2020’s been a year that will live in infamy for most. For digital marketers and SEOs, it’s been a rollercoaster – trying to shift tactics and update content to reflect a world that became very different, very quickly.
So what have we learned and what should we take with us into the new year? What new trends and cutting-edge tactics will we see in the next few months? We take a look at what’s coming for search engine optimisation in 2021 and beyond.
A new player in town? Rumours that Apple will be launching their own search engine in 2021 persist
For years now, Google has had the lion’s share (and then some) when it comes to search traffic – almost 92 percent of it in fact. And for most companies, there’s been little point in trying to compete except for in very niche demographics.
2021 might just see that change – or at least throw some excitement and intrigue into the mix. While Apple already has its own search engine for Siri and Spotlight Searches, it has a financial arrangement with Google to be the default search engine on its iPhones.
Now there are signs that Apple wants to launch its own web-based search platform, which may have similar algorithms to Google… or might not. If sufficiently different from Google, (and other players like Bing which use ‘Google-esque’ practices) this might be a way for smaller websites which struggle to get organic traffic on Google to get their foot in the door.
If that sounds like you or your clients, then this is a space worth watching very closely!
While most SEOs still focus largely on written content and keyword optimisation, the way your visitors consume content has been changing rapidly. Spreading the word across a range of different media types – from video marketing and voice-search-optimised content to interviews with social media influencers – will become even more important in 2021.
Why? Because increasingly, search engines use signals from an ever-broader range of channels to determine the authority of a brand or website. So even if your written content is exceptional, you might still be outperformed by a competitor who engages consumers across lots of off-site platforms.
What can you do about this?
- Research the content types and social media channels your target market uses most often, and find where your offering can align with them. (Remember that all content, even visual media, still needs a script or image description where you can work a key SEO phrase in.)
- Find out what causes they’re passionate about, what interests them, and find the overlap with your brand.
- Try something new. Never created a video tutorial or posted about your offering on Instagram? Commit to experimenting outside your marketing comfort zone in 2021.
- Improve and expand on your outreach efforts. Posting a weekly blog on your website just isn’t enough anymore. Make a real effort to get content published on external platforms, with a natural and helpful link back to your site.
Remember that with all these approaches, solid, best-practice SEO must always remain your guiding light. Never post just for the sake of it, but do your research and stick to a strategic plan. If you’re not completely confident in your ability to target the right keywords, or simply don’t have the time available to dedicate to doing it properly yourself, there are plenty of professional seo specialists who can help you.
Core Web Vitals: Google’s new page experience update goes live in 2021
On the more technical side of SEO, there’s a major update coming from the world’s favourite search giant in 2021. User experience will become more important than ever before – and for older websites, this means you need to hit the ground running now.
Some of the new SEO factors which will become crucial in the coming year include:
- First Input Delay – basically, how long your page needs to load before the visitor can interact with it. (Such as clicking a link or opening a menu.)
- Largest Contentful Paint – The name might be a bit of a mouthful, but this boils down to how long it takes before the user can read/view the main content of the page – i.e. what they came to your site to see.
- Cumulative Layout Shift – ever experienced visual elements on a web page ‘jumping’ as the different elements load? Yep – Google doesn’t like this either.
While these are new factors, general user experience and navigability are still crucial. If you’re concerned your current website isn’t up to scratch, there are some great free and paid UX tools you can make use of to get a better understanding of where your challenges lie.
It looks like 2021 is going to be a very interesting year for SEO! We hope you’ve found some of these pointers helpful in making your website the best it can be.[Image – Photo by Merakist on Unsplash]