In this actionable SEO checklist, we’ll cover the key areas to focus on in 2021 – including BERT, EAT, voice search, Core Web Vitals, and more.
To start off, let’s take a close look at some of the biggest factors that will impact search results in 2021.
Get ready for the Core Web Vitals update
In May 2021, Google will roll out a major change to their algorithm that will place far more emphasis on “page experience,” particularly three site performance measures known as Core Web Vitals.
Core Web Vitals include:
A page’s score will depend on a number of factors, such as the hosting provider, the site’s code, and the number of images on the page.
Core Web Vitals will be combined with other page experience metrics that Google has already been using to rank sites, such as:
To better understand diagnose your site’s performance, check out this list of tools to measure Core Web Vitals.
Prepare for BERT
Google BERT matches content to search intent.
Someone who searches for “how to cook Alfredo,” for instance, is most likely searching for recipes, not canned Alfredo sauce. Pages that match the keywords but deliver different content will be outranked by pages that actually meet the searcher’s needs.
Here are a few tips that can help you create content that better meets your audience’s needs:
For best results, this process should be integrated with other relevant marketing activities such as persona creation, customer journey mapping, and content development.
Understand the “E-A-T” principle
Since 2014, Google employees have been manually reviewing web content to assess its quality.
Over the years, Google has placed more weight on E-A-T guidelines.
There is some debate as to whether or not manual content quality ratings actually impact search results, but virtually all SEO professionals agree that E-A-T will continue to become more crucial in the years ahead.
The acronym stands for:
Naturally, this is a long-term strategy and not a quick fix – but it is no less important than any of the other tactics discussed here.
Optimize for voice search
Voice search has been growing in popularity and it will only become more popular in the years ahead.
According to a 2020 study by Perficient, for instance, 55% of people used voice search when asking questions of their smartphones. And, given the projected growth of adjacent industries, such as voice recognition and smart speakers, it is unsurprising that most SEO experts emphasize the need to optimize for voice search.
When compared to text-based searches, voice search may still be in its early days, but SEO professionals have begun to hone in on a few best practices and trends:
Although the research is a few years old, Backlinko performed an in-depth study that reveals what types of factors Google considers when it comes to voice search.
Cover your bases with these SEO checklists
The sections above covered some of the biggest trends that will affect SEO in 2021 and beyond, but it’s important not to forget the fundamentals.
The action items below cover the pillars of SEO, including on-page SEO, off-page SEO, keyword research, and technical SEO.
Keyword, audience, and competitor research:
Maintenance, Technical & On-page SEO:
Finally, we’ll close this checklist with a bonus tip.
A golden tip – how to write attractive SEO titles that grab clicks
Thanks to maps, business listings, video results, Featured Snippets, and more, the average click-through rate (CTR) is down across the board, making it more important than ever to grab attention and engage visitors.
One of the best ways to see quick boosts in click-throughs is by adding a few “magic words” to your SEO titles.
Below are several different types of attention-grabbers to add to your new or existing content.
Comparisons and topic overviews:
Interesting facts and findings:
Naturally, words such as these shouldn’t be used simply as click-bait – they should match search intent, as mentioned above, and the content should deliver real value to visitors.
Build an SEO toolbox
Below is a list of some of the best tools that can help with core SEO activities, such as keyword research and outreach.
Most of the tools here offer free features or, at the very least, have free trial plans you can take advantage of.
In 2021 and beyond, the user experience may very well be the trend that defines SEO.
Core Web Vitals, BERT, E-A-T and other factors, for instance, indicate that Google is placing a greater emphasis on user intent, user engagement, content relevance, and the bottom-line real value of that content.
To keep up in this changing landscape, it is important to maintain a comprehensive SEO strategy, while also “thinking outside the technical SEO box” to focus on delivering better experiences and higher quality content across multiple channels.
Roee is a growth marketing and SEO expert who specializes in SaaS & B2B industries. His professional portfolio includes hands-on experience in performance-based marketing for global brands with proven results in improving traffic and revenue. He is also a father and football aficionado!… View full profile ›