2021 SEO guide for Jedi SEOs

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The Ultimate Guide to SEO in 2021
based on the original work by Brian Dean from Backlinko, freely adapted from English by Jessica Volatier and Lucas Ferrari and taken over by Nicolas Mercadieu for a content duplication test in his basque country referencing activity

Following a discussion with the author of this translation, I decided to prove to him that the pages with copied content were not penalized but that there was a very simple effect: the less powerful one disappears from the search results. Interesting, isn't it ?!

What surprises me in this test is the appearance of 3 merka-tic pages in the serp which cite the copied page. We also notice that scoop-it which relayed the original page is well positioned behind the main page and plays its role of “booster”, or “shell” protection, at least. Its advantage is to at least double the visibility on the first 2 results. An interesting solution that I don't use enough to develop my clients' blogging reach.

What's next? Are we pushing the power of the merka-tic article? or we modify the text until it is no longer considered a copy. Option 2 seems to me to be the most interesting!


Here is the ultimate guide to dominating Google search results in 2021.

No assumptions in this post, only facts!

You will see strategy tests that were already working in 2017 ... and that work even better in 2021.

So if your goal is to improve your SEO1 this year, you are going to love this guide.

Let's get straight to the heart of the matter.
SEO in 2021

Chapitre 1

RankBrain & user experience signals

Chapitre 2

Become a CTR Jedi Master

Chapitre 3

Cover an entire theme to position yourself well

Chapitre 4

Be ready for Mobile First

Chapitre 5

Put the package on the video (or you'll be left behind)

Chapitre 6

Pay attention to voice search on Google

Chapitre 7

Remember: content and links are fundamental.

Chapitre Bonus

Some tips for SEO in 2021.
Chapter 1:
RankBrain & user experience signals
RankBrain and user experience signals

Last year Google announced that RankBrain2 is their third most important ranking factor.

“Although recently deployed, RankBrain has become the third most important signal to contribute to search results.”

And as Google fine-tunes its algorithm, the RankBrain will become even BIGGER during the year.

But what exactly is RankBrain? And how can you optimize it?
Very simple explanation of Google RankBrain
RankBrain is a machine learning system that helps Google rank search results.

This may sound complicated, but it is not.

RankBrain measures how users interact with search results ...

… And Google orders the results accordingly.

For example, let's say you want to type "cold-brew coffee".
Cold brew coffee

Result n ° 4 seems particularly attractive. So you quickly click on it.

And when you arrive (on the site)… woah! This is quite possibly the best coffee article you have ever read. So you devour every word.

RankBrain will then take note ... and will undoubtedly move up in the ranking this result which was at the start n ° 4.

On the other hand, let's say you do the same research. But this time you click on the first result without even looking.

But the content is HORRID. So you close this page after just a few seconds. Then you click on result # 4 to find something about coffee worth reading.

RankBrain will take note of this. If enough people close this page quickly, Google will remove that page from the top spot.

As you can see, the RankBrain focuses on two things:

1. The time someone spends on your page (Dwell Time)
2. The percentage of people who click on your result (Click Through Rate = CTR3)

Let us detail these two concepts.
RankBrain and Dwell Time

Dwell time = the time someone spends on your page.

Turns out, RankBrain pays A LOT of attention to Dwell Time.

The director of Google Brain in Canada has also recently confirmed that the Dwell Time is used as a signal by Google to make its ranking. He said the RankBrain measures the time gap when:

“Someone clicks on a result, stays on the page, then returns to the results”.
Dwell time

Average Dwell Time: 3mn10

A recent study by SearchMetrics supports this statement. They measured an average time of time spent on a page in Google's top 10 searches of 3 minutes and 10 seconds.

If you've spent some time digging into your Google Analytics stats, you should know that a Dwell Time of over three minutes is more than fair!

And it's no coincidence that pages with high dwell time tend to rank higher. In fact, RankBrain raises their rank for this exact reason.

It makes sense if you think about it:

If you spend time on a page, you probably like the content on that page.

And if more than one person acts the same way, then Google will reclassify the content so that it is easier to find (when searching).

If you want to improve the dwell time of your site, then watch this video:

Ahrefs has just published the longest article ever on Dwell Time, a great resource to learn more about this topic.
RankBrain and organic CTR

Paul Haahr, engineer at Google, made the buzz when he presented this slide at the global SEO conference:
Paul haahr

Translation of the slide:

The two pages P1 and P2 answer the search for the user
For P1 the answer is in the page
For P2 the answer is in the page but also in the summary (snippet)
Algorithm A highlights P1 compared to P2 → users click on P1 → “super”
Algorithm B highlights P2 compared to P1 → no click → "bad"

Is algorithm A really better than B?

The slide just says that:

“RankBrain sometimes ranks pages higher than they 'should' be.

If this page receives an above average CTR, this signal means that this page should permanently rank higher. ”

It shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, if no one clicks on your result, why should Google keep it on its first page?

What if your site was experiencing a surge in clicks like never before, then why should Google leave it buried in 9th place?

If you want an easy-to-use strategy to improve your CTR, then check out this infographic made with Larry Kim.
Boost organic click through rates

(Click here to see the infographic in large)

Speaking of CTR ...
Chapter 2:
Become a CTR Jedi
CTR Jedi

If you want to conquer SEO in 2021, you have to become a master of CTR.

Not just because of the RankBrain ...

But also because of:
Google ads

Et :
Google lists

And most importantly:
Google wiki

In fact, one study measured that organic CTR has fallen by 37% since 2015.

Why ? Because Google attracts clicks by positioning its own tools at the top of the results: Answer Box, Adwords, Google Shopping, information carousels, and others.

To stand out, your result must scream "click me!" Or else it will be ignored.

This video might help you improve your CTR using what I call "the click magnet method":
Chapter 3:
Cover a topic in depth
to position yourself well
In-depth content

A while ago, Google would have analyzed your page to see how many times you used a specific keyword.

In other words, the engine would have focused 100% on the content of your web page. Google's little hands would have visited your page to check if your keywords are showing up in your:

title tag
image alt text
meta description
H1 tag

To be fair, they're still looking at these things. But today's Google is much SMARTER than it could have been.

Instead of just measuring content, they now focus on context.

What does that mean ?

Remember: Google's first job is to show their users the BEST result. And in most cases, the “best” result isn't just a simple accumulation of keywords in content.

Rather, the best pages cover a full and detailed topic.

With content covering all the topic they are looking for, a Google user has everything they need in one place (One stop shopping).

In fact, my latest experiences show that in-depth contents tend to rank higher in Google.
Content topic authority
How to write good in-depth content?

First, post content that is at least 2,000 words long. That way, you can cover everything a web user needs to know about that topic.

In fact, our study of ranking factors showed that the longer the content (like Ultimate Guides and long blog posts) the more it outperforms (in terms of ranking) short articles on Google.
Content total word count
Develop your LSI keywords

Once the final touch of your 2000 words made, integrate keywords relating to the lexical and semantic field of your article. In English these are called LSI keywords, the French translation of which is at least incomprehensible: Latent semantic indexing.

LSI keywords are keywords and phrases that are strongly associated with the topic of your page.

For example, let's say you've just published an article on the Paleo Diet.

The LSI keywords could be:


And when Google sees these keywords on your page, it thinks “Great! This page covers this topic really well! ”

How can you find this type of keywords? Here are three easy ways to do this:

First of all, use a great tool called LSI Graph.
LSI graph

Just enter your target keyword into this tool, and it will show you a bunch of LSI keywords associated with that term:
LSI graph results

Add those that make sense of your content.

Then use a good old fashioned method: simply enter your target keywords in Google and then check the “searches related to…” at the bottom of the page.
Related searches

Words in bold are LSI keywords.

Finally, why not ask Google Keyword Planner for ideas of LSI keywords? Here's how to do it:

Add your keyword to Google Keyword Planner. And click on “Get Ideas”.
Keyword planner

Then scan the results. Many of them are LSI keywords.
Keyword planner results

Just like the other strategies I have shown you, add the Google Keyword Planner finds into your content.
Chapter 4:
Be ready for Mobile First
Google mobile first index

Google announced last year that it would switch to the “mobile-first index”.

In other words, Google will consider the mobile version of your website as its "real" version. This will be the case even if the Internet user is searching from a desktop computer.

This development makes sense. Today, 60% of Google searches are done from a smartphone. This number will continue to increase in the future. Although the mobile-first index does not exist yet, it will come overnight.

This is why I recommend that you already prepare yourself for it.
3 simple steps to prepare for Mobile-First

Make your content consistent so it's compatible across desktop and mobile.

Some sometimes hide content from their page on their mobile version with the famous More.

Here is an example :

Consistent content

Well, that's gonna be a HUGE problem when Google goes mobile first.

They will take this version into account as the “real” version. The part of the content that is hidden will then be ignored 100%.

However, you want to display all of your content, in desktop or mobile version.

For example, when you visit this Backlinko blog post from an iPhone, you get the same phew content as desktop users.
Actionable SEO techniques

As you can see there is nothing hidden behind buttons, no menu or expandable part.

Note from NetBusinessRating: This is the only point in Brian Dean's article that we disagree with.

The hidden text is visible by Google because its robot crawls the source code of the site, so it has access to 100% of the content even if it is hidden by a JavaScript / CSS code.

Only the use of AJAX technology really hides the data since they are not loaded when the page is loaded but when the button is clicked or when the scroll is lowered. However, AJAX is rarely used to hide content via a more button whereas it is very common on social media feeds to reload the content with each scroll down.

Go from mr. responsive design.

Do you have a mobile subdomain (M.) version of your site? Google recommends switching to a responsive design.

So that's what I did.

Make your site a mobile boost.

I see a lot of sites that technically work on smartphones or tablets but still need a lot of improvement!

As I told you in Chapter 1, RankBrain measures how users interact with your site.

If people are having trouble using your site on their phone, then they'll just hit the “back” button without thinking twice.

How do you know if your mobile version is suitable?

I suggest you take a look at Google's excellent Mobile-Friendly Test tool. You just have to enter the URL in it, and the tool will tell you if the site is mobile-friendly:

Mobile friendly test

This tool will even give you recommendations to improve your mobile version if needed.
Mobile friendly test results
Chapter 5:
Put the package on the video
(or you will be left behind)
Video SEO 2021

Online video is currently EXPLODING.

In fact, according to Cisco, online videos will represent 80% of all traffic by 2021.


And that might not meet the global demand for video.

Despite the fact that there are more videos than there have ever been before, HubSpot says 43% of people want to see MORE video content.

In short :

If you don't create video content, you will fail. Here's how to gain traffic through SEO on videos in 2021:
Tap into Youtube

YouTube is already the 2nd most used medium for research in the world.

Just like any online video platform, it is changing very quickly: The Huffington Post revealed that the time spent on YouTube has increased by 60% compared to last year.

In short, more and more people are researching Youtube ... ultimately leaving out Google.

So if you want to have more visits this year, I advise you to create and optimize content specifically for YouTube.

It is far too influential a research medium to ignore.

And that's not all ! Most marketers are too lazy to make videos, so it's pretty easy today to get visibility. By imagining that you know what you are doing.

For example, my channel has just under 20 videos in total. And those 20 videos generate over 100,000 views per month.
Video SEO growth
Google search with video

(As you might have guessed, a good chunk of these viewers become your site visitors and even customers).

The best for last: when you publish SEO optimized YouTube videos, you gain SEO on Google.

Why ? Don't you know that 55% of all Google search results contain at least one video?

(And almost all of the videos are from Youtube).

Here is an example of what I mean:
YouTube SEO

Since Google owns Youtube, expect there to be even MORE Youtube videos in search results this year.

In fact, Google even started by mixing Youtube results into Google Image searches.
Video results
Embed video content in your blog posts.

If people want to see more videos, why not give it to them?

This is why I recommend that you embed video content in your posts on your blog. For my part, it has helped me to have a better dwell time.

Here is an example :
Embed video content
Chapter 6:
Pay attention to Google voice search
Pay attention to voice search
Will voice search “be the next big thing” in SEO? I doubt. That said, the popularity of voice search IS changing extremely rapidly.

For example, take a look at these revealing facts:

40% of adults use voice search at least once a day (source)
Voice searches on Google have increased 35-fold since 2008 (source)
20% of all mobile searches are voice searches (source)

Knowing this, some people start optimizing some of their content to make it suitable for voice search.

Me including 🙂
How to optimize your site for voice search?

Voice search is still very new.

Fortunately we know some things about how it works… and how to optimize your site for it.

First of all, your content should be on the first page.

It may sound obvious, but it may be worth remembering.

Then it will really help you if your content appears in a Featured Snippet4 like here:

Google ranking factors

Google's algorithm has already assembled a suitable snippet.

And in my testing, voice searches from Google (and more specifically Google Home) tend to show the text that's in the snippet.

Finally, add a question (and its answer) in your content.

The majority of voice searches are in the form of a direct question (“How can I do push-ups?” Or “who is in the movie The Untouchable?”)

When this happens, Google usually takes a page that includes both the question and the answer.

For example:

When I'm looking for:
Google voice search

“What is the ketogenic diet? "

I get this response:
Google voice search results

“The ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate diet. The metabolized fat creates a state of nutritional ketosis. ”

And when I look at the site that gives me the answer to my search, I see that the content contains the question followed by a short answer:
Ketogenic diet

Just what the California firm's voice search engine wants to see.
Chapter 7:
Remember: content and links
are fundamental
Content and links
While the previous chapters are of interest, SEO still relies primarily on content and links.

Without amazing content (amazing in the original text) you will never have a link.

And without links, you'll never get to the first page.

And if you're not on the first page, then RankBrain, Google Voice Search, and the Mobile-First algorithm won't take you into account. All of these will only come into play when you have a good enough rating for them.
It is nothing surprising that Google has recently clarified that content and links are the number 1 and number 2 ranking factors, respectively.
Google top ranking factors

And when we recently analyzed 1 million Google search results, we found that the correlation between a page's ranking on Google and the number of sites linking to it is unrivaled.
Number of referring domains

In short: Links and content are still the foundations of SEO in 2021.

Once you get the hang of that, it's time to optimize your site for the new SEO trends I told you about earlier in this guide.
Bonus chapter:
Some tips for SEO in 2021
SEO tips for 2021
In this chapter I'll show you some simple tips that work even better in 2021.
Create visual content (more precisely “on-board images”).

Just like videos, visual content grows very quickly.

A recent survey showed that 37% of marketers say visual marketing is one of the most important forms (regarding content) for their business.

Thanks to sites like Pinterest and Instagram, visual content takes on even more importance in 2021.

How to take advantage of this trend?

Create visual content (more precisely "embedded images").

For my part, “embedded images” can be as effective as a sophisticated infographic… if not even better!

(Embedded images are images that other sites can add to their content. When they do that, they usually link to your site)

For example, here is a visual diagram that I have included in this guide.
Embeddable images

It's neat… but rather simple.

What's more, people LIKE to incorporate these images into their content:

As a result, that single embedded image generated a handful of high quality backlinks to my site.
Embeddable images results
Publish unique data

Bloggers and journalists LOVE fresh data.

If you can offer them statistics or an industry study, they will put links "galore".

For example, I recently published this study on YouTube rankings:
YouTube ranking factors

This content has a lot of data that people can cite (such as the fact that the average video time on the first page is approaching 15 minutes).

And that's what they do! This page garnered backlinks from 180 different domains over a period of one year:
YouTube ranking factors results
Encourage comments on your site.

Do blog comments help rankings?

The answer seems to be: “YES! "

Google revealed last year that the community (via blog comments) “helps a lot” with ranking.
Encourage comments

And this year, Google said that comments are more important in terms of engagement signals for SEO than social media activity.

In other words, Google wants to see that you have an active community on your site. And they will pay even more attention in 2021 to make the rankings.
Use podcasts.

Podcasts are one of my favorite ways to get links.

It's kind of like a privileged post… without all the unnecessary content. It is about giving added value to acquire in return a nice link:
Podcasts for SEO

The popularity of podcasts is growing in record time. Did you know that 67 million Americans listen to at least one Podcast per month (which is 14% higher than last year).

Which means you have even MORE opportunities to connect with podcasts in 2021.

1 SEO (Search Engine Optimization): concerns the art of positioning a site or a page in the first results of search engines.

2 The RankBrain represents Google's artificial intelligence to optimize results in search engines.

3 CTR: Click-Trhough Rate is an index that measures the impact of an online advertising communication campaign.

4 Featured Snippet or position 0 which is a response summary that Google displays before the first search result.

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