At the start of each year, advertisers ask the same question: “Is SEO still relevant for me?”
This year, the question takes a more significant meaning after having just come from that catastrophic 2019 when a pandemic ravaged the world. Business owners took a hit as 6 in 10 companies permanently closed shop due to lockdowns and plunging sales.
So, you might be asking the next question, is it still worth investing in Search Engine Optimization when all my resources are already tight?
The short answer is yes.
As the 2008 financial crunch had shown us, businesses that ramped up their marketing spending in the middle of the crisis recovered quicker. Meanwhile, more conservative companies had a rockier restart.
However, it does not mean that you should hastily spend your money. It is why you should be on the lookout for SEO trends, which should help shape your decision.
Here are the SEO trends you can anticipate for 2021:
1. Remember the acronyms
You should be familiar with these two terms, which impact your SEO campaign. BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations Transformers, while NLP stands for Natural Language Processing. While they are not a new technology, you need to know that their machine-learning capability would drastically change the way Google will appreciate the search query.
With NLP, for instance, Google can better understand the context and nuance of the language used in the query. For now, nearly 4 in 10 organizations are already utilizing artificial intelligence to target their audience and analyze their data sets. AI will continue to change the SEO landscape as the industry will reach an estimated $120 billion by 2025. With machine learning, you can ensure more accurate results in your analytics, which will enable you to boost the success of your SEO campaign.
2. Corporate Identity becomes more relevant
Now, more than ever, you need to know who you are because Google would be asking the same question when indexing websites. You need to tick all the right boxes on the panels on Google’s Knowledge Graph, so you show up when people search for people, organizations, places, etc.
With the Knowledge Panel, you essentially have a billboard that lists vital information regarding your company. More importantly, it also boosts your credentials, as far as Google is concerned.
Blue-chip companies automatically have their distinct billboards because they are aware of their significance. You cannot reason out that you are a one-person organization or a small business to justify your lack of a Knowledge Panel.
What this means is that you should start thinking of your brand as an entity. Any marketing effort you employ going forward should be to persuade Google and your customers about who you are.
3. The continued dominance of mobile
The trend is not new since, for many years now, people have been accessing the Internet using their mobile devices. For example, as of October last year, 9 in 10 of the nearly five billion Internet users in the world use mobile to access the Web. Meanwhile, mobile e-commerce has shown no signs of slowing down from 2020 through 2024, as shown by the data below.
What this means is that your SEO campaign should take into account mobile Internet. You start with your website and make sure that it is optimized for smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
Since 9 in 10 of your target audience are using their mobile gadgets to access your website, you must enhance the customer experience rather than make it difficult for them.
Hire web developers familiar with white-hat SEO tactics to optimize your page for search engines and target customers.
4. Lifetime value vs. short-term gains
There used to be a time when SEO was used purely to drive traffic and create leads for your business. Now, your SEO should be a tool to meet your objective. But your job has just started once you funneled traffic to your company and created leads. Your ultimate goal should be to enhance the client experience to create a customer lifetime value. Analytics will play a larger role in getting a profile of your target customers--who they are, what they do when they are online or offline, what they like, the links they click, the purchases they make, and the way they interact with your website. The profile will be material to create a unique experience tailored to each need. When you customize the experience, you make the customer feel important, and they are more likely to reward you with loyalty.
5. Search intent
Search engines have automated almost all aspects of PPC, and, along with machine learning, they managed to unpack user intent. Again, search intent is not a new concept. Every year, marketers are trying to find the magic formula to determine the nature of user queries. It is challenging because behavior and intent are in constant flux.
People go to Google when they want to ask something, buy a product, or retrieve information. But user intent is more nuanced than that. The advertisers who can unlock the true nature of search will have a higher chance of maximizing their marketing campaign. Search engines continue to tweak their algorithms to match user intent.
Fortunately, Google is already trying to show you the way. For example, if the searcher is looking for scholarly articles on marketing, the SERP will list research and academic studies relevant to the search.
Its machine-learning technology will recommend results. But you need to leverage best practices to gain an edge over your competition. One method to do this is to analyze your search engine results pages and parse data so that your keywords best address user intent.
Those are some of the trends to look out for this 2021. But make sure that you have a strong foundation, which means that your website is optimized for mobile and SEO, and you produce only high-quality content. These tactics are evergreen, regardless of the future changes in the digital marketing landscape.