Search engine marketing (SEO) is an invaluable small business tool in 2021. To grow your business and strengthen your foothold in whatever industry you’re in, acquiring new customers and building brand reach and recognition should be a top priority. 

Running a small business can be a very taxing endeavor. With a seemingly endless list of responsibilities and duties, it can be easy to let some things fall to the wayside a little. Unfortunately, it is all too common for SEO tactics to see this fate. This can be a huge detriment to a small business. SEO lets your online content work to help find and draw in new customers and increase traffic to your pages. People use search engines to find what they are looking for, decide what they want, and answer questions. Optimizing this process can optimize every element of your business from the ground up. 

According to Shopify Plus 2019 Global, e-commerce sales are expected to reach $4.5 trillion by 2021. With this kind of online business traffic, driving customers to your content and products is a necessary element in operating a small business in 2021. Not all investments in SEO pay off as immediately as some other modern B2B marketing strategies, but there is no comparison in the long run. The overall, long-lasting benefit for your business can be game-changing. 

In 2021, business trends have already shifted in such a short period of time. With the global pandemic of 2020 still in effect, online business has seen a huge boost. The cultural acceptance, awareness, and reliance on e-commerce have transformed the modern business landscape of 2021. Knowing how to best capitalize on SEO techniques during this unpredictable period can mean everything to your small business. Let’s take a look at some of the most effective SEO tips you should be considering for 2021.

Local SEO Can Mean A Lot

In times of crisis, people support local businesses. This is so important because these are the small businesses most dramatically hit by covid-19. Local is convenient, and if it can help support your community, it is easy to see the appeal. 

When someone searches, “best ice cream near me” or “skateboard shops Portland,” the immediacy of these results can mean everything. With the rise of zero-click searches, you don’t even need to leave Google to get all the information you need. Contact information, reviews, and Google Maps directions will come up instantly on Google. 

Keep these steps in mind when trying to optimize how you appear in local searches. 

  • Build backlinks from local companies
  • Create location-based content
  • Encourage local reviews and engage with local influencers and social media
  • Optimize for local keywords
  • Take advantage of Google My Business page features

Watch What You E-A-T

Google’s EAT algorithm was created in 2018 and has quickly become one of the most important SEO trends to look at in 2021. This protocol was added originally with an aim towards medical websites to help promote legitimate and reliable, factual information. 

E-A-T- stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. This system was developed to help rate search quality. This helps Google assign a value to search content based on the credibility and expertise of the source. When any new algorithm is introduced to rank value, knowing what is valued and how to be recognized for it will always be key. 

There are many strategies that can be used to rank higher in this context. These include building backlinks from credible sites and using effective writing strategies. Blog content and informative posts that can be linked to by others looking for authoritative information will also be a huge plus. Reliable, educated, truthful information will be rewarded. 

Do Not Cut Corners on Hosting

The importance of quality hosting really can’t be overstated. There is really no reason to not prioritize hosting quality and always go for the best you can possibly afford. The speed of your website will have a direct and noticeable impact on your SEO rankings. Poor support, slow loading, low uptime, security issues, and oversaturation can all be devastating to how your site ranks in SEO. All of these things are directly correlated to the speed and quality of your hosting service. 

With 1.85 billion websites currently online, hosting can experience heavy bottlenecks when costs are cut. There are many hosting options available at budget prices, but with web hosting, you really do get what you pay for. 

Mobile Is the Future and The Present

Mobile is here to stay. Google has made it very clear that they are going to prioritize mobile-first development. Currently mobile makes up almost half of all worldwide web traffic. There is a steadily rising number of users who ONLY interact with the internet via their phones. As of 2019, Google considers the mobile version of your website more valuable than the desktop version. Mobile integration is going to continue to be paramount in 2021. There is no excuse to not be fully optimized for mobile platforms and setting this up as mobile-first means a reduction in mobile load times. 

Optimize for Snippets

Featured snippets have been incredibly important in the SEO world in 2020 and will continue to be in 2021. These snippets are little blurbs that pop up from Google when you ask a question. This is position zero. A zero-click search system. Taking advantage of it requires careful attention to header tag usage and relevant and formatted content designed to rank with featured snippet spots

Master Keyword Research

Keyword research is very important to many facets of your marketing plan. Local search results often rely on quality, relevant, industry-specific keywords to draw traffic and local presence. The importance of keyword research stretches to all SEO however, not just local. With Google’s Keyword Planner you can find industry-relevant keywords and locally relevant keywords to build a focus around. 

Keywords are not static but are constantly changing due to shifts in trends, changes in social standards or practices, new events, and even pop culture relevance. This means that while you may have a comprehensive list of relevant keywords right now, chances are that they will be constantly evolving. By doing diligent keyword research you can understand keyword trends and be able to develop strategies in predicting what will come next. There are many third-party tools for forecasting and capitalizing on keyword trends. 

Optimize for Voice Command Search

Voice command is really hitting its stride right now. The options are everywhere. Google Assistant, Bixby, Alexa, and Siri have all become standard technologies. Investing in voice program optimization is something that has to be stressed for 2021. These services have pushed through the initial phases of resistance and are starting to become much more widely used and accepted. 

Now that people worldwide are beginning to search via voice command more and more, optimizing your web content to align with speech patterns has become more and more important. People don’t speak the same way they type, and people don’t speak to their phones quite as conversationally yet as they do with each other. This is changing, however. Speech patterns will change and evolve as this technology becomes more familiar and standardized, but as it makes those transitions, SEO should really focus on understanding these speech patterns. 

Invest In Link Building

Link building can be a bit of a paradox. It is one of the simplest methods of SEO but also one of the most complex, and at times can even seem overwhelming. The real crux of this lies in link-building strategies being so variable. What is the right choice of approach for your business? Should you create content and wait for natural links to build? Should you prospect for links and build an outreach program to acquire links? The short answer is, it depends on various factors. Your industry, your goals, your resources, and your audiences will all decide what the best approaches are for you. There is no one size fits all solution. 

The only thing that’s clear is that you will need to devote yourself to link building if you want to push your business forward. 

SEO marketing has always been complex and that isn’t going to slow down in 2021. There are, however, lots of great steps you can take to decode and demystify the SEO process. Luckily, you aren’t alone. One additional tip for small business SEO success is to take advantage of resources and services designed to help you capitalize on SEO marketing. Stay educated and informed and SEO will stay a valuable and important part of your small business growth.

Daniel Bishop started off his career in digital marketing by working for a few local companies. After a year or two of learning different aspects of the job, he moved on and worked for DesignRush as a content advisor. He currently works as a freelance marketing consultant. 

SEO stock photo by garagestock/Shutterstock