Important Google Ranking Updates for 2021

April 29th, 2021 by Bob Ottaway

Quick Read

There is no doubt that Google is being used more than any other search engine out there. Whether on their phone or on a desktop, people are constantly looking for information, products and services. As a business, you want your website to be at the top of the search results page for target keywords related to your product or service. To achieve this, you need to consider Google’s ranking factors so you can understand what is taken into account when ranking websites and pages.

Some of the key updates, as well as other always important factors to be aware of for Google rankings in 2021, are:

  • Mobile-first indexing
  • Core Web Vitals
  • Backlinking
  • Original, Quality Content
  • Search Intent

Having these ranking factors in mind when optimizing your website can help you to rank higher in Google search results pages for your target keywords.

Search engine rankings can make a huge difference in how well your web page does for search queries relevant to your business. The goal is to make sure that your website ranks on the first page for relevant results about your product or service.

Keeping up with Google ranking updates can help to ensure that your website is optimized to be easily indexed and ranked well in search results pages.

With Google ranking factors, there are 3 major categories that they can fall under:

  1. Off-page ranking which includes things like backlinks.
  2. On-page ranking which includes things like keywords, search intent and quality content.
  3. Technical ranking which would be things like core web vitals.

There are a few new metrics that Google is considering this year that could affect how your website is ranked. Mobile-first indexing and Core Web Vitals are two ranking factors to be aware of as well as the other factors that will be mentioned which are still crucial for ranking higher.

Mobile-First Indexing

woman scrolling through phone

Every year, more and more people are primarily using their phones to search for answers, products or services. This year, as of March 2021, Google has decided to switch over to mobile-first indexing.

What this means for your website, is that they will only be looking at how your site looks on a mobile phone for ranking it in search results pages. The authority and time for loading your site on mobile are something to pay attention to. You want to make sure that all your most important information is kept “above the fold” or within the that first look of your site without scrolling, since most visitors don’t scroll past that first initial look.

Overall, it is important to make sure that your site is mobile friendly and has short loading times for better user experience.

Core Web Vitals

Core Web vitals is something that Google is also now rolling out in 2021 that will factor into their search algorithms and is an extension of Google’s page experience signals. These metrics look at loading performance, interactivity and visual stability.

The 3 metrics that Core Web Vitals includes are:

  • Largest Contentful Paint: This metric measures how long it takes for the largest text block or image on your page to load. You want to keep this load time as short as possible for the best user experience.
  • First Input Delay: This is the time it takes for the user to first interact with your page. Again, you want a short amount of time for this.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift: This metric measures how much contents shifts during page rendering. The less your content shifts during this rendering the process, the better.

These metrics really focus on your page speed and your site speed as those are factors that can negatively impact a user’s experience. It is important to evaluate your site and see what improvements can be made regarding loading times.

Backlinks

Having good, quality backlinks from authority sites is still something that is important in the ranking of your site.

Relevant and high-authority backlinks will increase your domain authority. Domain authority was created by the software development company Moz where sites are ranked on a 1-100 scale, the higher number you are, means the higher your authority is. The higher your authority is, the higher you will rank on Google.

There are two key aspects you should look for when choosing your backlinks. First, is the authority of the site that you are linking to. Backlinks you acquire from high authority websites and pages will garner you more reward and higher page ranking than weaker backlinks.

The second key aspect is the relevancy of the backlink for your website. If you choose a high authority site for car repairs, but your product has to do with gardening, that backlink can hinder you more than help. You want to have backlinks that are relevant and related to the product or service you are trying to sell. This can also go for any internal links on your site. It is good to make sure that your internal links make sense on the pages you place them on too.

Taking these two aspects into account, you can begin to acquire high authority and relevant backlinks that will slowly start to increase the authority of your own site which will help to boost search ranking in Google.

Creating Original and Quality Content

Original and relevant content allows you to be able to obtain great backlinks. You can’t obtain high-quality and relevant backlinks without having the content to make other sites want to link to you in the first place. You can have a great site that runs well and ranks high for your core web vitals, but without quality content optimized for your keywords, you won’t get far.

After you have done the keyword research based on your industry and the product or service you are trying to sell, you want to optimize your website with those keywords by creating content revolved around each keyword.

The content you create, whether that be blog posts or services pages, should be both original as well as being up to date with relevant information. Your goal is to create content that people want to read so if you write something that sounds just like all the other information already out there, people are less likely to go to your page. Doing the research to put together an original piece of content can pay off in the end to help that page rank higher for the right keywords.

People searching for information are also looking for relevancy. When you are researching for a piece of content that you are writing, make sure to only include statistics, charts and facts that are from this year or the previous. Readers want to see that what they are reading is current and does not contain information that is out of date. Google takes this all into account when ranking that page and your site. Looking at your meta descriptions and anchor text to make sure it contains relevant information to your content and keyword are also important.

A large part of how Google ranks pages is based on giving the best user experience, so providing content that is relevant to the user will be ranked higher by Google.

Search Intent

Google also considers the search intent for each keyword. If someone is searching for “clothing stores near me” that person’s intent is to buy. On the other hand, if someone is searching for “how to care for a succulent” they are looking to learn about something.

When you are choosing keywords to optimize your site with, take into account what the search intent for that keyword is. Is someone searching for this looking to learn about something? Looking to purchase something? Trying to do research?

Creating content for a keyword that is not relevant to the search intent of that word or phrase can lower your ranking.

Final Thoughts

If you are trying to optimize your website for Google rankings you need to consider, the new ranking factors that have recently been implemented by them along with other key ranking factors that Google always takes into account.

Mobile-first indexing and Core Web Vitals are the biggest updates for 2021 ranking and should be considered as you build or reevaluate your site. Once your site is easy to navigate and has short load times for the best user experience, you can optimize your site with original, relevant content that has high-authority backlinks that will get you ranking higher for your target keywords.

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