The world of SEO is ever-changing and evolving. That’s why it’s essential to stay up-to-date with the latest SEO practices, ranking factors, algorithm updates and more to ensure your website’s SEO is the strongest it can possibly be.

To help, we’ve put together this handy article to help you get to grips with the most important SEO concepts for 2021. This includes everything from Google’s E-A-T to machine learning and automation.

User experience

User experience has always been an important aspect of SEO, however, there’s been a bigger focus on UX this year as this is when Google’s page experience algorithm begins to roll out.

In 2020, Google announced that their page experience ranking signals will include Core Web Vitals. These are quantitative measures that assess website stability, interactivity, speed and more. This includes:

  • Large Contentful Paint (LCP)
  • First Input Delay (FID)
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Fortunately, there are many different tools you can use to monitor your Core Web Vitals and keep on top of your user experience. This includes Google Search Console, PageSpeed Insights, the Core Web Vitals Chrome extension and more.

We’ve also put together an in-depth article on Google’s page experience algorithm update to help you prepare for the change.


Google predominantly uses the mobile version of your website for ranking and indexing. Therefore, it’s essential that your mobile website is fully optimised in 2021 and beyond.

Mobile SEO encompasses many different tasks. However, there are key practices you should follow to ensure your mobile site is as strong as your desktop site.

1. Make sure your website content is the same on mobile and desktop

In many cases, your mobile site will show a responsive version of your desktop site and the content will be identical. However, if you use separate sites on desktop and mobile you’ll need to make sure all the content is exactly the same to improve mobile SEO.

2. Check structured data

You should also ensure that any structured data is present on both versions of your website and that they use the correct mobile URLs.

3. Monitor visual content

It’s important to optimise the images and videos on your mobile site to improve mobile SEO and overall user experience. As a result, images and videos should:

  • Be of a high-quality
  • Be a decent size (not too big or too small)
  • Have the same alt-text as the desktop site
  • Use a supported file format

4. Make sure that Googlebot can access your content

Your mobile site won’t rank well if Google can’t crawl its content. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure you aren’t blocking any mobile URLs and check your lazy-loaded content can be ‘seen’ by Googlebot to improve your mobile SEO.

5. Use the same metadata on mobile

You should ensure your mobile and desktop metadata is identical to improve SEO.

6. Check ad placements

Obstructive ads can negatively impact SEO because they affect the user experience. Therefore, you should make sure there is enough space for ads on your mobile site to avoid harming your mobile UX.

Machine learning

Machine learning is a core component of many search engines ranking factors. But what does this entail?

Essentially, it means that search engines are constantly responding to countless data inputs to improve answers to search queries. In theory, this means that SERPs will increase in accuracy and relevancy over time.

Google uses a machine-learning tool called RankBrain to identify search intent and provide the most valuable results for search engine users. However, machine learning can also help with other aspects of SEO and make digital marketers lives easier. Machine learning can help SEOs with tasks such as:

  • Content creation
  • SEO campaign reporting
  • Link-building and outreach
  • SEO audits


E-A-T is an acronym outlined by Google for some of the most important aspects of a web page. It stands for:

  • Expertise
  • Authoritativeness
  • Trustworthiness

But what does this mean for SEO? E-A-T is geared towards search queries like:

  • How to improve my credit score?
  • How much aspirin should I take for a headache?
  • How to take care of a puppy

This is because the answers to these queries should be provided by knowledgeable experts in the relevant fields, rather than sites with the best SEO. If not, the results could have serious, and potentially life-threatening, consequences.

In 2021, and beyond, it’s important to incorporate E-A-T in niches such as the legal, financial and medical fields. This includes incorporating semantic terms to provide context, linking to authoritative sources, providing useful up-to-date information and more. This will help you to make your website more SEO-friendly, whilst providing information that’s relevant and accurate for search engine users.

Search intent

Machine learning is helping search engines get ‘smarter.’ This means that they’re providing more accurate and relevant results as time goes on.

One of the ways search engines algorithms determine which results are most relevant to a particular query is by analysing search intent. This involves analysing semantic terms to better understand the context of a web page.

As a result, it’s important to keep search intent and semantic search at the forefront of your mind when creating website content in 2021. You can also utilise structured data and create content that answers search engine users’ specific questions.

Competitor analysis

Competitor analysis should always be a core component of your SEO strategy. Looking at your top-ranking competitors’ backlinks, content, UX and more can help you to understand what you need to do to improve your website and rankings.

Competitor backlink analysis

Looking at your competitor’s backlinks will help you to see if your off-page SEO requires some extra attention. For example, if your competitors have 100+ backlinks and rank on the first page and you have 20 and rank lower, this could be harming your website’s SEO.

It’s also important to consider the quality and relevancy of your competitor’s backlinks. Ask yourself:

  • Are they spammy?
  • Are they related to the website topic?
  • Are they safe?

Quality is just as important as quantity when it comes to link-building. So it’s important to take all of these factors into account when carrying out competitor backlink analysis.

Competitor content analysis

Looking at your competitors’ content can also help you to improve your own. When analysing competitor content it’s important to consider:

  • Content gaps – Do competitors mention any topics that you currently aren’t talking about?
  • Content quality – Is it written well?
  • Keywords – Have they included semantic keywords that you haven’t considered?

Ideally, you’ll want your website’s content to exceed the standard of your competitors. However, this can provide a basis to make your content more relevant and make improvements where needed.

Why is this important?

Competitor analysis in SEO is all about share of voice. Looking at your share of voice will help you to see how popular your brand is compared to competitors. As a result, consistently improving your website in line with industry standards will help you to grow your share of voice and remain competitive.

Need a helping hand with SEO?

We can help you stay up to date with the best SEO practices. Our team of SEO experts can assist with everything from technical SEO to content marketing, so your website and rankings remain as strong as possible.

Ready to get started? Get in touch with a member of Manchester SEO agency today to discuss your needs.