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Although this core update doesn’t seem to be as big as previous years, there are some clear top SEO trends and indicators of the direction SEO will take. The focus is shifting from keywords and content length to rich, informative, helpful, and useful content from now on.
The Answer Machine
Google’s focus on becoming an answering service rather than a search engine is excellent news for content creators. With the latest updates coming in, we’re looking towards the future of search queries as a search for answers and creating content that answers that call in a more in-depth way.
The SEO Trends to Follow
We’ve pulled together a list of eight SEO trends that we’ve seen built throughout 2020. These trends have really taken a foothold in 2020, and we expect them to be even more crucial to content creators and website owners going forward into 2021 and beyond.
The world of SEO is changing every day. However, optimising for these core areas will help to drive more traffic to your website, build your brand recognition, and improve your conversion rates to ensure your business can not only survive, but thrive after a bumpy year in 2020.
Google’s EAT acronym (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) has been around for a while now, and we’ve seen the expansion of the Your Money, Your Life subcategory (YMYL) to encompass more than just finance and medical. We’re expecting to see it expand even further to perhaps encompass other serious topics such as pet health.
Building good authority in your business area across the internet will help to boost your EAT score. Be sure to be clear about any specific qualifications in your area. If your particular expertise doesn’t have formal qualifications attached, expand your reach and authority in the eyes of your users and in the search algorithms of Google.
Featured snippets have been big over the last year, beginning with simple answer targets and expanded to more focused snippets towards the year-end. As it stands now, Google’s latest changes may mean that website content is being crawled and indexed deeply, which in turn could see your content running for even more keywords in the future.
In the case of snippets, Google has started taking users directly to the answer, and because of this, content creators should focus less on linear content and more on rich content throughout to keep up.
Video marketing and SEO video optimisation is big news and has been both in 2020 and will be in 2021 and beyond. With Facebook touting as a video-first platform, TikTok building it’s userbase exponentially despite security concerns, and Instagram influencer marketing seeing a big boost in 2020, video search engine optimisation in marketing is here to stay.
One of the most exciting updates to be announced by Google recently has been YouTube Shorts. With YouTube being the second-largest search engine, the flirtation with YouTube stories had been limited to accounts with over 10k followers. With Shorts, there is a level playing field, and we’re seeing a chance for smaller accounts to build a following quickly as Google pushes Shorts to compete with rivals TikTok and Instagram.
Following on from the rise of video optimisation for web and video marketing, media-rich websites are now being pushed even further up the Google rankings, with other search engine services likely to follow suit.
By media-rich, we mean content that uses video and imagery (either photography or infographic-style images) to improve users’ offerings. We’re seeing more and more article websites incorporating YouTube embedded content and brand new images to support their content, and it’s clear that Google’s machine learning has begun to spend more time crawling these.
What is influencer marketing? Influencer marketing has had a very bumpy ride before and throughout 2020, with many ‘influencers’ being caught out doing deals and promoting products or services that don’t fit their brands, calling into question the authenticity of influencer marketing as a whole.
As we enter that last few months of 2020, we are starting to see a bigger turn around in influencers being represented by marketing agencies properly. This, in turn, sees them being supported to make the right decisions for their careers and their content, which is excellent news for their audience as the spotlight is on the influencer campaigns and influencer marketing strategy to be more authentic.
The dominance of the smartphone market in search isn’t seeing any slow-down when it comes to analytics. In fact, with Google’s new analytics platform (GA4), the surge in mobile device users is as clear as day, and it is absolutely vital that website owners ensure their content is working well for mobile optimisation.
Mobile SEO optimisation will continue to grow through 2021, with companies such as Samsung, Motorola, and Xiaomi investing in the folding screen market to bridge the gap between smartphones, tablets, and laptops, meaning content needs to be fully responsive.
When it comes to responsive design, Google has been somewhat cagey about what it considers a ranking factor, but it’s clear that a well-designed page that is easy for the user to navigate is ranking better than a fully text-based more traditional website. That consideration also needs to fall with page speed too, and page speed must cover mobile SEO optimisation as well as desktop users.
Optimise for Voice Search Results
Voice search optimisation has had a bit of a bumpy start. Voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, and Apple’s Homekit all worked hard to utilise the voice search queries of users, but security concerns and a different way of interacting with search have made voice-search a slow starter for many businesses.
As it stands now, at the tail end of 2020, more than half of online searches are conducted through voice search, meaning audiences are warming up to it, so now is the time to really reinvest in this exciting movement.
With voice search predicted to grow to a bigger margin in 2021 when it comes to content, SEO managers need to optimise for voice search. That means answering specific questions and focusing on long-tail keywords and natural language processing.
Voice search has really gained a boost in the last 12 months from more IoT devices and wearables. Users can now search using their voice from a myriad of devices, including watches, cars, home speakers, and, of course, their smartphone devices. Voice search is becoming the norm with so many more people, so it is vital to keep up with this trend.
Holistic Off-Page SEO
There have always been two types of SEO to improve: on-page and off-page. Traditionally, SEO managers have put more of a slant on on-page SEO purely because it is the easiest to show real ROI, but that’s not to say off-page SEO isn’t important.
As we go through towards 2021, off-page SEO will become more wholistic, with Google’s Machine learning continuing to build a bigger picture when it comes to a company’s brand and brand values.
What does this mean for businesses? In some ways, the answer is simple; you need to collate your off-page efforts to ensure that you’re sharing the same message, using the same language, and the same branding across all of your digital real estates.
On the other hand, a holistic approach is much more difficult to achieve, but we need to invest in off-page SEO efforts as content creators. By creating useful content that shares the message of your business across all of your digital properties (including local SEO, Google My Business listing, link building, and more), you will be showing Google and other search engines that your business is to be trusted. You are showing you are an expert in your field.
As Google leans more on its EAT strategy, SEO strategies really need to work hand in hand with the content strategy to boost your EAT score and improve your page ranking with off-page SEO.
There are many exciting things happening in the world of new SEO trends, and as the machine learning and AI behind search engines get more intelligent, it’s up to us as SEO experts to keep up with the changes and explore more diverse methods of getting our message across.
Audiences are becoming savvier by the day, and the usual marketing tricks that may have worked in the past are not going to work moving into the future. Campaigns need to be more succinct and more targeted, but we need to ensure that we’re not moving away from authenticity when it comes to advertising.
When it comes to good content, future SEO trends are a hybrid mix of content diversity and strong branding, creating and keeping advocates while reaching new audiences.