What are the top 10 SEO trends to look out for in 2021? Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a great way to bring targeted and quality traffic to your website. However, the SEO landscape is constantly changing and needs constant attention to stay ahead of the game. But, it’s definitely worth it. An article on Medium suggests up to 80% of internet users ignore paid adverts and head straight to the organic listings on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
With that in mind, here’s our pick for the top 10 SEO trends that matter to small businesses.
The rise in smartphones has also led to a rise in the use of digital assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant. This technology has improved dramatically over the years and, as a result it, it has increased in popularity.
However, people use this technology differently to normal search and tend to use more natural language for voice search. In contrast, when they type, they will abbreviate and shorten sentences. To optimise for voice consider using longer keyphrases that you would use in everyday conversation.
2 – AI & Predictive Search
Back in 2017 Google released an AI driven search tool called “Google Discover” that doesn’t require a user input. Discover tries to recommend content based on user patterns and habits such as search history, home & work locations, app usage, browser usage.
Although it isn’t precisely clear how Google generates the recommendations, we do know that if your pages are indexed by Google they are included in Discover. And, with almost 1 billion monthly user we can expect AI driven tools to play an increasing important role in SEO.
3 – Mobile Friendly Websites
According to Statista 50% of all intent traffic now comes from a mobile device and is expected to be as high as 75% by 2025. But some websites still aren’t mobile friendly! Google now assumes that the primary version of your website will be the mobile version and takes a mobile-first approach to indexing pages.
This means if your website isn’t mobile friendly you can expect to see a reduction in search traffic. If you are unsure if your website meets the criteria use Google’s mobile-friendly test to find out.
4 – Featured Snippets
Featured snippets appear at the top of the SERPs, above the organic results and they look like this
Featured snippets were originally released in 2017 and have been gaining prominence ever since. They normally contain short, easily consumed information in bullet points, how to guides or Q&A’s. If you can get your content featured in this space you will steal significant traffic from your competitors.
5 – Images
Google has demanded the proper optimisation of images for a long time and visual search is going to evolve over the next few years. Before, people would only look at images but in the future images will be used to show intent, shorten the purchasing journey and provide a new space for inspiration-based connections.
To optimise the images on your website, make sure you edit the file name so its relevant to the content, use high quality images and use the alt-tags to help crawlers accurately classify your images. For an added bonus, you should also add images to your site map so they are even easier to crawl.
6 – Video
Video is another format that has been gaining in popularity for a number of years. YouTube has over 1 billion users and is often cited as the 2nd most popular search engine in the world. If you are not creating video in 2020 you should start in 2021.
To optimise for YouTube, make sure your channel name matches your brand and the description provides a user-friendly overview of what your channel is about. YouTube also has an amazing auto-complete feature where you can start typing in your video topic and it will suggest keywords to show what people are searching for.
Beyond this, video has also become a very popular way to consume media on a variety of different platforms and has been shown to increase customer engagement.
7 – Semantic Search
Semantic search and intent optimisation will continue to rise in prominence. In the past, search engines would rank based on primary and secondary keyword. However, search has evolved and they try to analyse the query context and user intent to show more relevant results.
As a result, content creators now try to create content that answers a question their target audience is likely to ask rather than focussing on keywords alone. There are comprehensive keywords tools that will help you identify semantically linked keyword groups to target which will help you prioritise topics.
8 – Local Search
Google has been going to great lengths to improve local search and this is going to continue next year. The reason for this is simple, most people use search to find goods or services that are local to them. They might be looking for a restaurant or garage and want to see reviews or directions.
This has led to what is being called “zero click search”. This means the search is answered directly on the SERPs and users don’t go to a website.
Zero click for local search is predominantly powered by two parts. Firstly, Google maps results and the local pack and featured snippets. To get started you need to create a Google My Business page and make sure its optimised for visibility on Google.
9 – Long Form Content
High-quality short form content between 900 – 1200 words (like this article) use to be king of the castle. However, The State of Content Marketing report has highlighted a recent shift towards longer form content of 3000 words plus. The report says longer content is 4 times more likely to be shared, will get 3 times more traffic and receive 3.5 times more backlinks.
However, the content still needs to be high quality and informative to achieve these results. You have to continue to follow best practices on page by breaking up the content with H2 and H3 tags, link to authoritative sites to back up your claims and ensure the content is easy to share on other platforms.
10 – Google EAT Principle
As mentioned above, having high quality content is a must to achieve ranking success. But how do you define quality content? This is where the Google EAT principle comes in. EAT stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. As a result, these factors help decide if a website has high quality content.
There are different ways you can ensure you create great content. Firstly, create buyer personas as they will let you understand the type of content your audience loves. Secondly, map out the customer journey so you understand their intent and what actions you want them to take. Finally, link back to authoritative sites if you make claims or include statistics as this will help prove your content is trustworthy.
SEO will continue to get more complex as search engines move away from meta titles and keywords towards trying to understand user intent and behaviour. You still need to pay careful attention to on page signals and follow best practice. However, more time needs to be invested in current trends to ensure you stay ahead of the competition.