If you’ve never heard of SEO, then you’re not serious about taking your business online.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an effective digital marketing strategy that attracts potential customers from search engines – only if you do it right.
Over the decade, SEO has constantly changed. Search engines like Google are rapidly making changes to their search algorithms to provide the best results for their users. Despite the challenges, SEO still produces the highest ROI for the long-term compared to other digital strategies.
Is SEO still matter in 2021?
SEO matters, and the strategies will become more important than others for businesses. If a business chooses to survive an unprecedented pandemic like Covid-19, they must digitalize their business and go online.
Why SEO will become more important than ever in 2021?
The impact of Covid-19 on search traffic
A lot of marketing agencies and entrepreneurs are telling you that SEO is important right now because the number of people using the internet has increased over the months.
Internet use has skyrocketed during the Covid-19 outbreak. Internet usage is not limited to search engines alone but other activities like social media activities, virtual meetings, online movie streaming, and more.
It doesn’t mean that online searches have been reduced. We must agree that the search volume for non-essential businesses has reduced. However, this is the best time for businesses to start with their SEO strategies.
When the world starts to recover, the businesses that paused their SEO efforts need to start fresh from where they left. If you’re consistently working on your SEO, you’ll be far in front of them and see exponential growth with your organic search traffic.
You might want to take this golden opportunity in growing search traffic to your website when our competitors are less bothered to focus on their SEO efforts.
Always remember that SEO provides long-term benefits for the efforts you put in today.
In this article, we’re going to share the best SEO trends you should anticipate for 2021. Just prepare your SEO strategy according to the trends to stay on top.
Here are 11 SEO trends to look for in 2021:
User Experience (UX) Will Become Important Than Ever
What we should know about User Experience (UX)?
Well, it’s about putting your users first than anything else.
What kind of experience do you provide your visitors when they land on your web pages?
Does your page solve the visitor’s search query?
Do they visit other pages on your site?
How long are they staying on your website?
Are they taking any action on your site?
When you answer the questions above, you will know whether your site is providing the best experience for your users.
Google has mentioned in their Google Webmaster Blog post, that they will use UX signals to rank websites. Google recently launched Core Web Vitals which analyze your site’s UX. It’s been added to Google Search Console.
Here are more details on Core Web Vitals by the Google search team:
“Core Web Vitals are a set of real-world, user-centered metrics that quantify key aspects of the user experience. They measure dimensions of web usability such as load time, interactivity, and the stability of content as its loads”
It focuses on user-centered metrics. The addition of core web vitals to the search algorithm shows that Google wants to provide the best user experience. It’s all about how fast the web page loads, the responsiveness of the site across all devices, and finally whether the result fulfills the user’s search query.
What business owners should focus on when it comes to user experience
- Responsive & Mobile Friendly site: The number of users browsing from smartphones are rapidly increasing and expected to grow continuously. The increase in mobile users makes it essential for your site to have a responsive design. Although going mobile-friendly is important to improve your search rankings, you should not ignore the quality of your site. Never compromise the quality and goals of your site for UX trends. Just make sure the UX is aligned with your website.
- Website Security: Trust factor matters a lot when your potential customer visits your website. They should be assured that they’re visiting a safe website. With the right site security, you can offer the best user experience without causing any threats. That’s why you should incorporate an SSL certificate to your site. People don’t want to purchase from a site that is not secured.
- Page Load Time: Your site’s loading time is important to offer the best experience for your users. If your site is loading slowly, it will get your visitors frustrated and leave your site. The first impression is the best impression. If visitors leave your site due to page load time, they might ignore visiting your site again.
- Use A Clear CTA: You need to incorporate the right CTA (Call To Action) across your website. When your potential customer is visiting your page, they need to take any action on your website. Having few CTAs on your landing pages will encourage your visitors to take an action. It depends on how your position them on your page. Get it positioned above the fold of your page and make it clearly visible.
- Allow White Space: White space is the key element to a good user experience. Crazy Egg has mentioned that padding text and titles with white spaces improves the user attention by 20%. But, don’t overuse the white space and make sure to create a balance between the length of content and white space.
- Use High-Quality Visuals: High-quality images or videos will help you communicate your message with your audience. Don’t include images and videos for the sake of adding them to your content. Use the visuals that establish a connection with your visitors. Make use of those visuals to encourage your visitors to stay longer which indirectly offers a better user experience.
Focusing on providing a great user experience for your audience is essential. But you also need to prioritize the quality of content you offer for your visitors. Offer value for your audience and your user experience will increase automatically.
Creating Evergreen Content Still Matters
Evergreen content is here to stay. According to various studies online, evergreen content increases organic traffic and can rank higher on search engines for the long-term (only if you choose to update them regularly with current trends).
So, what is evergreen content?
It’s a content that never becomes obsolete for years. In simple term, an article or blog posts that remain relevant to search queries for years and consistently drive traffic from the search engines.
According to SEMRush State of Content Marketing report, long-form content of 3,000 plus words get 3X more traffic and 4X more shares on social media channels. Moreover, it also acquires 3.5 times more links compared to average content with 1000+ words.
Google May 2020 Core update indicates that Google cares about the results they provide for their users’ search queries by giving priority to quality of content than site authority.
What business owners should do about creating evergreen content?
You should consider publishing content that people are looking for. It’s all about the quality information you provide your visitors. You need to work on an aggressive content marketing strategy in 2021. Here are some of the tips to get started:
- Develop buyer personas: This is something you should not ignore. The days of simply publishing content and pray for it to attract your target audience are gone. As a serious business thriving for growth, you need to understand your target audience by crafting buyer personas. You need to identify their geographic, demographic, psychographic, needs, and pain points. You can have more than one buyer persona, but your content should align with the chosen buyer persona.
- Research search intent that matters to your business: If you’re not sure about search intent, check out this article. Before creating your content, you need to identify the search intent that suits your business. Look at the search intent that brings organic traffic to your site. What are they doing on your website? When you find the answer to the questions, you’ll be able to create evergreen content that is aligned to your target audience’s search intent.
- Publish content type that your audience wants: There is a hype for videos and most people feel that video has the best engagement among the audience. But different target market consumes different type of content. You need to identify what type of content works best for your industry and create them consistently. Industries like manufacturing should focus on developing case studies and technical documents to attract their target audience.
- Hire strong writers and copywriters: Just following the basic rules of content optimization isn’t going to work anymore. The people searching for information are not interested in half-baked content. They want something that can add value and provide the right solution to their problems. That’s what Google is looking for. If you don’t have the expertise to write, hire experienced writers in your industry. Make sure they can write in-depth evergreen content (2,000+ words). The writer should also develop a unique style and tone for your business with a clear understanding of your buyer personas. These writers might be expensive but they’ll worth every penny.
High-quality content is here to stay for years to come. Don’t be surprised to see evergreen content as a trend for SEO in 2022.
Content that meets Google EAT Principle Will Dominate the Search Result Pages
Google keeps reminding business owners that the quality of content on their site is critical to rank high on search result pages.
But what does “quality” mean to Google?
Let’s look at the definition of EAT.
EAT stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. These are the crucial factors that determine the quality of a web page. But these factors heavily influence business niches that come under YMYL (Your Money, Your Life). These niches are basically the ones that have an impact on people’s life like health, finance, shopping, law, and news.
EAT principle goes along with evergreen content. You just need to follow the tips we’ve provided on the previous trend.
- Identify your buyer persona
- Research the topic that will attract your target audience
- Evaluate the search intent and map out the consumer journey
- Create outstanding content that’s better than your competitors
- Back up your content with statistics and facts. Make sure to use research and studies from prominent sites to fulfil the EAT requirement.
Voice Search Will Have Huge Impact on Search Queries
The technology innovation by the top brands has led to the growth of voice search. The growth in using Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Amazon’s Alexa is expected to grow by at least 55% by 2022.
Some of the important stats of voice search:
- 52.8% of people use voice search while driving.
- 52% of people place their voice-activated speakers in the common room of their homes.
- 40% of people are using voice search to ask directions, 39% to dictate texts, 31% to call someone, and 11% to check the time.
There are 8 new voice search trends you should be aware of:
- Voice search is used widely for local search
- The growth in smart speakers has increased voice search adoption
- Voice search is mainly used at mobile locations
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) of voice search is adapting fast
- People are moving towards voice search for efficiency
- Voice-enabled chatbots will rapidly grow over the years
- Voice technology is changing human behavior
- The technology that powers voice search, conversational AI is still growing
The keywords that work for voice search is not identical to the ones we use to create articles and blog posts. You need to focus on conversational keywords. Think about the long phrases that people when they talk to others. When people type to search for something, they tend to abbreviate but voice search sounds more natural like having a conversation.
For example, when someone voice search, they might ask “what is the best digital marketing strategy for 2021” but when people type it will be “digital marketing strategy for 2021”.
Don’t ignore text-based search as the voice search is growing. You need to embrace both. Moreover, text-search will continue to exist. Focusing on ranking for voice search will be extremely helpful for local businesses because people might start looking for the best restaurants, cafes, or even clothing shops using voice assistants.
SEO Will Have More Impact In Omni-Channel Marketing Strategy
Have you heard about omnichannel marketing?
It’s about getting all the marketing channels whether online or offline channels to provide a consistent experience when shopping for a product or service. As you know, people might search for the product on one channel and end up purchasing it from a different channel. It is important for businesses to recognize and understand these non-linear customer journeys.
So, how does SEO influence and fit into omnichannel marketing?
The first thing you need to understand is that omnichannel is not about improving the efficiency of marketing channels, it’s all about your customers. With SEO in place, omnichannel becomes more robust because your products and services are available within a few searches of your potential buyer.
The role of SEO has become a prominent factor in omnichannel marketing is because consumers research and make comparisons of your products with others before making a purchase. Google is the consumer’s destination to get more information about the products and services of their choice.
Some amazing stats that shows how important is SEO for omnichannel marketing:
- 81% of people perform some type of online research before making a purchase
- 72% of consumers perform a local search visits a store 5 miles within their current location
Google accounts for 92.71% of global search traffic
People use Google to get information or solution to their problems. And that’s how they search for information on products and services before purchasing them. The information they see online will greatly influence their purchasing behavior. There are even chances for them to go for alternative products or services.
There are many digital marketing channels that contribute to the success of a business. But people fail to realize that SEO is what drives other channels to be successful. For example, if you choose to advertise your new brand on Facebook, the people that come across your ad will either click on your ad to get more information or open their browser and start searching for your brand. If you’re not appearing on search engines, people will abandon your brand as you don’t have online visibility on search.
Google has always been the most reliable source to search for information compared to any other digital channel.
Link Building Comes Down To Creating Valuable Content and Meaningful Connections
If you ask any SEO marketers, they will tell you that building quality links to your site will boost your ranking on search result pages. But, acquiring quality links are getting hard nowadays.
It requires time and effort.
SEMRush conducted a survey among 850 professionals to reveal the link building strategies and tactics they’ve been using. It was quite surprising to see that guest posting remains the most popular tactics used for link building.
Do you think guest blogging will be an effective link building method in 2021?
Definitely. But you need to do it right. It’s not about acquiring links through guest blogging anymore. It’s all about creating valuable content for other relevant sites and build a meaningful connection with the blog or site owner.
Nobody is going to understand the value you’re providing if you don’t assert them. Get serious with your manual outreach campaigns and be transparent with your offerings. Choose the right sites relevant to your niche and constantly approach them to offer great value through guest blogging.
If you want to stand out from the crowd with guest blogging, you should avoid approaching sites and blogs that have publicly announced that they accept guest posts. This is because the site will be getting hundreds to thousands of inquiries every day.
Develop a competitive advantage. Outreach to high authority sites in your niche and request for guest blogging opportunities and provide explanations on how your blog post can add value to their business.
Your focus should be building meaningful connections while providing valuable content.
The Rise in Semantic Search
The SEO trends for 2021 revolves around how people are using the search engines to get the information that answers their search queries.
How semantic search be even more prominent in 2021?
Google isn’t looking at keywords alone. It’s analyzing the context and understand the search intent of the user to provide the most accurate and relevant results. This means it combines both primary and secondary keywords that associate with the user’s search query.
What businesses should focus on with semantic search?
There is no shortcut or easy way to improve your site’s semantic search value. You need to have a solid content calendar that will help you plan, build and update your content.
Identify the reasons for your users’ search queries. What kind of information they’re actually looking for?
This is what you should focus on when it comes to semantic search: It
- Focus on Answer Engine Optimization (AEO): It is the process of creating and structuring content for answer engines. The main objective of AEO is to provide accurate answers to users’ questions. Once Google understands the purpose of your content, it will present your content as rich results.
- Write for your audience, not search engines: Create content that matters to your audience. The content you develop should be easily consumed. Use bullets and lists like how we’ve structured this blog post. Just make it easy for people to easily skim through your content and get the information they need. Adding a table of content can help users to get right to the point rather than scrolling down and finding the answers.
- Use structured data markup: Make it easier for Google bots to understand your content. It can be a product, blog post, reviews, or recipes. Use structured data markup to help bots to understand your pages and appear as rich snippets.
- Develop killer internal linking structure: Internal linking is not about linking one page to another within a website. It’s a strategy used to create well-structured content assets around a specific topic. It also shows the bots crawling your site the relevance between content which results in rich snippets.
- Optimize content for topic cluster instead of keywords: Research has shown that site that creates multiple content around a topic outperforms sites that only create few articles on that topic. For example, a topic cluster around content marketing will include subtopics like content creation, content planning, content promotion, content distribution, and content amplification. When you create content around these sub-topics, you have higher chances to rank better while naturally appear on “People also ask”.
Predictive Search Is the Future
Are you talking about the prediction model in data analysis?
We don’t need to dive deep into this subject. Predictive search basically means the dropdown of autosuggestions that are populated when you start typing into the search bar. These suggestions are often based on the search query database and user’s browsing history.
According to Google, their autocomplete feature reduces typing by 25% on average. The fun fact is that it can save up to 200 years of typing time in one day.
Pretty impressive right!
So how does Google Predictive search work?
There are few factors that impact the prediction, but it’s not officially announced by Google. Here’s the factors:
- Search volume
- Search / Browsing history
- Content freshness
Apart from autosuggestion, Google Discover, Google’s AI-driven tool to offer content recommendations based on user behavior patterns. The tool can perfectly identify the most accurate content preferred by the user.
Google also claims that more than 800 million active users are using Google Discover to check new content from their preferred niches.
How do I get on Google Discover?
Well, there are no magic bullets to get your content on Google discover. As long you’re publishing high-quality content on your niche, your content will be included based on the same ranking signals Google uses to rank your web pages on the SERPs.
However, from various studies, we can assume that Google Discover uses the same factors used for Google Autosuggestion that we mentioned earlier.
Google My Business Page Will Become A Powerful Tool For Local SEO
Location-based search is increasing, and people are searching for businesses near their home or workplace. The consistent update on Google algorithm has given a lifeline for local businesses to survive the competitive SEO landscape.
So why businesses need GMB to dominate the Local SEO landscape?
GMB is a free tool offered by Google that lets you customize your business listing on how it appears on Google’s Search and Google Map. And the best part is, Google My Business Listing can improve your organic rankings.
Studies on GMB shows that:
- 64% of consumers use Google Business to find contact details
- Customers that view your GMB will check out your website, give a call or ask for directions to your store.
- 50% of users visit a store within a day of local search
An optimized Google My Business profile has a better chance of being in the local-3 pack and increase their online presence by appearing at the top of the search result pages.
Google has mentioned that the local search results are based on three factors:
- Relevance: Does your GMB listing matches the intent of the searcher?
- Distance: Is your verified business is in close proximity with searchers?
- Prominence: How well-known is your business in your location?
So, when your potential customers are searching locally for your products or services, your GMB listing will show up if you’ve properly optimized it. In 2021, the competition to get on the local-3 pack is expected to increase as more and more businesses are aware of the importance of Google My Business listing.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to rank for local searches by getting your GMB listing verified and optimized.
Image Optimization Will Play A Vital Role in SEO
Did you know that images search grew by 60% from 2016 to 2018?
According to Google, images are returned for 19% of search queries.
These stats show that visual image search is steadily growing, and it is important to optimize your images to gain exposure among the 19% search queries. The trend of purchasing products just looking at images has started.
For example, when we search for “vacuum cleaners Malaysia”, Google Image shows the image of an article that ranks on the first position of SERPs.
If you ignore image optimization, you’re wasting valuable SEO assets.
So how to optimize the images on your site?
We’ll share a few valuable tips on optimizing your images:
- Choose the right image format: There are many image formats, but JPEG and PNG are the most common ones.
- Compress your images: You can use tools like TinyPNG to reduce the size of your images before uploading them. If you choose not to compress your images, your page loading speed will be affected as it will take more time to load your image files. Use Pagespeed Insights Tool to check whether your images are affecting your page speed.
- Avoid copyright conflict: Don’t risk your business by using copyright images. You need to have a license to use copyright images from Shutterstock, 123HRF, and Getty. If you don’t have the budget to invest in stock images, you can use Google Images and filter the results that are free to reuse. There are various websites that offer free images as well. You can check them out here
- Keyword-Rich Image File Names: Never ever use generic file names for your images like “IMG-2212”. Google bots will have difficulties in understanding the image file name. Let’s say you’re writing an article on “most expensive wines in 2020”, you can name the image file with the name of the wine like “Cheval Blanc 1947 St-Emilion”
- Write SEO-Friendly Alt Tags: You need to add a description to your image. It will add great value to your on-page SEO strategy. Google has indicated that adding alt tags to your images can help your site achieve better rankings.
- Add Images to Your Sitemap: Sometimes searching engine crawling bots miss out on crawling certain elements on your website. That’s why you need to add them to your sitemap. You need to add your images to your sitemap to increase the chances of getting crawled and indexed. If you’re using WordPress, SEO plugins like Yoast SEO automatically include your images in the sitemap.
Optimizing images is a must. You can boost your overall SEO performance by paying attention to image optimization.
Data Science and Analytics Will Play A Major Role In Retaining Rankings
The growth in data science can help your SEO campaigns perform better. The use of web analytics will help you understand your target market better and create the right content. Apart from that, analytics also help identifying many critical metrics that will provide in-depth insight into your online performance. You’ve managed to get to the top rankings for the targeted keywords.
But how do you retain the position?
How do you capture the important information that can help you achieve sustainable growth in search engines?
That’s where data analytics comes in. There are so many analytical tools available out there. Choose the one that suits your budget and needs. These are some of the tools you should consider:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google Data Studio
With data science, you can stop doing guesswork for SEO.
Data science will help you make informed decisions regarding your SEO efforts. You can easily make the following decisions with data science:
- Analyze and determine which combinations of SEO tasks will have the biggest impact on your organic search traffic
- Create data-oriented marketing campaigns that are aligned with the need of your target audience
- Understand the buyer behavior and identify their pain points
- Determine how loading time, bounce rate, time on site influence the SEO performance
Combining your SEO efforts with data science will set you in the right direction. You don’t have to make any assumptions anymore. Use the right tools and methods to drive desirable results and quantify your success.
There is no limit for SEO
SEO is getting complex.
It’s not easy to produce results with SEO without the right plan. The days of just including keywords and optimizing meta description are long gone. You need to have a systematic plan that you can follow strictly to generate high-quality traffic from search engines.
Get started by developing the best content in your industry by adhering to on-page optimization rules. Be consistent in delivering the content to your target audience. Make improvements to your site and content based on what the data tells you.
Are there any other SEO trends that we missed out in this article?
Please share them with us by commenting below.