It’s no secret that SEO works. Up to 80% of users ignore paid results and skip straight to the organic ones. And since traffic means nothing without conversions, you’ll be happy to know that 28% of these users will also convert.
A 28% conversion rate for every page that ranks high enough in search engines? Yes, please!
Want to sign up for this, too? Then you need to ditch old school SEO and focus on what really brings organic traffic in 2021 and beyond.
SEO Trends that Will Dominate 2021
1. Ready for the AI Revolution?
Don’t worry; this is not about robots taking over our jobs. It’s about how AI can make search better for users.
Without getting into too much detail, I’ll just say that, like any form of intelligence, artificial intelligence needs to learn to become better at what it does. Google signaled that they would be betting on AI a few years ago, with the RankBrain algorithm update.
This hasn’t changed yet. So how can AI impact your SEO strategy?
As always, it’s all about the user experience. AI will use queues from the users of your website to see how high it deserves to rank. Click-through rates, for instance, are a good indicator of how powerful your headlines are, while the time spent on page and the bounce rate will tell how engaging your content was.
What can you do to please our AI overlords? Here’s a quick overview:
- Spend more time writing catchy and descriptive headlines. Tell people what they’re getting in exchange for the time spent reading your content.
- Create great content that keeps people glued to the page they clicked on. Visuals, listicles, bullet points – all help to break down the text and make it more skimmable and easier to read.
- Inbound linking and well-placed CTAs will keep people clicking through your website and, thus, reduce your bounce rate.
2. Long-Form Content Is Still Your Best Friend
Search engines love comprehensive, in-depth content. If you can be a one-stop-shop for all your visitors’ information needs, they won’t need to bounce back to search results and they’ll spend more time on your content (we’ve already covered why this matters).
According to SEMrush, 3000+ words articles get 3 times more traffic, 4 times more shares, and 3.5 times more backlinks than your typical 1000+ words article.
Of course, the main problem is still being able to write a lot on a topic without adding fluff.
Here’s a quick guide from my team of expert SEO writers:
- Have a plan. Don’t start writing to see where you might get. Always start with your table of contents (that’s your H2s and your H3s).
- Stick to the point.
- Edit mercilessly. Can you cut down any words from any of your phrases without losing meaning? If so, do it!
- Remember whom you’re writing for. I can’t stress this enough! For example, if you’re writing a post about advanced Facebook ads tips, do assume that your audience already knows when Facebook was founded and how much Mark Zuckerberg makes in a year. If they don’t know, they don’t care. A bit of background info is great in any piece of content, but don’t go back to the dinosaurs’ era just to drive your word count up.
Long-form content has helped one of my agency’s clients rank for EVERY keyword they aimed for. Yes, we were doing that long before it was cool. Check out their full story here.
3. Voice Search Powers Long-Tail Keywords
Alexa, Siri, and their peers are becoming more and more prevalent. This is great news – and not just for those who sell voice assistants.
Long tail keywords are easier to rank for and they’re easier to align to your business goals. Bonus: it’s much easier to write naturally when your piece centers on a long-tail keyword.
In 2021, a user might type plumber Nova Scotia but they will voice search for how can I find an affordable plumber in Nova Scotia. The latter option gives you more leeway to optimize for a differentiating factor (affordability), which, in a way, helps you pre-qualify your users.
A text search is a bit harder to match with intent. Someone searching for plumber Nova Scotia might be interested in getting a plumbing license, so they won’t be your client anytime soon. A long-tail voice search is always more clear on intent.
Key takeaway: don’t focus on search volume. Focus on intent if you want your SEO to be profitable.
4. Get Serious about Your Visual Content
Video has been an SEO trend for years now. This hasn’t really changed. Only in the sense that it’s more than a trend that will happen at some point. Video has now gone mainstream and it’s an important part of any marketing strategy and, yes, SEO, too.
What’s relatively new for 2021 is the importance of image optimization. Are your images added to your sitemap? If not, it’s high time you added them.
More importantly, make sure you use high-quality images and, if you opt for stock ones, do change their names and tags. Use names that are relevant to the written content they accompany and ensure that they are indexed.
Wrapping Things Up
If we’re being honest, you don’t have that much on your SEO plate in 2021, especially if you’ve been doing it right all along. A user-centric approach to SEO (and to marketing in general) shouldn’t be news to anyone.
I’ve been saying this for years: write for humans, not bots. Ideally, you should spend 90% of your time coming up with catchy topics and writing content worth reading and 10% of your time taking care of small optimization issues like image alt tags and meta descriptions that have your target keyword front and center. That’s it!
Need help with content that ranks high in SERPs? We’re just a click away!