If 2020 showed us one thing, it’s that being visible on the web is crucial for brands to succeed. The growing trend of companies looking for search engine optimisation over the past 12 months didn’t come as a surprise: organic authority is one of the major sources of trust for consumers.
With an ever-growing need for online visibility amongst big brands and small businesses alike, my somewhat controversial opinion is that we need to look further than just optimising websites: we need to optimise all our brand touchpoints.
Brand touchpoints: every possible instance in which your customers might interact with your brand.
Search engine optimisation is changing and changing for the better. Organic visibility and authority are now measured not just on your website, but beyond as well. My vision as the Head of SEO at Passion Digital is to view SEO as a plethora of optimisations that will impact all your channels – not as a channel itself.
8 SEO Trends to Expect in 2021
1. Need for speed and new technologies
WCV (Web Core Vitals), FCP (First Contentful Paint), LCP (Largest Contentful Paint), TTFB (Time To First Byte)… 2021 will be the year of acronyms, and many of them relate to your Core Web Vitals.
Core Web Vitals look at page speed and user interaction metrics and result in a ‘page experience’ score, which is Google’s way of rating your page’s overall User Experience.
As the consumption of online content accelerates, so does the need for fast and UX-friendly websites. Google has announced that the Web Core Vitals will be a ranking factor in 2021 for mobile search, but again, we need to keep in mind that organic rankings aren’t the only goal here. Improving your overall UX will eventually lead to better business results, like improved customer acquisition and retention, as well as lower customer support costs and reduced development time.
We just published a FAQ on Core Web Vitals in the help forum — check it out at https://t.co/G6QRY7XIRW
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) December 2, 2020
2. Semantic Search
In December 2019, Google’s BERT update kicked off the rise in AI and semantics in search engine marketing. If you haven’t been able to apply BERT to your search strategy in 2020 (you might have had other things on your mind), then 2021 should be the year of semantic search for your business.
Increasingly, users are using normal language to perform searches in Google, and it’s up to the algorithm to interpret this natural language and return the most relevant content. BERT – “a neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training” – will have an ever-growing impact on on-site page and content optimisation, allowing us to use more and more natural language that’s truly written for humans, not bots. Adding on top of this the ‘Passage Indexing’ that will be rolled out in 2021, we are looking at big changes in the way SEOs will carry out site optimisations.
At Passion Digital, we’ve been writing for humans, not bots for many years already. Learn more about our content marketing services if you want to stay ahead of the algorithm updates at all times!
3. Content hubs
Content marketing has been a big part of search engine optimisation for many years already due to users’ increasing need for information and the importance of backlinks (yes, even in 2021 they will play a crucial part in the ranking algorithm). Nonetheless, the way your content is perceived has been changing. Users are always on the lookout for a better experience when browsing, and the traditional business blogs are slowly making way for ‘content hubs’. This will serve two main purposes:
- A better experience for users.Content hubs look more editorial, which is good, because non-branded content is generally better trusted and has better engagement as it’s not perceived as salesy
- A better information architecture.Content hubs allow you to structure your content in semantic topics related to the product or services you’re trying to push
Think with Google: an excellent example of a successful content hub.
4. Interactive content
Interactive content will be at the forefront of 2021’s content trends as new technologies will allow fast deployment of more complicated builds. Brand interaction is key to engagement and improving the user’s content experience will be at the forefront of content strategies going forward. That said, we also expect high-quality SEO to continue being a critical element of content marketing in the foreseeable future.
What type of content should we look at?
- Webinars & Videos
- Augmented reality
- Interactive landing pages (i.e. calculators, quizzes, games, interactive infographics)
You can marvel at our proudest examples of interactive content in our content work showcase.
5. Repurposing content across channels
In 2020, we’ve all had to be more creative with less budget. The economical impact of COVID-19 has forced us to be more resourceful in creating engaging content with a lot less resources. Next year, we can expect an emphasis on repurposing content across channels to be more efficient with our marketing budgets.
- Content teams will have to think outside the box to try and use their current content across social media, email marketing and digital PR and repurpose it into podcasts, videos and webinars (yes, 2020 was the year of webinars and they are not going away).
If you’ve spent time and effort creating high-quality content, it would be a shame not to repurpose it to reach a wider audience.
6. Leveraging voice search
Voice search devices are everywhere. According to Statista data, 15. 8 billion people will be using digital assistants by 2023. Many applications are still in their early stages but brands will see an increased need to create their own voice search action skills to respond to modern-day users’ needs.
From a search perspective, a voice search query will only return one result – therefore it will become even more crucial than before to be in position one of the SERPs. According to Google, 20% of all mobile search queries were voice-activated in 2020 and this number will only go up, especially for local queries.
It’s crucial for brands to jump onto the voice search train or risk losing more than half of their potential users.
7. The rise of influencer marketing
Influencers are EVERYWHERE, which is a good and a bad thing. Brands need to be visible more than ever, but this means social media is being inundated by sponsored posts which dilutes its efficacy. This is why authentic influencers and micro influencers will become increasingly important for brands to instill trust in their audience.
Whether you are looking for social influencers, bloggers, links or shares, we believe that in 2021, influencers should be an inherent part of your digital marketing strategy. Their authenticity (if chosen rightly) and their ability to build trusting relationships with their following can help build your brand’s reputation in a sustainable manner.
Don’t forget, word of mouth is still a key trust signal for consumers!
8. UX at the core of SEO strategy
With better technologies comes great responsibility. As the web improves and gets faster, users will expect nothing but the best when browsing websites. Speed, navigation, journeys, design – all of these elements are crucial for your SEO strategy as they will impact directly and indirectly on your visibility in the search space. In 2021, Google will be tackling issues related to User Experience even more than before, as after all, Google is in the business of proving the best result for any given query.
The key takeaway for 2021 is that your audience is everywhere and interacts organically (or not) with your brand beyond your site. Therefore, SEO should not be seen as a channel but as a series of optimisations to improve your brand’s visibility and user experience.
If you are interested in understanding a bit more about those the SEO trends for 2021 or just want to have a chat with us about our SEO services, don’t hesitate to contact us.