SEO, like any other aspects of digital marketing, is continually changing and evolving. The recent Google core update took place in November, taking about 8 days to complete.
Keeping up with the current trends is vitally important for any business, whether big or small. Some trends will be similar year to year (optimising for mobile, for example), whereas others, such as prioritising long-form content, represent new SEO developments.
Here are 7 of the key trends and what we learned from 2021.
1. Google E.A.T
Google what? I hear you cry! Never fear Google is not about to launch a food delivery service. Google E.A.T is Google’s acronym to help websites assess their content quality and, consequently, rank better on search engines (that’s the theory anyway).
E.A.T stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. The intention is that when these three factors are used in conjunction with each other, the most relevant and informative content will reach the top of the search results, while vague, fluff-filled content will be left languishing at the bottom. This incentivises businesses to ensure that their websites contain quality content that is of value to the customer.
As a result, it will still be on-trend to focus on creating well-written articles in 2021.
2. Optimise for Mobile
As early as March 2016, Google made it clear that making a site mobile- friendly would improve its placing on search results pages;
“Today, we’re announcing that beginning in May, we’ll start rolling out an update to mobile search results that increases the effect of the ranking signal to help our users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly.”
With more people than ever using their phones to search on Google, it would be incredibly short-sighted not to have your website optimised for mobile, especially when you consider that Google typically uses the mobile version of websites for ranking purposes.
Getting your website to rank in Google is more competitive than ever. On-page content, performance, social factors and backlinks are all examples of key factors used by search engines like Google to determine which sites should rank highest.
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3. Voice Search
Voice search is set to become the most popular way for people to search the internet, so optimising your website for voice search should be a top priority if you haven’t done so already. In a survey conducted in 2019, nearly 50% of people use voice search to search the web. 47% of those searches were for businesses, which should indicate precisely how vital voice search will be moving forward.
Ways to optimise for voice search include using natural, conversational language (long-tail keywords rather than a string of shorter ones) and ensuring you are set up for local search results. Customers are three times more likely to use voice search for a local search than any other type.
‘Research carried out over the last year shows that 58% of consumers find local businesses using voice search, and 46% use voice technology to find information on local businesses daily.‘
4. Search Intent
Attracting more users to your site with witty blogs and great adverts is one thing but translating those visits into sales is quite another. People often think of SEO as a way to attract traffic (which it is) or to help them rank higher on the search pages, but working out the user’s intent needs to be something else to factor into your SEO strategy.
Do they want to ask a question, or do they want to buy something straight away? Targeting key terms and including quality long-form, informational content that helps the buyer inform their purchase are vital tactics to employ when factoring in search intent.
5. Quality long-form content
Long-form content (3,000 words or more) is now likely to get three times more traffic and four times more shares than shorter content. Gone are the days when an amusing 500-word blog was sufficient to get you in the search rankings.
People are now looking for quality, engaging, shareable content. So how do you make a long-form piece informative and engaging? Using sub-headings, images, infographics, and videos are all important when maintaining your audience’s interest.
Creating a pillar content strategy should also be a priority. Pillar content is a blog or article that contains in-depth, well researched, quality information on a specific topic. The theory behind this is to achieve the all-important ‘A’ in the Google E.A.T principle – authoritativeness.
AI will inevitably be an element of the digital world that will develop year on year for some time to come. To that end, Google’s AI SEO tool ‘RankBrain’ is a crucial factor to consider when creating content for your website.
RankBrain helps determine the intent behind a search query to provide the most relevant results possible. Therefore, secondary keywords and related topics become as important as primary keywords when creating relevant content that will perform well with RankBrain.
7. Go beyond Google
Yes, it might seem like cheating on your partner, but if you want to move ahead in the online game, then looking further afield than Google when considering your SEO strategy is essential. SEO is not just about getting your business placed favourably on SERP’s and making your content appealing to the google spiders (although these strategies are crucial and shouldn’t be ignored).
SEO is about being present in whatever space people are searching for you, be that Google, YouTube, Amazon or Apple. Covid 19 has changed people’s shopping habits and some of these look set to stay. Consumers are likely to continue shopping for food and clothes online long after the pandemic is over, so you need to be where they are and that isn’t always on Google.
“For brands it is key to tap into this growing audience, understand the ranking criteria and ensure their websites are searchable on a broad range of platforms.”
This is by no means an exhaustive list of SEO trends to look out for. Still, it highlights how fast the world of SEO is developing and consequently how important it is for businesses of all sizes to keep up to date with the current trends and adapt as necessary. SEO is here to stay and can be an extremely valuable tool to utilise if you do it properly.
SEO is something that is crucial to the success of your business. SEO determines how easily people can find you based on your search engine rankings.
To build up your online presence, you should understand the best SEO practices so that you can achieve your goals. Whether you want to improve your sales or raise your brand awareness, using the best SEO practices is the best approach.
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