What are the factors for successful search engine optimization? This is a question that our SEO experts at PromoMasters deal with every day.
We have been sharing this blog post with our readers for 20 years in which we publish our knowledge, learning, and tips. So you have a checklist at hand for your online planning for 2021.
SEO: Everything Stays The Same!?!?
January 2021: Ultimately, little has changed in the last 20 years. SEO got smarter, faster, more mobile, and more beautiful. The basis is and remains unchanged – this is confirmed by SEO experts.
The trend towards search engine optimization instead of manipulation, as in the past, continues. In the December Core Update before the turn of the year, Google once again cleaned up SEO spammers.
UX – User Experience And Search Engine Ranking
It is confirmed: The user experience influences the ranking, the placement on search engines. Not as an original ranking factor, but thanks to the machine learning approach, SISTRIX writes as well as Google patents and Yandex updates.
This is probably because Google is less relying on classic, human-entered ranking algorithms, but increasingly self-learning,machine-built algorithms and brings it to use continuously and in core updates.
A cycle of many factors. The satisfaction of website visitors is one of the very important in the long term. The Top 10 search engines like Google, Bing, Yandex, and Baidu analyze the interaction of the users with the landing pages and following pages better and better.
Clues For This Are Also
- Extension of Google Analytics V4 tracking with self-learning success metrics and goals.
- The ongoing expansions of the Facebook pixel.
- Yandex Analytics
- Bing Analytics
- Apple Analytics
It is observed whether real users come to a website, whether they use content, interact with it (unfortunately still not the end of the metric bounce rate) and succeed. Links are important for machines if internal and external links are also used by users and are not just there.
When it comes to content, it is important to ensure that content is constantly updated at the right time, such as the interval or season. The benchmark here is the competition. Updated content is more popular with visitors and search engines.
The user intends to gain more and more weight. This means whether the target page meets the expectations of the searcher. For example, if you search for “ 2 room apartment Salzburg ”, Google will mostly show real estate platforms with apartments for rent.
It is therefore important to adapt your offer in such a way that it corresponds to the user intention but does not bring users to your own site with false expectations. Sometimes it can be very easy and sometimes it can be complicated – but it makes all the difference. (Sistrix Post User Intention)
Meta tags are now being paid just as much attention as advertising texts for paid advertising Google Ads or Bing Ads. Right at the beginning of the customer journey, the user experience between meta tags and target page up to conversion, even the lifetime cycle, has to be optimized.
Google made a drastic U-turn at the beginning of 2019 and now also accepted content in tabs and accordions if it made sense for users.
This has also been confirmed several times in the last year that it is likely based on observation of user interaction that what is relevant is determined.
Therefore, important content that is not always visible through accordions or tabs should be marked as open/usable.
Think Mobile II: Mobile-Friendliness For Users And Search Engine Optimization
The conversion of websites to mobile indexing, which started in 2019, is 100% complete. Pages are now viewed mobile for evaluation. The Google Search Console shows when your website was switched to mobile indexing.
In addition, there was an update to a new hybrid crawler generation that is constantly being renewed. In contrast to earlier, when crawling with the “same old browser” was used for a long time, the crawler now corresponds to the Chrome browsers that are currently used by Android users. The only difference is that Google is still crawling with the ancient HTTP 1.1. A switch to HTTP 2.0 in 2021 is in the starting blocks.
With mobile shares of 91.1%, nobody can now afford to do without mobile SEO. This is a further 10% increase over the previous year! Use of mobile internet via smartphones in the Austrian population according to Statistics Austria 6.
Responsive website of the biohotel der.daberer
Especially the Areas of usability and charging speed play a major role in mobile use. The design of a website in Responsive design ensures that a page is easy to read and operate on desktop computers, smartphones, and tablets. With a mobile-friendly website, search engine users are offered an optimal experience.
AMP is still running but has not made outstanding progress. Especially since this results in only a small SEO advantage and users receive stripped-down versions of websites, the enthusiasm of SEOs and web agencies is reduced.
Progressive Web Apps combine websites and apps and can also be listed in the Google and Apple iOS Play Stores. Their development and use stalled in 2020. In general, there were little to no developments/innovations in these areas in the past year.
Our finding is that the Google results are drifting further apart between mobile and desktop. So we now have a real mobile index and the evaluation of mobile SEO and desktop SEO now makes sense for all websites. So SEO expert Michael Kohlfürst.
Michael Kohlfürst in the media manager interview January 2021
Tip From Our SEOs
Develop your website as a mobile website and add the desktop version to it. Test your content and pages yourself on your mobile phone, tablet & Co.
This way you can see where the problem is and how user-friendliness can be further improved. Try that Mobile website test tool from Google.
3. Local SEO: Location-Based Findability
For retailers, local service providers, hotels, and restaurants, the search with a local reference is particularly relevant. In 2020 in particular, easily findable companies were able to score points through collection or delivery. But how do you increase the findability of a location on the Internet?
The most important entry for local businesses is Google My Business. This free service enables companies to register directly with Google. Information such as an address, opening times, or offers can be managed by yourself and a mini website with your own domain can be created.
As a result, companies have a particularly large influence on how they are displayed by Google in the local search results and on Google Maps.
Verification of the entry by post or telephone ensures that a company can actually be found at the specified address. And that’s an important signal for Google and greater security for users.
It is important for this is the NAP consistency ( Name Address, Phone): Check if your company regularly everywhere is registered with the same, correct data. Services likeYextor Uberall provide test tools for this purpose.
Our SEO Tips For Local Businesses
- Create and verify business entry
- … Yandex, Baidu… depending on the market
- Store current, complete data
- Classification in the correct category (s)
- Add your logo, pictures, and videos to entries (also show people)
- Equip entries with current articles and events
- Collect reviews and respond to reviews
An additional opportunity for local businesses is classified directory entries with a location and/or product reference. like Herold in Austria or 11880 in Germany. Ideally, a company dominates the first search results page through this type of search engine optimization.
In addition to the official company website, the company entries from various business directories are displayed. Integration of Google Maps directly on the company website or a direct link to the GMB location makes perfect sense for local companies.
It goes without saying that the address data in the footer, imprint, terms and conditions, and data protection declaration are up to date.
Also, think about Structured data to – another way of specifying your company location to move from Digital assistant, voice search such as Siri, Alexa & Co to be taken into account.
4. Quality Signals (Instead Of Social Signals?)
Aptly than social signal, the concept of quality signal, the quality signals. This can be used to summarize all user actions that signal that an offer is SEO relevant for users. Reviews and the sharing of content in social networks act as signals.
A positive or negative rating is a strong signal that an offer is actually being taken up. Google also integrates reviews from third-party platforms such as Facebook, Herold, Tripadvisor, or Docfinder.
Reviews from the web like those from Herold.at
Sharing: sharing content on social networks. Only the best content is shared. And even the best content is only shared if this is easily possible. A share is therefore a clear signal to search engines that this content is something special and that it is important to the reader that other Internet users also reach this content.
For us, it follows: Those who create content worth sharing and make sharing and rating as easy as possible can look forward to numerous quality signals. In the meantime, users have come to the point where they know that a page can be shared on their social networks.
Sharing plugins like ShareIt now have a reminder function rather than being actively used for sharing.
Tip: With Open Graph Meta Tags, you decide how your content will be shared on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Your click rates (CTR) will be further increased due to an attractive listing.
The following example shows that the Open Graph Meta Tags from PromoMasters are different from the Meta Tags for Google.
Also, company profiles from social networks are displayed in the search query for a company. This is a great way to dominate the first page of search results.
These offer users different platforms for information or interaction needs. In the example of Coca-Cola below, these include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and …
Other networks and platforms that are preferred in the search results in Austria are:
Social networks also search engines. Well-designed, verified company profiles are therefore an absolute must so that users can quickly identify the right offer. And as traffic generators, Instagram, Facebook & Co are of course an indispensable part of the search engine optimization strategy.
5. Links For Search Engine Optimization
Yes, links are still an important SEO factor. It is no longer about as many as possible, but the highest possible quality links from thematically relevant pages that are increasingly recognized.
Links from other pages through which visitors actually reach a page are particularly valuable. Backlinks that ensure real traffic. The ideal solution is to create linkable content – unique, informative, entertaining.
However, if you cannot or do not want to use the necessary resources for professional content creation, you can fall back on alternative link sources.
For a hotel in Zell am See, for example, a backlink on the website of the Zell am See / Kaprun tourist region falls into the “valuable” category – local and thematic relevance is clearly given.
Another way to generate links is to use high-quality yellow pages (make sure to use NAP consistency as in Local SEOspecified!). Research and entry take time, but search engines and users can score points with topics and/or location relevant entries.
Another source of high-quality links is company networks: Get links to customers and partners or sponsorships and also return the favor with a link, for example in the references area.
Internal Link Structure
Not only incoming links but also the internal link structure on your own website are an important factor for search engine optimization. Pay attention to relevant links and that links with exactly the same name do not lead to different pages.
Negative example: On the home page of a hotel there is a link to the ski vacation page. On the ski holiday page, there is a link with the word ski holiday that points to the home page. This is how Google gets confused.
Set links as real assistance for users and not just for search engines. Imagine your website has no navigation and a user lands on the respective page. Can users get to their destination via text links, does it contain a call to action?
Links To External Sources
Also, links to external sources through even to its own competition are to be used. This shows search engines, comparable to scientific work, that the author of the content is very familiar with the topic and rewards this.
As an expert, you will therefore also know and name valuable sources for visitors. This link tip comes from Christoph C. Cemper from Link ResearchTools 8 and is still up-to-date.
With the Disavow Tool 9 (new version since the end of 2020), Google offers the possibility to devalue referring pages and their backlinks. An improvement in the ranking of old pages that do not yet have a blacklist can be observed.
The backlink data in the Google Search Console serve as the basis. The tool should only be used by SEO experienced users. For example, the entire global network can be blocked.
6. Website Technology And SEO Ranking
From our point of view the basis for search engine optimization! If the technology is not right, other measures will not bring the desired success.
Website technology plays a central role in a good SEO ranking. Outdated technology not only creates a negative user experience, but it also suggests that the content is just as out-of-date – relevance looks different.
It is therefore important to keep an eye on technical aspects such as page speed, server technology, and page structure. The most important criteria for a technically well-established website and its search engine optimization are:
- Neat, user-friendly page structure.
- Error-free indexability
- Correct domain routing
- Fast loading speed
- Mobile-friendliness and problem-free display in different browsers on different devices.
- Correct use of status codes such as 404 or 301 on redirected pages.
- HTTP / 2
Speed - Google Core Web Vitals
One of the topics currently hyped by search engine optimizers is website speed. Users love fast websites and, according to the announcement at the end of April, Google will turn them into a ranking factor.
If your website (s) now show an orange value in the analysis tools, then there is optimization potential. With red, on the other hand, one side has values that may be noticeably slow.
Now simply test individual pages on your website. Start with the homepage and take a look at the most important pages. The Page Speed Analysis Tools work based on Google’s Lighthouse Analysis.
- Web.dev – also includes long-term values.
- Page speed insights
- Google Analytics – Page speed analysis
SSL / HTTPS
Another aspect is the SSL certificate. Now a standard from our point of view. This signals security – a quality feature especially for online shops and websites with data entry. Browsers like Chrome and Firefox warn users when a website doesn’t have HTTPS.
There are also legal reasons such as data protection (GDPR) for the use of an SSL certificate. Operating a website under HTTPS is not a must if, for example, no forms can be filled out. In company networks, however, such a page can be rejected by the firewall, which is why its use is generally recommended.
Websites that use SSL can be recognized by the fact that the address begins with https: //. Google has launched a free certificate called Let’s Encrypt, which more and more web hosts are offering for a one-time fee of around 30 euros or even free of charge. Let’s Encrypt is fully accepted by Google (ranking). More about this in HTTPS / SSL contribution. Paid certificates are not necessary for a good ranking.
HTTP / 2
For many SEOs it was surprising to find that Google did not use HTTP / 2 for crawling websites until January 2021 and is still using the age-old standard 1.1.
Since the HTTP / 2 crawler from Google is still being tested, it is recommended not to switch off 1.1 yet, as some security tools have been recommended for some time.
In November we asked John Mueller from Google if we had one of the test sites for the coming one HTTP / 2 crawling could become. He replied that there are no ranking advantages 🙂 – 2021 will show how rankings might change if websites are crawled in parallel instead of linearly.
Search Engine Optimization Tools
There are various SEO tools for testing which are often free of charge in the basic version (order of no importance):
- Google Search Console
- Google Site Kit for WordPress
- Yoast Premium SEO Plugin
- Rank Math (with us now instead of Yoast)
- Screaming Frog
All tools each have their own advantages and are good across the board. Partly it is a question of taste, requirements, or the possible budget which tool (s) a website ultimately decides on. We use all of the tools listed above.
Google Search Console
In everyday agency work, we use all of the above SEO tools. The Google Search Console has been underestimated by most agencies, but it is the best way to show what Google wants. This may change in 2021 as the Webmaster Tools have been repositioned, upgraded, and further expanded.
This means that tools for search engine optimization are gradually becoming less and less necessary. The recommendation of our experts is therefore to start with the Google Search Console and do your homework there before tools are ordered and not used.
Not only Google offers webmaster tools. Those from Bing, Yandex, and Baidu are also excellent. Especially if an offer is to be optimized for a foreign such as the Russian market, then an optimizer cannot avoid the Yandex Search Console. And all of them are free!
7. Structured Data & Rich Snippets Increase SEO Discoverability
Attractive search results lead to better click rates. With Meta tags but also additional information such as
- Product details
- Company address data
Enriched search results not only take up more space but also provide search engine users with good click arguments.
These machine-readable data according to schema.org are stored and read in by search engines. Another advantage: structured data make it clear to Google and Co. what the website stands for and for which topics the offer is relevant.
With structured data, you help search engines (machines) to understand your offer. By storing JSON for events, marking news items as such, describing products in more detail, or highlighting address data, for example, you can show which category your website should be classified in or which jobs are available for you. The categories are already predefined.
The following are stored, for example: (more information on schema.org or at Google Structured Data for Search)
- Ratings (stars)
- Personal data (e.g. from Xing)
- Product details (price, availability …)
- Address data
An example of machine-readable data in the Google SERPs
With structured data you make it easier for Digital assistants like Google Assistant or Amazon Echo Alexa to answer simple questions like “When does event XY start?” or “Where is location XY?” and “What does the word XY mean” and thousands of others.
Tip: Test with this Google tool whether you have entered the data correctly. SEO extensions like Rank Math or Yoast integrate this data. External providers such as Yext now also provide additional integration.
Semantic SEO Information
Software tip: WordLiftintegrates semantic content (invisible) into a website. There are plugins for WordPress and TYPO3 etc. This makes it possible for machines to understand what is meant by Sound of Music or Silent Night.
The use of semantic information can reward first movers in particular. In the long term, these technologies will become an integral part of CMS such as WordPress, TYPO3, or shop solutions.
The Knowledge Graph is especially recommended if all other suggestions for search engine optimization have already been implemented.
The advantages of better findability on search engines have already been listed. The disadvantage is that Google & Co make visiting a website unnecessary in the long term.
Johannes Beus from Sistrix writes that Google is becoming the competitor of every website. The so-called blue links show the desired answer/solution directly in the search results.
Denying data to the machines tends to mean that the current competitor/competitor has better chances for these blue links. PromoMasters, therefore, recommends the use of semantic data.
8. Google Alternatives And Vertical Search In Search Engine Optimization
Although Google clearly dominates the search engine market, there are many other search engines. In addition to direct competitors such as Bing, Yandex, and Baidu, YouTube and Facebook are also used to search for information, products, and services.
In addition, you should deal with the topic of vertical search and, depending on the industry, develop further areas for optimization.
Vertical search refers to the search within a certain subject area (e.g. products – Amazon and Rakuten, images – Google image search, hotels – Booking.com, apps – respective app stores (Google Play, Apple App Store, Amazon App Store), etc. …).
You can also improve the findability of your offer here! In general, the more information you enter, the easier it is to find you.
Tip: Keep An Eye On These Search Engines, Depending On What Is On Offer!
- Search fields on websites
Information on why we recommend this to you Top search engines to watch closely in the future.
9. Digital Assistants & Voice Search
BERT, the biggest algorithm change in five years at Google, celebrated its 1st birthday and nobody noticed. Why? We are now used to getting the right answers to spoken search queries.
Complex search queries occur with voice search and digital assistants.
They are called Alexa (Amazon), Google Assistant, or Siri, Cortana, and Bixby. Your task: As a digital assistant to simplify our everyday life. And as it should be for a good assistant, they personalize the search results and tailor them as closely as possible to the needs of the user.
The digital assistants react to voice commands and also understand search queries in whole sentences (conversational search).
An example of conversational search: the digital assistants respond to voice commands and also understand search queries in full sentences. Conversational search on Google for “Where do penguins live”.
But what are the consequences of voice search for search engine optimization? In our opinion, three developments are likely:
Use Of Structured Data
Structured data provides answers to short questions – ideal for search queries that target very specific information.
Use Of FAQ
With FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) you relieve the assistant of the work: By picking up questions in whole sentences and answering them, you react directly to conversational search queries.
Formulations that begin with W questions (Who? Where? When? How?) Are particularly accurate when it comes to search queries. The structured data mentioned above increases the chance that the data will be correctly understood.
Questions about places and addresses are particularly important in voice searches. Voice search is particularly practical when you are out and about, for example in the car. In many cases, the searchers’ interest will be directed towards local offers: “Show me places for brunch in Salzburg”.
Tip: Take a look at the searches in the Google Search Console that found your page. Search queries in sentence form may already be found here!
Cons: Services workers seemingly overheard conversations to improve quality. According to Google, this was stopped again in the last year.
10th Trend: Virtual Reality (VR) And Augmented Reality (AR)
This topic takes up little space because it has come to a standstill. Google Maps has expanded the functions on the smartphone with VR navigation for pedestrians. However, the offer is limited to navigation (no prices or store names, etc.) augmented reality navigation in Google Maps 12 .
Digital experiences, closer to reality than ever before: This is what virtual reality offers. With VR glasses, for example, users can see 360 ° videos or play virtual reality games. Advertising can be placed there.
There are already numerous providers on the market. The best-known models are currently Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear, Playstation VR, and HTC Vive. The trend went into slumber mode just as quickly as it got hyped.
Although the virtual reality and augmented reality (augmented reality) trend will probably still take a while to arrive in our everyday lives, we are keeping an eye on developments.
Tip: You can already find a whole collection of VR videos on YouTube Virtual Reality Collection most likely is exciting for tourism. Despite travel restrictions in 2020, there was no boom for virtual travel. This shows that it will probably take a long time or will never become a trend like 3D television for the home.
11. Statistics & Analysis Are Also Part Of Search Engine Optimization
The specter of GDPR 8 has finally lost its horror. Cookie consent management tools such as LEGALWEB 9 for WordPress or Borlabs 10 regulate that Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel & Co only measure when visitors agree.
However, this has resulted in more pixelation and measurement than ever before. The Cookie Consent solutions seem to open the door to the use of Facebook Pixel, Mouseflow & Co – where there were concerns before and should be.
In most cases, a web presence is used to address interested parties, buyers, and guests and to get them excited about the offer. The ultimate goal is conversions, i.e. specific actions by the site visitor that benefit your goals.
This can be a purchase or a download, or a newsletter registration, inquiry, etc. You define yourself which action represents a conversion for you. You can see whether online marketing and SEO are successful in your web statistics such as Google Analytics.
Furthermore, the author assumes that Google uses the conversion rate and a reduced bounce rate, which can be influenced by scroll signals, as a ranking factor.
Google Analytics V4 (NEW) becomes independent here on the website and tries to measure successes and goals itself.
A Basic Question Is
Which keywords are actually relevant for your offer and which keywords are used to find your offer? If there is a discrepancy between your offer and what your site visitors are looking for, you will hardly generate any sales from your website.
So check whether you rank well with relevant search queries and find out why you are also found via unsuitable search queries. The development of visibility over time also provides important information on optimization potential.
If there are major changes in the visibility of your domain, you should pay attention. Often there is a technical error behind this that can be remedied quickly.
You can tell from visitor behavior on your website which content works and which does not. Select some useful metrics from which you can actually derive action – find and optimize weak points, identify successful content and develop it further.
Analytics & Data Protection
Since the organic keywords (SEO) were removed from the Google Analytics statistics years ago, this did not affect the search engine optimization industry in 2020.
Fortunately, the Google Search Console shows more and more accurate information in the keywords performance data, which is a support. We also recommend keyword relevance tests using Google Ads.
12. AI Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence influences all of the previous SEO points. The increase in computing capacity and networks, the processing of big data, and the integration of artificial intelligence make the previous features on this scale and speed made possible.
So the motto of Google is not to be the best search engine, but to develop the best artificial intelligence that answers questions or knows them in advance.
1/8/2021 Google January Update – Google’s Danny Sullivan confirms subtopics are now live. Subtopics do not change the look of the search results but expand the variety of content where useful. They were first featured in a post about OctoberAI & Search mentioned. At that time, the jump to text passages was introduced.
This makes RankBrain, a self-learning algorithm developed by Google, possible. This is becoming more and more important when determining the order of results of search queries. As a result, even Google can say less why a page has the position it achieved in a search query.
The Google EAT Quality Score understands even better whether a person, website, or company is relevant as a source for a topic. EAT describes expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
Above all, YMYL, that is Your Money or Your Life websites have lost a lot of their visibility in search engines due to EAT in 2020. AI is the necessary basis for all of these quality assessments.