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8 SEO Trends to Know for 2021

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the journey one takes in looking for ways to boost not only their website’s traffic, but also the quality of their overall brand through search engine visibility. 

SEO is an avenue for content creators and marketers to bring consumers to their websites-- if done correctly. 

With SEO being an ever changing, dynamic environment, keeping up with the current trends within the SEO/space can be challenging, yet rewarding, if you apply these trends to your SEO strategy. While creating and updating your SEO can be taxing at times, it is worth the research and time you put into it because some 70% to 80% users focus exclusively on organic results and ignore paid listings. What’s more, some 28% of those searches convert, resulting in purchase. 

Top-notch SEO encompasses various avenues such as artificial intelligence, content, and featured snippets th

1. Artificial Intelligence will play a bigger part in SEO

Artificial intelligence is pioneering how people surf the web, as well as how they interact with online content. A while back, Google revealed that their algorithm, RankBrain, plays a pivotal part in Google’s ranking factors for search engine results pages (SERPs). The RankBrain algorithm simply helps search engines better understand the queries users are typing into the search field, so the search engine/algorithm better predicts the searchers’ intent. 

According to Greg Corrado, a Google senior scientist who had a hand in developing RankBrain, artificial intelligence is one of the top ranking factors that improves the quality of search results a user’s query gets. While we are aware that AI and machine learning  will play a bigger part in the future of SEO, staying on top of new technologies like AI-powered chatbots will help you stay on top of your SEO game. 

Ultimately, SEO experts believe user experience signals, from Click-through rate to how long a user spends on a page, will align with artificial intelligence to signal how your SEO strategy is performing with your audience. 

2. Voice Search will influence Search Queries more 

In the upcoming year, voice search will have more of an influence on search queries. Recently, a report from Juniper research revealed that smart devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home will be installed in many as “55 percent of US households by 2022.” 

To optimize for voice search, you should consider the keywords, content, and structured data you are using in your SEO strategy. When optimizing for voice search, find phrases people use in everyday conversation  because voice searches usually perform better when you craft them to have more natural-sound phrasing. 

Another thing to remember when curating your keyword phrases is that people tend to search both in longer-tail searches and more conversational searches. Take some time doing keyword research so your keywords and phrases sound natural and conversational when someone does a voice search relating to your brand and products. 


In crafting your voice search(es), you will need to ensure your content provides your audience with accurate and relevant information to their queries. Make sure you differentiate between simple questions, as well as those may require more comprehensive answers to their queries. Queries that can be answered in very concise responses will typically not generate traffic to a site because a search engine like Google usually provides the required information through rich snippets. 

When looking at your content, find out how users may conduct voice searches beyond just what they would simply type into an online search.  

Searches made by voice are quite different from typing, since voice search modifies itself to fit how, when, and what a person is searching for

For instance, if your consumers are more local, they will be three times more likely to search by voice. Research over this past year has shown that 58% of consumers find local business using voice search, while 46 percent use voice technology to find information on local businesses daily. You should consider these statistics when you craft your SEO strategy and optimize for “near me” queries. 

Lastly, don’t forget about your site’s structured data and schema markup, since that provides the information needed for people to know about your brand, drive traffic to your site, help your site pages appear in rich snippets, and boost your odds of appearing high up in the voice search results. 


3. Mobile Friendliness will Impact Your Rankings 

Last year around this time, Google rolled out mobile-first indexing, which simply means that Google looks at the mobile version of your site first before looking at the desktop version. 

You can check how mobile friendly your site is with Google’s free mobile-friendly test. Something to consider, though, is a site’s mobile-friendliness is one of the ranking signals Google takes into account when it comes to search results. 

Some other core web vitals Google considers are how long it takes a site page to load and become interactive, as well as visual stability of the site page itself, too. These all are search signals for page experience.  

Next, ensure your site has a mobile responsive design, since that is a vital part of a successful SEO strategy. Half the world’s population is browning the Internet via their mobile devices, so it is important to make sure that your site is not only mobile-friendly, but also user friendly. You will also want to make sure Google can crawl your site and load your content properly.

Make sure your meta tags are compatible on both desktop and mobile versions of your site. When you break it down, your site should be mobile friendly for users and site rankings alike. 


4. Content that fits Google E-A-T will Rank Better 

Google has pointed out that quality content is crucial for your site to rank well. But what does quality content mean in the eyes of Google? 

Well according to Google, quality content fits their  E-A-T principle, which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Meaning your content should not only match your searcher’s intent, but you also need a content strategy that aims to create the best value for users. Not only should you focus on content, you should leverage different types of media, such as video and audio to keep engagement among your audience high. 


Your Money or Your Life (YMYL)  content is the type of information that could directly impact your audience’s happiness, health, and financial stability. When creating this type of content, the stakes are high not only for the users, but you, too. So Google takes this content very seriously. 

It is important that you have experts with relevant expertise on a subject or field to write YMYL content. In order to create high-quality content that is expert, user-focused content and that Google will rank well, you need to integrate these three components into your content: a beneficial purpose, E-A-T and YMYL. 

Each page on your site must have a purpose and provide information that benefits the user. Furthermore, every page needs to have the right expertise behind it, and some site pages may need higher levels of E-A-T than other pages, simply due to their subject matter. 

Then for the low stakes, or non-YMYL pages, you will want the content to display evidence of expertise to the user. On the flip side, your YMYL pages need the highest E-A-T possible, since these can have a direct impact on a reder’s life, livelihood, and happiness. 

But how does one create expert content? You will need to find out what your audience is searching for, then meet and exceed their needs, which starts with doing keyword research. 

You also need to know how to communicate this information in a way that engages your audience. It not only comes down to having the information, but also being aware of what your audience wants and how to best deliver the information to them. 

Try to understand the search intent behind the terms you discover during your keyword research. Ultimately, you should remember that Google’s E-A-T standards are constantly changing since Google also needs to keep up to stay relevant, too. 


5. The SEO Importance of Featured Snippets

You don’t just have to curate long form content to climb and reach the peak of Google rankings, but you should always focus on quality. Sometimes, however, you can use featured snippets as sort of a shortcut in picking up prominence in Google. 

Featured snippets  are typically what you see when you type something into Google when you notice a box at the top of SERPs above the organic results. 

We should note, there’s no guarantee any part of your site will show up as a featured snippet in Google’s search results. But, if you optimize for a featured snippet and Google’s search algorithms smile upon you, you may be handsomely rewarded. No one can promise the work you put into creating an intended featured snippet will absolutely pay off, but it’s worth the effort anyway. 

To create a featured snippet, focus on question-based queries and relevant keywords. In creating a snippet, you can use the Google search function, “people ask for,” as a starting point of inspiration. 

In optimizing for a featured snippet, you may notice there is a variety of snippet types. It is crucial for you to be aware of these different types of snippets so you can understand how to structure your content to optimize for them. The most common types of snippets are: 

  • Paragraph is the most common type of snippet, and usually is two to three sentences pulled form a <p> HTML element
  • List is a bulleted/numbered list typically pulled from either an <ol>/<ul> HTML element
  • Table is the least common type of snippet, and this is usually pulled from a <table> HTML element. 

Now, let’s get more into how you can optimize for a featured snippet through following these 9 rules

  • Rule #1: Add “What Is” heading to send clear signals to Google that text could be used for a featured snippet.
  • Rule #2: Use the “is” sentence structure right after your keyword, since this acts as a “triggering phrase” and allows Google to seamlessly find text that’s relevant to the featured snippet. 
  • Rule #3: Fully define the topic in 2-3 sentences. You can do this consciley by having the first sentence define the topic, then having the second and third sentences describe 2-3 must-know facts about the topic. 
  • Rule #4: Match the featured snippet format. This rule is simple, whatever featured snippet type you see on the SERP, match that type in your site’s content. 
  • Rule #5: Stray away from ever using your brand name in featured snippet text by replacing your brand name with general language since this will give your content a better chance of receiving a featured snippet. 
  • Rule #6: Don’t use first person language since it can leave the user wondering who we is 
  • Rule #7: Scale featured snippets when possible. Meaning you should take some time to look at how Google is pulling snippets from you and your competitors. So if you are seeing common HTML elements, you may want to consider adjusting your global templates to give your content the best chance of triggering the featured snippet. 
  • Rule #8: Prioritize your opportunities when you rank in the Top 5 since the higher your site ranks in results, the better chance you have of generating a featured snippet. When prioritizing, look for keywords that already rank within the top 5 results. 
  • Rule #9: Iterate your optimizations, because it can take multiple iterations to get your featured snippet ranking. If you aren’t getting results, very minor adjustments tend to work well, or looking for opportunities to better define the topic through more concise phrasing, or test highlighting different facts. You will want to start with minor adjustments and work your way to more major ones if you are still not seeing the results you want. 

When you try to generate featured snippets, these tactics can help your site not only provide the user with the information they need regarding their query, but can also help put your site at the forefront of the SEO stage.


6. Image Optimization will play a more prominent part in Search

Over the years, visual image search has evolved immensely and, going into 2021, it will be no different. Something to keep in mind as we head into a new year is that people, now more than ever, are looking at images to decide whether or not they want to purchase a product, obtain information, and so much more

Over time, Google has stood firm on the correct marking and optimization of images. Optimizing your images creates many advantages, such as better user experience, faster page loading times, and more ranking opportunities

The single most important piece to keep in mind when it comes to image optimization is ensuring that the image and its alt text are relevant to the page. For instance, make sure you choose the right file format, reduce file size for fast page load time, and ensure your On-Page SEO elements (metadata, structured data, etc.) pair well with the image. 

Next, for crawability purposes, create an image sitemap or ensure your images are featured in the sitemap. Image SEO is not one single thing, but the sum of a number of elements. And Google is getting better at recognizing elements in everyday images, so it makes sense to ensure each image and all of its elements are ultimately contributing to a good user experience and SEO. 

Keep these things in mind when adding an image to your site

  • Use a relevant image that matches your text 
  • Pick a good file name for your image 
  • Reduce file size for faster loading 
  • Add structured data to your images 
  • Use images in your XML sitemaps 

Besides images contributing to your SEO strategy and your site’s user experience, images can also play a crucial role in conversion, so do not underestimate the importance of optimizing the images on your site. 


7. Local Search will have a Larger Role in Your SEO Strategy

Local search plays a pivotal part in your SEO strategy, especially with the rise of zero-click searches. Zero-click search is when the user’s query is answered via the SERP itself. The majority of zero-click searches are local searches that result in the SERP in what is your “local pack,” which displays local businesses within your industry. 

But how do you get your business or site in that local park? Start by creating a Google My Business page if you haven’t already. Also, you can get regular reviews from satisfied customers, curate content based on what is going on locally in your area, mobile optimize your site, and hone in on local keywords

Furthermore, local search includes everything from claiming a business listing, ensuring a franchise location appears in a local search on Google, and managing online ratings and local-centric social media engagement. 

When it all comes down to it, local search is all about boosting your business’s search visibility among communities in the area you serve, so it is important to include local search in your SEO strategy. 


8. Using Your Data to Stay Ahead 

In the year ahead, making proper use of your data can help you better understand your audience and create targeted messaging. By using your analytics, you can pinpoint which of your URLs and pages are getting crawled, referred, indexed, and how long a user is spending on your site through bounce rates. 

You can also further use data to see which of your site’s pages are experiencing unusual traffic sources, which can unfortunately hurt your EAT credibility. While you can never expect what someone might type into Google to find you, you can  look at the data, create scenarios, and imitate what you feel will work best. 

You can further look into certain metrics that may set you apart from competitors, align those with certain goal sets, or look further into what may be happening in your respective industry. Then, once you collect the data from those metrics, you can test things that may seem counterintuitive and work much more objectively. This smarter data usage can help you make sudden shifts in response to obstacles and keep you up to date as your business and site continue to grow and change. 

Most importantly, don’t forget to put your customers first. Focus on listening to them through surveys, demographic information, and online reviews so you can better serve your buyers in certain ways and predict what they may want. Ultimately, this will make it more seamless for you to hone in on your marketing messages, and use your data effectively across different groups. 


SEO Strategies to take into the New Year  

SEO is getting more intricate every year, as we have seen through our analysis all of these SEO strategies. The times of simply optimizing for keywords and search engine rankings have come to an end-- those things are now just a piece of the SEO puzzle. 

When you apply these SEO strategies and trends into your 2021 SEO playbook, you will be better able to pivot and meet your SEO goals, which are necessary for the overall success of your company. 

With the specifics of the SEO space constantly changing and evolving, you can always find ways, whether old or new, to stay on top of search rankings. Now that you have these SEO strategies in your back pocket, you can approach 2021 with the tools you need to adjust and build your SEO strategy in the new year. 

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