The world of search engine optimization (SEO) is overall a pretty complex one, often misunderstood or downright ignored by the businesses who need it the most.

According to an eye-opening survey conducted last year, nearly 1 in 4 American business owners (and over 2 in 5 non-business owners) are not at all familiar or only slightly familiar with SEO practices. To make matters even worse, many professionals are not aware of the ways search rankings criteria tend to change over time and of how SEO is an ever-evolving practice, always walking alongside the latest tech developments to ensure effectiveness.

Once a business website and web pages have been optimized to be in line with both the more basic and the more technical SEO requirements, many business owners may think that the job is done and that their company’s tech efforts may be best suited elsewhere.

The truth, however, is that what Google likes and doesn’t like in the pages it chooses to rank (also known as the dreaded algorithm) can change as frequently as every year, requiring brand-new approaches to reap all the benefits of a fully SEO-optimized website!

So, what is the state of technical SEO in 2021 and how can you leverage these new trends to make your business website more visible and accessible to users?

What is technical SEO and why does it matter?

Although we have already explored the basics of what makes SEO tick, there’s a lot more to be said when it comes to the more technical side of search engine optimization, meaning the practices that make a website faster, more accessible, and overall more agile for crawling and indexing.

Crafting high-value, engaging content that resonates with your target audience is, in fact, only the first piece of the puzzle: Technical SEO takes care of making that content readable and accessible for search engines, well beyond simple keyword research and metadata.

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So, what does technical SEO look like in practice?

The standard checklist includes making sure your website’s domain has been properly set up, that all HTML elements are written correctly, that CSS files (the appearance of your web pages) are compressed for better page speed, and that each page is overall more content-heavy than code-heavy. In addition to this, other important technical checkups include optimizing websites for easy mobile use,  reviewing the use of Javascript in content to make sure all elements of the page are being found and indexed by search engines, and optimizing the schema markup of each page for better data structuring.

All in all, great SEO takes into consideration the online experience of real people and the needs of search engines in equal measure. Whether it’s compressing all featured images to ensure fast loading times or implementing responsive design into your CSS, user experience and good SERP ranking often go hand-in-hand — excellent content marketing won’t give you much of an advantage without the right tech tweaks to make that excellent content easily discoverable!

Technical SEO trends to keep an eye on in 2021

With more SEO tools available and more new technologies affecting the way search engines discover and rank pages, there’s a number of technical updates you might want to consider implementing in 2021 for better SEO.

According to the experts, these are the four most important practices to focus on throughout the year:

1. Site Speed

With major updates expected in the summer of 2021, the importance of Core Web Vitals is definitely the biggest trend to keep an eye on for better SERP ranking.

Site speed is going to be a crucial factor for ranking criteria, so reviewing your CSS choices, compressing all featured images, and employing a content delivery network should be at the top of your priority list.

Search engines are soon going to start rewarding pages with faster loading times as a means to improve user experience and make content more accessible to users accessing websites with slower internet connections. To make sure you’re fully set up for the changes to come, schedule a comprehensive review of your website’s content by analyzing and timing each page, tackling site speed issues as soon as possible.

2. Automation

Automation is also projected to become more important this year, with programming languages and AI tools expected to aid workflow and streamline all SEO processes more efficiently.

While not necessarily related to better ranking, leveraging automation is a powerful trend set to affect all facets of technical SEO: Creating NLP queries, drafting SEO-driven content outlines, calculating the ROI of structured data, and generating high-conversion snippets can help you dedicate more time to crafting high-quality content, saving you a whole lot of resources previously focused on the technical side of things.

3. Schema markup

Structured data, meaning the different formats marking up information about a web page (what the content is about in very broad terms), has always been a fundamental part of what makes a page easily discoverable and indexed by search engines.

What 2021 is going see becoming more crucial, however, is the way we strategically mark up items (like “article”, “review” or “product”) to achieve specific goals. Not all structured data is necessary, so experts recommend only marking up information that will give a better understanding and helpful context to search engines, rather than using Schema to mark up everything on your page.

Doing so will not only help your ranking and CTR but also save you and your team plenty of time, so you can dedicate more resources to user experience and Core Web Vitals, the true game-changers of technical SEO in 2021.

4. Mobile SEO

Optimizing your website for mobile users is also going to be another crucial aspect for improving your website’s Core Web Vitals.

The majority of all searches are conducted on mobile rather than desktop (according to 2020 data, the figures account for nearly 60%), so making sure all your content is optimized for mobile devices is the easiest way of improving user retention and SERP visibility.

Simplicity is key when it comes to mobile-friendly design, but you should also make sure your page speed is up to standard and that pop-ups and Flash elements are blocked for mobile users. On top of that, you should make sure your content can be easily navigated by devices of all screen sizes and that, if applicable to your business, all pages are optimized for local search.

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Your one-stop for up-to-speed SEO

Understanding the fundamentals of technical SEO and implementing changes with every search engine update requires a team of experts ready to keep up with the trends and keen to continue improving rankability as well as content value.

If the constant algorithm changes and the many technical challenges of SEO in 2021 are already giving you a headache, our team is dedicated to helping you find creative and effective solutions for all your digital marketing needs — get in touch today to see what we can do for you!

Contact us today to see how your organization can gain new business and earn a higher-ranking position in your market.

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