SEO Trends To Know About In 2021
In marketing, most trends are influenced by their predecessors and continue building on the success that these previous trends enjoyed. The same is true for search engine optimization (SEO). In order to predict, or at least understand the latest online marketing and SEO trends for 2021, we must first look back at the trends that stood out in 2020. So, without further ado, here are some of the trends that dominated the digital marketing world last year and are likely to continue doing so this year.
8 SEO Trends We’re Talking About
1. User and Search Intent
Google’s (and other search engines’) algorithms were significantly improved in 2020 to focus on users and their search intent. Previous updates, like the 2011 Panda update of Google algorithms, had weeded out low-quality articles and content from the so-called content farms, ensuring that only high-quality content ever reaches the user.
The Panda update, as well as similar updates that followed, shifted the focus of online content from keywords and backlinks to the quality of subject matter itself. Thus, the E-A-T concept in SEO was born. E-A-T stands for expertise, authority, and trust, the three key areas Google looks at when determining if your website is valuable and trustworthy:
- Expertise: Content must demonstrate that you are an expert in your field
- Authority: Your content must be a reliable source of information – even better if it outshines competitors
- Trust: Content must be honest and truthful so that it doesn’t mislead online consumers
Google is able to gauge how well a website meets this criteria in a number of ways, like indexing and web crawlers, but the behavior of online users is the biggest tell-all. Online users are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to quality-checking websites: just as they can easily recognize an authoritative source and click through to a credible website, so will they immediately leave a website if it’s unhelpful, irrelevant, or untrustworthy.
The way online users interact with a website is all visible in the site metrics and directly impacts how well a website ranks. By analyzing metrics like the clickthrough rate, dwell time or bounce rate, search engine algorithms can better determine how well a website satisfies the user’s needs.
As machine learning continues to improve, all of this makes it easier than ever for a search engine to ensure that only the most relevant websites are displayed at the top of the SERPs. As an online marketer, consider capitalizing on this user-focused trend by optimizing your content so that it complies with E-A-T.
2. Customer Analytics
Customer analytics continues to be an important SEO trend that can provide in-depth insights about the performance of your website and its specific pages. You can use these analytics to determine things like:
- Origin of visits: Learning where your audience is coming from, whether they are organic searches, social media or affiliate marketing clicks, will show you where to focus your marketing efforts
- The search engine being used: You can similarly discover which search engine is being used to find the information on your website, be it Google, Bing or Baidu
- Operating system: Analytics can also tell you which operating system most users have, like Microsoft Windows or Apple OS, allowing you to optimize your design more specifically
- Type of device used: Knowing whether a phone, tablet or laptop is most often used to access your content will allow you to optimize your website to those specific devices
- Time spent on page: Visitors will stay on a website longer if they like the content, so knowing which areas have the best dwell time, for example, is valuable for knowing how to engage audiences better
- Most visited pages: Some pages will have more traffic than other pages for various reasons, and it’s important to maximize on these pages for the continued success of a website
Using this information, you’ll be able to continually tweak and adjust your marketing strategy and online tactics in a way that gives the customer what they want. Customer analytics will also help you improve and optimize your site design to the relevant search engines and devices. All of this boils down to one main benefit: you can attract more leads and convert more customers.
3. Voice Search
Voice search became very common in 2020, especially on mobile devices, and this trend continues to gain momentum in 2021. The option of voice search frees the user from typing, which can sometimes be inconvenient. This means that long-tail keywords and very specific questions are more likely to be used, as opposed to the shorter phrases we see dominating text searches.
According to a report by Google, about 52% of users leave their voice-activated devices, like Alexa, in the center of rooms so that everybody can easily access it. As well as this, about 71% of mobile device users prefer voice searches instead of typing, demonstrating that this a trend you might want to get onboard with if you haven’t done so already.
4. Dominance of Featured Snippets in Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
When you search for something online, you’ll notice that the best, most relevant answer is usually displayed right at the top of the page, above the organic search results and even the paid ads. This is called a rich snippet, and it basically means that the search engine has hand-chosen the corresponding webpage as the most relevant, trustworthy source – the true answer to your search query.
You can see why, then, that getting your content featured as a rich snippet is so important. Not only do they set you apart from your competitors on the page, rich snippets also improve click-through rates by removing an extra barrier between the user and your content. This can have a positive effect on your site’s organic ranking because the more clicks you get, the more likely you are to climb the SERPs.
5. Relevance of Localized Searches
In 2020, especially at the height of lockdowns, features like Google My Business became very important. This was in response to a massive increase in online searches for local food, groceries, and medicine deliveries, all necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the virus continues to threaten outdoor spaces, this trend is sure to continue, and maybe rise, throughout 2021.
That said, SEO strategy for your business should include geographical optimization so that people in your local area can find you more easily. In the analysis below, for example, websites were the biggest point of entry for leads when it came to contacting local businesses.
6. BERT continues to be important
BERT is a Natural Language Processing (NLP) model in Google’s algorithm that stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. In a nutshell, BERT allows Google to understand language better so that it can continue showing the most relevant results to online users.
If you’re a marketer, the best way to optimize your website for BERT is to write high-quality content that makes strategic use of keywords, rather than jamming in as many as possible in one go. Doing the latter leads to poor readability, which BERT won’t tolerate, and your site ranking will suffer as a result.
Since BERT is designed to give search engines a better understanding of the conversational queries based on natural language, your site is more likely to rank well if its content complies with the BERT model. Aside from the strategic use of keywords, you can rank well with BERT by providing exact answers to the exact question that your content is answering. Where applicable, you should also specify any units of measurement or temperature and avoid long and convoluted paragraphs.
7. Longer articles
In terms of ranking and authoritativeness, longer and high-quality articles tend to be the favorites of search engine bots. In fact, in the top ten SERP results, most articles have the average length of 1,600 words, so this is the word count you might want to aim for with your articles.
However, while longer is better, you should always consider your specific readers’ attention span. Not everyone likes to read long-form content – some are actually deterred by it, preferring to read quick blog posts that get to the point. The key is to do your market research beforehand so that your content satisfies both the reader and search engines.
8. Internal links (yes, this is still an SEO trend in 2021)
Your website can achieve greater visibility online if your articles and other content are interconnected. Internal links, i.e. links within your content that lead to other areas of your website, are an important way of reinforcing the credibility of your website. A great way to do this is to use pillar pages that link to shorter articles about relevant, connected topics.
Interlinking content is also beneficial for indexing your website. This is because the search engine bots will be able to crawl the various pages of your website much more easily. In turn, this means greater visibility because the pages of your website can be indexed without any hassle. Site navigation will also be more straightforward and convenient as the related content types are interlinked, and this leads to a better user experience.
Want to find out how to take advantage of this year’s marketing trends? Let’s talk.