Knowledge-sharing is one of the main attributes of leaders and recently, Elsner has organized an SEO Expert Roundup where some of the SEO experts shared their point of views and thoughts in the domain of digital marketing and SEO. Apart from bursting some SEO myths and sharing some expert tips to achieve success in SEO projects, the experts also gave some insights about Google’s December Core Algorithm Update and trends that will rule in 2021. For professionals who are in SEO services, it will be a worth-reading experience to learn some insightful tips from the SEO experts.
Talk with your audience: create surveys, beta community, follow trends, and even chat one/one. Understand what they need, what’s their pain, and how you can solve it via content. Once you get it, compile a list for quick wins and tackle long tails, questions by intent.
– No, you can not “boost” SEO- if an agency tells you that- please avoid them
– No, you can not trick Google, at any level- Tricking Google is tricking your clients.
– No, blog posts aren’t just for SEO. content creation is the best thing you can do for your readers and future clients.
Think of EO, as one of the team, don’t let it work in a silo. Combine SEO with dev, SEO with PR, SEO with marketing, SEO with PPC strategy- and you’ll win it!
So far, it seems it is a correction to May’s update. Keep creating good content by intent, serve the best UX, focus on technical SEO and core web vitals.
– Be efficient with your resources.
– Plan ahead- know what is the target goal and what are the mini-actions to achieve it.
– Learn from others’ mistakes, and share- always share failures and success.
What’s worked for me in the past year is creating linkable content pieces and coupling them with enticing outreach to webmasters. Authority will play a massive part in SEO for 2021, so creating content that people actually want to link to *and* knowing how to outreach effectively will be key.
– Buying links is good (because everyone else with low-ranking websites is buying them too!)
– Just having content is enough (Google wants to see if your site is authoritative based on external data)
– GMBs don’t matter for ranking (what better way to show you exist than by having your business info on Google’s own platform?)
For startups, it’s important to understand that it’s never too late to get started with SEO. Of course, it can take time, but it’s all about remaining consistent – especially when you have some months where your rankings just aren’t there or you feel like you’re not making progress. Stick with it!
As with any Google update, they want to improve search results for users. For me, I saw huge ranking increases, but I owe that to simply identifying what users want to achieve on my website and (ultimately) fulfilling it.
– Perform your own experiments and don’t just listen to people blindy
– Focus on future-proofing your website with great social signals and stellar content (that is better than competitors)
– Stay consistent – SEO is a long-term game.
For those that are looking to rise to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs), I have but one major piece of advice: “Invest heavily into off-page SEO”.
When I say “invest”, I don’t mean buy a bunch of low-quality backlinks that will provide little to no link equity. I am talking about investing time to build relevant links from authoritative domains that have quality traffic.
Link building is very much alive in 2021 and there are plenty of ways to build links through meaningful collaboration that won’t get penalized by Google. Here are some of my favorites:
I know for some of you this may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by what a single, quality backlink can do instead of ten irrelevant links. As Brian Dean likes to say. “Backlinks are like votes [of confidence] from other websites”.
Creating and publishing content is only the beginning. What you do to support your pages off-page is what will help it rank higher, gain traction sooner, and increase the overall authority of your domain.
Impeccable Mobile First Web Vitals and Excellent high quality long form content
Stuffing titles and content with keywords, Outsourcing content writing to “affordable writers”,
Schemas should be a requirement for an SEO project, Local SEO is strategic, Study the SERP profoundly, DuckDuckGo will be big
It hit us in a very positive way
Knowing the business is the best way to get your SEO right.
– Know the Business
– Impeccable Mobile First Web Vitals
– Excellent high quality long form content
The days of quick SEO hacks are over. There’s no express elevator to the top of the SERPs. Do all the things. And do them well.
– Good content doesn’t need promotion: You may have written the “last word” on your chosen topic, but sitting around waiting for “the internet” to recognize that is a waste of time. Invest in the content you create.
– Keyword density is out of date: Despite advances in AI and NLP, Google is still an algorithm. Next-gen content optimization tools like Surfer empower your writers to create SEO content at scale.
– Buying backlinks is bad: In a perfect world, if you created the perfect piece of content, Google would automatically reward you for it. In our world, Google relies on backlinks to help determine what ranks. Smart link buying from reputable purveyors still pays off.
Optimize where you can, but build on a solid foundation. Google is getting better and better at sniffing out shortcuts. Think long-term when making your SEO decisions.
It’s too early to make any definitive prognostications about the December core update. I rely on single-variable testing to inform my SEO strategy, and that work has just begun. Having said that, I expect Google to continue getting better at identifying search intent, topical relevance, and NLP factors like entities and sentiment. In layman’s terms, that means that content written for humans, not algorithms, will continue to rank better.
– Get enough sleep
– Never stop learning
– Do all the things
Since YouTube focuses so heavily on personalized results in search, home page, and suggested videos, ranking higher in 2021 rests squarely on making content that serves a specific audience and using titles and thumbnails that quickly captures their attention.
– YouTube ranks videos based on keywords. In fact, YouTube moved away from keyword matching in 2012 in favor of focusing on viewer signals, such as watch time and, more recently, viewer satisfaction.
– The YouTube algorithm favors channels that frequently publish new videos. The truth is, YouTube doesn’t care how often you publish new videos. Instead, you learn how to better serve and reach your audience the more frequently you publish.
– You need a lot of views in the first 24 hours of publishing the videos for it to be successful. Actually, new channels grow from 0 views and 0 subscribers all the time.
Know exactly who you’re targeting with your videos and make exactly the content they need in a way that holds their attention. But before you press record, determine what your title and thumbnail will be first so you can then craft the opening seconds of the video to further build upon the expectation the title and thumbnail set for the viewer.
The algorithm updates can make us feel like we’re working with an unstable system, but they typically make sense as long as we understand what Google’s goal is: surface content that serves people the best. We need to worry less about all the technical elements that, while necessary, often distract us from the human elements that ultimately makes content perform well.
– Focus on serving people well.
– Be driven by a compelling vision.
– Embrace change as new opportunities.
When pages don’t rank, it’s almost always because of a lack of authority (not enough links) or a lack of relevance (thin content). The problem of relevance is easier to address. Just make the page more detailed.
But the pages that really count are the money pages. These are the service pages, not blog posts. Their job is not just to rank, but to convert visitors and generate leads.
It’s often harder to add detail to a service page. You described the service, the process, the approach. What else is there to say? The best hack for adding content depth to service pages is one that helps both rankings and conversions. It’s the keyword-focused testimonial. Although video testimonials are more compelling, a text-based testimonial is an SEO opportunity. Virtually every service page on the internet would be better with a keyphrase-rich testimonial.
Here’s what a great testimonial looks like. It has a logo, a headline, a picture, name, title, company …and a keyphrase. It’s both cheese and mousetrap at the same time!
– Over-reliance on tools
“The bar turned green in Yoast, so this page is ready to rank high!”
Your page grader may give you a green light, but that obviously isn’t sufficient to rank. Junior SEOs often look for prescriptive advice. They use tools and read reports and check their actions against lists of best practices. But the best SEOs know that it’s as much art as science. They don’t rely so much on tools. They consider best practices to be hypotheses, nothing more. They ignore a lot of the warnings they see in reports. Why? Because they know first hand that tools are no substitute for first-hand experience.
Before you write a blog post, get your content strategy in place. That means writing your content marketing mission statement. This bit of groundwork documents your audience, your topics and what’s in it for them.
This simple exercise can save you hundreds of hours of wasted time. It can also do wonders for your email list growth because your mission can be adapted into your call to action to subscribe.
So get your content mission in writing. It’s basically step zero in content marketing.
– Document your goals and your progress. Do it in a visual, easily accessible way that keeps you on track!
– Never miss the opportunity to collaborate. For content marketers, that means never writing a post without at least one contributor quote.
– Sleep. Nutrition. Exercise. Your day-to-day energy levels are determined mostly by these three things. Every super successful person I’ve met takes deliberate action when it comes to their health.
Success is never an accident. It is a function of your access to opportunities and the quality of your actions. It’s that simple.
Let Google do the hard work for you, get the most out of Google Discover, and create a compelling Web Story. Here is what I did to boost the traffic on our website by 504.17%.
Web Stories on Discover still represent an untapped opportunity for most of us and can clearly help you gain additional traffic in a very short period of time.
– You need tons of links to succeed (clearly you don’t, you need to be authoritative and this might turn – after some time – into having tons of links)
– Google Knowledge Graph is only for large organizations and/or notable people (in 2021 creating your graph and optimizing your presence in other large graphs like Google’s Graph, Wikidata, Bing’s Graph is an essential part of your marketing strategy)
– Relying solely on performance-based marketing/advertising and lose focus on the business. As the Uber fraud case showed us (Uber burned 100M$ thanks to digital ad fraud), there is no auto-pilot option in marketing. Put the hours it takes to check out the numbers that matter for your business.
Here are the top 7 trends for 2021 and each one of these trends is an opportunity for growth:
We’ve been tracking the impact of Google’s December 2020 core update and we’ve been doing some digging for some of our clients in the medical space where the impact seemed broader. Once again we see UX playing a role but also other factors at play specifically in the YMYL space.
– Be authentic
– Have fun
– Keep on innovating
Optimize for Google Knowledge Graph. It’s essential especially if you are in the YMYL niche. If you’ve never heard of it before, google Jason Barnard, Andrea Volpini. They’ve got plenty of tutorials, instructions and tools that will help you on the way. Make your brand strong and trustworthy in the eyes of Google. It will serve as a good foundation for your SEO efforts.
– Overestimating only one ranking factor impact: It is important to optimize for a combination of signals. Technical, content and external factors (links) — all three matter when it comes to ranking. Making only one of them great and omitting others, may lead to your site not really ranking for anything at all as Google takes everything into account. Sometimes, it’s even better to have all three of those mediocre and rank at least somewhere rather than not doing any of them at all and never reach your organic goals.
– Writing one post per day but never optimizing it perfectly: The case of extensive growth rather than being goal-oriented: Producing lots of content and thinking it will somehow rank on its own can sometimes work, but mostly it doesn’t. It’s a kind of a survivorship bias. I’m seeing this kind of recommendation a lot: Just write a post per day and one day you’ll have organic traffic. It’s not the case, and it’s surely not a good strategy for a business that needs to set some sales goals and earn money. What may be working for 5 years for a freelance blogger, may kill your business.
– There are lots of SEO secrets and one should spend lots of time trying to find them: SEO secrets is a highly inflated topic most of the time. Most of the knowledge is already published. Despite many people saying Google is not telling the truth or keeping in concealment how their algorithm works, their developer guidelines are awesome and not so many people are actually reading and following them. Google even produced SEO tutorials and some of the recommendations are really helpful, especially if you can read between the lines.
Spending too much time trying to find some secret sauce, usually is not worth it. In my experience, being focused on the result, working a lot and testing everything you can yourself brings much more results compared to searching for hidden treasures. If you work and test a lot yourself, you’ll get the results anyways and you’ll have that valuable experience that will attract other people similar to you into your life that will gladly exchange their experience with yours. And that’s what really is a golden nugget.
Not every startup needs SEO in the first place. But usually one still needs a good brand and a foundation. Start building your online brand right away, it will pay off. Create all the profiles you need. Sometimes one may find out that they don’t know which keywords to target or how to fight for organic traffic. That means that you might turn to developing in communities instead and be found on other platforms. It’s not only Google that has a search engine. Consider optimizing for other platforms where your target audience is more likely to find you even though they might be not searching specifically for what you have to offer. That will create a basis for your future optimization for Google.
Neither my website, nor my clients’ websites had any negative impact. Wouldn’t have noticed any update unless many other SEOs were not tweeting about it. Thus, my assumption here is that if you do more or less well in terms of all three: Technical, website content and link building — you are less likely to be negatively affected by such updates.
You cannot make provision for everything though. And Google never explains clearly or at all what they are changing. Balancing to keep things integral helps.
There are (almost) no rules in SEO. There are people who create the trend and others that follow guidelines. Seeing beyond all those multiple and sometimes complex instructions helps rank higher eventually.
My rules are:
– Focus on the result
– Cooperate with like-minded people and help them if they need it
– Keep motivated and never give up
SEO is moving fast these days. Google is constantly getting better and better at figuring out what content truly fulfils searcher intent, and which pieces of content are the best of their kind. So for SEO in 2021 there is no real “hack”. We need to put in the leg work, figure out what users are really looking for and give them what they want!
– Avoid trying to buy your way to the top with unnatural links, or any SEO who tells you they can rank you by solely selling you links. Google built their empire on algorithms that assess link quality, no matter how crafty you think you are being, with that much data, they can figure out what a legitimate mention looks like. It might work in the short run, but it is not a good long term strategy.
– Pagespeed is a high priority ranking factor. Yes, pagespeed and soon the CWVs are factors, and a fast page is great for your users… but in terms of ranking, Google will always reward a slow site with great content over a fast site with rubbish content.
– That a big Google ad spend can improve your organic results. I see this floating around on the SEO forums, and it simply isn’t true.
What tips would you share with startups and Online Business firms in 2021?
I’d advise against trying to do everything. Find your areas of expertise and really focus on being the best at that!
Generally, it seems like the same has happened as with most core updates for the past year or so. Each iteration of the algorithm gets better at assessing content quality, site quality and figuring out the kind of information a user wants when they perform certain searches.
With the December 3rd Update there are some specific trends emerging. A number of niches were hit hard, with the finance industry seeing one of the biggest shake ups. However, we are seeing a lot of smaller, less authoritative sites, see improvements when their content is objectively better. That has been really positive to see!
– Drink water,
– Stick to as healthy schedule, and
– Don’t work on weekends.
Understanding and addressing user intent better than others is the most important aspect of SEO. My observation is that recent core updates were very generous to websites with a narrow focus and deep expertise in one topic and ruthless to websites addressing multiple topics.
If you run an eCommerce website, find a small part of the market and own it. If you sell wines and you compete with huge wine stores, focus on one area where you can deliver the most expertise and win. E.g. focus on educating your audience on non-alcoholic wines. Create tons of amazing content explaining the whole process of making non-alcoholic wines, compare products on the market, and most importantly, try to predict where the market is heading and build content around that. Even if nobody is searching for it (yet).
– Frequency and length of the content. SEOs obsess over publishing X words long content Y times per week to make sure that Google will rank their sites higher. This drives me nuts. Creating an amazing piece of content will always be hard and time-consuming. You will miss deadlines, you will not post for a while, but when it’s out, it’s gonna drive traffic, links, and business to your website.
– CTR and other behavior metrics aren’t ranking factors. This is a never-ending discussion. I would be fine with optimizing those metrics if websites focusing on them would be perfect from a technical SEO point of view and full of spectacular content. It is never the case though. Create an amazing experience through a deep understanding of technical SEO and page experience. This requires a lot of work, but it is a 100% proven way to boost your rankings and the revenue of your organization.
– Catching up to your competitors. In my experience, there is more value in paving your own, new way, trailblazing, taking risks, and staying ahead of the curve – even if this is just a tiny part of the competitive landscape.
Focusing on your vision and passion will drive more business and more clients who believe in your brand than winning that #1 rank over your competitor.
What tips would you share with startups and Online Business firms in 2021?
Deeply understanding technical SEO, web performance, and page experience are essential for your organization if you want to succeed in 2021 and beyond. It is not voluntary any more. Over the last few years, it became the foundation of any online presence. Start experimenting with the technical side of marketing and you might be surprised by how all those “frozen” rankings unfreeze.
Whenever possible, I try to avoid looking at just one Core Algorithm Update. This often leads to SEO patchwork, rather than executing a long term strategy. If you want to be listed as a winner of the next core update, these are the key points to address:
– go through all of your rankings (or as many as you and your team can) and make sure that you actually are the best fit.
– make sure that you are 100% indexed in Google (the average in our database, depending on the niche, is between 60 and 80%);
– understand your page’s layout and make sure that everything around your main content is helpful to your users. Google will skip indexing parts of your website that are not closely related to your main content;
– optimize your Core Web Vitals;
– implement performance budgets;
– regularly crawl and analyze all your sitemaps, until you are 100% sure that all pages in your sitemaps are valuable & indexable;
– last but not least – this goes without saying – make sure that your website is as lean as possible. Get rid of all the pages that are not driving traffic.
– Don’t catch up to competitors. Whenever possible, find your own vertical that your brand will own.
– Keep your structure lean, clean, and blazing fast. Have a monitoring system in place so these aspects are always under your control.
– Understand the technology you are using and make the most of it.
Create great content! Currently, just posting your content isn’t enough. You should support your articles with strong visual and video content as well. It is quite necessary to use various types of graphics such as infographics or presentations in your content. That would help you receive a lot of free backlinks and get circulated throughout social media platforms. The Internet is full of various “written-form” articles with a huge amount of raw text. People are not interested in this. It’s much easier and faster to watch a video or review an infographic than to read long articles. And this is what will be very popular this year.
– Social Signals Have No SEO Value (Social networks have become an integral part of our life. Therefore, Google pays more and more attention to the behavior of people there. It is very unwise to miss an opportunity that may bring links and shares
– Content Will Rank Automatically (No, that won’t happen. Of course, the authority of the site can help rank your content. But that won’t be enough. Links and social signals play one of the most important roles in the content ranking. Therefore, you won’t be able to be the king with simple article production.)
– Links don’t matter (Obviously, one of the most crucial parts of any SEO strategy – links. But you need to create real links related to your website and add value to the web. No spam, no low-quality links. Otherwise, a Google Penguin will punish you 🙂
There is a lot of noise out there, you need to stick to the basics, proven strategies that work and consistently work and improve on those vs. experimenting with 10 different techniques all at once.
Focus 70-80% of your time on just a couple of proven strategies and 20-30% on experiments; Once you see signs of life, then ramp up.
Google has changed something and the SEO community didn’t notice. However, I assume this algorithm is aimed at reducing the role of backlinks in ranking.
– Work hard
– Be Consistent
– Don’t worry too much about what others say. Do what you truly believe in.
Optimize your internal linking. It’s less of a hack, and more of a foundational SEO strategy that often gets ignored while people focus on more exciting “hacks”. Do you have the same anchor text pointing to multiple pages throughout the site? Do your most important pages have the most links? Is that true even when you remove navigation and footer links from the analysis? Do you have content with tons of links that doesn’t convert, like viral blog posts or campaign landing pages? Are those pages linking to your most important money-making pages to share that precious PageRank?
– It is a “mythconception” that you shouldn’t link out to other sites, or that you should “nofollow” all of those links.
– It is a mythconception that every SEO needs to know Python.
– It is a mythconception that having two pages rank at the same time is a bad thing. One SEO’s keyword cannibalization is another SEO’s double-dipping.
SEO takes time. Startups need to get from 0-60 as fast as possible so bring in a competent PR expert to help drive demand, and links, while the content and technical foundations are being set up for SEO success. If you want a clue as to how difficult it will be for you, simply compare the top-ranking sites for your target keywords/topics. How long have they been around? How many links do they have? How long do you think it will take to get that many?
It benefited my clients’ sites. Core algorithm updates often get tweaked – or sometimes almost reversed – as fresh data comes in from the real world. One of the biggest mistakes new SEOs make is to pay too much attention to algorithm updates. It used to be that they were very specific, and one could glean insights that would have an immediate impact. I do not find that to be the case anymore, especially with core updates.
– Put in the work. Continuously improve the site. Improve or remove outdated content. Dot the i’s and cross the t’s before publishing anything. Don’t slack on the small things because they aren’t exciting anymore. Good SEO is about doing all of the little things right for months and years at a time.
– More content is not always better. Don’t publish for the sake of publishing. Fire any consultant or agency who says something like “You need to publish two blog posts a weekhttps://www.elsner.com/an-insightful-interview-with-rand-fishkin-a-co-founder-of-sparktoro/ to rank better in Google”.
– Have a fast, mobile-first site. It might help to stop viewing everything on a desktop screen during analysis and meetings. Is your designer still using a primarily desktop view when showing wireframes, mockups, and previews? Tell them you don’t want to see desktop anymore. Tell them to show you the mobile version instead.
Something that has always worked, and will continue to improve in efficacy. Data-journalism style content creation + high-touch outreach. These two methodologies combined create a predictable ability to drive press mentions, subsequent syndications, and significant improvements to domain and page authority via these valuable, editorially given links.
– First is that there aren’t really any magic bullets, some super secret tool that will make you rank first permenantly for highly competitive keywords with little effort. SEO is a long game, and really beyond good on-site practices, comes down to creating and promoting great content.
– The Second is that there isn’t a sustainable way to build links that isn’t related to content marketing. If the links you are building are not about sharing valuable content with relevant audiences, those links will eventually become worthless.
– Third, is that there are any solid answers to the specifics of SEO. No one knows the algo, and now that so much of it is becoming a black with BERT running much of the show, it’s only becoming more mysterious. What people need to understand is that success with SEO comes from moving in the same direction as Google’s end goal. Relevance, being the best answer to a question or query. If you haven’t created the best possible resource, you don’t deserve to rank in the best positions for it.
Explore emerging synthetic media opportunities. GPT-3, CLIP, and DALL-E, among others are going to begin disrupting content creation as we know it. Startups that understand the implications of these new AI technologies will be poised to reap massive rewards, while laggards will find themselves being disrupted and made irrelevant across many areas of creative. These new technologies will turn people with average creative and artistic abilities into creative powerhouses, leveraging the collective knowledge of humanity filtered through an AI lens, mixed and matched in new and brilliant ways.
Just another in a long string of past and future updates that is incrementally improving the quality of search results, preferencing high quality, unique, thorough, and engaging content. This will continue, and SEO practitioners should see that Google will continue getting better and better at understanding what it crawls, increasingly regardless of best on-page SEO practices. The focus of SEOs will continue toward becoming Content Marketers who understand that the future SEO competitive advantage will be data-driven content + high-touch outreach/PR.
– Understand what technological innovations are occurring in adjacent sectors. If you want to succeed, you need to in some ways be able to predict the future. Investigate and understand the explosive and exponential nature of AI we are seeing currently. Think critically about how specific AI tech might be applied to marketing and creative use cases. – Explore and experiment with public models and APIs, to get a feel for how you might apply this emerging tech. Next, do your own investigations. Don’t take my advice or anyone else’s. If you have a question related to SEO or content, figure out a way to get a primary source answer. What experiment could you run? What data might you be able to scrape or get from an API that could help you answer your question? Could you run a survey? Make sure you document your process, and write it up for others. Create value as you learn, use your learnings to turn yourself into a thought leader.
– Lastly, surround yourself with people smarter than you, both on social media and in real life. Leveling up is that much easier when everyone around you is already there. Even if it hurts the ego a bit.
Title tag optimization has been my most exciting project over the past six months. Once you get to page one, through a strong link profile and/or highly in-depth content, it will be your click-through rate relative to your competitors that determines your position. Searchers vote with their clicks, and Google reshuffles the deck based on these votes. By looking at your competitors’ title tags, you’ll get an idea of the types of title tags that your audience wants to click on. By constantly modifying and testing, we have been able to improve our traffic by 20%+.
– The Yoast stoplight is NOT the trick to ranking for a keyword. As a matter of fact, they are still using factors in their plugin that have no bearing on performance.
– Using keywords in content does nothing. People still like to choose keywords that they sprinkle throughout the site, in the hopes that their site will rank for that keyword. Sites don’t rank for keywords, pages do. So you need to choose one keyword for one page, then do everything in your power to make that page as comprehensive as possible, on-page optimized, title tag optimized, and build backlinks.
– SEO tools are not very accurate. They are meant to be used for macro trend identification and competitor benchmarking, along with identifying opportunities to re-optimize content.
I would recommend that every company, including startups, Online marketing firms and everything in between, learn how to connect the dots between SEO performance and commercial impact. Generally what’s missing from SEO strategies is a clear understanding of how a specific effort translates to inbound revenue generation.
How Do You See Google’s December Core Algorithm Update?
Speculation about core updates can be dangerous, and oftentimes leads marketers to make kneejerk reactions that cause more harm than anything. My advice is to always check your own data after an update to understand how/if the update impacted YOUR site. By understanding how an update impacted you, you’ll have a better idea of how to make corrections, if possible. Otherwise, you’re left with making choices from SEOs’ best guesses at what happened.
– Keyword research is at the center of every performing SEO strategy.
– Content development is 90% of SEO. Topics should be approached objectively, but looking at all the possible discussion points you could possibly cover in order to make your content the strongest on the web for that particular topic,
– Test, test, test. SEO is ongoing, even for the keywords you own position 1 for. Everything is always changing and you need to change alongside.
I’d say instead of looking for quick hacks, focus on three fundamentals of SEO that really helps to drive more traffic:
(1) high-quality content optimized for searchers and search engine,
(2) build backlinks on high DR sites,
(3) site UX.
There are so many ranking factors to watch when it comes to SEO, but focus on these three and you’ll almost always win.
SEO myths to avoid:
– SEO is almost all about backlinks. Not true. Backlinks are important but search-optimized, high-quality content is equally important.
– Keyword research isn’t a must. It is, you’ll have a hard time ranking for anything without keyword research.
– SEO is all about on-page SEO. While it’s important to optimize your pages for search, it’s only about 40% of what you need to rank.
Focus on your strengths and use them to grow. New channels and tools show up all the type, and they can cause a lot of distractions. But what would really help your business grow is to focus on channels where you have strengths.
For example, if you already have an engaged email list that brings you leads and clients, double down on that and use it to grow as much as possible. You can try other channels too if you want, but make sure they don’t distract you from channels you have that already work.
Ensure every piece of content published on your site, whether it includes a landing page or blog post, also includes a Youtube video. There’s a reason Google bought YouTube and I believe that content that incorporates a YouTube video will outrank assets that do not. You’ll want to place this video higher up in the asset you’ve created but embedding Youtube videos is key.
– Backlinks are dead – A lot of gurus are preaching that you don’t have to worry about these anymore but that’s completely false.
– Overly writing for Google vs. writing for humans – At the core of Google mandate, they mention they want to deliver the best content so don’t create your content with the sole purpose of making Google happy. Instead, create your content to make your people happy and to answer their questions.
– Content is king – We believe we need to create masses of content and the world will be ours but in reality, the job isn’t done when you press “publish” on a piece of content. The life cycle just begins and you now need to distribute that piece.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with channels that your competition is avoiding. It doesn’t matter if you’re in B2B and you’re starting to test Reddit or Clubhouse, or if you’re in B2C and you’re starting to experiment with LinkedIn and Forbes. At the end of the day, you want to allocate some of your budget and attention to channels your competitors are ignoring because that’s where you can unlock some breakthroughs.
Algorithm’s always change. I like to pay very little attention to them and really prioritize my focus on creating content that demonstrates expertise, authority, and a level of leadership on that domain. If you can do those things consistently, you can spend less time worrying about what the algorithm does and more time on creating content that is worth finding.
– Create more than you consume.
– Don’t be afraid of the boring work.
– Drink lots of water.
Focus on internal linking. If you can’t find it easily on your website it probably won’t rank.
– A tool can give you an SEO strategy. An export from a crawler isn’t a strategy, it’s tactics and there needs to be a layer of strategy to actually make an impact.
– SEO is one-time activity or something to do right before launch. Yeah you may get some value out of it for a short period of time but not including SEO throughout will miss long term opportunities for growth
– You don’t need SEO with a good developer. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t do half of my work without a developer but it’s rare that a developer will simply do SEO for you. Every time I hear this it tends to end with the entire blog not being indexable or 2 million pages indexed on a 2,000 page website.
Spend some time thinking about what your potential customer would search and do those searches yourself. What brands are showing up? Is your brand properly displaying itself? If you don’t like what you see, change it.
I honestly try to not spend a lot of time analyzing the updates but instead putting that effort into ensuring you are continuing to make your site the best quality it can be. I’ll review trends from updates but the effort is better spent pushing for recommendations to be implemented. The first time I had a site majorly impacted I spent months trying to explain why when I should have been asking myself “why doesn’t this site deserve to rank” and coming up with an action plan to get it to deserve those rankings again.
– Know your data
– Be proactive with monitoring your data
– Focus more on your audiences topics and how they map to your website instead of exact keywords and search volume
I tend to avoid giving advice on any ‘hacks’, especially as they usually imply circumventing Google’s quality guidelines in order to get a leg up on the competition.
However, one thing I noticed a lot sites (including very large ones) tend to forget is to go beyond making lists of keywords. It’s always a good idea to actually check the SERPs behind queries, even if it involves spending more time to do that. The idea here is to try to reverse-engineer Google’s ‘intent-detection’ system in order to understand what type of content has a better chance of ranking.
Let me give you an example. When searching for ‘blue light glasses‘ in the US, at least at the time I’m writing this, you’ll notice a lot (about half) of the top 10 results are informational pages (guides, blog posts, resources) instead of commercial ones. It’s basically content that tends to inform the user on what these glasses are and what benefits they bring.
It’s thus clear that Google has determined that these types of pages tend to serve users fairly well, thus concluding that a lot of people searching for this term are looking to get informed, not necessarily purchase something right away. For this reason, a certain number of results will always be ‘reserved’ for informational pages, while other would be commercial in nature (think product or category pages).
If you’re a small retailer trying to compete for such a term, you would have a much better chance to compete for those information-focused results by creating a really good content-based resource on the topic, rather than trying to go head to head with large retailers and brands with your commercial pages. Not only that you would likely be going against fewer competitors (a lot of large retailers don’t bother creating informational content), but you’re also giving Google more content to judge the quality of your page on (as opposed to a commercial page, which is typically limited to a few paragraphs at most).
Sure, conversion rates are usually lower for informational pages, but the amount of traffic you could get, in addition to added brand awareness and being able to later remarket to those users, can bring a lot of value. Think about it like this, would you rather rank in top 10 positions with an informational page, or be on page 2 or 3 of the search results with a commercial one?
Quite a few SEO myths out there, though to name three that I’ve heard repeatedly in the past year or so:
– Shortcuts to high ranking positions: This is simple: SEO is a long-term investment, do not expect it to provide you with a large amount of traffic and conversions or to be profitable right away. In our case, it typically takes us 6 months to 1 year to become profitable, and after 2-3 years to have an ROI 2-4 times higher than any other marketing channel.
Now, there are some exceptions to this rule. Within the first month of working with one of our clients (large e-commerce store), we noticed that about 30% of their products and categories weren’t being indexed due to a bad redirect to a noindexed page. Fixing that increased their organic visibility almost overnight, with huge gains in terms of traffic and sales! But unless you have a similar technical issue affecting a big chunk of your site, you’re unlikely to see results that fast.
– Google Ads’ impact on organic results: Surprisingly enough, I still hear a lot of founders and marketing managers being concerned about not being able to rank well without investing a lot in Google Ads.
Even if you don’t trust what Googlers say, as somebody who has been in the industry for close to 15 years and as a Product Expert in the Google Search Central community, I’ve yet to see any proof for this.
– Negative SEO: There always seem to be concern with competitors placing ‘bad’ links in order to tank your rankings. Just as with the Google Ads impact I mentioned above, it seems there have been no cases where this practice has actually worked, at least from what Google reports.
Instead, it’s always the case that something else led to the site performing badly in the search results, that the webmaster has overlooked.
During last year’s Google Virtual Webmaster Unconference I facilitated the e-commerce session together with Google’s Alan Kent. One of the questions that popped out from multiple participants was how to achieve success in Google’s organic results when you’re a startup competing against larger, existing brands in your market. My suggestion was (and still is) to always to try to focus as much as possible on a single niche.
The idea here is for Google (and users of course) to see your business as an ‘expert’ in your market, someone who delivers more value than the typical large brand, marketplace or retailer. Whether that value translates into a better selection of products or services, or it’s through offering your expertise in the form of in-depth content, it has to be something that differentiates you from your competitors and gives people a reason to buy from you.
This makes sense from a technical point of view as well. While large brands have the benefit of having accrued a lot of ranking signals over time, it might be the case they need to ‘dilute’ those signals into a lot of different areas on their site, where as you would be concentrating everything towards a single topic.
Just like with any Google Core update, there will always be winners and losers. Key here is, if you’re negatively impacted by such an update, to not think in terms of ‘What did I do wrong?’, but more like ‘What could I do better?’. This is a good moment to try to figure out what websites, like perhaps some of your competitors, might have seen growth. What are they doing well, how are they providing a better user experience, how are they more relevant?
As a side note, these core/broad updates are rarely a reason to try to change something technical, or to adjust a meta title or two. They will likely not bring back your lost rankings.
I don’t generally follow specific rules, I simply try to do the best with the time I have, as does the rest of my team. One thing I would recommend though is to set some goals — it’s much easier to achieve growth when you have an objective in mind.
But you also need to make sure these goals aren’t pulling you back either. When it comes to SEO, I never set goals in terms of specific keyword rankings, and even more so, neither should businesses. Focus on things that actually matter at the end of the day, such as traffic and sales, just like you would with most marketing channels. Yes, rankings play an important role, but they shouldn’t be your main KPI when it comes to judging the success of your SEO efforts.
Wasn’t it a fruitful experience to get some SEO insights straight from the horse’s mouth? Hope you now have clear ideas about upcoming SEO Trends for 2021 and other SEO tricks and tips that might help you to get success in your SEO projects. Share it with your friends who might be interested in such blogs. Stay tuned for more such amazing industry news and updates.