SEO has been changing since the moment it became relevant. Nearly every day, the biggest names in optimization will tell you about new Google algorithms or tricks they’ve discovered to make sure you remain at the top of your industry’s rankings, which means continually adjusting your own SEO strategy. The need for optimization isn’t going anywhere, and thanks to its power, you’ll need to stay on top of the trends and continually decide what to do next. Here are the top seven trends to consider this year.
COVID-19 Planning Remains Essential:
It may surprise you, but one of the biggest trends will remain the planning you did around COVID-19. Despite the fact that the number of infections is going down and the vaccination rate is going up, the Core Update from Google in May of 2020 affected how Google saw various websites, and that update meant that high-quality websites that had proven to be an authority in the field got better rankings, even if the businesses were struggling with the pandemic.
The message for those working with SEO ranking factors to come out of the COVID crisis is that you must remain an authority in the field, even in the face of a global crisis like COVID. If you’re not already working on a crisis communication strategy, the time to start is now. Your goal has to be how to get timely content in front of an audience that needs it and how to offer them that necessary information should be part of that plan. More than that, though, if a crisis has impacted your products and services, you need to be prepared to very quickly update your site with the information required.
Finally, if there are things that could help others deal with the crisis, be ready to offer those too. From complimentary products or services for first responders to free courses online, freebies can help others cope with a crisis.
Mobile and Local Should Take Center Stage:
If you hear about SEO today, you almost always hear about it in terms of mobile and local SEO, and there’s a reason for that. They’re the two fastest growth spaces in SEO. Mobile SEO simply ensures your site can be viewed well from mobile devices like phones and tablets. This is a must because most surveys indicate that almost half of all traffic is generated from those devices.
Not all sites are mobile-friendly, though, so optimize yours to be responsive with simple designs and lots of testing to make sure it looks great and offers a fantastic user experience (see trend #3 below) across the board. Local SEO often uses mobile SEO. Local SEO simply means taking advantage of the kinds of searches that deal with terms like “Near Me” or “Open Now.” If you have a brick and mortar location (or multiple brick and mortar locations), optimizing for local is an absolute must.
It starts with creating a Google My Business Account, but it goes a bit further than that. You’ll want to deploy multiple local keywords and get listed in a number of online directories for your area. Additionally, you’ll want to be sure to post content that’s based on local events and places around you.
User Experience Remains Essential:
At the heart of any service people buy or product they use is the experience they have with that service or product. SmallBizGenius, a site offering small business owners efficient, reliable information on a broad range of topics, recently conducted a survey that found 88% of people won’t return to a brand after they’ve had a poor user experience, and that includes online shoppers refusing to return to a website after a bad user experience on the site.
You want users to love being on your site and buying your products and services. Be sure you’ve created a user interface that encourages them to do so. According to many surveys, the best user experiences mean fast load times, seamless navigation, good graphic design and site layout, and simple-to-use dashboards. Even if you think you have an amazing user experience, you likely won’t know without some UX testing, so if you haven’t already recruited some help to test your website, there’s never been a better time to do so. Your Core Web Vitals report can help you understand your current UX picture so you can build a stronger presence for your customers.
Content (Longer Content) Is Important:
Content has been important for years, and if you don’t already have a solid content calendar in place, now is the time to make that happen. You’ll want to create original content that offers solutions to your customers’ potential problems. It should be reader-friendly and incredibly easy to digest. It should also offer plenty of actionable resources.
These days, though, it should also be quite long. Some studies have found that content that is more than three thousand words in length gets three times the shares and backlinks as compared to an average 900-word article. It’s not just about length, though. It’s also about quality, so if you choose to go that route, be sure that your content is incredibly informative as well as fairly long.
Just Add Video:
YouTube has surpassed one billion users. Twitter and Facebook users watch video content on a regular basis. If you haven’t already added videos to your strategy, you need to do so immediately. There are lots of kinds of videos you can add to your site, too. You could create tutorial videos around your product or just offer a look at an upcoming product line. You could even create videos that address routinely asked questions. As you build videos that you think might attract customers, though, don’t forget to include a call to action!
Search Intent Should Be a Priority:
Search intent is simply the process of understanding what the person landing on your site is looking for or what they want to buy. In 2019, the Google BERT update made it easier for the search engine to understand what users wanted just from the terms they use.
Because so many people are using voice search, this is only a fairly natural step, but it means that those optimizing their websites should understand there are just four main intents: information, purchase, product comparison, and getting to a particular website itself. Building content around what your audience’s intent might be is essential. From creating content that is written in plain language to developing FAQs that actually might be what a customer would ask, creating material that clearly understands intent is crucial.
Zero Click Searches Really Do Help:
Google has a few rich snippets at the top of every query, and those can quickly translate to users finding answers without ever having to click away from Google. The search engine’s goal is to be so good, a user may never have to leave the page to get what they need. Essentially, they finish the search with zero clicks. To help make this possible, Google has lots of snippets you can actually integrate with your site, and doing so means better rankings for all of your content.
More than anything else, Google ranking factors are centered around putting people first with these trends, and if you continue to do the same, your customers will find you with the help of Google.