Google SEO Trends to Prepare for in 2021
The infamous year of 2020 is over. While issues of last year – particularly COVID-19 – are still present, 2021 can be seen as a sign of change. Change is happening everywhere – especially on Google. This means that businesses must be in-step with those changes. Having an inside track on the most effective search engine optimization (SEO) trends is crucial for businesses to stand out and get noticed.
Change leads to change
This past year has redefined the meaning of the word “disruption.” Disruption demands change. And people have changed in how they think, feel, act – and search online. This has led Google to change its mechanics to accommodate people as they conduct searches. Search engine optimization (emphasis on “optimization”) is more relevant than it ever has been. Recently, in Search Engine Journal, Danny Goodwin listed top SEO trends, culled from 42 experts in the field, which businesses should follow in 2021. Some of the strongest changes for future SEO optimization have one common theme: It’s all about who’s searching – the user.
The reason – or intent – behind a user’s online search is first and foremost. In short, the “why?” outweighs the “what?” of a search, and Google is changing its algorithms accordingly. Greater study and examination of search engine results pages (SERPs) is now a top-of-mind priority.
Optimization of the user experience
While businesses should always be alert to how they can improve the online user experience, these efforts must now be intensified. Tying in with the rising emphasis on user intent, businesses should ensure that websites must be:
- Customer-first – Wording of a business’ web pages must be re-examined (and re-edited if necessary). Text should focus on answering the customer’s needs of what he or she is looking for as opposed to leading off with promoting goods or services.
- Optimized – A business’ website should be clean, lean and redirect to all ancillary pages quickly and conveniently, requiring little effort from the user.
- Helpful – Customer and self-support need to be strengthened. This applies to person-to-person support staff as well as “chat” resources and FAQ pages.
- Maximized for mobile – Websites should be “mobile-maximized,” as usage of smartphones and tablets for online search are outpacing desktop where rankings on Google are concerned.
Analyzing customer behavior
Data on behavioral analytics – the study of consumer online behavior – has become one of the most important sources for devising effective strategy, and is taking priority over keyword volume and research. Having an understanding of what online users are doing via behavioral analytics can lead to discovering opportunities of how to reach them that keyword data might not offer.
Acronyms to remember for 2021
How can webmasters and designers see to it that the best user experience is carried out? Aleh Barysevich, writing for Search Engine Watch, detailed the points to be mindful of for improving a website’s online performance to attract users, which in turn results high-ranking results on Google.
As the technology behind the Internet has improved and become more sophisticated, so too has the increased expectation for a continuously efficient, fast, and stable user experience. In connection with the point above about an "optimized website," the ingredients that go into efficiency and stability fall under a set of metrics labeled “Core Web Vitals,” which, as defined by Google, reveal how a web page performs based on real world usage (or field) data. “Core Web Vitals” are made up of:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – The length of time a web page takes to load.
- First Input Delay (FID) – The length of interactive time it takes between clicking on a web page’s feature and the corresponding response.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – The visual stability of the page (e.g., page does not “jump” or blank out and text does not shift as user navigates).
While the “Core Web Vitals” of LCP, FID, and CLS should be top priorities in adjusting and improving online metrics in 2021, they complement – and do not replace – other important elements such as being mobile-friendly and having added strong security. Collectively, each of these elements combines to provide as seamless a web experience as possible.
Other trends to be mindful of in SEO
Businesses will also need to embrace more sophisticated technology to supplement the success of SEO results. Susan Friesen, writing for Business2Community, considers voice search, local search, and video optimization as three leading game changing trends in 2021. In further detail:
- Voice search – As people continue to spend more time at home, their reliance on voice-enabled assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Home to answer their questions has increased. (And these questions might well include asking about a business’ location and hours of operation.) And, in connection with one of the points listed above, what better way to know a user’s intent than by the questions they ask?
- Local search – People tend to stay close to home on the occasions when they do venture out. Shopping locally will remain strong even after the threat of COVID-19 has been contained. With this in mind, local businesses should be proactive by updating their websites, checking to see that they are listed in Google My Business and Google Maps, and possibly getting back linked to sites of neighboring stores and shops.
- Video optimization – It is predicted that more than 80 percent of online traffic will be via video. The popular hub for uploading and viewing videos, YouTube, is now considered as the second largest search engine in the world. Local businesses should therefore incorporate or optimize their video presence. (If a picture is worth a thousand words, an effective attention-getting video is worth thousands of impressions.)
The future is here
A new year is here. Change is taking place. Google is still in the process of implementing these new trends in SEO, and businesses everywhere should be prepared.
The EGC Group diligently keeps track of the online presence and performance of our clients. Whether it is developing expert SEO strategies, creating state-of-the-art websites, or monitoring accuracy of clients’ local listings via Raydeus – among other services – we are prepared to meet the challenges of the changing online trends in 2021.
Contact us – today – to learn more, so that the digital presence of your local business can be ready for tomorrow.