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Key 2021 Google SEO Trends That Will Shape Strategies

Competition is rampant in the field of SEO. Everyone is vying for those top few listings on Google search results pages under those keywords that they know bring them targeted traffic. Anyone who is ranking highly wants to stay there, and up-and-coming companies are always refining their techniques to get those top spots. Unlike many things, it’s a zero-sum game. If someone gains a top spot, that means whoever had it gets knocked down.

For this reason, staying ahead of the curve is critical in the field of SEO. You also need a firm grasp of the current state of SEO, so you’ll know what to do to build upon this current understanding. For these reasons, we’ll go over some statistics about SEO that are important for you to know. Then, we’ll take a look at some upcoming trends in the field.

10 Must-Know SEO Statistics

  1. Google Is Where It’s At – Approximately 75 percent of all desktop searches and about 96 percent of all mobile searches occur on Google. With the second most popular search engine (Bing) only accounting for about 10 percent of searches, it’s no wonder that most online marketers focus their efforts on ranking highly on Google.
  2. Most Users Ignore Sponsored Search Results – If you are betting everything on pay-per-click ad campaigns to grow your business, you’ll be sad to hear that about 70 to 80 percent of users ignore sponsored ads. This stat shows the importance of centering your online outreach efforts around SEO.
  3. Approximately 93 Percent of Online Experiences Start With a Search – In case you had any doubts about the importance of ranking highly on search engines, this stat should completely dispel it.
  4. Google Updates Its Search Algorithm 500 to 600 Times a Year – This averages out to a couple of changes a day. Obviously, most of these are tiny updates that don’t change much, but they can have a cumulative effect on your search rankings. This stat tells you that remaining at or near the top of search results pages is a full-time job.
  5. As of 2018, Mobile Traffic Accounted for 52.2 Percent of Worldwide Total – Optimizing your website and your SEO efforts for mobile devices has not been optional for those serious about success for some time now.
  6. Google’s Ranking Algorithm Looks at Over 200 Factors – If you’re only optimizing for a few dozen search factors, you’re only hitting the tip of the iceberg in terms of results you could be getting.
  7. Video Helps You Stand Out – Back in 2017, Forbes reported that video content is 1,200 percent more likely to be shared than text and links combined. It’s hard to believe this number would be any lower today.
  8. PPC Advertising Is No Substitute for SEO – Beyond the stat above about 70 to 80 percent of users ignoring sponsored search results, cost is another consideration. A PPC agency called PowerTraffic has reported that, on average, a business will spend $1.60 on Adwords for every $3.00 in revenue.
  9. The Power of YouTube and Video Content – According to YouTube, twice as many businesses are advertising on their platform since 2016. Once seen as a cute place to watch cat videos, YouTube has been the second largest search engine on the planet for some time now.
  10. 60 Percent of Clicks Go to Top Three Results – This stat highlights the importance of good SEO more than any other. If you’re not in one of the top three spots on search engine results pages, you are losing a lot of sales.

2021 Trends In Search Engine Optimization

The above stats are very enlightening in their own regard. They show you where you should be putting your efforts and the overall importance of SEO. Now, we’ll delve into the trends in SEO that are gaining steam today and are likely to continue growing through 2021.

User Experience Is Critical

People searching on the internet have a lot of companies to choose from, thus having great user experience is crucial. They aren’t going stick around on your website if pages take too long to load, the site’s navigation and design are non-intuitive, or the content doesn’t tell them what they need to know. You have to code and design with the end-user in mind because that’s who you are trying to get to buy your goods or services.

The Importance of Fresh, High-Quality Content

High-quality content that answers a visitor’s questions or offers the solutions they’re looking for is an important part of giving visitors a good experience on your website. Google’s search algorithm also likes to see that you have regular updates to your website of fresh, quality content that delivers value to users.

Try to Get Into Featured Snippets

You have undoubtedly noticed that many searches you make on Google give you a page that includes what’s known as a featured snippet. This is a box just above the organic search results containing content that attempts to directly answer the searcher’s query without even having to click on a website link.

Due to their location above other organic listings, these featured snippets can attract an incredible number of clicks, which makes getting some of your content featured in them incredibly advantageous. Optimizing content for featured snippets could be a full article in its own right. Search Engine Journal gives a good primer on how to accomplish this.

Take Advantage of the Power of Video

People like video content. It’s simply more engaging than bland text and graphics. In fact, as of 2018, 85 percent of U.S. internet users watch online video content monthly, and 54 percent want to see more video content from brands they like. A gripping video on your website can make people hang around on your website longer, which is rewarded by Google with higher search rankings. Also, video presents a powerful opportunity to utilize YouTube to market your business. There are also guides on how to rank YouTube videos on Google.

Potential Customers Value Their Security and Privacy

No one wants their data stolen when conducting an online transaction. If they see a message across the top of their browser telling them that your website is not secure, they will go elsewhere quickly. Installing an SSL certificate will be infinitely better than losing sales without it.

Optimizing Your SEO for Voice Search

Beyond smartphones, the prevalence of digital assistants, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, has driven the number of voice searches up over the past few years. Currently, almost 40 percent of internet users in the U.S. utilize voice search, and this is only likely to increase through 2021 and beyond.

When optimizing for voice search, it helps to target keywords that are in the form of a question. These will typically be long-tail keywords that are usually fairly specific. One example would be, “where is Don’s Dry Cleaning?” It can also help for you to think up any questions a potential customer might have about your type of business and then create blog posts answering these questions.

Optimizing Your Website for Mobile Devices

This only makes sense since the number of searches on phones is only expected to go up through 2021 and beyond. To see how mobile-friendly your website currently is, start by typing “Google Mobile-Friendly Tool” into Google. This will bring up a box in which you can enter your site’s URL to be evaluated by Google.

To improve your site’s performance on mobile devices, you’ll need to make sure it was created with a responsive coding and framework, so it automatically changes how it looks depending on the device used to access it. You will also want to boost your webpage loading times by implementing caching, using a content delivery network (CDN) and compressing images. Finally, use Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) method for creating mobile-friendly versions of your webpages.

Local SEO and Google My Business

Focusing on ranking highly under relevant keywords in your local area has always been important, and this shows no signs of changing going into 2021 and beyond. It’s particularly critical if you are a service business and local customers are literally your lifeblood. There are two things you should do to enhance your local customer base. One is to maintain an updated Google My Business listing and the other is using geo-targeted keywords for your locality.

Google My Business is a free tool Google provides that your company can use to create a local listing for your business, which also includes a Google Maps listing, so potential customers can find you easily. Geo-targeted keywords simply involve adding the name of cities, towns and neighborhoods in your area to the types of keywords you already use. The combination of these two strategies will help you stay above your competitors in your locality.

Artificial Intelligence

Google’s own algorithm has gotten much smarter over the years thanks to the implementation of artificial intelligence. A recent example of this is their BERT algorithm update. BERT is an acronym for a series of words that would probably break your brain if you’re not knowledgeable in this field. Put simply, this update enables Google to understand language more like humans do. This update and earlier ones such as RankBrain are why techniques such as keyword stuffing no longer work and will actually lower your search ranking.

E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness)

If you have a business that gives advice or sells products or services that can potentially affect a person’s health, happiness, safety or financial stability, SEO E-A-T is critically important. Goods or information affecting such matters are known by Google as YMYL or “your money or your life.”

You can demonstrate expertise with content created by someone who is considered an expert in their field. This can also be accomplished, in some instances, by people who have everyday expertise in the subject at hand. You gain authority in your field by making your website a place where many people go to learn about your subject or field. Google will see you as more authoritative if other experts and websites are referring or recommending you. Trust is enhanced by transparency in who creates your website’s content and by having adequate contact information.