As we near the end of a truly tumultuous year that most people would rather forget, we look forward once again to the coming year and the changes that it brings, specifically to the world of search engine optimization.
SEO has evolved so much since its advent a couple of decades or so ago.
It only seems like yesterday when keyword stuffing was an acceptable way of getting high search engine rankings. Now it’s a widely-condemned practice by Google and other search engines.
The unmistakable emphasis on quality content today is also a far cry from the way search engines ignored it in the beginning. And who would have thought twenty years ago that mobile optimization would even become a thing?
Given that SEO is a relatively young and ever-changing field, we can only expect more and more optimization trends to pop up year in and year out. For 2021, here are some of the SEO trends we believe will impact the industry.
UX Will Blow Up
Over the last couple of years, people have been talking about how great user experience and SEO go hand in hand, but it’s in 2021 that we will see UX become a true-blue, honest-to-goodness ranking factor with the rollout of the Page Experience signal in May 2021.
When sizing up your page’s overall UX, Google will look at your site’s Core Web Vitals, a set of specific factors that focus on the most critical aspects of the user experience such as loading, interactivity, visual stability while loading.
The Core Web Vitals will then be combined with other search signals for page experience like mobile-friendliness, browsing safety, HTTPS-security, and lack of interstitial pop-ups to get a clear picture of the quality of the experience a user goes through when exploring a web page.
Although how Core Web Vitals will directly impact your rankings is still unknown, it’s probably safe to say that getting an excellent page experience score could increase your chances for higher rankings. We have to wait until next year to see what happens, though.
Site Speed Will Matter More Than Ever
Improving site speed has always been a trend year in and year out, mainly because users will always have an insatiable need for speed.
These days, users expect the web pages they access to load in three seconds or less.
If your pages load more slowly than that, you will need to speed things up by optimizing your images for size, content optimization, reducing redirects, and switching to a better web hosting provider.
Voice Search Will Grow Bigger
One clear indicator that voice search will only grow bigger in the coming years is the number of households with at least one smart speaker, the device of choice of voice searchers for their search engine queries.
According to Statista, 35% of U.S. households have at least one smart speaker as of 2019, but that figure is poised to balloon over the years to 75% by 2025.
With the continued rise of voice search, the people who do SEO would do well to optimize for it. They can do things like target long-tail key phrases, use conversational language when creating content, and improve content readability to perform well in voice search results.
Mobile-friendliness Will Grow In Importance
Being mobile-friendly has always been important over the last few years, given that it’s actually a ranking factor.
However, Google’s scheduled rollout of mobile-first indexing for all websites in March 2021 is going to change the mobile game forever.
Starting March next year, the mobile version of your website will be Google’s primary basis when indexing and ranking it. That means your site must perform well on mobile devices or face the risk of your pages dropping in Google search rankings.
Find out how mobile-friendly your site is by checking out Google’s Mobile Friendly Test.
These trends are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg as far as 2021 SEO trends are concerned. While trends may come and go, the ones listed above are likely to be around for a long time. Then again, change is the only constant in SEO, and that’s why we all need to be on the lookout for trends that just might become a game-changer for everyone in the coming years.
About the Author
Shawn Byrne is the founder and CEO of SEOPhoenix.net. Shawn started his career in I.T. troubleshooting workstations, servers and networks, then went on to doing SEO as a side project and quickly found success in ranking websites. It was easy for him to grasp not only the algorithms but also the technical side which most SEO strategists miss and neglect because of its complexities. SEO Phoenix then grew based on its own rankings and referrals.