Search engine optimization, or SEO, is possibly the most constant and valuable marketing channel available to any marketer. In fact, according to Merkle’s 2019 Digital Media study, SEO accounted for 22% of all website visitors in 2019.
Despite popular belief, SEO is not dead, and, as evidenced by the graph above, it is really expanding. SEO is here to stay, but that doesn’t imply the SEO you’re familiar with now will be the SEO you see in a few years. That’s why staying current and knowing what Google may throw at you in 2021 and beyond is critical.
- User focus
- Search intent and conversion
- Page experience and core web vitals
- Adapt quickly
- Content depth
- Internal linking
- Local search
- SEO Scalability
When it comes to SEO, one of the best SEO leaders I’ve ever worked with preached a simple but deep adage: “What’s good for the user is good for SEO (and Google).”
This statement was accurate ten years ago and is true now. Google wants to give users, or searchers, the greatest experience possible. As a result, when Google sends a person to your site through their search engine results page (SERP), they want that user to be happy. If they are, the user will return to Google the next time they need to conduct a search.
In an interview with Search Engine Journal, Lily Ray, SEO Director at Path Interactive, summed up this entire approach perfectly: “Above all, a solid SEO plan should begin with putting oneself in the shoes of the user and determining whether the content is actually helpful, the brand is trustworthy, and the website is simple to navigate.”
Search intent and conversion
When your content or SEO teams get down to develop a new piece of content, they should check the search engine results page first (SERP). Go to the SERP before looking at SEMRush, Google Search Console (GSC), or any other SEO tool. The SERP displays what Google considers to be the most relevant results for the user’s query. When you go after that question or related search phrases, Google is telling you what kind of content you should develop. You will undoubtedly lag behind if you do not learn how to match this intent.
Marie Haynes, the president and CEO of Marie Haynes Consulting Inc., concurs. According to Search Engine Journal, “Google will get even better at recognizing when a searcher is looking for expert advice and will rank those pieces above articles created by content writers who lack E-A-T.” “Those SEO professionals who can properly understand how to meet a searcher’s wants will be successful in 2021.”
You’ll receive more conversions when the user is ready if you meet those demands. The purpose of SEO is to increase organic traffic as well as leads for your company. If a site can generate millions of sessions without being monetized, it is worthless. As a result, when a user lands on a lower-funnel page, you must make it as simple and quick as possible to lead them to the finish line by making your funnel simple and quick to utilize. If a visitor comes to an article after conducting an informational search, don’t push them down the funnel too quickly since they’re probably not ready – and you’ll lose the lead forever. Use the information you’ve gathered about the user’s purpose by page type to direct them to the next most logical page in your product funnel.
Page experience and core web vitals
According to Areej AbuAli, SEO Manager at Zoopla, page experience metrics can no longer be ignored with Google implementing Core Web Vitals as ranking criteria in 2021.
“Websites and businesses must make them a priority to avoid falling behind their competitors,” Abu Ali said. “Take advantage of the data offered by tools like Lighthouse and Crux API. Page speed, mobile-friendliness, rendering, image optimization, and security standards are all things that need to be optimized.”Furthermore, Rachel Costello, Builtvisible’s Technical SEO Consultant, stated that we should consider how a website makes a user feel rather than whether it is accessible and clear to a search engine crawler.
“As part of this, we’ll take a user-centric approach to our optimization efforts, with a particular focus on:
- The speed with which pages load.
- How quickly pages respond to user interactions.
- On mobile devices, how easy it is to use and navigate a website.
- The site’s connection’s safety and security when users are browsing it.
“Including page experience in your SEO strategy will not only help to future-proof your website’s performance and rankings ahead of the next algorithm upgrade, but it can also help to boost UX and conversions now,” said Costello.
According to Jess Peck, Senior Analytics Consultant at CVS, you must also ensure that Google can get the finest content on your site from everywhere – and that your site has a measurably better user interface than your competitors.
“Measure, test, and look at your material with machine learning – this will give you a significant step up,” Peck added. “Google’s concentration on Core Web Vitals demonstrates that they’re starting to measure how bothersome websites may be, so provide a pleasant experience for your users and Google will reciprocate.”
According to Motoko Hunt, President & International Search Marketing Consultant, AJPR, in 2021, be prepared to work harder than ever before to assess, adapt, and execute.
While basic skills and knowledge are still necessary, your brain must be adaptable in order to keep up with the quick changes.
“It will be more vital than ever to think beyond the box. There are still business options available. If you don’t know where to look, simply figure out where they went,” Hunt added. In 2021, being proactive will be critical, according to Corey Morris, Voltage’s Chief Strategy Officer.
“Perhaps this is more of a theme or mindset than a trend,” Morris said, “but seeing it as a recognized necessity and something many people are coming to makes it a trend for me.”Now is the moment to become organized, make a strategy, create a system, and move forward.”
According to Andy Betts, Search and Digital Advisor & Consultant, a transition to more strategic SEO will be important in 2021 to stay relevant and top of mind for customers’ attention. He suggests shifting your focus from a single concentration on consumer behavior to a two-step process that includes first learning about the market in which these consumers operate.
“Take a more strategic and holistic approach to understand what’s going on in the market, where demand has altered historically, and where demand is shifting in real-time,” Betts advised.“Use a consultative approach to learn how economic, sociological, and psychological aspects influence search demand, and then dig further into consumer behavior and purpose. Make use of all business intelligence tools, platforms, and sources available to you.”
Both Google and users must have faith in your expertise. Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness, or EAT, are ranking variables, after all. However, people need to see that you know everything there is to know about your subject outside of Google. If a person is looking for information on artificial intelligence, they don’t want to have to go to many websites to find it. Consider the following description of Built In’s artificial intelligence content: An ideal informational blog style is to have one page with all of the content available, as well as links to other related content.
More often than not, longer content is required to demonstrate your competence. Longreads (articles with 7,000 words or more) are the absolute leaders in terms of content performance, according to a 2019 SEMRush study that was recently updated this month, driving nearly four times more traffic than articles of ordinary length (900-1,200 words).
Short content isn’t going to make it in the SEO world. Demonstrate to your users that you are the expert in your subject. The effects will be felt by returning users, Google, and your organic rankings.
Internal linking isn’t on many SEO trend lists, despite the fact that it’s been critical to SEO for decades. However, just because a strategy is old doesn’t mean it’s no longer effective. Internal linking is essential for both your users and Google to find the sites that are important to you.
In any case, having a clear site structure that allows users to flow effortlessly from one page to the next would aid both users and Google in finding important, fresh, and updated material. To achieve so, use the following strategies:
Content hubs consist of a single pillar page with articles relating to that topic connected to it.
- Faceted navigation: E-commerce sites use filters and facets to allow customers to swiftly narrow down a product set by color, style, or other characteristics.
- Linkbacks: A collection of links to similar products at the bottom of your product pages.
- Related hyperlinks: In your blogs, include connections to other sites that are comparable to yours.
The possibilities for 2021 will be mind-boggling, according to Hamlet Batista, CEO of RankSense. “If we look back at the increasing number of SEO tasks that we are able to automate in 2020 (structured data generation, quality content, etc. ), the possibilities for 2021 will be mind-boggling,” he said. Related web addresses: Link to other similar companies in your weblog.
“The quality and quantity of AI-generated content are expected to skyrocket. It will undoubtedly make it more difficult for search engines to keep spam out of the index,” Batista said. “The key focus will be on human-in-the-loop automation to ensure that the value for search users is high in order to avoid penalties and remain competitive.”
One of the major trends in SEO for 2021, according to Jesse McDonald, Global SEO Strategist | Optimization Lead, IBM, is the continuous focus on establishing more scalable optimization solutions using automation, especially among in-house positions.
“In the last few years, a growing number of industry-leading tools that many SEO practitioners utilize in their daily work have released automated functionality to roll out site improvements. It’s almost like adding another execution member to the team,” McDonald explained.
“The ramifications of this are particularly fascinating for in-house roles,” he continued, “because it can help deploy low-hanging fruit elements without having to explain the relevance of the change to move to the top of the sprint schedule.” “As a result, the SEO can concentrate on other key components for increasing site performance.”
Traditional, in-person retailers have traditionally benefited from local SEO. Local SEO, on the other hand, has grown considerably in recent years. Google has recently begun to prioritize local news in its search results.
Every day, featured snippets and zero-click searches become increasingly common. Many zero-click searches are local searches that display the results in a “local pack” on the SERP. Even if you don’t have a physical presence, I strongly advise you to set up a Google My Business account and keep it up to date.
Local SEO can also be used in the following ways:
- Profit from local keywords.
- Use online business directories to your advantage.
- Build content around local events, news stories, and specific locations, similar to Built In Chicago or Built-In San Francisco.
Finally, it’s time to be creative with your search engine optimization. Change is a major subject throughout the work. SEO isn’t going away, but it’s changing at a breakneck pace. Much of what worked in the past will not work in the future. Keyword stuffing and article syndication, after all, were once highly successful SEO strategies. Today, however, these antiquated strategies will not only fail, but they may also result in Google penalties.
As a result, it’s critical that you keep up with the latest trends and try out new techniques. Don’t be frightened to venture into unfamiliar territory. But don’t go all-in until you’ve proven that your experiments are successful.
According to Mark Traphagen, Vice President of Product Marketing and Training at seoClarity, 2021 should be the year to incorporate scalability into your SEO strategy if you want to stay ahead of the competition.
Traphagen shared these three tips:
- Make a list of all the usual tasks, activities, and workflows you perform. Determine which stages in each of these could be automated or handled more efficiently with the help of a tool.
- Set up an alert system to track significant changes in things like keyword ranks, flip-flopping URLs ranking for the same keyword (URL cannibalism), page content changes, URL changes, and so on.
- Create SoPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for any repetitive processes you can’t automate so your team doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel every time they need to be done.