SEO, or Search engine optimization, is arguably one of the most effective marketing tools to get new business in the door and help you thrive. In fact, according to Merkle’s 2019 Digital Media report, SEO has shown to drive 22 percent of all website visits and converted at a higher rate than non-organic traffic.
While search engines are evolving, it’s clear that SEO isn’t going away anytime soon. Not as long as businesses are trying to build visibility and credibility. And it seems to only get more and more popular every year, and 2021 is no exception.
With hundreds of new ranking factors in play, here is a comprehensive and updated list of SEO trends you need to keep an eye on for this year.
Core Web Vitals Will Take Center Stage
In today’s digital day and age, speed really does matter. People want to get their tasks accomplished in a timely manner and they don’t have time for page elements that slow them down.
Add to this fact that Google wants to provide a rich and satisfying experience to users through its search engine result pages (SERPs). And it comes as no surprise that it introduced a planned update to its ranking criteria in the form of three “Core Web Vitals”. A set of user experience metrics based on page load speed, responsiveness, and visual stability.
In simpler words, Google and other search engines are placing more importance on ranking those websites higher in the organic results that are providing the best on-page experience to their visitors.
When was the last time you tested your site’s page speed or responsiveness? Whether you’re a seasoned developer or a newbie entrepreneur, you must run your website through a page load speed analyzer to test its Core Web Vitals.
Search Intent Will Matter More than Keywords
Have you noticed a shift in the way Google is ranking pages over the past few months?
Ever wondered how the search bots are able to understand what users are exactly looking for?
The answer lies in Google’s incredible improvements in the last few years in understanding natural language. They have gone from simple word matching to machine learning, deep learning, and neural networks. All of this technical mumbo-jumbo means that search results are getting better and better at resolving intent.
And now, Google has an amazing new tool called BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers). It’s like a new limb for the Google search engine! Initially launched in 2019, this algorithm is finally making its mark in 2021. It can walk you through the steps to finish a recipe, tell you if a product is available in stock, and even tell jokes.
TakeAway: What this means to marketers is that focusing on just the top-of-the-funnel keywords doesn’t cut it anymore. Instead, you should focus on understanding the user’s intent behind searching and driving down the stages of the customer journey.
Voice Search Will Continue to Boom
With the advancement in voice assistant technology, voice search has witnessed a meteoric rise since its inception by Apple in 2011. Not only has voice search technology doubled in size in the last two years, but Google reports that a staggering 27% of the global online population is using voice search on mobile. Furthermore, studies suggest that by 2022, the percentage of households in the US owning a voice-activated assistant could reach 55%.
An important consideration for SEO professionals starting in voice search is the way people ask questions: how does it differ from typing into a search engine? It appears that people are likely to use more basic language when speaking than they do when typing. This may sound obvious, but there’s a difference between how you say “search engine” and how you type “search engine” into Google.
When optimizing your website for voice search, consider using in-depth, longer keywords that have a conversational tone. When people type, they tend to abbreviate. For example, a user may voice search, ‘how to make soap’ or ‘What is the recipe for chicken nuggets’- instead of simply typing the words ‘make soap’ or ‘chicken nugget recipe’.
Video Marketing Will Remain a Rising Trend
Video is undeniably one of the fastest-growing content types in the modern market. More and more sites (including major brands like eBay, Zappos, and Amazon) are using rich snippets to showcase videos in search results, and the statistics don’t lie – consumers love video content. According to a wyzowl video marketing survey:
- 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool.
- 87% of respondents reported that video, in general, gives them a positive return on their investment.
- 93% of video marketers believed video to be an important part of their marketing strategy.
So, whether you’re a small business marketing on a shoestring budget, an individual blogger, or a global enterprise, you need to find a way to start creating videos. However, Video SEO isn’t as easy as dropping keywords into your videos. You also need a great title, description, and tags that will help you rank your video in search engines.
Did you know that short-form video is hot right now, especially on Instagram and Facebook? (Fun fact: Facebook has even reported that users tend to interact emotionally 10% more with text overlays or captioned videos than photos.) So dust off that video camera and start brainstorming some ideas to showcase key aspects of your business to the world.
Content Still Remains the KING
“Quality Content” is a term we hear a lot about in the SEO world. Google has been referring to high-quality content and sites ever since their Panda Update, stating that quality is something they are looking for when indexing web pages and delivering targeted ads.
While high-quality content is a critical point on the SEO checklist, it does not work alone to drive consistent, organic traffic. In fact, content quality should not even be a sole focus, rather it should be part of an overarching strategy referred to as the EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) that delivers higher rankings and more links regardless of Google’s Panda or Penguin updates to the search algorithm.
But beyond Google, users need to see that you know everything there is about your products, services, and niche. If you are running an informational blog, it makes sense for your readers to be able to find everything on one page.
Also, the longer your content is, the more valuable it becomes and the higher your traffic will be. According to a 2019 SEMRush study updated in February this year, long-reads (posts with over 7,000 words or more) are driving nearly four times as much traffic as the average length posts (900-1,200 words).
SEO is evolving faster than ever, especially with the latest creations in a host of new technologies and search engines. People and their experience on the web will not just remain at the core of all SEO trends in 2021, but it will also create a new world of SEO that is more advanced than we’ve ever seen before. Understanding these changes to the way SEO works will better help your business both in effectively reaching users and ranking on search engines.