The Ultimate Guide to SEO in 2021

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This is a definitive guide to search engine optimization in 2021. In this guide to SEO in 2021, I’ll cover the key SEO trends of the year and strategies that prove useful at the moment.

So, if looking forward to improve your SEO in 2021, then this guide is definitely for you!

In this guide,we’ll cover:

  1. Core Web Vitals.

2. Google passage ranking.

3. Optimization for featured snippet.

4. Visual search.

5. Domain authority.

6. Mastery of search intent.

7. Curb declining CTRs.

8. Tips for SEO in 2021.

1. Core Web Vitals

As from May 2021, core web vitals are going to be a big part of a site’s ranking factor.

Here,I’ll guide you on exactly how you will have your site ready before the update is done.

What are core web vitals?

Core Web Vitals are a set of specific factors that Google considers important in a web-page’s overall user experience:

  • Largest contentful paint
  • First input delay
  • Cumulative layout shift

They directly impact rankings.This is according to google.

core web vitals

Note: This does not mean that with poor core web vitals you cannot rank.

seo in 2021

This doesn’t mean that you should put your focus on optimizing your site for core web vitals.

Let’s learn how it’s done:

How to better your site’s core web vitals

page speed insights
  1. Effectively utilize Browser and CDN cache (improves FID and LCP)
    This is a very simple approach to improve your FID and LCP scores. Make sure that your static assets are served from a CDN (if its AWS, you can cache it in Cloudfront). Thus this results in getting the resources quickly into your browsers. To improve the second time load, make sure the assets that reached on the client-side, are cached in your browser.
    cache-control: max-age=120 — means that the returned resource is valid for 120 seconds, after which the browser has to request a newer version.
    You can also cache your dynamic pages as well in your CDN with proper TTL value based on your application behavior.
  2. Set exact size attributes or dimensions to your media and ads (improves CLS)
    This is something very important to improve your CLS scores. Make sure that you have a proper height:XXpx; width: YYpx set to your image or any media tags. Again this is very important at least for the components that are above the fold. One short cut for this is that if you are running out of ideas to get the exact height of the image, you can set asheight:auto; which really helped for me. Apart from media, if your site displays ads, make sure you have set proper ads slots with proper dimensions as pushing up or down the components in the page will definitely bring down your CLS score. Thus keep and eye on ads as well!
  3. Lazy load right resolution images based on device type (improves LCP)
    This is really a quick win for you! There are lot of Lazy loading packages out in the world that you can use in your web page to lazy load all the images on your page. This will bring down the overall page weight and loading time for rendering your page in the browser. Another important piece is that, pre-define the resolution of the image you want to load based on device type. You shouldn’t be loading the same resolution images in different device types.
  4. Effectively use SSR and CSR in your web page (improve FID & LCP)
    You should be knowing that Google promotes and encourages Server Side Rendered (SSR) pages for getting good SEO values. But ideally its a tradeoff with SEO Vs Page Load Performance. If your page is too big in terms of content and if you decide to render the whole page in the server, it is definitely going to take more time to load the whole page as well as the page weight will be high as well. Long story short — my recommendation is that it’s better to do the SSR render for your page components which appear above the fold and render the rest of the components from client-side which appears below the fold. In this way, the user gets the page loaded above the fold and the rest of the page is asynchronously rendering w/o hindering user experience.
  5. Use Code Splitting & break down your assets into chunks (improves FID & LCP)
    It’s always not a good idea to have huge (anything above 100Kb is huge) assets (JS files especially) in your application. So better use packages like “webpack” to breakdown heavy assets to small chunks which will asynchronously load your assets into your browser (if you enable h2 protocol). You can also leverage the code splitting features to breakdown your page components to separate files rather than packing it into a single one HTML file.
  6. Compress all your static assets with Brotli compression (improves LCP)
    I encourage using Brotli to compress your static assets which gives much better compression ratios compared to other libraries in the market. At the same time keep in mind that when you are using Brotli with a higher ratio of compression, it will definitely increase your build and package time in the DevOps pipeline journey. For me, it was fine to sacrifice the application build time as I am getting a better value in terms of page load performance.
  7. Optimize the API request and response content (improves FID & LCP)
    This is super important to be considered as each byte matters here when we talk about page performance. I trust you won’t regret to go back and check your API requests & responses for populating your page. Make sure that you are getting back only the data that you need for your page to be get rendered from the API responses. One another silly thing you could possibly make a mistake is that your API calls are invoked internally itself rather than using any public endpoints or via the internet — because it’s always expensive in terms of time when you are invoking your API’s via the internet when you have your API’s hosted in the same subnet or at least in the same network!
  8. Reduce the overall page/document size (improves LCP)
    Ideally, if your landing page is heavy(I would categorize any page with >80Kb as heavy), this will definitely contribute badly to the LCP score as it will proportionally increase the fetching and downloading speed of your page. So make sure that you are not getting any unused big chunk of data from the server-side and load only the data that is needed for rendering your page.
  9. Use NEXT-GEN image formats (improves LCP)
    JPEG 2000, JPEG XR, and WebP are image formats that have superior compression and quality characteristics compared to their older JPEG and PNG counterparts. Encoding your images in these formats rather than JPEG or PNG means that they will load faster and consume less cellular data. You can use any kind of tool in the market to convert the images to NEXT-GEN formatted images or you can even build a runtime image service that can do a real-time image conversion from JPEG to WebP and serve in the browser.
  10. Enable fallback to the native browser supported fonts (improves FID)
    It’s proven that fonts can really bring down your performance scores if browser delays to load your custom font that’s used in your application unless it’s a default font supported by the browser. In this case, a quick win for you is to have a fallback approach in loading your font with the fonts that are default supported by the browser

2. Google Passage rankings

Passages is a new search technology introduced around October by Google.

This feature allows Google to rank a specific section of a page (passage) independently.

How Google passage works

Passages allows Google to rank specific, relevant passages from a specific page. Not just the page itself.

Google passages

Organize Your Content Into Discrete Sections

Yes, Google will rank passages of your page semi-independently.

But that doesn’t mean they can easily rank a disorganized page.


They may now look at each section like a mini web page.

This means your content needs to be divided up into dedicated sections.

And each section should cover a specific subtopic. This will help rank for Google passages.

Note: Now that Google can divide up a single page into distinct passages, you can expect long-form content to work even better for SEO in 2021.

3. Optimization for featured snippets

Featured Snippets are stealing A LOT of clicks from the #1 spot.

How do you get your content to appear in the Featured Snippet?

Good question. This is why we are covering this part.

featured snippet

How to earn your content a place in google featured snippets

1. Create content specifically to answer questions.

Featured snippets are informational in nature. According to Neil Patel, If your content doesn’t answer questions, it won’t get into the featured snippet. That’s all there is to it.”

2. Know the questions your readers are asking.

19% of searches using a question result in a featured snippet on the first SERP. Typically, these inquiries fall into the following categories:

  • How does
  • How do
  • How to
  • What is
3. Create killer content.

The primary thing you need to understand about featured snippets is that they do not bypass Google’s complex ranking system.

They are among the topic organic results for a query. Because of this, it’s critical to keep all the standard ranking requirements in mind as you create featured content.

This means your content needs to check these points:

  • High quality
  • Comprehensive
  • Entertaining (to engage the reader)
  • User-focused
4. provide the best answer.

You’re not going to land a featured spot unless you’re giving the best response to a given question.

By outperforming your competition, you can ensure that your content goes the distance and ranks well in featured snippets across the web.

4. Domain authority 2.0

Google also evaluates sites based on ExpertiseAuthoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) and not just about links as it used to be.

E-A-T has been a part of the guidelines for years.

But E-A-T is now a more important ranking factor than before.

Google’s new “How Search Works” report mentions that they want to rank “reliable sources”. Moreover, it goes ahead to mention that E-A-T as a key ranking signal:

domain authority 2.0
Grow your Expertise or hire one

If you hire random freelancers to write your content, you’re in trouble.

That’s because Google wants to feature content that’s written by legit experts in their field.

Be Transparent

Google probably focuses on off-site signals to figure out your site’s E-A-T.

This means having:

  • Thorough about page
  • Easy to find contact page
  • References and external links to sources
  • Privacy policy and terms of service
  • Author bylines on every article

5. Master search intent

Content that doesn’t match search intent simply won’t rank.

To determine search intent is to research the SERPs. Type in the keyword you’re targeting into the search bar and see what Google comes up with. You’ll likely be able to tell by the types of results what Google deems the most relevant search intent for each term.

Moreover, there are a range of trusted keyword research tools out there to use. Their filter features will be most useful here, as you can filter terms that include certain modifiers or phrases.

Quick tips for SEO in 2021

Publish researched content.

create visual content(visual content)

Build backlinks

Read: tips for SEO in 2021

In summary
Your Turn!

Which strategy from today’s guide are you going to try first?

Are you going to publish more “Research Content”? Or work on improving your organic CTR.

Give a feedback in the comment section below.

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