Nowadays, in such a competitive market, SEO is more important than ever.
That’s why we try to predict the SEO trends for this year so you know what you should focus on.
An optimized website will put you ahead of the competition and ultimately more sales. On top of that it can make the difference between a business that succeeds or has to close.
As we’re ending a challenging year and looking ahead, what should SEO professionals do better to ensure growth?
How is SEO evolving in light of greater internet adoption due to more people working from home?
We have selected the Top 10 SEO Trends for this year. Check out the list and learn more about each one of them!
But before, if you are pretty new to SEO, I would like you to read our previous article regarding the top 10 complete SEO guides you can read for free.
Ok, we are ready for the SEO trends predictions. Let’s start.
1. Page Experience
One of the biggest trends in the SEO industry is undoubtedly the Page experience.
Page and User experience (UX) have been on Google’s mind for some time. At least since the Panda update. It makes sense, given 92.71% of searches are done on Google. They have to keep their customers happy.
With Google’s upcoming update to its algorithm to use page experience as a ranking factor, SEO experts should focus on analyzing and improving users’ experiences on their websites rather than solely focusing on the more technical and structural side of SEO.
We should be looking at how a page makes a user feel, not just whether it is accessible and understandable to a search engine crawler.
Take a user-centric approach with SEO by focusing on:
- How quickly and smoothly pages load.
- How soon do pages become responsive to user interactions?
- No pop-ups or annoying ads.
- How easy a website is to use and navigate on mobile devices.
- The safety and security of a site’s connection as users are browsing through it.
Incorporating page experience into your SEO workflow will not only help to future-proof your website’s performance and rankings ahead of the upcoming algorithm update. It can also help to improve UX and conversions now.
I recommend you get in touch with a WordPress maintenance agency that can evaluate your website and optimize your page experience score.
This is why page experience optimization will have positive short-term and long-term impacts.
2. Optimize for User Intent
Another significant change in SEO will likely be learning how to optimize for intent. A year ago, Google was using BERT in one out of ten English searches. They said BERT was “particularly useful for understanding the intent behind search queries.”
Chasing after traffic isn’t as helpful as it seems.
Quoting rising traffic numbers is great, but what is it doing for you?
For instance, Pinterest traffic tends to be more valuable than Instagram referrals, the former being significantly more comfortable to get.
We must not forget that the goal is to get traffic to your website and generate quality traffic – people who are interested in what you offer.
As Google focuses more on users’ search queries, it’s getting difficult for website owners to rank in the SERPs with their content.
But yes, the help of one of the best SEO Agencies can help you find superior results in a limited time.
Understanding what our target audience wants means planning our tactics and choosing strategic keyword groups to increase people’s likelihood of finding the site while searching online.
Figure out the real intent
And so, in a nutshell, before creating any content, it is essential to know and understand what the real intent behind the specific query that affects our business is, or we risk posting online pages that will not get the results we are hoping for and writing articles that do not fit.
For example, if you see more and more comparison posts cropping up in the SERP where your definitional page ranks, it’s probably a good idea to build your comparison page.
For me, SERP analysis will be an essential practice but moving forward as search intents change and Google continues to become more sophisticated to keep up.
3. E-A-T beyond YMYL topics
In 2015, Google released its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, which gave us an idea of what is deemed a high (or low) quality website from Google’s perspective. After updating its search quality raters guidelines handbook on September 5, 2019, E-A-T and YMYL came from an essential SEO world.
I think a major trend next year will be E-A-T beyond YMYL topics. Particularly this year, we’ve seen a lot of interference with ML-driven results.
E-A-T Focus Signals
- Twitter flagging and censoring tweets with misinformation.
- Google is dedicating resources to creating a dynamic homepage for COVID-19 queries.
- Even more broadly, with information about elections and political activity through Facebook and other media platforms.
Google now wants to see how authoritative the author is, mainly if it’s a YMYL subject. This means that we now need to build author E-A-T as well, along with the website.
This can be done using the author boxes for blog posts with links to the authors’ social profiles. It would help if you also used author schema markup, i.e., structured data markup that tells Google about the author, making it easier to connect the author with any other authority signals.
I think this continues a longtime trend by Google that began with efforts like rel=author. The current political climate is supercharging to what extent and how quickly they can or should interfere.
It’s a tough line to toe, especially with the ongoing lawsuits. Still, I think it’s a dynamic that any company that distributes information at scale will feel a higher duty to straddle.
4. Data and Analytics
Data science lets you understand buyers, visualize campaigns, and create targeted messages.
With Google evolving faster and faster to give instant satisfaction, taking responsibility beyond visits, UX, conversion, and revenue have become even more critical.
Keyword volume will take a back seat. It will be more behavioural analytics – what your customer is doing, how they are doing it, and how we can get them to do more of it quicker – and reverse engineering to the content you produce.
That is why Microsoft Clarity, a new website analytics tool, is exciting because it offers more valuable insights for free.
You can use data science to identify pages that you do not want crawlers indexing and pinpoint unusual traffic sources. These pages can be potential spam sites (which will hurt your EAT credibility).
5. Mobile SEO
Ensuring your content/website performs well from a mobile perspective should also continue to be a focal point as this is where the majority of searches are being conducted.
Google will essentially be ignoring your desktop site. Your mobile site will determine your rankings.
So if you’ve been focusing on meeting the bare minimum requirements to be considered mobile-first, you should shift your focus to improving that experience for your users.
It’s OK to have a different experience between desktop and mobile. It’s also important to know that Google will no longer be ranking your desktop and mobile experiences differently.
If you still have a separate mobile site, now might be the time to reconsider migrating to a mobile responsive site instead.
6. Artificial Intelligence Role will increase
Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing how people interact with online content. Google’s AI algorithm, called RankBrain — plays a vital role in Google’s ranking factors for search engine results pages (SERPs) results.
SEO professionals will have to adapt to find ways to remain relevant as AI-powered tools take over some of the jobs humans currently perform.
At the same time, brands will have to figure out how to leverage AI or employ SEO experts who do to remain competitive, especially as we drift further from the old “ten blue links” model due to AI-based assistants like Google Home, Alexa, and Siri.
This is the way business has always been –the only difference is that it will move faster and more abruptly.
7. Long-form, Quality Content
Google is growing up. People too. The result is that people are seemingly unimpressed by vapid articles that don’t come to the point quickly enough. Ones that don’t include valuable insights or actionable suggestions don’t cut the mustard.
Google is also gradually improving its understanding of great vs. good vs. mediocre content.
Even if the search engine still cannot accurately determine the quality of an article, there are tools available that can. The tools can confirm the reading level, spelling errors, or grammatical problems with an article.
Google has a wealth of data sourced from Google Analytics, Chrome browser, Chrome O/S, and elsewhere about bounce rates, time on site, and content stickiness. And whether the searchers hit their back button to return to the search results to try another result because the first one was poor.
It’s watching and changing the rankings based on how people respond to higher and lower sites.
8. Higher Quality Backlinks
Basic backlinks as ‘niche edits’ where a new link is slid into an older ranking article are something Google has disliked in recent algorithm updates. Similarly, low-brow guest posts that don’t provide any value to readers aren’t looked upon approvingly either.
Read more: How to build backlinks for eCommerce
What’s needed is website owners with higher-level links from reputable sites with valuable traffic.
Ideally, the link should be relevant enough that referral traffic flows from the guest post to the linked website. It’s a great indicator of not just a quality article but also an appropriate link. And often, those clicks get tracked by Google too.
To start getting higher-quality links, seek an SEO provider with industry connections to deliver them. Look at what links they can source, so you know they’ll provide a boost to your site.
9. Local Search Listings
A significant theme in the coming year is one of pushing the quality up several notches. Also, not missing out on opportunities when they arise is worth giving attention to.
Local SEO has been performed less this year as so many people have been sitting at home. Also, many local businesses have been closed during the lockdown or worked at a limited capacity.
Google continually updates its algorithm regarding local search and how the results are shown on the SERPs, implementing new filtering data methods and setting up specific restrictions and opportunities for different businesses.
If you have a business with a local audience, you can not put the local optimization on pause. This is relevant even now, as you can adapt your business to ongoing people’s needs.
So take care of your Google My Business profile and take a peek into Bing Places as well.
Read more: Local SEO Ultimate Guide
10. Structured data
The last SEO trend I want to look into is structured data.
While Google has previously denied that structured data use directly boosts ranking, it’s clear that sites can benefit in other ways by implementing different types of markup.
These benefits include higher CTR, increased traffic, and better conversion rates, so better rankings can often be an indirect result of schema use.
Is critical to stay current and on top of changes and improvements to schema types and make sure your current schema stays valid. Well-utilized schema is your chance to gain an edge over your competitors.
There are a lot of industries that still haven’t embraced structured data.
It’s a missed opportunity for sure.
Anyone not making the most of schema is missing out on better CTR, traffic, and SERP features — and right now, that includes 47.88% of even the top eCommerce sites.
Schema markup is a great helper for you to be noticeable in the SERPs. For instance, marked-up FAQ pages have a greater chance to appear in the SERPs in the form of rich results. You can use many types of Schema code to make your page’s layout work for you.
SEO Trends Takeaways
- Google’s announced an upcoming update about using page experience as a ranking factor. SEO experts should focus on analyzing and improving users’ experiences on their websites. With the mobile-first index, your mobile site will determine your rankings.
- Before creating any content, it is essential to know and understand the specific query’s real intent that affects our business.
- Speaking about content, Google is also gradually improving its understanding of great vs. good vs. mediocre content. Create excellent content that answers people’s questions. Optimize it with video and schema, and don’t forget to prove your EAT, and you will rank well.
- Local SEO took a step back during the pandemic but will slowly recover and make a difference for local businesses.
- Backlinks still matter. Focus on getting relevant, niche-related backlinks from websites with traffic, social media signals, etc.
- Oh, and don’t forget data and AI. SEO professionals will have to adapt to find ways to remain relevant as AI-powered tools take over
Conclusion on SEO Trends
Let’s face it: SEO trends are changing. We can only approximate what will be in the future and, respectively, what changes we will go through. However, we have to adjust to any circumstances and adapt our business models to rank.
In closing, I invite you to read our previous article, Advanced SEO For Websites. That’s because we explain most of these SEO trends and give tips on implementing them on your website for traffic and ranking gains.
We are not the only ones that try to predict SEO trends.
Over to you now. What trends do you think will become mandatory to rank well this year?
Leave your opinion in the comments.