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SEO Trends in 2021 To Dominate The Year In Organic Traffic

Article Contents

A little background first.

The core mission at Google remains the same; providing users with relevant search results from the most trusted sources. Understanding this helps digital marketers like us to adapt our SEO strategies in order to provide an awesome user experience without compromise. While Google continues to gain market share and increase its value, it’s no secret that a big part of this valuation comes from ad revenue on their search engine results page.

If everybody stopped using Google tomorrow and began using a different search engine, Google would be worth significantly less overnight and Google wants to make sure this never happens.

Google is motivated to deliver searchers with the best search results possible. Hence, 400+ algorithm tweaks per year, keeping us SEOs on our toes.

As an SEO company and services provider, we have an obligation to stay aware of emerging SEO trends so that we can incorporate them into our SEO strategies or website design projects and ensure we are providing our clients with creative, sound business advice. As SEO professionals, it is our duty to keep our clients informed of these industry trends as well.

Let’s dive into the past year of search engine news and algorithm updates before we talk about where SEO is headed in the future!


2020 SEO Predictions - So What Does the Future Hold?

We’ll look into our crystal ball and give our insights into the SEO trends of 2020.

Unlike the previous year, there are not any major updates looming over our heads, like the mobile-first update was in 2018. But, whether you know changes are coming or not, we can guarantee you (just like the YMYL / EAT update) major changes will appear.

While Google continues to refine its algorithm and incorporates artificial intelligence to try and determine the ideal results for each and every query, the way people search evolves along with it. The result is that Google and its searchers indirectly work together to change the way people and search engines interact, and more importantly, how we consume information and buy goods or services in the digital world.

Pay attention to these trends for 2020, and you’ll be sure to stay a step ahead of your competition as we head into a brand new decade and era of search engine marketing:

  • Featured Snippets
  • No-Click Results
  • Artificial Intelligence and Voice Search
  • Loading Speed & Technical Optimizations
  • Video Becomes King
  • Google My Business Changes
  • Grow Your Backlink Profile

Featured / Rich Snippets

Featured snippets rolled out in 2017 and have drastically shifted the way SEO professionals target keywords. Google tries to give more and more info on the search results pages (see “No-Click Search Results below for more info). Targeting for featured snippets remains the best way to take up primo SERP real estate.

Featured Result

What’s it mean:

  • Click-through rates (CTR) are increasing for ads and decreasing for organic as Google gets sneakier and sneakier about ad placement.
  • If your business relies on mobile results, you will be more affected as this tends to affect local businesses where featured results are more likely to populate the search results.

What should you do?

  • Have your SEO agency perform keyword research specific to keywords that are relevant to your business and typically trigger a featured result in the SERPs.
  • Focus on targeting organic featured snippet results as part of your SEO campaign to carve out your organic space.
  • Determine which keywords are driving your best conversions, and prioritize your SEO efforts on those keywords and their related terms.
  • Create new informational content that answers long-tail queries like “how to…” and DIY information.

No-Click Search Results (aka Zero-Click)

Featured snippets have been a growing SEO trend for several years now. According to a June 2019 article in Search Engine Land, nearly half of all Google searches result in zero clicks. In other words, for better or worse, Google is often providing searchers with the info they need directly in the search results, whether it be a phone number for a local business or a featured snippet that provides that recipe they were looking for right in the search results. The searcher gets their info and moves on, without ever going on to another site.

Zero Click Searches

What’s it mean:

  • Click-through rates (CTR) are increasing for ads and decreasing for organic as Google gets sneakier and sneakier about ad placement.
  • If your business relies on mobile results, you will be more affected as this tends to affect local businesses where featured results are more likely to populate the search results.

What should you do?

  • Focus on targeting organic featured snippet results as part of your SEO campaign to carve out your organic space.
  • Determine which keywords are driving your best conversions, and prioritize your SEO efforts on those keywords and their related terms.

Artificial Intelligence and Voice Search

SEO professionals have been talking about artificial intelligence and its impact on our industry for years. Using machine learning and artificial intelligence, Google strengthens its algorithm, making it both harder to manipulate rankings without merit and also generally improving their ability to give searchers the best results.

Now powered by BERT, Google’s neural network-base technique that processes language in a way we have never seen before. BERT actually stands for “Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers” which sounds fancy to us!

What’s it mean:

  • Rankbrain has not been replaced, BERT and RankBrain will work together.
  • Google has invested heavily in NLP technology (natural language processing). This will be the wave of the future, no doubt.
  • Eventually, SEO will become less and less about “tricking” Google” and more and more about how searches are related to the search query.

What should you do?

  • Make sure the quality of your writing is appropriate for the topic you’re attempting to rank for. You can’t really “trick” BERT, but understand that Google will look for different types of quality depending on the topic. For example, BERT will probably demand a lot from the quality of medical journals and that type of academic writing, but blogs about your favorite TV show don’t need to be written at the collegiate level.
  • If rankings dropped after BERT or any other algorithm update, hire a professional SEO agency to investigate and potentially remedy the situation.

Loading Speed & Technical Optimizations

Loading speed & technical optimizations have always been important, but even more so as Google continues to focus on user experience and mobile-first indexing.

What’s it mean:

  • This is not new, Google has strived for fast loading sites for years.

What should you do?

  • Have an SEO audit done by a company fluent in technical optimizations, page speed, etc.
  • Ensure you have a faster loading, cleaner, and more user-friendly website than your competitors.

Video

Video has become increasingly useful in the last few years, as the ubiquity of smartphones on faster cellphone networks has evolved to be able to better support streaming video. It’s well known that click-through rate (CTR) and dwell time on your page can be SEO factors. In other words, engaging your visitors with videos is a great way to get your message across in a more direct way.

What’s it mean:

  • Expect to see significantly more embedded videos on websites, especially in places like eCommerce stores, informational blogs, etc.

What should you do?

  • Invest in some quality video production equipment to make videos in-house or hire a company to do this for you.
  • Add videos to existing pages that rank well but could perform better with video.
  • Upload your company videos to places like YouTube to maximize those digital channels as well.

Google My Business Changes

What is Local SEO?

Check out this great article from Search Engine Land and you’ll see that GMB has had a significant local search update as recently as December 2, 2019.

Local SEO is important for, you guessed it, local businesses. Google My Business is a way for businesses to manage their company profile and information. This GMB data is then used by Google to populate the search results, the local map packs, etc.

Google My Business continues to be a priority for local businesses looking to outrank companies within the same service area. With voice search, more and more people are looking for local businesses with their smartphone every day.

 

What should you do?

  • Make sure you have claimed your business on Google My Business.
  • Ensure you are optimizing for mobile users and voice search. Put yourself in the minds of potential searchers to imagine what they’re looking for.

Grow Your Backlink profile

Recently, we’ve really seen an uptick in websites with stronger link profiles, meaning they are gaining new backlinks on a regular basis. Whether this is through high-quality guest blogging on industry-related authority websites or “natural” links from high rankings content, links are moving the needle. The combination of high-quality content and links coming into the content will make up the first page of Google.

The Important Action Items for SEO Trends of 2020 Include:

  • Continue to target featured snippets! This remains one of the best ways to take up more real estate and dominate your competitors in the SERPs.
  • Account for artificial intelligence. This means creating better content, doing more thorough keyword research.
  • Create long-form, amazing content! Take your current content that ranks and expand it to be even better and more thorough.
  • Include video on your landing pages, articles and top products
  • Consider LSI and the supporting terms you may want to include on your page to add context and depth to your content to accommodate for artificial intelligence factors like RankBrain and BERT.
  • Read the new Google General Guidelines and see how you can apply those to your website. Use schema and rich data to boost your CTR and boost rankings while targeting featured snippets.
  • Optimize your website for voice search by considering questions people may search in your industry and building out informational content around those queries.
  • Work to get your brand mentioned in the media. Use press releases and social media to get your message out.
  • Consider search intent and build landing pages to focus on truly satisfying the searcher’s query.
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