IntroductionMore than 67% of clicks are received on the first five results on search engines. Considering the higher proportion of conversions going to the top results, businesses are dwelling into SEO more than ever before.
Search engine optimization has evolved since 1991 be it focussing on real-time data and insights or doing a local search, using artificial intelligence, etc. There are various developments in the search engine space whose overall goal is to appear in top organic search and increase website traffic.
So, in 2021, what are the SEO trends you must follow? Continue reading below.
SEO trends you can’t ignore in 2021
1. User-centric SEOOne of Google’s core philosophies is to focus on a user-centric approach. The user-centric approach revolves around the concerns of users, what they are looking for, how you are providing solutions to their problems and more.
Google states, ‘Focus on the user and all else will follow’.It is clearly emphasizing creating your SEO strategies around users and their engagement.
The concept of user-centric SEO applies to all the strategies involving human interaction. The below-mentioned SEO trends also form a part of the user-centric approach. For example, SEO trends like content marketing, making your website mobile-friendly, link marketing, etc, all have one thing in common- it focuses on users. How to engage them, retain them, and continue and leverage the interaction for the longer run.
You will understand while reading below how all these trends follow a common user-centric approach.
2. Mobile rich SEOAccording to a study done on mobile usage statistics in 2021, more than 3.8 billion people are expected to use mobile devices on a daily basis. In addition to that, in Q3 of 2020, mobile devices have contributed to 50.81% of the global website traffic.
The rise of mobile usage has been ever increasing. This suggests most people prefer mobile phones while consuming content online. And hence the rise in mobile-optimized websites.
So, how do you check if your website’s SEO is mobile-friendly? Here are some of the most used methods.
- Run Mobile Usability Test for your website
- Run Mobile-Friendly Test from Google
- Test your website’s Responsive design
- Check your website’s loading speed
A) Run Mobile Usability Test for your websiteMobile Usability test from search console is used to know of any existing mobile usability issues for your website. Here is how you can check it.
– Go to Google Search Console and login into your website linked account.
– To your left side, select the option of ‘Mobile Usability as shown below.
- Once you select Mobile Usability, you would see a window to your right the shows any mobile errors related to your site. You can check the errors and the related details in the search console as shown below.
B) Run Mobile-Friendly Test from GoogleThis free tool from Google lets you run tests on your website related to mobile-friendly parameters.
- Go to the Mobile-Friendly tool and enter your domain URL in the search bar.
- The tool will process your website and show you results from something like this:
Fortunately, the results we received through this test are positive. Once you check the loading issues or additional details as highlighted above, you can easily comprehend what needs to be done. The mobile-friendly test report comes with easy solutions to prevailing issues for mobile-friendly sites.
C) Test your website’s Responsive designUsing a free tool, you can check if your website’s device is responsive across different mobile sizes.
- Go to the free Website Responsive Design tool and enter your domain URL.
- You shall be able to see your website design in different mobile formats and sizes. For example, see the image below.
D) Check your website’s loading speedGoogle suggests that a page load time under one second is the ideal time users wait. Anything more than that adds to poor experience or shift in thoughts about visiting the website.
To check your website loading speed on mobile devices,
- Go to Page Speed Insights and enter your domain URL.
- It will show the results something like this:
Notice above how the report tells us that the website ( a test website) does not pass the core web vital assessment. Using this simple and free tool we can easily check for the website’s missing parameters.
The time insights of your website you can find on the report as shown below.
You can also try the Page Speed tool by Experte which provides quick speed test results along with other detailed information.
3. Content marketing The most crucial aspect of Search engine optimization is to optimize the content of a website. In a way, that your mobile content is in a readable format, encourages users to stay on mobile, etc.
As we talked about the increase in mobile content consumption above in the blog, it is imperative to know that your content should be highly optimized for mobile version SEO.
So, how to check and optimize your site content for mobile?
- Make your website content mobile readable.
- Ensure to have in-depth content.
- Use HTML5 for video content
- Optimize your images to mobile formats
For Desktop Version:
Title length: Around 70 Characters
Description length: Around 155 Characters
For Mobile Version:
Title length: Around 78 Characters
Description length: Around 155 Characters
A) Make your website content mobile readable.A mobile website should have clear readability. Your content should not require any extra efforts for users to read. For example, a user should not unnecessarily scroll down the website to understand its content, neither they should be distracted by unorganized content.
For example, see the website below. Its content is difficult to read and is not aligned in order.
On the other hand, another example below shows what readable content should look like; properly spaced, including sufficient margin, symmetrical content, clear CTAs, etc.
Some of the parameters for mobile content readability are as follows.
- Use font pixel of around 14px.
- Use short paragraphs and lines to improve reading easiness.
- Ensure good contrast of your mobile content with the website theme.
B) Ensure that your content have some depth“Making an online presence is relatively easy than making a good online presence.”
Your content assets talk about your brand, tell users that you hold ample knowledge about your industry, helps you become authoritative, and establish credibility.
Some of the important parameters you can consider for quality and depth of content are as follows.
- Include well-researched and informative content. Your content should solve the queries of your audience across different stages of the funnel. Such as the top, middle, and bottom stages of the funnel. Read in detail about the content funnel here.
- Ensure that your blog comprises long-form of content. Anything more than 2000 words is considered long-form content. According to SEMrush, a blog with 7000+ words brings in four times the traffic than the average length of blogs (900-1200 words).
- Focus on EAT aspects of the content that is Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
C) Use HTML5 for video contentIs your website one of those that uses appealing animation? Or include informational videos in blogs? Then this is probably for you.
If your website makes use of video in it, it’s important that the video loads on time and users can quickly play it.
For example, look at the animation used on the home page below. If the animation doesn’t load quickly, it can directly impact your bounce rate and traffic.
In order to include compatible video content, create your videos and animations using HTML5 rather than Flash.
- HTML5 is SEO friendly whereas Flash is not.
- HTML5 is supported by all the native browsers.
- Flash is used mostly for interactive web pages, and hence best suited for web experience, not the mobile version one.
D) Optimize your images to mobile formatsImagine you are reading a blog on your mobile phone. And the images are displayed in a rather not so appealing manner and wrong sizes. This will create a poor site experience as the ratio of content and images size is not correctly put.
Let us understand this further using an example.
Example 1 shows a website with the header image occupying more space than the text format. The readability is poor and ‘above the fold’ content is not so visible.
On the other hand, Example 2 below shows how the header image and content and properly aligned, giving enough brief on the article. This will act as a hook and keep the reader engaged till the bottom of the article.
4. Local Search OptimizationOne of the most important SEO trends in 2021 is the rise in local SEO. Initially, local businesses had to rely on an offline network of customers and traditional marketing. However, it is recent that Google started showing local news and information in its search results.
Local search marketing is to build a presence of your offline store or offline services on search results. From small enterprises to big corporations, optimizing your brand for local search is an indicator of a strong presence in the market and brings in more conversion and sales.
The rise in local search for goods and services has led to an increase in zero-click content. Or most commonly referred to as featured snippets. Zero-click content appears from most of the local SEO results.
How do you make your website appear in local search results?
- Create a Google My Business account.
For the search query, what is featured snippet, the first result in SERP gives you direct answers. Users reading this, wouldn’t necessarily click on other results as the answer is directly displayed.
- Use review marketing in your website content.
- Create consistent NAP credentials that are Name, Address, & Phone number across directories.
- Creating quality link network online.
5. The rise in Predictive Search ModelTo improve its search results, Google in 2017 introduced Google Discover. Google Discover makes use of artificial intelligence to provide relevant search results based on user’s online behavior. Google Discover doesn’t require any search query from the user’s end. And that’s what makes the whole difference.
Imagine the power of optimizing your content for Google Discover. Your blogs would appear in your audience’s feed without even them searching for the same. This results in increased traffic, engagement and conversions.
So, how do you improve content visibility in your user’s feed?
To appear in a predictive search, you don’t need to do anything specific. If your website’s pages are timely indexed, the search engine will study the user behavior like content format mostly consumed, the browser mostly used, which posts users like and which posts they ignore, the location and search history, etc. And the relevant results appear in the feeds of your users.
6. Increase in Semantic SearchWhen SEO was started, the basic SEO parameters that online businesses focused on were using primary keywords in the content. It was believed the more primary keyword you use in your content, the more your website will become visible in search engines for user’s queries.
However, with the advent of SEO, search engines had to become more competitive concerning semantic search.
How search engines use semantic search for better organic results?
The search intentSearch engines try to understand the intent of user queries and provide content that most suits the query.
This allows search engines to display relevant results such as a website page, a podcast page, a product feature page, and so on.
Understanding Semantic termsTo provide contextual results, Google needs to understand much deeper aspects of search keywords. It searches for primary and secondary keywords both to understand the contextual meaning of the content.
As you create your SEO strategy, you can include some best practices to make your content semantic search-friendly.
- Create content that includes a wide variety of topics revolving around the main search query. Make sure not to include only keywords as it can lead to keyword stuffing (one of the reasons for poor search ranking). You can also include the ‘People Also Ask’ question in your content formats.
- Keep your content highly relevant to search intent.
- Include consistent content formats, blog hierarchy, author profile, etc to give the right structure for your content.
- Include keywords such as core keywords, thematic keywords, stem keywords, etc.
For example, if your website is for push notifications, the keywords could be segregated as follows.
- Core keywords
- Theme based keywords
- Stem keywords
Stem keywords include extended keywords from the core keywords. For example, push notifications for mobile, push notifications supported browsers, types of push notifications, etc.
7. The rise in data-driven and analytical approachThe most important and ‘must- not’ forget the aspect of SEO is to use data and analytics in it.
Data science has been adopted by various brands in the past recent years. The ability to collect data, analyze, and implement it in SEO gives powerful benefits to brands.
- Data science has made it easier to understand users, their demographics, and user behavior.
- Data has empowered brands in creating targeted SEO campaigns like backlink marketing campaigns, etc.
- The use of data and analytics has empowered brands in creating predictive prototypes, thus, saving time and resources.
The use of such tools has made it easier to find complex queries.
For example, using SEO tools you can accurately find the difficulty of a specific keyword, or the global search for the same, or the cost per click of the keywords, etc. This will help you to prepare the content plan that is most effective with fewer efforts and brings in the highest conversions.