Believe it or not, you don’t have to be a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert to be a good content creator. However, it’s super-valuable to know some tips and tricks to improve your rankings on Google and user experience.
Here are five useful tips that you won’t read elsewhere. Since Google has many updates each year, you have to keep up with your SEO game in 2021.
1. Look for questions people are searching on Google
In October 2020, Google improved BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) with their research in AI (artificial intelligence). BERT is language understanding systems that understand users’ written queries on Google Search, thus providing more relevant results.
This update improved Google Search in a way that now the systems can understand:
- misspelt words, thanks to the new spelling algorithm;
- the context of misspelt words.
Now it’s possible to provide a user’s requested information in under 3 milliseconds.
How is this related to questions asked on Google?
The BERT improvement allows Google to capture and understand the context of the article and page itself, making long-tail keywords more important than ever.
Let’s take the example of the keyword ‘rich media’.
The term ‘rich media’ is a short keyword with less volume and higher keyword difficulty compared to the long-tail keyword that’s also a question ‘how are rich media ads different from other ad formats?’.
This long-tail keyword provides even more significant search volume and a lower keyword difficulty level.
This particular case proves that people search more and more by typing specific questions and looking for direct answers.
But how do you find the right questions?
You should focus on checking broader terms (short keywords) when doing keyword research because the questions will appear as a suggestion.
Then check pages that rank in the first positions and answer those questions better.
Remember that this question has to be included in your article as one of the headings or titles. Keep the answer to the question sweet and straight to the point!
So how to find those top pages?
If you use Ahrefs, scroll down in the keyword explorer, and you will see them. And in this particular case, the featured snippet for the long-tail keyword ranks Setupad.
Check the answer to a particular question on the search by typing the question in a Google Search.
As you can see from the image below, this particular site includes the question in its title plus the short keyword in the description. By this Google understands that this site’s article includes the information that users are actually searching for.
Remember to focus more on long-tail phrases because your competitors might be focusing on short keywords. Also, there is less competition, leading your article to rank in the first position on Google Search.
2. Add internal and external links
Yes, internal and external links are still important for SEO in 2021.
Here are ways to use them effectively:
- Don’t add random links that don’t explain specific terms or add additional value for the user. For example, adding an internal link under the term ‘SEO tips’ takes the user to another article on the page ‘5 SEO Tips for Your Site’.
- If the internal link is reasonable, your article builds up a great user experience. By having internal links, you allow the user to spend more time on your site.
- Internal links increase the other page rankings too.
- If the user visits more than one page on your site, it increases engagement and lowers the bounce rate.
- Add external links only if necessary.
- Link to pages that have high domain authority scores.
- If you have used some data, citation, or you see that this particular other site’s article will add value to your reader, link the page to it!
- By adding external links Google and other search engines understand what your article is about.
It helps to increase your rankings if your article is linked with the most valuable external sources.
Google’s algorithm follows the content that is linked. The first thing you can do is go through your articles and check if there is a possibility to link them. If yes, then great. If no, you can find a piece that’s related to it. And add it as a related article (the title of the article).
3. Entity based SEO
Many SEO specialists now emphasize that content marketers should focus on entity based SEO.
Entity based means one word that can be captured in the whole article. It’s more like a context-based word that can define the article. The keywords within the article allow the search engine to give the best possible results for a specific entity.
For example, the user types in the word ‘ROSE’ (entity), and the search automatically provides several ideas of what the user wanted to look for –plant, actress, or song. The entity gives ideas for users to jump into the right category and find the information they were looking for easier.
Simply speaking, Google emphasizes entities over keywords, which has helped provide more precise results for users.
Keywords and entities go hand in hand. Keywords help entities to be defined. So, before conducting big keyword research, focus on finding the right entity and then do the keyword research.
4. Optimized URLs
Each year you should go through your blog articles and see if your URLs are optimized.
Shorter URLs rank better on search results, and it’s way easier for users to understand what your article is about. And this improves user experience.
Here are some useful tips on how you should optimize them.
For example, if your blog contains articles that have to be updated each year, don’t mention the year in the URL; it will make your life easier in the future. When you decide to improve or update the content, you should only change Meta Title where you include the new year, but the URL won’t change.
- Non optimized URL
- Optimized URL:
Long URLs make it harder to share on social media because the entire URL cannot be visible and could feel fake or scammy for some users.
Another tip is to use hyphens instead of underscores because Google robots read the URL by hyphens.
- Hyphens: –
- Underscores : _
Don’t use capital letters in the URL, because it can confuse search engines.
5. Focus on user experience
In June 2021 Google will roll out an official ranking factor update called Core Web Vitals. This update will affect sites with bad user experience, so make sure your content is easy to read and is user and mobile-friendly. Make sure you use images, videos, and infographics, maybe some animations.
Check how fast your site loads, how fast it interacts with the user, and whether it is responsive.
SEO works hand in hand with user experience; if SEO is more for search engines, UX is for your site’s users. Both of them have the same goal of providing the most relevant information for users.
Keeping an eye on UX helps searchers to find the information they are looking for, thus increasing your organic traffic.
As a content creator, use the tips mentioned above to improve SEO and UX. Make sure you are on your content marketing game in 2021 and optimize your content frequently.
Guest author: Agnese Repule, I am a passionate content marketing specialist at the company Setupad, a monetization platform for publishers. I usually cover topics about programmatic advertising, monetization, SEO, and content marketing. Another passion of mine is art, so I paint whenever I have spare time.