Atlanta”
  • “Best Pizza Delivery near Atlanta”
  • “Top Pizza Restaurants in Atlanta”
  • “Best Atlanta Pizza for Lowest Price”

This is just one example of how being meticulous in choosing specific keywords and phrases leads to improvement in SEO rankings. There are also a number of free online tools that offer extra help in choosing and refining specific SEO keywords and phrases that would best fit your strategy.

5. After Your Website and Content Are Updated – Optimize!

After you have gone through Steps #1-4 in building your SEO strategy, the final part of the process is to optimize your existing content – including your website and platforms – in a way that matches your overarching SEO strategy. This step is tied heavily to the process mentioned in Step #2 but is more focused on improving the UX around the digital content you already have, rather than correcting errors or fixing missing, duplicated, or incorrect content.

This last step in the process is to make it as painless and least-frustrating as possible for the users that engage with your content directly. While this can be done through a multitude of different ways, some of the best ways to optimize existing content include:

  • Include your specific keywords or phrases within your website’s pictures, product descriptions, and URLs wherever possible to help improve SEO rankings.
  • Place a stationary navigation bar at the top of your website (make sure it acts the same on different mobile devices!).
  • Add a textual or graphic “hook” at the top of your website’s landing page, similar to a “call-to-action” to capture and keep the user’s attention.
  • Take all longer text posts and turn them into graphics, charts, or visuals that are easy to read and understand.
  • Include internal links on each page of your website (links that users can click which transfer them to a separate page or section of your website).

Steve Wiideman specializes in strategic planning for multi-location and franchise SEO campaigns and is president of Wiideman Consulting Group [LinkedIn company page]. Mr Wiideman has designed and teaches the Website Optimization and Strategic Search Engine Marketing online course for California State University Fullerton, the SEO Tools and Analytics course at University of California San Diego. You can follow Mr. Wiideman on Twitter at @seosteve and LinkedIn.