Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most effective ways for attracting potential customers to your website. But here’s the thing—you need to use it in the right way. According to stats, there are an estimated 3.5B searches on Google each day. But while only 0.78% of Google searchers click on results from the second page, the #1 result in Google’s organic search result gets an average CTR of 31.7%.
What do these stats reflect?
To generate organic traffic, you need to rank on page one of the SERP. And that’s where you need SEO. However, SEO is constantly evolving. In this post, we’re going to cover 10 important trends you can leverage in 2021 for SEO success. They include
We’ll explain each trend and offer tips, suggestions, and resources to optimize for each.
Update! You can find our 2022 SEO trends here.
As we stated above, to rank higher or simply maintain your rankings, you need to keep modifying your SEO strategy in accordance with Google— as its algorithm evolves. Here is a breakdown of the most significant SEO and Google trends to inform which tools you use and strategies you prioritize for 2021.
In May 2020, Google announced three new metrics, called Core Web Vitals to be used for measuring user experience: Loading, Interactivity, and Visual Stability. All three metrics are basically related to just one thing, and that is page speed: how fast does the page load, how soon does it get interactive, and how stable is it while loading.
Core Web Vitals will be among Google’s ranking factors in May 2021, meaning you will have to pay close attention them in order to appear on the first page. For example, if there are two pages with equally relevant content, then user experience metrics will help search engine bots to decide which one should be ranked higher. More small business SEO strategies here.
Is your site optimized to rank on Google? Get a free SEO audit with the LOCALiQ website grader and find out!
Google’s BERT algorithm (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) uses machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) to better understand searches and what users are actually looking for. It works in more than 70 languages and for almost every query in Google English.
With Google’s BERT update, the Google search engine bots have become much more “conversational,” so now, Google’s algorithm can now interpret the intent of the searcher. In simple words, Now Google can understand things like the human brain.
What this also means is that websites that have content-intent mismatches will be negatively impacted. No matter how detailed or high-quality that long-form content is, if it’s is not satisfying user intent then BERT will ignore yours and prefer another content piece that satisfies the intent for the given query.
One thing to note is that Google BERT is not an algorithmic penalty. It’s a part of the Google search engine that helps filter out the most relevant & useful content to users by understanding search queries and content as humans. So it won’t de-rank or penalize sites. It will just give favor to those that show the best results to users, which is what Google has always strived to do.
If your content is not providing what a user is looking for, then your content is not BERT-friendly and you won’t rank for that keyword for the long-term. That’s why publishing valuable content that satisfies the user-intent can help you.
How to optimize for Google’s BERT
Search intent is exactly what the user is searching for when they type a particular keyword into a Google search. Are they looking for an answer to a question? A list of options? A how-to tutorial? Or do they want to buy a product and read reviews? There is a lot of intent that users bring to the Google search bar, so it’s important to make sure your content and the keyword intent match.
For example, if someone is searching “seo” as a keyword on Google, that means the user wants to know about SEO. But if a user is searching “seo services” as a keyword that means the user is seeking out someone for “seo services.” So the keyword “seo” is an informational keyword while “seo services” is a commercial keyword.
But some keywords could be multi-intent keywords like “seo expert” Maybe the person who is searching it is looking for an SEO expert to hire or wants to be an SEO expert.
Always search a keyword on Google before starting working on content for it! This strategy will help you understand the intent of a keyword so that you can be sure it will succeed before taking the time to create the content.
More than 50% of searches are zero-click searches. It means more than half of the Google searches (appx. 175 billion searches per month) end without any click. This is because with such rich results in the SERP—Google business listings with menus and contact information, Featured Snippets with answers, related questions with accordion answers, and more—consumers can get the answers they need without even having to click a result—or even finish typing out a query…
But that’s provided your website, ads, Business Profile, and blog content contains and covers those keywords according to the searcher’s intent. Given the advancements in the SERP and with so much competition out there, it’s crucial to invest some time in keyword research to find keywords that can actually drive traffic and sales for your business.
How to do it
That’s why you do your keyword research with patience and find keywords that can easily rank and generate revenue for you.
Since great content plays a crucial role in SEO and ranking, authentic content is important for businesses in more than just branding. Simply put, this is unique content that has not already been published somewhere else.
Would you buy a shirt with the same color and design that you already have? No! The same thing happens here. There is a lot (thousands of page) of similar content on the same topics indexed on Google. If you were to produce a piece of content very similar to existing content already ranking on the web, why would Google rank your piece above the original piece? Why would others bother to look past the top ranked results? That’s why your content must be authentic, useful, and and add value in your own brand voice and language.
Good material to work with to produce unique content includes case studies, experiments, customer testimonials, company milestones, and more. Not only will this make for authentic content that Google likes, but the content will establish you as a trusted brand in the eyes of Google and your audience.
For help with unique content creation:
According to Google, a staggering 27% of the entire global population is using voice search on their mobile phones. Furthermore, ComScore reports that more than half of smartphone users are engaging with voice search technology in 2020.
Now here’s a thing, most of the voice search queries are long-tail and very specific. Users look for specific answers to their queries when they use voice search. And such users are at the consideration stage of the funnel and are more likely to convert than the rest of the users. Since voice search optimization is still growing as more people are opting for it with the passing time, it is expected to continue trending in 2021 as well. So this can be a necessity in terms of SEO.
Just like most of the industries, AI is changing the SEO and marketing industry as well. The reason behind this impact of AI is the personalization that AI provides. And here’s a fact: Google utilizes AI to provide the searchers with results they are looking for.
But how can AI help with your SEO strategies?
It takes years to understand the search engine algorithms used to rank web pages. And then creating strategies accordingly takes a lot of time. While SEO experts can help with such strategies, utilization of AI and machine learning can be a game-changer. It would be much more efficient and powerful in terms of decoding the algorithms and creating favorable strategies.
There are several companies like HubSpot, Frase, and MarketMuse that are providing AI-based solutions that can help companies with their SEO efforts and in the coming years, such tools can become a major trend in the industry.
YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google with over 1 billion users. So even if you aren’t into videos, it’s high time to get started.
But how to optimize that video content for search engines? Start with optimizing your video channel name and description. Though the description shouldn’t be overloaded with keywords but provide a user-friendly description of what your channel is all about.
However, even keywords are important. For example, if you’re optimizing your videos for YouTube, you can use YouTube’s autocomplete feature. Start typing your video’s topic and then some suggestions will pop-up in the search field. The suggestions are the related keywords that you can use for optimizing the video for reaching the right set of audience.
Featured snippets, or Position Zero, appear at the top of SERP in that rectangular box.
These snippets aren’t just useful for the searchers but also beneficial for websites. However, you can’t be able to select the content that is shown in the Featured Snippet for any given search; it’s the Google algorithm bots that do the job.
The exact method of getting your web page in the Featured Snippet isn’t clear. Marketers and SEO experts use a few strategies that might be helpful. For example, to get in the featured results, you need to answer a specific question, and answering in bullet points (well-structured content) would be better.
Influencers are the ones with millions of followers, and these followers may become your customers if you can get your business in front of them.
Such influencers earn the trust of your potential audience over years and if they come forward to support your brand, the ROI can be enormous. And so 89% of marketers believe that the ROI from influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other marketing methods.
However, you need to be quite specific while choosing influencers to supplement your SEO strategy. Not every influencer can help your brand. You need to choose the ones who have the right audience—The audience you want to target.
But how does influencer marketing impact SEO? Here’s how.
Backlinks are an important ranking factor. But not all kinds of backlinks can work. You need high-quality backlinks. And that’s where influencers can help. With an influencer or influencers by your side, you increase the chances of getting natural high-quality backlinks for your website.
Brand visibility & engagement
Influencers know what their audience likes or dislikes, so when they create content around your brand, their audience relates to it. And that content is unique, valuable, and helpful.
Search engines have a soft corner for viral content. And when an influencer shares a post that has all the share-worthy traits, the content gets shared by a plethora of people which provokes the search engines to rank the mentioned web page higher in the SERPs.
Social media traffic
This goes without saying that viral content always helps generate tons of social media engagement and referral traffic.
Google prefers content quality when it comes to rankings. But does “quality” alone work? There comes the EAT principle: expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
Brands are the future of SEO. SEO is shifting to branding and authority. The more popular and authentic your brand, the higher and more frequently you’ll rank on Google. And you’ll notice this in the upcoming months.
That’s why you should make efforts to establish your brand’s reputation. Give it a top priority in your 2021 SEO strategy. Also, build brand awareness to increase brand search queries. Brand queries are a hidden ranking factor that will help you to rank higher and establish yourself as a trusted brand on Google.
You might even want to conduct a content audit for this one.
If you are working in a YMYL (Your Money Your Life) niche then this is even more important for you. Work on improving your EAT, as Google itself says that it is very conscious of ranking YMYL sites and taking EAT seriously. (EAT is not a direct ranking factor, but Google uses some algorithms that analyze EAT for sites)
Publishing your business on news media publications, complete well-described (including qualifications & recognitions) author profiles, address, details about founders & C-level, awards, proper contact details, etc. helps you to improve your website EAT.
To recap, these are the SEO trends that you need to know about as we move towards 2021. Keep these trends in mind and to continue driving relevant traffic to your website throughout this year and years to come.
Want even more ways to improve your traffic? Head to our complete website audit checklist (with an epic Google Sheet template!).
Harpreet Munjal is a digital marketer and founder of LoudGrowth, which helps businesses to grow online.
WordStream’s guest authors are experts, entrepreneurs, and passionate writers in the online marketing community who bring diverse perspectives to our blog on a wide range of topics.
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