December 3, 2020 | By:

How to Dominate SEO in 2021: 5 Trends and Predictions

As we approach the end of 2020, the new year is ripe with new opportunities for search engine optimization (SEO). The pandemic has greatly shifted the landscape of digital marketing and consumer behavior and a few trends are emerging as game-changers for SEO in 2021.

Here’s how to dominate SEO as we enter the new year:

1. Mobile-first indexing: Prioritize your mobile strategy

Google has been taking it slow in rolling out their mobile-first indexing. They’ve started the initial steps in 2016 and the final implementation was slated on September 2020. However, Google announced that they are extending the transition date to March 2021. By then, all websites will be shifted to mobile-first indexing.

This means that if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, your search rankings will suffer—and so it’s high time to prioritize your mobile strategy, if you haven’t done so already.

How to prepare for 2021:

  • Check your website’s current index status: Go to Google Search Console, then select Property → Settings → About → Indexing crawler. If you see “Googlebot Smartphone,” Google has already switched your website to mobile-first indexing. Fix all indexing errors, if there are any.
  • Check if your site is mobile-friendly. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. If it’s not, switch to a responsive web design (RWD). See Google’s comprehensive guide here for RWD.
  • Implement Google’s mobile-first indexing best practices: such as consistency of meta robots tags, checking Robot.txt, and minimizing lazy-load content to name a few.
2. Core Web Vitals: Focus more on user experience

Earlier in 2020, Google announced that they will be adding a new ranking signal called Core Web Vitals (CWV), which are regarded as page experience signals. CWV will soon be rolled out in May 2021 and will be used together with other existing user experience signals such as mobile-friendliness and HTTPS security.

This means that in 2021, with more and more users opting for mobile browsing over desktop, Google will focus its efforts on user experience.

How to prepare for 2021:

  • Measure your CWV using the following tools to help you improve each metric: Chrome User Experience Report, PageSpeed Insights, Search Console, Chrome DevTools, and Lighthouse.
  • Optimize your page’s loading speed: compress web image sizes, enable caching, minimizing plugins, and avoiding too many redirects.
3. Local SEO: Optimize your Google My Business listing

As we embrace the new normal, e-commerce and online searches for businesses are steadily on the rise. Your Google My Business (GMB) listing will be important now more than ever, and Google has made a few additions to the listings to adapt to business changes and new consumer preferences.

How to prepare for 2021:

  • If you don’t have a listing yet, claim and verify your business in Google My Business and make sure to confirm that all information is accurate and correct.
  • If you already have a GMB listing, optimize it even further by adding health & safety and other “new normal” attributes such as:
    • safety measures in place at your business (both customer and staff)
    • dining options (takeout, delivery, no-contact delivery, curbside pickup, or no dine-in service)
    • online service options (classes, appointments, or estimates)
    • reduced hours/temporary closures
4. Google BERT and AI: Write for users, not search engines

Google has been hard at work to further improve user experience. In 2021, it’s expected that there will be more changes to semantic search, Google BERT, natural-language processing, and the use of artificial intelligence to understand search intent better.

How to prepare for 2021:

  • Focus on providing quality content. Write with your audience in mind, not how search engines would “read” and index your content.
  • Use headers and lists (bulleted or numbered) and apply structured data to your content (particularly FAQ, how-to, and Q&A schema markups). It’s more likely that Google will rank your content better and show them on search engine results pages (SERPs). Here’s a guide on how to implement structured data to your content.
5. Voice search: Target long-tail, naturally sounding keywords

With pandemic restrictions in place, and more businesses adopting extended and even permanent remote work arrangements, the use of voice search technology is increasing. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2022, there will be 70 million households in the US with at least one smart speaker like Amazon Echo and Google Home (and therefore use voice search).

With Google continually working on improving search intent analysis, this also means that voice search will have more prominence in 2021 and the years ahead.

How to prepare for 2021:

  • Target long-tail keywords and phrase them the way a person would speak it when asking another person. For example, users will more likely ask “Where is the nearest graphic designer?” in voice search, but use “graphic designer near me” when typing their queries.
  • Use question-based keywords, as with the example above. They are more likely to be ranked on Google’s featured snippets and thus have a higher chance of being shown in the results of voice searches.

Is your SEO strategy ready for 2021?

SEO is always evolving, and there will be more in store as 2021 unfolds. Is your SEO strategy ready for the new year ahead? If you need help, we’re here to lend you a hand in fine-tuning your strategy and easing the burden of implementing changes to your SEO approach.

Just give us a call at 888-420-5115, or message us at [email protected]. Here’s to an exciting year ahead!

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