21 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Trends for 2021

Want to increase your web traffic and inquiries? If your website has been returning lackluster results, it may be time to jump on board with these 2021 search engine optimization trends. In this roundup, you’ll find helpful tips and tricks from entrepreneurs, SEO managers, web developers, and SEO consultants that can help you to reach your business goals. So sit back and relax, and check out these SEO trends.

2021 Search Engine Optimization Trends

Deirdre Hall, SEO Director, Rebel Interactive Group

After Google announced the new Page Experience ranking signal in May (expected to roll out in 2021), paying attention to the user experience of your site, specifically the Core Web Vitals conveniently listed in your Search Console dashboard (largest contentful paint, first input delay, and cumulative layout shift) is crucial. So make sure you’re zeroing in on elements outside of page load times, such as visual layout, functionality, intrusive pop-ups or notifications, when analyzing your website.

Schema markup is vital for any website, no matter what size or what industry. Staying on top of new schema types, especially the ones that produce rich results is crucial. For example “Fact Check” or “ClaimReview” schema markup on images adds a helpful label in search that indicates their accuracy. This plays right into Google’s push for E-A-T content.

Another valuable type of Schema markup is “HowTo.” HowTo structured data explicitly tells Google that your content is a “how-to,” thus increasing your chances of being displayed as a featured snippet in the SERPs. Lastly, voice search is also here to stay, so try using “speakable” data markup when possible. Webpages with speakable structured data can use the Google Assistant to distribute the content through new channels and reach a wider audience. More and more people are utilizing voice search, especially when searching locally, so being ahead of the game in that regard is important.

Shiv Gupta, CEO, Incrementors

Design plays a big part in the users’ experience. The design and layout of the website should be user-friendly because users only connect with the architecture of the website, they don’t really see the beautiful back-end architecture of the site. Use Rich Snippets, for best SEO practice use structured data markup. It displays Eye-catching results, Providing ‘quality’ results and Potential CTR increase.

Quality Back Links, this is one of the top SEO factors in SEO for SERP. Always try to have a link to the quality website, because the quality is more important than quantity. Unique Web Content, content plays the most important role to rank a website, it is also referred to as King among factors involved to rank websites. Make sure content should be unique, specific, and high quality. The content must be relevant to the niche, business, or company that it is being written about. Choose words for headers and subheaders that clearly describe the content they introduce.

Go with Voice Search, voice search, based on current statistics, is likely going to rise. Well, the voice search result is faster than the text result and the Voice search result is improving day by day. Connect with Google Search Console, Google launched a new search console with many new features. New Search Console has covered almost every part so that we can easily find out how our website performing and fix errors on the website and our SEO process.

Itamar Blauer, SEO Consultant

In terms of thinking outside of the box when it comes to SEO strategies, I still believe firmly in utilizing video content to generate more traffic and engagement. The best way I’ve found of doing this is by creating video content that is related to blog posts, which can then be embedded in the blog post itself, but can also be broken down into short, digestible clips that can engage audiences on social media, as well as driving traffic to the actual blog post where the full content can be consumed.

Simonas Steponaitis, Marketing Manager, Hosting Wiki

Focus on crawling budget. Crawl budget means the number of web pages Googlebot crawls and indexes within a particular time frame.. If your number of web pages exceeds your website’s crawl budget, Google crawl might not be able to crawl and index your website’s important pages. If your important pages do not receive organic traffic, you will have no conversion and no business. So a crawling budget is very crucial. The best way to increase the crawling budget is by identifying non-relevant pages from your website, such as tag pages, categories pages, author pages, and block them from robots.txt file.

Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls

Voice user interface allows users to interact with websites through voice commands so it adds usability and functionality to your site making it accessible to all users including those with limitations and disabilities. It is not just about complying with the ADA, responsible web design and corporate social responsibility goals but it is also good for the bottom line by reaching a broader audience. Inclusion is the right thing to do and it is good for business.

One key trend to address and tackle to grow your audience today is that smart speakers and voice search are growing in importance so being able to optimize for voice search will be key to maximize the marketing and advertising opportunities on Siri, Alexa, Google Home, etc. Brands that perfect the “branded skill” with more customer-friendly, less invasive ads are going to win big. Are you prepared when customers ask for help like “Alexa ask Nestle for an oatmeal cookie recipe” or “What is the best Mexican restaurant in Boston?” If not you are missing a big opportunity!

Mobile UX determines your ranking and in a mobile first world, you have less time to grab people, attention spans are shorter than ever so video will be used even more to boost rankings, show don’t tell for maximum impact, rich content drives engagement, traction and growth. The world is moving to mobile first or mobile only, fewer people accessing web on big screens so everyone is tailoring their site, message and content accordingly. More people watch videos than TV now so adding video to your site and using the right keywords for video descriptions and headlines will insure you do better in searches too.

There are always new shiny objects in marketing to distract you, social media and technology are 24/7 but SEO is here to stay whether it is via Google or voice. You get one chance to make a great first impression so if you want to improve the impression you are making and give your business a boost make sure your site is optimized.

Emily Brady, Sr. Director of SEO, Scorpion

Earlier this year, Google announced that it’d be launching the “Google Page Experience” update, which would take the new “Core Web Vitals” metrics into consideration. This update is likely to roll out sometime in 2021, so paying attention to those metrics (and improving them) will be more important than ever in the coming months and year. Even if Google delays the roll out, you can bet competitors are going to be working hard to improve their page speed and user experience on-site, which means you’ll have to do the same to stay ahead of the curve.

I also think content is going to play an important role in SEO in 2021. Not because of any specific changes to Google’s algorithm(s), but because content has always been an important part of search engine rankings and will continue as such. At the end of the day, you can have the fastest, most user-friendly website on earth but if it doesn’t provide value to searchers, it won’t succeed.

Anna Gorecki, Owner, Intigress

Content continues to be the best way to build your organic ranking. High-quality content that efficiently, accurately answers a user’s search query is more likely to rank well than content that is thin, inaccurate, or unhelpful. Start planning your 2021 content now to make sure you have a strategic plan that allows you to create content your audience wants and that expands or improves upon your current SEO rankings. There are several free tools you can use to help with your plan including Google Search Console, Google Ads Keyword Planner & Google Trends. Asking your current customers & prospects what would be most beneficial for them is another great way to find topics that matter most for your audience.

Michelle Alese, Senior SEO Strategist, Kantaloupe

A key on-page SEO strategy in 2021 will be to prioritize using pillar pages and internal linking, in order to provide a seamless reader experience. Ensure that each pillar page and internal link on your website acts as a road map for your readers, leading them to other relevant areas of content that will precisely answer their questions. To maximize the success of this strategy, you must also always prioritize the quality of your content.

Ashish Goswami, SR. SEO Analyst, Bex Code Services

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is an exceptional probability to set a plan on which pages must have AMP counterparts. Allocate time under a strategy that defines where the pages are and what work should get done with AMP. By devoting engineering time for specialized SEO, this will avoid any discussion on prioritizing and fighting resources later in the year, ensuring that the work will succeed. The site will see improvements from SEO work by the end of the year.

Tom Brodbeck, SEO Associate Manager, FoundSM

The biggest SEO strategy you’ll hear about for 2021 will be around Core Web Vitals. Core Web Vitals are a set of page speed and user experience factors that Google has recently announced will become a ranking factor in 2021. There are three specific measurements that will be measured and they are largest contentful paint, first input delay, and cumulative shift layout. Knowing what these are and how to improve them for your clients will be a major part of SEO in 2021.

There are a lot of SEO strategies, but if I had to pick one for 2021 I would pick “relevancy.” If you do SEO for any business or individual, you should look at that business or person’s online relevancy. Relevancy meaning how is that client perceived online in their niche, are they mentioned in a lot of relevant articles, websites in that niche? Google tries to determine that, so help Google see your client in as many online places that are in your niche. E.g. a doctor or medical facility to be present on a local,national doctor association, events etc. Google crawls all that and understands the context. You can do this with any business or individual online.

Nathan Sebastian, Content Marketer, Good Firms 
Smart devices, especially mobile phones, have been integral to our lives these days. With their advent, communication started becoming less vocal and more governed by our fingertips. However, as technology has further progressed, voice is gaining more popularity and higher integration into several solutions, the most prominent being searches. Its popularity owes to the ease it brings and human tendency, voice search is slowly and gradually gaining priority. What makes its prominence more accentuated is Google’s Featured Snippets.

The current search pattern is not diverting much traffic onto the top-ranked websites as one would have expected. Nonetheless, featured snippets have gained more traction in this arena, thanks to the emergence of voice SEO and the spotlight it has hogged. Combined with extensive use of accessories like Bluetooth headphones to facilitate more ease of doing things, netizens have developed a higher inclination to use voice searches whose primary result dictation is sourced from featured snippets. With Google BERT now rolled out, focused on understanding the context of words and their nuances, optimizing featured snippets have become a priority for 2020.

Quincy Smith, Co-Founder, Test Prep Nerds

I first heard about link building via paid ads about a year and half ago at a conference but Ahrefs just did a pretty cool case study on it. The idea is that you create a piece of content likely to get links (they used “SEO Stats”) and then run paid ads to it.  I think this is super clever and can work in almost any industry – I expect to more companies and agencies using it to build more links without having to do the actual outreach.

Laura Lynch, Digital and Inbound Marketing Manager, University of Advancing Technology (UAT)

Technical SEO (on-page) is a skill separate from what we consider ‘traditional’ SEO, but it’s importance can’t be ignored. It’s a line that has been blurring over the last few years, but going forward, and as new SEOs come onto the scene, having both traditional and technical SEO skills will become more important than ever. Not unlike technical SEO, we often don’t think about User Experience (UX) enough. One only need look at what search engines are doing to see that UX and site performance are top of mind. SEOs work to make sites perform better, but the best SEOs know that a site needs to perform best for humans, not search engines.

The goal of off-page SEO is to build Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, better known as E-A-T; this too builds upon the importance of site quality and UX. A site’s relevance to a subject, it’s authority in the field, and the trustworthiness of its information is what attracts links. Having natural links from quality sites is an important organic ranking factor and one of the hardest parts of an SEO’s job. There is no one solution or tactic to getting natural links. Well-written articles, guides, case studies, and data-rich original research are the types of content that rank well and naturally attract visitors and links. Certain industries such as health, finance, and news have to be even more mindful of their E-A-T as they are held to a higher standard of scrutiny, at least by Google.

Michael Alexis, CEO, TeamBuilding 

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of search results on Google and other platforms are for web pages: often blog posts or other resources. However, in the last few years, some searches are starting to rank alternative resources such as PDFs and Google Sheets that have been published to the web. I anticipate this trend to continue, and savvy marketers will be able to create resources that rank for various topics. Some potential starting points are substantive “how to” guides for PDF, where having a downloadable asset is advantageous to the reader, and data spreadsheets that include formulas (like budgeting tools or other calculations).

Jon Hall, CEO, Switchbird

There’s one trend that should inform the SEO strategy of *every* business with a Google My Business listing. I hear lots of SEO professionals advise clients that “GMB is the new homepage.” That’s pragmatic advice in a world where less than half of searches on Google result in a click. Your GMB listing might be the only info about your business that a potential customer ever sees. But it’s absolutely critical for businesses who optimize GMB (adding posts, photos, Q&As, etc.) to also optimize the calls-to-action on their GMB listing to drive customers into effective conversion channels. At the end of the day, search traffic is only valuable to businesses who capture and convert leads. Most GMB listings drive phone calls, but if calls go uncaptured or unreturned, it’s a huge missed opportunity. Google Messaging offers a newer alternative but if you find it’s a black hole for your business, best to turn it off.

Adam Lumb, EN Site Manager, Cashcow Ltd.

I recommend using Google Trends to find seasonal content opportunities. Most other SEO tools miss seasonal keywords. That’s because the monthly search volume is an average amount based on a year or two of data. This means large spikes of searches for certain terms are diluted and evened out.
Instead, Google Trends tells you when a keyword is popular at specific times of the year. You can use this information to effectively plan your content strategy. For example, if you were targeting Black Friday, you could use Trends to find Black Friday search terms related to your niche that people used last year. You could also find out when people started searching for these terms. Often, it would be a few weeks before in October. Therefore, you could create content and publish it a month in advance to boost your traffic potential.

Lysa Miller, Founder, Ladybugz Interactive Agency

One strategy our agency plans to tackle in 2021 (for ourselves and our clients) and that everyone should start thinking about is YouTube, the second largest search engine next to Google. It is still highly underused for both search and for advertising. A YouTube search strategy for 2021 is essential, by having users more engaged in your content, will keep them wanting to learn more.. Let’s not put all of our eggs into one basket here (Google).

Some ideas to bump up your SEO on YouTube, branded how to videos of top searches in your industry, customer project videos, help videos for your current clientele, slide, video and webinar presentations, online events, videos helping your community and ad hoc videos that are fun and engaging.

Not only are you putting your eggs toward a second option for search, you are creating engaging content you can also place on your website and social media channels, that will keep eople coming back for more.

Marc Gadsdon, Director, Logicata

Local SEO refers to the process of ‘optimizing’ your online presence to attract more business from relevant local searches. These searches take place on Google and other search engines, and are likely to be very important in 2021 as people start to rebuild the economy, and as seen somewhat during COVID-19, the attention will be focused specifically on helping local businesses to thrive again. It will be imperative to make sure you are part of that search with many people wanting to provide assistance to those from their local community, by using their products and services as a point of priority.

Matt Bentley, Founder, CEO and Chief Data Scientist, CanIRank

Here are a couple of the key big picture strategies we will be using with our clients next year and beyond.

Structure website information architecture to align with core elements of the business and the most relevant/highest value search terms. Include the target keyword in the mid-level feature page title and URL. Write high quality blog posts that target secondary keywords and support your feature pages with 3-5 internal links per article.

When designing promotional campaign strategies, focus on relationship building and giving before you asking for something. Journalists and influencers get thousands of emails per day and only respond to a select few that meet their standards. Do thorough research and interact with them on social media before emailing them. Find an angle that will genuinely make their lives easier. Offer to rewrite an outdated paragraph. Provide research data on a topic they write about. Aim to get a response and start a conversation. Play the long game. The benefits of forming a long-term professional relationship with the right industry influencers will always outweigh the short-term boost of them sliding in a quick backlink.

Ajay, Linkio.com

Choose the keywords you want to rank for wisely. Don’t always go for the number one most popular keyword for your niche since all of your competitors are probably going to rank for it as well, with only the biggest one actually benefiting from it. Choose a wider array of semantic keywords, and don’t be afraid to use competitor research tools to see which keywords your competitors are using.

Be careful not to over saturate your text with keywords and keep the keyword to text ratio under 2.5%. If you go overboard, not only will you be viewed as spammy, but could also receive a Google penalty. Make sure your page titles and meta descriptions fit in the 920px limit, and also ensure your main keyword is somewhere close to their beginnings. Pictures affect SEO too.

Make sure your site has an .XML sitemap and a robots.txt file. They’re useful for helping Google crawl and index your pages. You can either make those yourself, or take advantage of the countless tools (both free and paid) that are available. Don’t be afraid to use social media to promote your content, since it can be a pretty good source of traffic.

Final Thoughts on SEO Trends for 2021

Review your SEO plan and strategy and identify any gaps.

Once you know what they are, see where you can utilize the above search engine optimization trends.

For instance, make sure your website is optimized for voice search because more and more people are buying Amazon Alexa and other voice command devices.

Your website must load fast and be optimized for mobile.

Ignore these search engine optimization trends, and your website may not rank well, which means your traffic and inquires won’t increase. This can affect conversions and revenue.

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