Crucial SEO Ranking Factors You Need to Know in 2021

Person using Google search.

Many things affect how well your website ranks in Google searches. Some of them, such as the keywords you use or how often you update your content, are solely up to you. Others are out of your control and concern Google’s algorithms or the behavior of your users. You probably won’t be able to hit the perfect 10 on every single one of them. So what can you do? If you want to be successful, you need to focus on the crucial SEO ranking factors when developing your marketing strategy. That gives you the best chance to climb up the search page and expanding your reach. But to achieve that, you need to know where to direct your efforts first.

What are the crucial SEO ranking factors in 2021?

Google is continually updating its algorithms to make them more efficient. Because of these changes, it can sometimes be challenging to keep up with what really matters for rankings.

So here’s what you definitely need to be paying attention to in 2021:

Domain age and authority

One of the most important things for your ranking is something you can’t fully control – domain authority. Domain authority is a complex metric designed to gauge your website’s expertise, trustworthiness, and relevance. It takes multiple aspects into account, including your backlinks, the amount of traffic you get, the quality of your content, the URL structure, the age of the domain, and more. Some of them – like backlinks and content – you can affect. So focus on those.

Website URL. Caption: The domain of your website plays a massive part in your rankings.

Page loading speed

These days, people expect to be able to access any content pretty much instantly. So that is what search engines want to serve up – results that will load in a couple of seconds. For this reason, the loading speed of your website will have a surprisingly significant effect on your ranking. You can’t afford to lose a millisecond. So choose a good hosting service, use lazy loading for images, and use caching to speed up your website.

Mobile optimization

Ever since Google started its mobile-first policy, mobile-friendliness has become one of the most critical ranking factors. Even if the search does not come from a mobile device, Google will inspect the mobile version of the website before determining its ranking. Not having one could seriously hurt your rankings. So make sure to optimize for mobile – not only will your users be grateful, but your rankings will rise too.

Person using their phone. Caption: With at least half of your traffic coming from mobile users, optimizing for them is very important.

Site structure

When you’re first getting your small business off the ground, one of the first things you need to do is create a website for it. But in a rush to get online, you must not forget to keep your site organized. Site structure will make a big difference in both user experience and ranking. So if you didn’t think about it on time, then reorganization is in order. You want a flat structure that’s easy both to crawl and navigate. It should never take more than three clicks for a user to reach the page they’re looking for from any other page on the site. To achieve this, you’ll want to use parent pages and submenus.

Using the right keywords

It’s essential to make sure that your website ranks for the searches that are applicable to it – and only for those searches. Casting a wide net and trying to rank for everything may intuitively seem like a good idea. But in reality, it’s just a waste of resources. Not only will you stretch yourself too thin, but you will also attract one-time visitors who leave the moment they figure out your website is not what they’re looking for; this increases your bounce rates and decreases your rankings. So ask yourself who exactly you’re trying to attract.

Group of friends talking. Caption: Know who your target demographic is and target them specifically.

For example, if you have an e-commerce business, you’ll want to target specifically the people who are already ready to make a purchase, not just someone who’s browsing the internet for options. Long-tail keywords are a good option for that. However, if you have a physical location, your target audience will be locals who are most likely to visit you. When that is the case, local SEO is the way to go. You’ll want to create content relevant to your location, use keywords that include the location. Also, add your address (or at least general area) when you post so that your business is easy to find. In this case, citations can help you be visible by spreading the word about your business and localizing it simultaneously. If they include a link to your homepage, they can even serve as backlinks!

High-quality content

There are no two ways about it: content is still king when it comes to SEO. So make sure yours is up to par. Post frequently and regularly, but only post interesting things that your users will like. Even though it’s essential to optimize for search engines, you should primarily create content for the people who consume it. Don’t let old and subpar content drag you down either – clean up your website every once in a while to get rid of the things that are no longer valuable.

High-quality backlinks

In addition to content, backlinks are one of the most important things for SEO. With high-quality backlinks, you will attract more traffic, improve your domain authority, and significantly increase your ranking. So invest in a good strategy and start developing business relationships with other website owners in your niche.

User experience

Ultimately, what search engines want above everything else is to please their users. They do this by serving up results that their users will like. So it is the end-users you need to focus on. This is why everything you do should be done with your users’ satisfaction in mind. Your web design should be something your users will like; your content should be written specifically for your users; your entire website structure should be planned so that your users can easily navigate it. At the end of the day, user satisfaction is what improves your rankings. This has always been the case and will continue to be in the future. So if you want to rank well and consistently, user experience should be your primary concern.

Other SEO ranking factors to take into account

While these are the most important SEO ranking factors in 2021, they’re hardly the only ones. Other things that affect your rankings include website security and data encryption, image alt text, meta descriptions, content variety, site freshness, and more. You’ll want to check off as many of them as you possibly can to reach the top of the search page results. But when you’re just starting out, focusing on the key factors is enough. You can fine-tune the rest as you go.

If you have any questions about SEO or how optimizing your website could help your business, contact us today! (561) 247-2776