The Need to Know SEO Trends for 2021

Search Engine Optimisation is a constantly moving target. With Google updating it’s algorithm on a regular basis in the hopes of continuously providing the best, most relevant content for a user's search query, it can be difficult to keep up.

However, time and time again we’re proven why it’s worth all of the effort. Despite many claiming the death of SEO this year, organic search has continued to outperform every single other marketing channel in terms of lead generation (by volume).

With 68% of online experiences beginning with a search online, and this number only set to increase, ensuring your website is optimised for search engines shouldn’t be overlooked.

Our guide will cover the latest emerging trends and developments in SEO, set to disrupt the digital marketing environment in the near future. Here are the SEO trends to watch for 2021.

Core Web Vitals and Page Experience to impact rankings

Last year in May, Google announced its plans to introduce a new ranking signal to its algorithm, built on ‘page experience’ as measured by Core Web Vital metrics. These Core Web Vitals measure specific engagement metrics and aim to understand how a user will perceive the experience of a specific webpage.

The page experience signal will primarily be made up of the Core Web Vitals (Loading, Interactivity, and Visual Stability metrics). However, Google will also utilise a number of established page experience metrics to determine the experience of a webpage, such as mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and Google’s intrusive interstitial guidelines.

If Google decides that a page is providing a high-quality experience to users, based on its page experience signal, then it will likely rank the page higher in search results. Similarly, if Google determines that a page is providing a negative user experience, based on its page experience signal, it will likely not be ranked favourably.

Google intends to differentiate between high quality sites and low quality sites through the use of a ‘visual indicator’ in the SERPs. At present, Google is currently testing different versions of what the 'visual indicator' may end up looking like. This indicator would be another contribution to Google’s ongoing effort to ensure users receive the most helpful and enjoyable experience from the web.

Google’s page experience update is set to come into force in May 2021, which gives SEOs, webmasters, and site-owners some time to ensure their websites meet these new signals. But how can they go about this?

Google has a number of free tools available to SEO’s, webmasters, and site-owners alike, that will allow you to identify and undergo improvements to your website, ready for the Page Experience update.

We recommend conducting a full site audit, using the Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console. This report will provide you with an overview on your website's loading, interactivity, and visual stability performance - the core elements of the Core Web Vitals.

From here, tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse can aid you in fixing any website issues you may have uncovered. Google has a helpful page that groups all of the tools you need to get started, in one place.

Voice Search will gain greater importance

One SEO trend that’s been on our radar for quite some time and is sure to make some noise in 2021 is that of voice search.

According to research conducted by OC&C, more than half of all UK households (55%) are expected to own at least one smart speaker by 2022, thanks to the meteoric rise of Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Smart Assistant.

With the voice search market set to increase from £0.2bn, or 0.1% of total online spend, to £3.5bn over the next 5 years, voice search poses a unique growth opportunity for your website and business.

In order to optimise for voice search, website owners should focus on a number of things. Long-tail keywords are more important when targeting voice searches. For this reason, focus should be on natural, long-tail keywords and building content around natural language to get the most out of voice search. In addition, content should be created around commonly asked questions. By targeting popular questions, you can be sure that your content will meet the needs of voice searchers.

Mobile-friendliness will impact rankings

Website not mobile friendly? You could be missing out on a huge portion of your prospective client base OR making their first interaction with your brand a miserable one.

At present, 52% of all worldwide website traffic comes from mobile devices, with this figure set to rise to 73% by 2025.

As a result of the increase in mobile usage, as far back as 2016, Google has begun prioritising mobile versions of web content under what was called ‘mobile-first’ indexing.

Websites and their content should be created with mobile devices in mind, ensuring that images are optimised correctly and that all content is dynamic, following responsive website design best practises.

To make sure your website is mobile-friendly, you can utilise both Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and “mobile usability” report in Google Search Console to evaluate how user-friendly your website is. Additionally, Google has put together a detailed document on what to check for when optimising for mobile.

EAT will become more prevalent

You may have heard of the acronym “E-A-T” before. You’ve almost definitely heard of “content is king”. These share the same theme - a focus on quality content, aimed at matching a users search query and overarching search intent.

EAT was born out of the August 2018 ‘medic’ core algorithm update, which highlighted the importance of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness in ranking your website - hence, E-A-T! The update primarily impacted websites offering health and medical advice, however also went on to impact what Google calls “YMYL” sites. YMYL stands for “Your money, your life”. In these niche industries, Google viewed it as more important than ever to ensure content being delivered to its users was accurate, true, and backed up by trustworthy sources.

To comply with EAT principles and ensure your content is of high quality, there are a number of criteria to meet.

Expertise - In order to create “expert” content, start with keyword research and search intent. Discover what your audience are searching for and why, tailoring your content to their specific wants and needs.

Authority - Backlinks are perhaps the largest contributor to this metric. Links to your site from other relevant and reputable sources are viewed as ‘votes of confidence’ by Google in your content, and suggests that your content is highly regarded in your industry. Another reliable gauge of authority is that of social shares. If your content is being widely shared and distributed across a number of social channels, this sends a strong signal to Google that your content is authoritative.

Trustworthiness - The most important signal that your website is trustworthy to both search engines and users is HTTPS protection. Almost 85% of users will abandon a purchase if the website isn’t secured by HTTPS, for fear of personal and financial information being leaked. Other signals to consider: having a clear contact page, associating your website with a physical location and having both a terms and conditions page and privacy policy on your website.

For a broader overview of what Google deems to be a high and low quality website, view Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.

Looking to invest into SEO in 2021?

BarkWeb can conduct a full audit of your website and enhance its optimisation, to ensure your website is ready to make you money in 2021. To learn more, call our experts on 01323 735800, or email Alternatively, you can fill in our contact form and our team will get back to you.

Get in touch

Structured Data will become essential

Not a new trend by any means, Structured Data Markup is still very much a new frontier for digital marketing and SEO in particular, as many site-owners have avoided the use of it. Up until now.

Structured data, also known as schema, helps Google understand and contextualise the content on your website. This understanding makes it easier for Google to match your content with the most relevant search queries, often doing so in the form of rich snippets.

Rich snippets, as well as rich results, are variants of your content that have been made more eye-catching by Google, as they perceive your content to be most relevant to a user's query. These rich results benefit from greater real estate in the SERPs, helping your content to stand out, improving click-through-rates.

Schema markup is equally important for local SEO, another SEO trend on our list. SEOs can use “local business” schema to mark their company and it’s address, as well as other key contact details. This local schema provides Google with important information about your business and improves your chances of appearing in local search results.

Discover more about structured data markup and how you can add it to your website yourself.

Local SEO will continue to grow in importance

Local search is becoming increasingly important to businesses looking to grow. Whilst many businesses can’t compete in SERPs at a national level for broad search terms, most businesses can compete and rank locally.

Did you know that, on average, after searching for a nearby product or service online, 76% of consumers visit the business within that day? And that 28% of all local searches result in a purchase? It’s crucial to tap into this market as a local business.

One of the best ways to improve your performance in local results is through the creation of a Google My Business (GMB) listing. GMB is a free product that allows business owners to verify and submit basic details about their business to Google. Owners can also engage with existing and potential customers across Google’s properties, such as Google Maps.

To discover further ways to improve your local search visibility, read our Top 12 Tips for Local Optimisation.

Long-form content will remain relevant

Long-form content has always been one of the best methods to outcompete competitors in search. However, as competition increases and content gets longer, how long does content need to be exactly?

The general consensus over the years has been that content has to be over 1,200 words to stand a chance of ranking. This figure has now risen closer to 2,000. If you’re able to consistently produce content above 2,000 words that appeals to Google’s E-A-T principles we discussed earlier, you’re putting yourself in the best position to rank above the competition.

Going further, according to research carried out by SEMRush as part of their state of content marketing report, long reads of 3,000 plus words receive up to three times the amount of traffic and up to four times the amount of social shares. They also receive a higher number of backlinks as their content tends to be authoritative, comprehensive, and valuable.

Video will become a prioritised content format

Video has been popular for a while now. However, it’s only recently that SEOs have begun to adopt this content format more widely.

Video is the future of content consumption. The average online video consumption per person will continue to rise into 2021 and beyond, with an equal emphasis on both short-form video (Instagram Reels, Stories, and TikTok) and longer form content (Youtube). According to Zenith Media, in 2018, people spent an average of 67 minutes watching online videos each day, and this figure is expected to reach 100 minutes per day by the end of 2021.

By incorporating a greater use of video in your SEO and content strategy going forward, you can expect to decrease bounce rates and increase time-on-page, important ranking signals for the quality of your content.

Producing video content is part of a wider, overarching SEO trend of creating content that matches user intent more closely. In 2021, we can expect Google to further prioritise this in terms of ranking.

SEO for 2021

As this list highlights, SEO is constantly evolving and becoming ever more complex. SEO’s current trends represent a broad selection of directions, from optimising for voice search to creating optimised Youtube videos.

Though it might seem confusing, staying abreast of emerging SEO trends will pay dividends in the long run and allow your business to outperform its competitors in the online environment. 

Looking to invest into SEO in 2021?

BarkWeb can conduct a full audit of your website and enhance its optimisation, to ensure your website is ready to make you money in 2021. To learn more, call our experts on 01323 735800, or email Alternatively, you can fill in our contact form and our team will get back to you.

Get in touch