Google makes updates to its search algorithm thousands of times each year. Usually, the updates are so small; no one notices the changes. However, a few times a year, significant updates and changes are released. Because of these ongoing changes, it can be challenging to keep up with what is going on with SEO.
Regardless of whether you own a business, are a marketer, or just want to ensure your blog remains visible, understanding the latest SEO trends is necessary. Keep reading for some insight into what is expected to happen with SEO in 2021.
UX Now Impacts Site Ranking
Google introduced the concept of Core Web Vitals in May 2020. This involves the use of three new metrics that are added to Google, which measures user experience. All three of these are essentially about perceived page speed, such as how stable it is as it loads, how soon you can interact, and how quickly it loads.
As of May 2021, Core Web Vitals is set to become an official ranking signal. However, rather than being the main ranking factor, it will be used as a tiebreaker when all other factors are equal. For example, if you and another company have pages offering solar PPA, and all other factors are equal, then the UX will be evaluated to see which one comes out higher in search rankings.
Also, this update will provide qualifiers for pages that want to show up in the Top Stories section of Google. In the past, only AMP pages appeared in this section because of how reliably fast they were. However, with Core Web Vitals, Google can measure speed, which opens this option to other people.
As mentioned above, Google regularly changes the search engine results page layout and design to provide more effective and faster experiences for users. Most recently, Google began to focus on zero-click searches. This is results that show up on the top of the first page of search results.
Today, zero-click is more prevalent than ever before. In fact, about 50% of all Google searches will end without a user clicking on anything. When someone searches, the content presented should be able to answer the query.
This new resource, Zero-Click, is like feature snippets. With it, Google can identify specific passages on webpages and highlight the relevant content right in search results. Now it is necessary to optimize content to make sure the feature is easier to operate. One of the best ways to do this is by using structured data. This will help improve the algorithm’s understanding, improve the CTAs, and focus efforts on answering the questions that may be asked.
Enforcement of Mobile-First Indexing on All Sites
Google began switching to mobile-search indexing in 2016. This means a site is ranked based on the mobile version rather than the desktop version. For years, this has been a slow and ongoing process. Google has checked every website to determine if it is mobile-ready and only made this switch if the website passed its test. Also, any newly registered websites were being indexed as mobile-first automatically.
While the process is almost complete, some old-school websites have not adapted to a mobile screen. Google is now putting an end to this. Now, mobile-first indexing is being enforced, regardless of if your website is ready. The full transition was scheduled to occur in March 2021, so now is the time to make this change if you haven’t.
This shouldn’t be new to you, but Google considers your website’s security when determining relevance and ranking. To ensure your SEO efforts are effective, you must add security features like SSL certificates and specialized plugins. Today, people are more aware of the threats on the World Wide Web than ever before. As a result, website security is more important than ever before, too.
If someone does not feel safe when they access your page, the access rate will fall. It will also cause your ranking to fall in SERPs.
The Prevalence of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Google hasn’t wasted time when it comes to using AI. It began in 2015 with RankBrain and continued in 2019 with BERT. Now, AI is being used for interpreting both search results and search queries. In just a year after being launched, BERT went from only 10% to almost 100% of all English queries.
BERT is effective in determining the specific intent of any query. It can be used to correct misspellings, account for missing stop words, find synonyms, learn new words, and resolve lexical ambiguity. It is also the algorithms used for passage indexing. This means it can pull relevant passages from somewhat irrelevant pages. It can also help Google find relevant video pieces and identify songs someone hummed and other things that seem impossible otherwise.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot of things. Long with the consequences of social isolation, people’s habits began to change. During the pandemic, the appreciation for local commerce grew significantly.
This occurred because of a few factors. For example, the economic crisis caused local people to focus on their local area and support the local market to keep the economy strong. Also, limitations related to transportation made people find options close by.
Because of this, the focus on local SEO has also grown. While Local SEO is not new, it is now something that is a must. With these new habits, people are willing to buy items from retailers close-by. This is true even with things like limited transportation and social isolation being lifted.
Adapting to the SEO Changes
As you can see, a lot of changes are coming in 2021. You should prepare now to ensure you are ready for what is happening and what will come. Preparing now will also ensure that your business can remain competitive. By remaining aware of the trends and responding to them proactively, you can ensure that customers find you, regardless of the size of your business or what you sell.