Search engine optimization (SEO) is an effective way to attract consumers to your online platforms — if you use it right. SEO is constantly evolving, and staying on top of the latest updates can be a challenge. However, it’s worth the effort: Some 70% to 80% of users focus exclusively on organic results and ignore paid listings. What’s more, some 28% of those searches convert, resulting in a purchase.
Top-ranking SEO performance requires attention to many metrics, including traffic, backlinks, and social shares — to name just a few. Our guide gives you insights into some of the most relevant and timely search engine optimization trends to anticipate for 2021, allowing you to prepare your SEO strategy accordingly. Here are the 12 SEO trends to watch for in 2021:
1. Artificial Intelligence Will Play a Larger Role in SEO
Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing how people interact with online content. Google’s AI algorithm is especially worth noting. Unveiled a few years back, the algorithm — called RankBrain — plays an important role in Google’s ranking factors for search engine results pages (SERPs) results.
Greg Corrado, a senior Google scientist who helped develop RankBrain, has previously highlighted the tool’s unique ability to learn: “The other signals, they’re all based on discoveries and insights that people in information retrieval have had, but there’s no learning.” This presumably means that RankBrain will only improve with time, making AI a top SEO trend to watch.
So, the big question is, how do you optimize your SEO for RankBrain? While the search engine giant won’t share details, experts believe that user experience signals are the primary determinant. These could include factors from click-through rate to time spent on-page. You need to captivate and engage readers with useful, well-organized content. An on-page SEO checker can help you assess page strength based on points like readability, backlinks, and more.
2. Voice Search Will Impact Search Queries
Thanks to innovations like Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Amazon’s Alexa, voice search technology has come a long way. As technology has gotten better, it’s also gotten more popular. In fact, the percentage of households predicted to own a smart speaker by 2022 is 55%.
To optimize for voice search, consider your keywords. Identify longer phrases that people use in everyday conversation. Voice searches tend to do better with longer, more natural-sounding phrasing. When people type, they tend to abbreviate. For example, a person might voice search, “What are the new SEO trends for 2021?” but type the words, “new SEO trends 2021.”
3. Mobile-Friendliness Will Impact Search Rankings
In 2019, Google rolled out mobile-first indexing, meaning the search engine looks primarily at the mobile version of a website, considering this the “primary” version instead of the desktop version. This change makes sense, given that nearly 73% of internet users will access the internet solely via mobile devices by 2025. Check how effective your mobile site is with Google’s free mobile-friendly test. Next, take a peek at the “mobile usability” report in Google Search Console.
To make sure your page is user-friendly, you have to ensure that Google can crawl your URLs, so make sure you don’t have a “disallow directive” in place. Also, beware that Googlebot won’t load content requiring user interactions, like clicking or swiping. You have to make sure Google can see this so-called lazy-loaded content. Finally, ensure you use the same meta robots tags on the desktop and mobile sites.
4. Content That Fulfills the Google EAT Principle Will Rank Higher
Google has reiterated that content quality is critical for ranking success. But just what does “quality” mean to Google? Refer to the EAT principle: expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. These factors help determine if a webpage has useful quality content. This principle is especially relevant in business niches that fall under the “your money, your life” (YMYL) label, such as health care and finance.
There are a few ways you can ensure quality content. First, create buyer personas, which let you understand what kind of content your clients value. Second, conduct search intent research, which helps you map out the consumer journey. Third, use this information to create content that fits the format that your users prefer. For example, if you’re catering to teens, video is probably preferable. If you’re catering to an older audience, video may be less appealing.
Finally, keep EAT in mind as you craft your content. Back up claims with statistics and facts. Link to reputable sites, such as “.edu” and “.gov” URLs. Having authoritative sites link back to you is another way to prove that you fulfill the EAT criteria.