A new year equals a new way to look at SEO in 2021. SEO practices of 2021 are part of a bigger picture that encompasses technology, website design, marketing, and products. In other words, it’s important to read up on how SEO practices have changed in the past year! Every year search engines update their algorithms. Their goal is to give their users the best experience possible, making sure that they get their answers as quickly and accurately as possible. In order to give this experience, they have to change their algorithms constantly to update, troubleshoot, and implement user experience data. The result is a better experience for the user, but as an SEO Marketer, you have to keep yourself informed again and again. Our job is to do all the research for you, and present the most important changes of SEO in 2021 here!
While we will get into detail below, the new development is the importance of quality over quantity. You used to be able to upload a few blogs with a consistent keyword being used to boost your SEO score, but now the user experience is focused on the specificity of your content. Remember that word: specificity, it’s a domineering aspect of where SEO practices need to head. If you want your business to be noticed by search engines, you’re going to have to fill a niche users are interested in. Details are important!
53% of traffic to websites comes from organic searches, and these organic searches are built on specificity. Websites that have respectable and consistent content have become more important than ever before, because this content is reliable, and search engines want their users to get access to the most reliable content around to get a satisfactory experience. Below we’ll expand on why specificity is so important for SEO in 2021, and what you can do to get ahead as a digital marketer and website designer.
SEO in 2021 requires, more than anything else, mobile friendliness. Google, along with other search engines, prioritize mobile-friendly sites with the help of their algorithms. It’s no shock that the majority of people use their smartphones to look up information, and websites need to adjust for this reality. More people use their mobile phones and tablets to access the internet than ever before.
Focusing on mobile SEO is essential for your site to succeed. If you optimize your website to be mobile-friendly, you’ll likely see a big boost in your SEO rankings, helping to bring more customers to your site. SEO in 2021 is all about versatility, and nothing is more versatile than the smartphone. Besides that, people are more impatient than ever before, and won’t be patient enough to wrangle their way through a website that doesn’t work well on their mobile devices. Having a mobile-friendly website isn’t only about boosting your website’s SEO practices (though that should be a great incentive), but it’s also about getting with the modern times and providing a quality user experience.
Core Web Vitals
Core web vitals are essential for a website’s success as they are about the performance of your site and how your users will interact with it. They’re a metric to rate the quality of performance, using three specific standards:
- Loading experience (LCP)
- Interactivity (FID)
- Visual stability (CLS)
These three standards are great ways to reflect and understand how your users are experiencing your website. The higher quality of each one of these helps to ensure that your users have a better experience while using your website. Page loading speeds are important, especially when considering how quickly people will switch from one site to another when they run out of patience (which is usually very quick). Search engines are trying to make that a thing of the past and SEO in 2021 is aiming to guarantee that the first website you visit is the website you want.
Google Page Experience Update
The Google Page Experience Update is essential in understanding how user experience has changed in the past year. As we’ve talked about before, these Google algorithm updates are an essential part of understanding how SEO in 2021 (and every year, for that matter) has changed. With core web vitals being just one part of how Google will update, it’s imperative to keep tabs on Google’s blog.
Zero-clock searches are an important aspect to consider. In 2020 alone they rose nearly 65%, and this is presumably to do with the impact of mobile searches, and for 2021, this became a prominent part of search engines. Zero-click searches are just that, searches that require zero-clicks as the first result that comes up answers the user’s query without needing to visit any website.
Zero-click searches occur with the help of “snippets”: extremely desirable search results with position zero at the top of the search engine results page. Snippets are search results that are highly boosted by SEO. Being the featured snippet is one of the top goals for anyone trying to rank their website in Google search, as doing so can bring a huge amount of visibility to your site. Getting to the top of zero-click searches requires many steps we mention in this article: high-quality content, pages rich with images, and being incisive. It’s also important to prioritize your FAQ page and target question-like queries. This can help show search engines that your content is beneficial to search engine users. Keyword research featured snippets relating to your content, and see what your potential audience is searching for.
Google’s move to Analytics 4 in 2020 is a move towards data-tracking without the help of cookies. Since its initial launch, Google Analytics has been improving, and with Google Analytics 4 (GA4) there is a more complete cross-channel view of a customer’s time on your website. Along these lines, it also can be used for not only websites but also apps or a combination of the two. You can also combine audience management features, analysis tools, and your web data across apps and your website, giving you a wide range of control. GA4 gives you better insights than before by checking unusual changes in data trends.
Tracking statistics using real-world data can help you follow the flow of your website’s users. Versatility was key for SEO in 2021, and apps are a great way to diversify your content. Algorithms are constantly evolving, and in 2021 GA4 is bigger and better than ever.
Content marketing techniques are increasingly aiming to be buyer-centric as it’s the best way to appeal to search engines and their new algorithms. Being buyer-centric means focusing on specificity. If you sell a product, the best way of doing so is by not simply pandering to your customers, but explaining why your product is just what they need.
The best way to focus on specificity is by learning about search intent and user behavior. As a marketer, your goal is to create that experience with specificity and build your product around why this product is for your target market. Paying attention has become more important when creating competitive content for an online user base.
Voice search (i.e., the use of voice to generate search queries by using tools such as Siri or Alexa) is expected to become even more prevalent. Along with having a mobile-friendly site, making sure your site is optimized for voice search is another way to make sure your website is up to date. Approximately 75% of voice search results rank in the top 3 for that query.
Voice search is an intuitive way to find information hands-free, allowing users to get results faster, which is exactly what search engines want to do. Voice search requires specificity and syntax to work and follows the natural and conversational voice of somebody asking a question. Rather than typing in a question into a search engine, voice search utilizes the natural way somebody would speak, and businesses have to follow suit.
Expertise – Authority – Trust (EAT) is how Google helps find the most reliable sources for its results. As said before, specificity is essential to creating a website that fits a niche, and if you have a website that fits a niche, you will have loyal customers who have been looking for that perfect product/service that you provide them. EAT—in a similar fashion to core web vitals—looks for the websites with the highest quality, but while core web vitals focus on the performance aspect of the site, EAT is focused on content. You need to have well-researched content if you want to prove your legitimacy as a website.
Along with EAT, branding has become an important way to build a positive reputation online and boost SEO rankings in 2021. In a way, they are tied together. A strong brand speaks for itself, and this reputation is a type of free marketing. Friends and family members tell each other about the brand, and because of a recognizable logo or a remarkable product, your brand is remembered, your blogs are reposted/shared, and so on.
SEO in 2021 wants to highlight well-liked brands, while they have always been important, now the legitimacy of a recognizable brand can determine your SEO ranking. A brand’s strong reputation helps your site prove its legitimacy and keep a loyal user base, but now it can work in tandem with algorithms to get your business onto the first page of a search engine.
Videos have only grown in popularity with the rise of more accessible technology and have been a big part of changing how people interact with websites. Video has quickly bypassed other forms of media as it is the #1 form of media used in content strategy, overtaking blogs and infographics.
Just like videos, images aren’t secondary content anymore. They’re an important aspect of your website, and can be used to bring more users to your website. The best way to do this is by having high-quality images with alt tags and descriptions. These details will help to add specificity to your content, showing search engines that not only do you care about having high-quality content but that you want customers who are looking for your product specifically. Original photos—rather than stock images—can help add more content to your site.
Technology and Trends
Observing how users interact with technology is a great way to see how SEO has changed and will continue to change. It’s important to keep track to see how your SEO rankings are doing. Even though this might seem overwhelming at times, there are luckily great resources out there to help you and your company to be prepared, even when it feels as though you are rolling a boulder up a hill. Having a skilled marketing team can help alleviate the stress of running a site while giving you the information you need for success. SEO practices in 2021 are there to make your content stand out, and deliver the perfect product for potential customers.