Even with the global internet usage on the rise, especially amidst a pandemic, most websites fail to attract the type of traffic and visitors they desire. This is partly true because no amount of web traffic is ever ‘too much.’ But also because the internet is ultra-competitive, with around a mind-boggling one billion-plus websites hosted across it!
According to Aherfs, 90.63% of the content on the internet gets no traffic whatsoever. Let that sink in for a moment. And to be within the top 10% bracket that gets graced with clicks and eyeballs, you’ll need to ensure your site ranks high up across SERPs (like really high up).
But that is easier said than done. Even the best SEO companies out there could struggle to fetch sites from rock bottom, simply because almost every aspect of your website has some impact on your search engine ranking. Gone are the days when solo bloggers could climb the ranks with catchy titles and clever tags. A lot about SEO has changed from what it was, say five years ago, and will continue to change because the internet itself is a dynamic and evolving space.
Google has been very keen and persistent at improving the quality and reliability of its search results. Consequently, they continue to tweak the algorithms to optimize, improve and add to the user’s experience. All this is well and good, especially for the end-user, since ultimately, it makes the web more precise, functional, and user-friendly.
However, as the algorithm continues to change, almost periodically, so do the parameters that directly influence your site’s ranking (not entirely, but enough to set panic across the populace).
This means that SEO strategies need consistent revisions to stay effective. Sure the central philosophy remains the same: producing breathtaking content, providing value, having a light-weight, quick and responsive website, etc. All of that is still true. But even when websites follow the algorithm’s gospel from line to line and code to code, Google’s ‘minor’ tweaks and optimizations often send many site’s traffic nose-diving into the ground.
But these hiccups are necessary. Sites that deliver genuine value do bounce back eventually. And with every tiny change Google makes to its algorithm, the web gets another step closer to eliminating spammy, gimmicky, and harmful sites that abuse the current system to make a quick buck.
All of that is well and good. But what’s in it for us? What do we make of this? How does this benefit our SEO strategies, if at all?
Every update to Google’s algorithm is in some sense an indicator. It’s an indicator of the general direction the Engine is pivoting towards (and hence what users are more drawn to!). For instance, consider the recent May 2020 update. Google announced that ‘page experience signals’ would now be a ranking factor for websites. In simple terms, Google wants to rank sites that offer a pleasant experience to end-users.
They’ll have multiple metrics to track this, stuff like loading times, visual consistency, and more. How exactly will Google measure ‘how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page’ (to put it in their own convoluted words)? That wizardry is beyond us mortals.
But the point I’m trying to make is that user-experience will soon be the next SEO buzz word (if it isn’t already). The shift is visible in the updates and changes Google’s been implementing, and it makes complete sense to focus heavily on usability and experience.
The take away from all this is that such changes reflect larger trends and shifts within the industry. Observing these trends and implementing required changes could significantly benefit any long-term SEO strategy. Business must focus on improving critical aspects of their web presence rather than orienting strategies around exploiting trivial loopholes in the current system.
The best way to build a reliable and future-proof SEO strategy is to focus on such critical trends in the industry and embody the right practices within our workflows and organizations. If that is too much work for you, that’s understandable (Maybe consider hiring Top SEO companies in the USA to do the job), but it’ll have to be done. SEO is important, and regardless of the scale or the depth of your SEO strategy, we could all use some tips and advice that can help us improve. Below is a list of my favorite upcoming SEO trends for 2021 that companies must explore and try implementing.
Great User-Experience will be the new standard
As mentioned above, the most critical trend heading into 2021 would be on-site user experience. Google’s core web vitals are good indicators of this. Put in simple terms these are: How fast your site’s main content loads (anything under 2.5 seconds is great), How quick can users start interacting with your content (around 100ms would be awesome), and how visually stable your website’s layout, content, etc. remains (visual consistency).
All of this ultimately provides the user with a smooth experience while surfing your site, but there is more to website user experience than just the core vitals. Stuff like engaging content, site security, mobile-friendliness, etc., go a long way with improving your UX and thus your ranking. While intrusive ads and pop-ups, annoying promotions, and generic content make your UX suffer and will inevitably harm your ranking.
Prioritize addressing user’s search-intent
Optimizing for search intent is perhaps the oldest and most basic SEO advice you would have heard but it is still equally important. Enter BERT. BERT is google’s neural-network-based language processing technique that is used to understand search queries better. It’s one of the biggest breakthroughs in the history of search, says Google. Noticed how Google highlights a section of an article as an answer to some specific question? That’s because google is getting increasingly better at Natural Language processing, understanding the context and meaning of words on a given page. And that’s exactly what BERT helps with.
The point here is that Google has doubled down on improving specificity when it comes to search queries. It always has, but now they have the technology to deliver super accurate results. That means understanding and catering to user’s search intent will be more rewarding than it has ever been.
Ultimately, people Google to learn things, to understand, to know something. Having a precise idea of what your audience is looking for can help you answer their queries better and will inevitably get you ranked higher.
Mobile SEO is more important than you think.
I know you’ve heard this a million times, but let me say it again: Mobile SEO is important. While most marketers recognize its value, businesses often stop at a ‘responsive’ website that’s barely functional on phones and call it mobile optimized. That would have worked five years ago perhaps, but not today.
The thing is, mobile search volume has exploded (surpassing desktop searches) and continues to rise as we speak. Thus search engines are incentivized to push for mobile-optimized content. Google’s Mobile-first indexing (enabled since July 2019) uses the mobile version of your web content to rank and index your website. This means Mobile SEO is now more important than desktop SEO!. In fact, as the folks at Search Engine Journal put it: All SEO is Mobile SEO.
Add to that the need to provide an immersive user experience and websites really need to be cautious about how they look and feel on tinier screens. In contrast, interactive content primarily designed to be consumed on phones proves to be much more effective with user retention and increases the likelihood of higher rankings.
2021 will be a challenging but interesting year for SEO. It all comes down to keeping up with a rapidly evolving industry, to be honest.
To boil down everything I’ve said so far: Focus on creating highly engaging, interactive, and mobile-oriented content that tries to deliver precise and effective answers to specific questions your audience is searching for. Do it in a way that keeps them coming back to you, and you can win your SEO game not just for 2021 but easily for a few years to come.
Don’t get me wrong though, SEO is a vast, vast ocean and this is just the basics. For a detailed overview, check out some SEO Experts’ Tips. But the key is to start small and focus on your fundamentals. I wish you good luck and great success with your SEO adventures!