Looking at next year’s top SEO trends, we find that the quality of content, local SEO practices, User Experience (UX), and semantic search are vital when developing your overall SEO strategy.
We also remark on the importance of getting ready for Google’s new page experience update and the role of optimising your mobile web version. Here are the SEO trends that you should look out for in 2021.
1. Why high-quality content is (still) king
In 2021, Google will continue to favour high-quality content for ranking purposes. Due to this, we will find Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) as key factors for optimising your website’s ranking within the SERPs. E-A-T is used for those business sectors that are under the “your money, your life” category (YMYL). For example, those niches would be health care and finance, as they have the power to provide accurate and reliable information to the public.
Moreover, we find the last Google Core Update released in May 2020 as another evidence of this. Some SEO experts believe that Google’s last update was a signal that E-A-T was one of the main factors of this update.
In terms of content quality creation, there are few guidelines that you can follow to ensure that your content is rich:
- Create buyer personas that will help you comprehend what type of content your clients want to see.
- Perform adequate search intent research. It will enable you to find the path that your consumers will follow.
- Use all this data that you have encountered to create the right content, using the perfect format.
- Only high-quality links will allow your E-A-T to flourish. Domains such as “.edu” and “.gov” are amongst those that you should include within your backlinks.
Optimising old content and maintaining it:
While E-A-T and high standard links will play a relevant role next year, updating existing content is also becoming a very relevant topic within the SEO world.
Updating old content as a goal for those pages that are not ranking so well will allow Google to figure out what your site offers while helping you to identify your audience.
Some tips to take into account when updating evergreen content are:
- Add a fresh video, image, or infographic to make your content more attractive.
- Check if your old content contains any broken or dead links, and replace them with new ones.
- If a page is not relevant for your readers anymore, delete it or place a 301 redirect. The same applies here if your article is duplicated.
- Your content would not be better if you add complex information that not many people will understand. Make it accessible for each of your readers!
- Have a look at online communities such as Quora or Answer the public to see what they are discussing, and try to include it in your update.
Marketers need to spend more time on the way they present their content. How can they make it more interactive and original would be the top question they should ask themselves. Those videos that you add to your content, for example, will change the way a user perceives your page, as you can embed many types of videos:
- Top tips
- Customers’ testimonials
- Press releases
It will make a greater impact for an ecommerce site to present its products through the latest influencers on social media, than just uploading a photo of a single product. Check out Apple’s video on working from home aimed to promote their new products.
2. The importance of local SEO within the COVID-19 era
Why is local SEO important for your business?
Performing local SEO practices will ensure that your business is easy to find by users, especially when performing local searches. For example, you might have a local shop and you want to find competitors around you. Some of them will appear in a box with top listings, and the organic search results will display a list with other businesses. To make the most of search engines, a golden tip here will be to add the ‘local pack’ to your business.
This is how the ‘local pack’ would appear on a desktop version:
With local search being part of your digital marketing strategy, you will want to make sure that you are offering a detailed listing for your business. Thus, opening a Google My Business account will allow your users to have a better search experience. Some tips to make the most of your local listing:
Make the most of your GMB listing. Do not let any relevant information from your company behind: services, opening hours, address, company website, phone numbers, etc.
Start building local citations. Local citations are any mention of your business’s details, such as name, phone number, and address. Those will help people discover your business online, and they are useful to rank higher for local search queries.
Make sure that you build local citations on places such as:
- Bing Places
Promote reviews from your local customers. This is an excellent way to promote your site and make it locally popular. Work on the relationship with your customers and answer their reviews. Add the link to your site and remind them to express their feelings.
Perform local keyword research. By doing this you will find keywords and queries that customers are utilising to find services and businesses locally. Use tools such as ahrefs to discover monthly search volumes, competitors, and those long-tail keywords that are relevant for your brand.
Optimise for voice search. To do this, review your keywords and identify longer phrases that people normally use in a day-to-day conversation. Voice searches function better with those phrases that we naturally utilise.
3. Why you should focus on UX and semantic search in 2021
The importance of User Experience (UX)
As unveiled in May 2020 by Google Webmaster Central, Google will now take into consideration a big amount of UX signals within its rankings. Those will include faster page loading, pages being easy to find, and mobile accessibility. If your site accomplishes all these requirements, you will be granted better search visibility.
To sum up, you should focus on the following:
- Avoid including pop-ups and other intrusive content. Users do find this kind of content quite unnecessary and intrusive most of the time.
- Your site must be accessible through desktop, Android, and iPhone devices. This involves smartphones and tablets, pc desktops, and laptops.
- Make sure that your website is not too slow when loading.
Semantic search and search intent will be key
Our main function as marketers is to understand what the public is looking for. We need to go to the extra mile and create an impact on the customer’s journey.
With every new update, Google’s algorithm tries to better understand what users are looking for when performing searches within the SERPs. Thus, we identify semantic search as to how search engines use all the data that it has available, to offer users the most relevant and accurate information.
Following this, if you want to be able to offer to your customers exactly what they are looking for, you should keep an eye on how you present your content to the search engines, and:
- Try to answer those questions that your target audience is searching for. Think of a question and its answer format, and locate this content at the very top of your piece.
- Rely on natural, easy to read sentences. Produce content that goes straight to the point and that is understandable for all audiences.
- Add a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section to your landing pages. They will enable you to respond to specific queries that your customers have regarding your business. They are also another way to connect with your public while increasing your levels of traffic.
4. Improve your page experience performance
Google has announced Core Web Vitals will become ranking signals in May 2021 in an update that will also combine existing UX-related signals.
This means webmasters will need to optimise their core web vitals before May if they want to keep competitive in the SERP. The elements to optimise are the following:
- Largest Contentful Paint: The time it takes for a page’s main content to load. An ideal LCP measurement is 2.5 seconds or faster.
- First Input Delay: The time it takes for a page to become interactive. An ideal measurement is less than 100 ms.
- Cumulative Layout Shift: The amount of unexpected layout shift of visual page content. An ideal measurement is less than 0.1.
How to improve such metrics? Read this comprehensive guide from SEJ with 7 tips on how to improve core web vitals. We also found this list on 21 free tools to assess your Core Web Vitals and Page Experience from YoursTruly very useful. At MintTwist we personally prefer the page speed insights API via Screaming Frog to identify all the issues each page is facing and to address them directly.
5. Over-optimise your website for mobile
By now, you shouldn’t be looking at your website only on desktop since mobile-first Indexing was enabled in July 2019. Mobile-first indexing means Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. During the Pubcon event in Las Vegas, Google’s keynote speaker, John Muller, announced that March 2021 will be the month when the full mobile index is scheduled to kick off. This means desktop-only sites will be completely dropped from the index from March 2021.
Wow!!! @JohnMu just verified that if you have anything on Desktop not on mobile (content, comments, reviews, etc…) it will not be indexable starting March 2021. If it is not on your mobile page it will not count for indexing. #seo #pubcon2020Adam Riemer (@rollerblader) October 14, 2020
How to optimise your website for mobile?
- Make sure Google can access and render your content.
- Double-check your content is the same on desktop and mobile.
- Check your structured data: make sure it’s the same in both versions of the site.
- Put the same metadata on both versions of your site.
- Check the placements of your ads.
- Make sure your images and videos follow best practices.
If your site has separate URL version for mobile and desktop, check the following:
- Make sure there are no 404 errors in your mobile version.
- Check your mobile URL doesn’t contain fragmented URLs (those containing the # sign at the end).
- Ensure that the desktop versions that serve different contents have equivalent mobile versions.
- Verify both versions of your site in Search Console.
- Check hreflang links on separate URLs.
A really good guide for you to prepare for Google’s mobile -only index is this one from Patrick Hathaway.
There’s a lot to keep in mind when looking for the best way to optimise your website in 2021. The ever-changing trends require not only regular updates with high quality content but also optimising existing content and pages. Staying on top of the local SEO practices is as important as ever. With Google’s announcement to move to mobile-first indexing from March 2021, it is crucial for all businesses to optimise and render their content accordingly to achieve best results.