To stay on top of the SEO game, business owners must evolve with it. But with ever-changing SEO strategies to apply, not to mention all those metrics for monitoring, things can quickly get chaotic. The key here is to identify in-demand practices that deliver the best results for you and your target market.
So, if you wish to ring in the new year with an updated website, consider adding these SEO trends in 2021 to your checklist.
SEO Trends in 2021: What and How
Online interaction, whether it’s for info dissemination or trade, has long been in place. But when the COVID-19 health crisis came into the picture, remote transactions is more dynamic than ever. E-commerce is now invaluable, and both small and big businesses have taken measures to keep up.
This development makes being in the know with up-to-date SEO tools and strategies extra crucial. To make the most of your search engine optimisation efforts during this coronavirus pandemic, here are SEO trends that’ll keep your digital marketers on their toes!
1. Artificial intelligence: Make outstanding content
Google’s recent AI update BERT will affect 1 in 10 search queries.
For several years, RankBrain, Google’s AI algorithm, has been reading online content and assessing how well each can answer a search query. Its analysis involves several ranking factors like impressions, click-through rate and on-page behaviour.
And in October 2019, Google launched RankBrain’s extra smart brother BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) to help out. With this algorithm update, Google can now index passages within a web page to deliver more specific search results.
It’s super intelligent that it can understand homonyms and prepositions, analyse videos or put context to your misspelled words.
As it is a recent development, we’re expecting this additional AI to be among the prevailing SEO trends in 2021. So, here are ways how to start working like BERT:
- Craft high-quality content. Content is still king in 2021. So, continue captivating users with unique and relevant information, paired with videos, infographics and optimised images.
- Give less focus on length and keyword density. Yes, relevant keywords and word count still, well, count. But with a smarter algorithm, you need to step up. One way to do it is to produce more specific and valuable content that will quickly answer a user’s query. Content quality this time around is far more superior than quantity.
- Use on-page SEO checkers. Search online for SEO tools that can audit your website content for free. These can help identify areas for improvement like readability, page speed, etc.
2. Voice search: Embrace smart technology
In 2019, findings show that 27% of global web users use voice search on mobile.
Year after year, SEO is becoming more sophisticated. For instance, people nowadays are more adept doing Google searches by speaking to Google Assistant, Siri or Alexa. Businesses must adapt to this trend as users who do voice search are often in a rush and have a higher purchase intent.
Keyboard queries are still more popular, though. But it’s best to apply this technology early on, way before total screenless browsing happens in the future. These SEO solutions should have your website voice search-ready:
- Add long-tail keywords to your content. People tend to use long-form or full questions for voice search rather than abbreviated queries when typing. So, try to start some of your paragraphs with words like how, when, where, why or what. Integrate longer, natural-sounding keywords to your site as well, especially to your product pages.
- Identify niches that are popular in voice searches. Think how-to articles, recipes, tutorials, listicles, FAQs and other forms of digestible content. Improving your local SEO is also another smart move when preparing content for voice search.
- Prioritise mobile optimisation. Smartphone users and people who can’t type (or too lazy to do so!) often rely on voice search. And so, optimising your website for mobile phones and smart devices is of utmost importance.
3. EAT Principle: Create a trustworthy website
Consumers (82%) feel more positive about a company after reading its custom content.
While we are expecting new SEO trends in 2021, some old practices will still apply. One of which is the EAT principle. This metric lets Google evaluate and rank pages according to three points: expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.
With these three factors, Google ensures that it is providing users SERPs with fresh, relevant and proven information. More importantly, these lead to increased traffic and conversion rate for website owners. But how can businesses create websites with the EAT factor?
- Add professional bios to your pages. For instance, have professional copywriters write your product descriptions. If you have cooking recipes on your site, a chef or food critic can prepare your blog posts. For healthcare or finance-related pages, relevant experts can provide credible insights.
- Include outbound links from reputable sites. Stats and facts reinforce your webpage’s EAT factor and display the level of research that you put into your articles. And when you do incorporate these during content creation, make sure to link to authoritative sources or URLs with domain suffixes like “.gov”, “.edu” and “.org”.
- Create content that fits your target audience. When people like your content, they respond and interact. In turn, it helps build a positive relationship and sends Google all the right ranking signals. Google’s webmaster guidelines can help direct you to this path.
4. User experience: Reduce bounce rates
According to stats, 88% of online shoppers wouldn’t return to a website after a bad user experience.
Will you stay on a website that takes 20 seconds to load? Probably not. And this problem only means one thing: annoyed users that won’t come back to your site a.k.a. poor user experience. Although user experience also covers content and design, Google will likely focus its radar on its other aspect – the core web vitals.
These centres on your website’s loading time, visual stability and interactivity. It’s a technical yet more objective measure on the real-time experience of your users while visiting your site. And the goal for applying this SEO trend is simple: make users stay longer. There are several ways to do this:
- Study your Google Analytics results. This tool can give you overall findings of how long people are staying on your web pages. The results can help you identify specific areas for tweaking or A/B testing, too.
- Improve your page load speed. The changes you need to speed up load time depend on your website. For example, you can remove unnecessary third-party scripts, move to better hosting, apply lazy loading or replace large page elements like high-res images.
- Have a reserved space for your ad elements. This solution will prevent images or embeds from moving your content around or making users accidentally click on something.
5. Structured data: Boost online presence
Research suggests that 70% of snippets come from sites outside the top-ranking organic position.
Google reads and understands our content through structured data or codes. Inputting these clues for Google also increases the chances of your site becoming a featured snippet or answer box. In turn, you get high SERP ranking, better search visibility and, eventually, increased organic traffic. Several case studies have also proven how structured data can help achieve SEO success.
Of course, it’s a feat to land on Google’s first search page. But there’s more to structuring data than top rankings. For instance, using it lets you help internet users find answers to their queries quickly, which should be the primary goal. And all it takes is to add a few details to your content:
- Make a question-based keyword search. You can use keyword research tools to pick out target keywords with high search volume. Also, Google provides a “People also ask” section on the search results page. This tool is useful when researching good topics to tackle.
- Follow a content layout that Google likes. Google tends to pull short pieces of content to answer user queries. So, try starting your articles with definitions, for example, or create one that answers multiple questions. You can post how-to articles and guides to your website as well.
- Format your content. Google can scan your page better if it includes HTML tags for headings, bullet points and paragraphs.
- Use a schema markup generator tool. These Google guidelines should help you implement the coding formats that apply to your type of content.
You can check out a more in depth guide we wrote previously on 6 tips to optimise for Google’s featured snippets.
Constant changes in technology and user preferences indeed make the SEO world complex. And there are probably more surprising SEO trends in 2021 that are in store for us. But as the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm. The most proactive business owners have better chances of winning the ranking race and outshining their strongest competitors!