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10 Essential SEO Trends to Follow in 2021

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Online competition is always growing. With this in mind, it may be time to rethink your current SEO strategy and invest in techniques that are going to better your website more than ever. With SEO trends changing all the time, it’s important to keep up to date.

Every website must meet a specific set of guidelines to be seen by search engines such as Google. Without these, there is no SEO management or strategy and, ultimately, the site will not rank highly in the SERPs. Ensuring that all new updates, trends and ideas are followed will make your site a cut above the rest.

So here are ten essential SEO trends that you should be following in 2021 to up your game and prove to Google that you should be ranking higher.

1. Take advantage of influencers

Audiences are only looking for one thing: authentic, trustworthy information. They are beginning to turn away from marketing efforts such as industry adverts, and as a result, these are proving to no longer work.

One SEO trend that is working in 2021 is influencer marketing. It is proven that an audience base is much more likely to engage and react with the information given if it has been provided by a respected ambassador. 60% will purchase an influencer-marketed product in a store. By using a voice instead of a digital advert or poster, the targeted audience will find it much easier to believe what the business is saying and take action. It’s also worth noting that you don’t need to focus on one type of influencer; it could be a well-known celebrity, an Instagram influencer or a social media blogger.

In 2021, companies should increase their expenditure on online influencers and take advantage of the extensive benefits they can bring to the popularity, brand name and revenue. All you’re doing is making your SEO marketing strategy more personal.

2. The importance of video content

Video content is at the forefront of digital marketing trends in 2021. With so many people spending hours a day watching different forms of video, it is clear that every SEO marketing strategy needs to include them.

A recent study conducted by Zenith media suggests that the average time spent watching online videos will only continue to rise. By the end of 2021, the average 67 minutes is expected to rise to 100 minutes. People are far more inclined to watch a video than read a large piece of text thanks to the simplicity of the task.

Optimising video content for SEO follows a similar process to blog posts, and the benefits are enormous. You’re setting yourself up for higher click-through rates, more time being spent on the website and increased brand awareness. A site is 50 times more likely to rank on the first page, even as a featured snippet if the webpage includes optimised video content.

3. Mobile usability

With the advent of new technology and processes, the time of the desktop is slowly reaching its end, creating room for the mobile device to dominate the space of search.

Because of this, everything needs to be developed with mobile usability in mind. The ability to create a well-trusted and satisfying mobile site has quickly become a qualifying factor in Google’s ranking algorithm, and the search engine will be switching to mobile-first indexing in 2021.

In 2021, businesses need to ensure that their whole choice of SEO strategy is driven by the use of mobile. While there are still a handful of users who will stick to the trusted desktop for all of their search queries, there’s nothing more important than ensuring it is mobile friendly. If not, the business will quickly see drops in traffic, ranking visibility and so conversions and sales.

How can you write about SEO trends in 2021 without mentioning backlinks? We all know that links are important for Google EAT and your own site structure, but 2021 is the time to realise that some links are more important than others.

External links to your site will always be more influential than your internal ones, but there’s more to it than that. Links from unique domains matter more than those from sites that have linked to you before, and topically relevant domains will boost your domain authority. That’s not to say that backlinks from other sites are bad – there’s still value there.

Make sure to keep abreast of the backlink myths that are circling around the industry, too. Getting a backlink from Wikipedia won’t instantly boost your ranking, and Google won’t prioritise your site if it has more backlinks.

5. Topics and semantics are more important

In 2021, Google has decided to stop putting so much pressure on the use of both links and keywords within a piece of content. Instead, it now looks closer at topic modelling and semantics.

Topic modelling gains its importance as it was part of the reason Google was able to figure out a search intent from a few simple words. The algorithm has a quality understanding of semantics, and with this can work to provide users with the most extensive sources of information.

For those in the industry, this algorithm proves that it has never been more important to produce high-quality content with a satisfactory information structure. By doing this, including the use of semantic grouping and a site designed around the aspect of topic modelling, Google’s crawlers are more than likely to favour it over the competition, and therefore rank it much higher.

Over the past few years, featured snippets have become more prominent on SERPs. Competition is fierce for ‘position zero’ and the pressure looks to increase in 2021 as snippets take over more of the SERPs. With higher click-through rates than organic results, it’s hard to imagine a situation where you wouldn’t want to target them.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that getting that rich snippet at the top of a SERP is not the be all and end all, though. While it is the one you should be aiming for with bespoke content and images, having your website feature in the People Also Ask box is another great way to increase brand awareness and traffic.

7. Secure websites

The difference between HTTP and HTTPS is subtle, but it’s there – the latter is more secure. Over the past few years, more websites have been transferring to HTTPS, but in 2021 we’re going to see more make the switch. Why? Because Google favours security and will factor it into rankings.

While HTTPS websites will only gain a small boost from the search engine’s algorithm, there are other SEO benefits that can’t be ignored. Referrer data, for instance, is preserved when traffic passes to an HTTPS site, and it’s hard to ignore the added privacy benefits:

  • Third-party tampering is prevented
  • Visitors can use a more secure site
  • All communication is encrypted, protecting browsing history and payment details

No matter how much you try to deny it, voice search has a strong, healthy future. Millions of dollars are being poured into the technology, and consumers are becoming more comfortable with asking their queries out loud thanks to AI assistants and smart speakers. Google has reported that a staggering 20% of queries on its mobile app and Android devices are voice searches. The time to optimise is now – but how?

Part of the solution is realising that there are more niches to be discovered. Users will often be looking for long-tail keywords, and the way they phrase their questions will be slightly different.

Having said that, it would be unwise to completely turn your SEO strategy around to focus on voice search. Instead, bring it into your current methodology. If you’re completely new to the area, start with some research and then gradually introduce it into your SEO plan so you can figure out what works best for your business.

9. Content length

We all know that high-quality content is the goal: it has to be well written, well edited and of use to the reader. If it’s not, what’s the point? But there’s one aspect of blogging that SEOs will argue about until they’re blue in the face: how long a piece of content should be.

There are compelling arguments for every answer, but when it comes down to it, longer content ranks better. A study by SerpIQ shows that your position on the first SERP has a direct correlation with how long your content is:

Average Content Length of Top 10 Results
Source: serpIQ

It seems like Google favours long-form content, but in reality that’s not what search engines are actually looking at, it’s just a by-product. The word count on a page is so high because that’s what it takes to answer the question with the expertise, authority and trustworthiness that Google looks for. Not only that, but it takes longer to read, which equates to a longer dwell time. Longer content will also lead to more backlinks, more social shares and much more.

10. The BERT algorithm

When BERT was launched in October 2019, Google announced that it would affect 10% of search queries – that’s not a number that can be ignored. According to Google, BERT “is able to help Search better understand the nuance and context of words in Searches and better match those queries with helpful results”. So why is this something that SEOs need to be aware of in 2021?

BERT is all about understanding what a user is actually looking for, then finding the pages that are relevant. It focuses on topics and concepts rather than individual words, so the best way to optimise your content is to write naturally, rather than stuffing your copy with keywords. BERT’s relevance and importance will only grow as time goes on, so it’s not an update that can be brushed aside.

Unlike 2019, SEO trends in 2021 show that the industry needs to try hard to move away from what was important in the past. The ideology that the use of traditional search and links should be imperative within an organic campaign are no longer crucial factors.

SEOs should take the time to make space for new processes that will work much better for ranking opportunities.

From video content and influencer marketing to understanding the topic modelling algorithm and making mobile usability a priority, 2021 is certainly going to show a whole new side to SEO. It’s going to increase the level of competition, but the rewards will be all the more beneficial.

Are there any other SEO trends you’ll be looking out for in 2021? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @TeamTillison.

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