SEO in 2021 and Why It’s Still Worth Your Time

by | Mar 12, 2021

11 min read
The word has been out for quite some time now. SEO is dead. With the coming of 2021, that warning only seems to intensify in volume. But SEO has been defying these death calls for years. Could it be different this time? Are we finally seeing SEO going through the death throes? It is an important question because you don’t want to be left stuck with an albatross around your neck. So looking deeper at this question could save you a lot of headaches.

First-Page SERPs Still Matter – By a Heck of a Lot

SEO is all about getting your site to rank among the top organic list that appears on the first results page of a Google search. If your business owns a website, then appearing on this page still counts a great deal. That is because websites get almost 92% of their traffic coming through Google. 33% of this traffic then goes to the first organic link. Also when search engines serve the first page of the search results, 75% of the people never scroll past it to any other page.

Organic Search the Most Preferable

More than half of all website traffic is generated from organic search and brings more than 40% of business revenue. That should tell you that your business stands its best chance of conversions and sales with organic search.

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Search Dominates Overall

When people go online, where do you think they are likely to start? Studies show that search engines account for 93% of all online experiences. That puts SEO squarely in your sights. With a solid SEO program, your business will meet most of its customers via search.

SEO Drives Customer Acquisition

For B2B marketers, it gets even better. 57% of them report that SEO beats all other marketing initiatives in generating more leads. Also before making any large purchase, 81% of customers always do some kind of online research. That makes online visibility crucial for you which calls for SEO techniques to make or easy to be found.

When you consider that 47% of consumers view 3 to 5 pieces of content by a company before talking to a company salesman, it reinforces the importance of content and SEO tactics built around it.

Organic Traffic vs Paid Traffic – Which Pays Better?

When it comes to PPC (Pay- Per- Click) and SEO campaigns, the data is clear. Between 70% to 80% of people simply click on organic research and overlook paid search results. Yet the two can be used for different purposes. They tend to drive distinct types of traffic for websites. If you are mainly focused on testing your product sale performance or want short-term conversions, PPC is more suitable. SEO however will get you a higher-quality visitor than PPC. Also, SEO visitors are cost-effective as they cost you less to acquire. Overall, choose SEO for more valuable lasting relationships and trust and reserve PPC for traffic that are more immediate and short-term.

PPC needs constant effort and expense, to keep your campaigns updated and fresh. The moment your ads go stale, your business could die promptly. This means that PPC can get quickly expensive and so is unsustainable for the long term. However, SEO has staying power with minimal expense once your website gets to the first results page. People naturally begin to engage or link to your site with no additional costs to you.

With those insights out of the way, here is the bottom line: some bits of SEO are certainly dying and you need to ditch them but SEO remains alive and kicking. Here is what to look out for.

SEO is Evolving – Fast

So SEO isn’t dying yet it’s evolving at a fantastic rate. In a bid to keep pace with changing user behavior, Google algorithms have been introduced at an increasing pace. There is an average of 9 algorithms each day – making Google even harder to fool than ever.

Some of the reasons people think that SEO is dead is the huge excess of supply versus demand between searches and available pieces of online content. If you try to look up most topics, you will get a lot more blogs/sites in the returns compared with the global searches for that topic. Also, Google will answer many of your questions these days without requiring you to go into a website.

With those insights out of the way, here is the bottom line: some bits of SEO are certainly dying and you need to ditch them but SEO remains alive and kicking. Here is what to look out for.

Get Your SEO Game up by Ditching What’s Not Smart

  • Creating Content Around keywords: it has been the practice to get your page to rank by creating content on it based on an industry-related keyword along with some backlinks.  Unfortunately, the content is often not human-friendly and is unnatural. Keyword stuffing was rampant. These tactics once worked but no more and will harm your rankings.  Google now prefers content written with humans in mind. If your content is actually helpful to human readers in answering their questions, Google will reward you with a good ranking. A good content strategy that boosts your SEO is to craft content that matches your buyers’ persona. This features pain points that specifically address the user’s needs. Using tools like SEMRush, you can even spy on your competition to identify what content topics get the most engagement and traffic. Online forums can also give you a good sense of what users care about through the questions they are asking.
  • Google Algorithms Favor long-form Content: It used to be said that short-form content was liked better because the audience gets more easily distracted and so prefers quick bite pieces. However, a serpIQ study found that of the top 10 results of the average search query, most were posts that were over 2000 words. This type of content is more comprehensive and so more likely to address a person’s pain points. So long-form content can create more engagement, is more shareable, and boosts your visibility better. Long-form also does a better job winning your backlinks according to Hubspot. You can have various pain points on your pages with subheadings in different sections of your content.
  • Quality Trumps Quantity: the strategy of creating more pages and dedicating each to a keyword won’t get you far anymore. This strategy emphasized quantity over quality, the creation of more pages led to a better ranking, it was believed. But this hurts user experience leading to google penalization. focus instead on creating quality even at the expense of quantity, eg just a few pages or blog posts in a month. Go for topics with a depth of content, serving your readers with something that will move them to link and share on their social media.
  • Don’t Get Obsessed with the Number One Spot: SEO success has been long defined by clinching the top position in the organic results. However, people can still pass over your number 1 ranking link and click on a lower site with more conversions and sales going to them. That’s because they may be having title tags and meta descriptions that grab attention. Also if your site doesn’t use a featured snippet, someone lower than you with one will get better attention and click-through rates. A featured snippet is a box of information that sits at the top of the search page.
  • Exactly Matching Domains: it used to be that domain names that were an exact match get you great ranking like houstombarbarshop.com for a barbershop in the Houston area. That’s a tough thing to rank for anymore. And it gets worse because google views this as spam and could penalize you. A better way is to make your domain names easier to read and to be remembered by humans.
  • Look at the long term: It’s true that SEO has always been focused on the long term. But the long term has grown even longer. Ranking and getting traffic needs a lot more patience. It is impacted a lot by your domain authority. Google values authority sites so they tend to rank better for any keyword result. In a study by Ahref, only 5 percent of newly published pages appear on page one within a year.  You can choose topics that are easy for you to rank for and follow a separate strategy for creating and having content shared on social media. This content type tends to generate backlinks faster and give you momentum despite the backlinks being of lower relevancy.
  • Old Style keyword Research is Out. Try Topic Research: keywords won’t be as important as they used to be anymore. Algorithms are getting smarter by the day so your content will be rewarded if it is topically relevant rather than keyword optimized. You can choose topics by looking for the topics that have few backlinks and you are currently ranking highly for.  Determine the average Keyword Difficulty (KD)  for those topics.
  • Backlinks Strategy: backlinks have long been a part of SEO but strategies tied to them have changed. It was easy to get away with quantity over quality. 50 directory links gave you the same value or more as a pair or so of authority sites. This no longer works. Today you need to target backlinks that come from high-quality websites. You can source these by guest posting on sites that possess high domain authority. Examples of these sites include Outbrain, the Huffington Post, or Forbes but they usually give tough guidelines for publishing and approval. You can leverage your own existing content to get good backlinks. Research into sites that publish topics similar to your content. Identify any of their content that could be enriched by a link addition from your content. You can then send a friendly email to the editor and indicate why your content will make a great piece for their readers.  This strategy may need some persistence and patience but can be highly rewarding. Backlinks represent additional information that makes your content a rich information resource. However, building your backlinks SEO-friendly is a lot like content creation: Google loves it when you make the backlinks appeal more to users than to search engines.Another backlink strategy is competitive link analysis and getting links through it. Here you analyze competitor backlink data.  You can then reach out to third-party websites and request backlinks by email.
Conclusion

Don’t buy the line that SEO is no longer relevant. Despite massive Google algorithm changes, SEO remains a powerful tool to get consumers attracted to your online platforms — provided you use it right.

Search engines including Google, remain the most preferred place to start for most people when they are asking questions. Since Google is always trying to get a better match between searcher intent and SERPs results, analysis of SERPs and searcher intent is the best way to know how to tweak your SEO.

As a digital marketing technique, SEO remains the natural choice for many businesses with a long-term impact on growth. It will continue to outweigh paid advertisements in 2021 by offering superior benefits such as

  • generating more traffic that is qualified
  • creating more visibility for your brand
  • Getting more engaging buyers
  • Offering lasting impact that extended to the long term
  • Improved user experience
  • boosting reputation
  • Increased customer retention

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Kshitij Chaudhary
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