Will SEO still be relevant in 2021? Of course, SEO will still be relevant in 2021, because why wouldn’t it? It’s the present and the future of digital marketing. Just like any other marketing strategy, it evolves with time. When used right, it can get you leads and sales. It can mean the difference between the success and the downfall of a business. It can even change the way a business does… well, it’s business.

Come 2021, there will be some crucial SEO trends that we, as digital marketers and strategists, need to be aware of. These trends will help up our game and, hopefully, allow us to be more efficient and effective with our strategies.

Voice Search in Search Queries

Gone were the days when people would use voice search only for amusement. Now, people use voice search because it’s actually useful. The technology has improved so much that some experts estimate that more than 50% of American households will be using smart speakers by the year 2022.

We tend to abbreviate or shorten our queries to contain only the most important words when we use search engines. We tend to get rid of articles and 2-letter words, and whatever’s left sounds pretty much like a telegram. When we use voice search though, we tend to be more natural with our queries. We ask questions just like we would a normal person. SEO writers should consider using more natural-sounding keywords and key-phrases for voice search.

Web Responsiveness and Mobile Websites

All new websites submitted to Google starting July 2019 will be indexed and ranked depending on their mobile websites. This means that Google looks at a site’s mobile version first before it looks at the desktop version. And it makes a lot of sense too actually, since more people have access to mobile phones than they have access to desktops.

Google does have a few tips for site owners:

  • Both desktop and mobile sites must use the same meta-tags.
  • Site content must load before any user interaction.
  • Allow Google to crawl all desktop and mobile URLs.
  • Site content should be more or less the same for desktop and mobile versions (as most indexing will come from the mobile site).

Long-Form Content 

The average article has around 1,000 words, but longer articles with around 3,000 words are said to get more backlinks and they are considered more shareable. Of course, it’s best to help your visitors when it comes to sharing your page. Share buttons after the title and after the article is best.

You may be thinking, however, that you can’t simply bother your readers with long content because who even reads them? Long-form content establishes your knowledge about a certain topic, especially when you talk in-depth. You can just break your content using headings and subheadings, as this makes it easier for your readers to find the exact information they’re looking for. You can keep them engaged while providing them every answer to every question they could ask about the topic.

Niche Experts and Authorities

It’s not always about keywords. Though this isn’t an entirely new concept, it’s important that we refocus on search intent rather than just the keywords themselves. Every year, search engine ranking algorithms get better and better at providing search engine users with the information they need. While keywords will always be a part of SEO, experts need to get better at creating content that establishes their expertise and authority, rather than just follow SEO best practices.

Customer Behavior Analytics

Yes, it’s good to always have new leads, but keeping your existing customers excited, interested, and informed about your new or existing products or services is an important part of any business. SEO has always been used to drive traffic into sites, but the following years may just be about customer retention.

Many SEO strategists already use website tools with user analytics – we see what our customers are doing and we see how they get the information they need. Behavior analytics could tell us how we can provide that information faster, so our customers won’t even think about looking at a competitor.

Featured Snippets

Sometimes, at the top of search results, Google displays a featured snippet. The snippet immediately answers a user’s query, usually without the need to click on the result itself. When a user does click on the snippet though, they are taken directly to the part of the web page that provides the information that they need. It’s a great traffic driver, and it doesn’t even require you to be on the top of the rankings too.

While there isn’t a set rule on how Google’s system determines whether or not a web page has what it takes to be on the featured snippets, your focus should be about answering users’ questions and providing quality information.

Video Content

Getting a free YouTube channel isn’t really such a bad idea. Just make sure you optimize your channel name and video descriptions. You can always make use of keywords, but don’t overstuff the descriptions. You can also make use of YouTube’s autocomplete feature to help you out with what users are searching for. Marketing using video content is becoming more popular by the minute, and videos are set to be the most widely consumed form of content over the coming years.

LSI Keywords

Focusing on primary keywords when creating content is pretty much how everybody has done it over the years. However, secondary keywords are important too. As far as Google is concerned, the appearance of secondary keywords on a web page means that better quality of information is being provided. And, the more semantically related keywords, the better.

Local Search vs. Global Search

We usually think of the internet as a provider of global information, but the majority of people actually use search engines to look for local goods and services. They might be looking for directions to a local restaurant, its opening and closing hours, its menu, its contact information, its health and safety protocols, and whatnots.

These types of information added onto a featured snippet can easily make up a zero-click search – one that does not result to a user clicking a link, but one that does provide needed information nonetheless. This happens more often in local search results, and while they don’t result to traffic, they still drive interest and revenue to local businesses.

Data Science and Analytics

Data scientists make sense of the big data, and SEO strategists should as well. Interpreting big data allows us to understand our customers, what interests them, and what convinces them to spend. We can use analytics to help us better understand customer behavior and website performance. Many SEO tools already have these analytics features, and SEO experts should definitely start making good use of these features for every site that they manage.

Final Thoughts

There’s going to be a 2022 list of SEO trends, and it could be way different from this one. The point is: SEO, Google ranking and search engine algorithms, and customer behavior are all constantly evolving, and our SEO techniques and strategies should evolve with them as well. Every minor and major update should send us running back to double-check if our best practices are still really our “best” practices.

by Dario Sipos

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