Looking at current SEO trends, we find that the quality of content, local SEO practices and semantic search are all vital when developing your overall SEO strategy.
We will also let you know the importance of getting ready for Google’s new page experience update in June-August and the role of optimising your mobile web version and content to see continued organic growth.
Here are the top SEO trends that you need to follow up on in 2021.
1. High-quality content is (still) king
As expected, in 2021, Google will continue to favour high-quality content for ranking purposes. Due to this, you’ll find that E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) are key factors for optimising your website’s ranking within SERPs. E-A-T is primarily used for businesses under the “your money, your life” category (YMYL). For example, businesses within the health care and finance sectors have the power to provide accurate and reliable information to the public.
There are a few general guidelines you can follow to ensure your content is rich:
- Know your customers: this will help you understand what type of content your customers want to see.
- Performance search intent research: It will enable you to know the journey your customers follow online
- Use all of this data to create the right content using the right format.
- Favour high-quality links in your content to let your E-A-T flourish. Domains such as “.edu” and “.gov” are amongst those that you should include in your links.
Keeping old content relevant and optimising it
While E-A-T and high-quality links play a very important role in your SEO strategy, updating existing content and keeping it relevant should also be a vital role in your SEO strategy.
Updating your old content has a few perks for your SEO strategy:
- It lets Google know that your content is still relevant in the current year or month, and this lets them know to keep your ranking for that content high.
- It lets Google know that you’re serious about informing your visitors and educating them on various topics, which helps to build your brand authority.
Updating your old content may seem like a drag, but there a few simple steps you can take to make it relatively quick and painless:
- Add a fresh image, video, or infographic to make your content more attractive.
- Check your content for dead links and replace them with new ones
- Replace any low valuable links and resources with higher valuable ones (this helps to establish credibility)
- If a page is no longer relevant, delete it or place a 301 redirect to new content that replaces it.
- Keep new content simple and easy to read so your visitors can still understand what your content is trying to say.
- Have a look at online communities such as Reddit to see what they are discussing, and try to include it in your content updates.
Markets need to spend more time on the way they show their content and how they can make it more interactive and original.
Adding videos to your content will change the way a user perceives your page and you can embed many types of videos to help users understand the subject you are discussing:
- Press releases
It goes without saying but worth mentioning that if you are an eCommerce site, embedding a video of a customer enjoying your product will perform much better for user engagement and SEO than just a product image would.
Check out Apple’s video on working from home that they released last year as a marketing campaign. It helped them stay relevant in the news and also promoted their products at the same time.
2. Local SEO is important and influences your global SEO
Performing local SEO practices will ensure that your business is easy to find by your customers when performing local searches. For example, you might have a local shopfront and you want to find competitors near you. Some of them will appear on the left side of the screen with top listings, and the organic search results will display a list of other businesses. To make the most of search engines, a tip here would be to add local SEO to your business.
Including local search in your SEO marketing strategy means you also need to have a detailed listing for your business. Opening a Google My Business account will allow you to keep your business listing up to date and give your users a better search experience. Here at some tips to get the most out of your business listing:
Keep your GBM listing up to date. Do not let any relevant information become outdated: services, opening hours, address, website, numbers, etc.
Build local citations. Local citations are any mentions of your business details, such as name, number, and address. These citations help people discover your business online, and they are often placed on websites with a high brand authority which counts as a backlink to your website, furthermore increasing your brand authority.
Gather reviews from your local customers. An important step of maximising your GBM listing is getting valuable reviews from your local customers. Work on the relationship with your customers and answer their reviews, and always prompt them for a review after you’ve finished helping them.
Perform local keyword research. This will allow you to identify the keywords your local customers are using to find services and businesses like yours. Use tools such as Ahrefs, Moz, or Semrush to discover monthly search volumes, competitors, and long-tail keywords that are relevant to your brand.
Tip: It’s much easier to rank high for long-tail keywords (very specific keywords) than it is short-tail due to the competition on short-tail keywords.
3. Why you should focus on user experience and semantic search in 2021
Google said they would now take into consideration a big amount of user experience within its rankings, as announced at Google Webmaster Central in May 2020. This means your ranking within the SERPs will now be influenced by things such as your page speed, pages being easy to find, and page accessibility. If your site does all of these tasks well, then you’ll be blessed with better visibility in organic search results.
So to sum this up; you should focus on:
- Avoiding unnecessary and intrusive content like popups and modals that users find hard to dismiss or annoying.
- Making your site accessible to all common devices like Desktop, Android, and iPhone devices. Making sure to also test your site on tablets.
- Make sure your website is fast and responsive when loading.
Semantic search is important
The main responsibility of a marketer or any kind of manager of an SEO campaign is to know what our ideal customers are looking for. It’s important to go above and beyond and put yourself in your customer's shoes to understand how their journey is constructed.
With every update, Google’s algorithm’s goal is to better understand what their users are looking for when performing searches. We identify semantic search as to how search engines use the data it knows about, and the data it has available to make smart decisions on what results to show the user.
A good strategy to implement good semantic search is to present your content in a way that search engines can understand so they know how relevant your content is to the user. A good way to do this is:
- Answer the questions your customers are asking. Think of a question and answer format, and put this content within yours.
- Natural easy to read sentences are key. Product content that is knowledgeable and straight to the point for all your possible audiences.
- Add a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) section to your landing pages. This is a cheap and easy way to add questions and the right answers to your landing sections which tells search engines that your content is relevant to the user's search topics.
4. Improve your page experience
Last year, Google announced that Core Web Vitals will become ranking signals in May this year, in an update that would also combine existing UX-related signals.
This means website owners will need to keep their Core Web Vitals optimised if they want to stay competitive and keep their current rankings in SERPs. The elements to stay on top of are:
- Largest Contentful Paint: The time it takes for your pages main content to load. An ideal range for this is 0 - 2.5 seconds.
- First Input Delay: The time it takes for your website to become interactive. An ideal measurement for this is less than 100ms.
- Cumulative Layout Shift: The amount of unexpected visual layout shifts on a page. You want this to below 0.1.
5. There is no such thing as too much optimisation for mobile
By now you should know that you should care more about your mobile experience than you do your desktop, not only because a large percentage of your user base will be browsing your website on mobiles; but also because in July 2019, Google enabled primary mobile-first indexing. That meant that Google primarily uses the mobile version of your website for indexing and ranking, but as of September last year, Google now does full mobile-first indexing. This means the mobile version of your website will carry all the weight in your indexing and ranking, and your desktop carries almost no weight. Google does still occasionally crawl with the traditional desktop Googlebot, but most crawling for search is now done with their mobile smartphone user-agent.
So this means desktop-only sites have been completely removed from being indexed by Google.
Here some quick tips for optimising your site for mobile:
- Make sure your images and videos are not too large and obstructive.
- Check the usability of the website on a mobile device
- Check the user experience for a mobile device.
- Make sure to set up your robots.txt so Google can access your site.
- Test your content on your mobile to make sure it’s still readable and looks good
There’s a lot to keep in mind when optimising your website in 2021. The ever-changing trends and advancements in search engines mean that your content requires regular high-quality updates and also optimisations to your current content and pages.
Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve covered:
- Staying on top of local SEO is as important as ever.
- Ensure your website looks great on a mobile device
- Focus on high-quality informative content, not keyword-stuffed content
- Continually improve the page experience for your visitors.