If there was ever a year to be on the lookout for key SEO trends it’s this one; as we get 2021 underway, online shopping has soared to record new highs, as more and more of us opt to stay home rather than head into the store. Data from Adobe suggests that online retail sales in the USA alone have grown by 39% year-on-year, while research carried out by Nosto found that UK firms enjoyed a 23% increase in online sales on Black Friday.

With many shoppers reluctant to head back into physical bricks and mortar locations, being visible online is more important than ever. To do that, you need to be aware of current SEO trends and best practise thinking. These are just some of the key considerations identified by SEO experts in the annual Search Engine Journal survey, which was released last month.

AI Will Grow In Importance

RankBrain has played an increasingly vital role in surfacing search results since its launch a couple of years ago; and you should expect this to accelerate even further in 2021. A Google scientist who developed RankBrain described it as unlike any other ranking signal because of its ability to learn. It is thought the user experience is important in the context of RankBrain so, expect to spend more time thinking about how you can optimise your visitor pathway through the site and encourage them to spend more time on site.

User Intent

Closely linked to AI is user intent. Back in 2019, Google rolled out Bert, calling it the most important new search algorithm it had deployed in more than five years. As a natural language processor, BERT was Google’s attempt to better understand natural human speech – or, search intent. This means the sites that succeed in 2021 and rise to the top of the ranking are those that best answer user search queries and understand what exactly the search user wants when they input a phrase or keyword.

A core component of this trend is serving up content that answers the query or meets the user’s needs. Basing your content on the E-A-T model as well as studying search results for key phrases are both good starting points for this trend.

Optimising for Core Web Vitals

Google has given advance notice of a new ranking factor for 2021; Core Web Vitals. Slated to come into effect early next year, this factor will consider a whole host of elements to determine the overall health and accessibility of the page including load speed, security protocols, image size and optimisation, navigation and ease of use.

Many of these factors are already established as SEO best practise but, with the shift to Core Web Vitals as a ranking consideration, it’s well worth performing an audit across each page of your site to assess the user experience and accessibility.

Passage Ranking

Late on in 2020, Google announced that it would rank specific passages from larger pieces of content within the search results if it offered a good response to the search query.

At the time, Google explained, “We’ve recently made a breakthrough in ranking and are now able to not just index web pages, but individual passages from the pages. By better understanding the relevancy of specific passages, not just the overall page, we can find that needle-in-a-haystack information you’re looking for. This technology will improve 7 percent of search queries across all languages as we roll it out globally.”

Now, SEOs expect this to play a greater role in the SERPs in 2021; which could suggest that new search features will debut on the home page or that more rich snippets will appear above the organic results.

Mobile Still Matters

Mobile has been around for what feels like forever in SEO terms but, don’t be fooled into thinking that its importance has in any way diminished. If anything, it’s more important than ever thanks to a steady increase in mobile usage, especially for search and shopping.

Long Form Content

Longer pieces of content are also expected to play an important role in SEO results in 2021, with some SEOs suggesting that they are already seeing pieces around the 2000 word mark perform better in search.

If you’d like expert help to bring all of these SEO trends together into a campaign that delivers real results for your website, speak to Adrac today.

Author Rebecca

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