Founder & CEO of Soderman SEO, a master SEO company specializing in SEO services that are 100% data-driven for maximum ROI.
If there’s one thing we know that is certain and constant about SEO, it’s change. There were close to a dozen or so Google algorithm updates in 2020. In 2021, we predict roughly the same.
So what does this tell us for SEO in 2021? It tells us that Google continues to refine and tweak its algorithm to incorporate new technologies and user behaviors. This is why it continues to dominate the search industry and currently has 92% market share.
As Google’s algorithm evolves and grows, so do its patents. Google has over 50,000 patents, with many going to protect its precious algorithm. Within these patents, you can get a solid look at what the big G is trying to accomplish. It still amazes me that some SEO companies haven’t even read one of Google’s algorithm patents, let alone all of them.
As the founder of a company that focuses only on SEO, each December, I dive headfirst into recent Google patents and a year’s worth of data that we pull from thousands of properties we manage each month.
Below, I give you five trends that I believe you’ll want to know and master for your business so you can dominate SEO in 2021.
1. UX Becomes a Top Ranking Factor
UX is short for user experience, which means, with regard to SEO, how a customer or user goes through your website. UX will be an extremely strong ranking factor in 2021 and beyond.
Google can measure UX, and if your site doesn’t cut it, then according to Google, you don’t deserve the top spots — and it’s right.
Think about it.
User Mike navigates to Google, types in a query and clicks over to website A. After a few seconds, Mike hits the “back” button and returns to Google. After being back on Google, Mike clicks over to website B, which he stays on and never returns back to Google.
Website B was a better result for user Mike and Google saw it. This action is known as pogo sticking. Pogo sticking is when a user visits a few sites until they find a result that satisfies their query. Pogo sticking is an extremely strong signal to Google that a user isn’t happy with the results.
And guess what? If users aren’t happy, Google isn’t happy. When it comes to SEO in 2021, the last thing you want is Google unhappy with your site.
Here are some quick wins that can increase your website UX optimization:
• Get your site loading fast, and then make it faster. This will be the No. 1 reason someone clicks back to Google. Check your site speed here.
• Make sure your site is mobile-friendly. If your site doesn’t display correctly for a mobile user, they’ll bounce off and back to Google. Check your mobile-friendliness here.
• Test links and buttons to make sure they work.
• Leverage analytics and heat maps to dive deep into your users’ behaviors. See what they are doing on your site and why they are leaving.
This should get your UX started off right in 2021. Get on it.
2. You Still Need Backlinks
This might be an obvious one, but it still needs to be in your playbook for SEO in 2021. With all things being equal, evaluating backlinks is the only way for Google to differentiate between two sites.
According to a study, backlinks were the No. 1 contributing factor to high rankings. I believe backlinks will continue to be a major ranking factor in 2021 and for years to come.
Here are two tactics that you can use to incorporate into your link-building in 2021.
• Explore competitors’ backlinks. Leveraging tools like Ahrefs.com, you can see who is linking to your competitors and not you. Export that list, and reach out to those sites to try to gain a link from them.
• Build relationships. As an agency with over 200 clients, I’ve found that this is by far the best way to generate and build amazing and high-authority backlinks. Start now, and over time you can build your relationship infrastructure to site owners who will be willing to send you a quality backlink any time.
Go get some backlinks to dominate in 2021.
3. EAT Continues to Grow
EAT stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. Google wants to make sure it’s giving its users accurate information that is written by experts, and EAT is the answer.
If anything can start to eat (no pun intended) away at the importance of backlinks, it’s EAT. One easy way to optimize for EAT is to find a credible author who has expertise in the topics your site will be covering. Have them write well-researched and in-depth content. It’s really that easy.
4. Mobile Searches Soar Again
Google moved to mobile-first indexing for all websites back in September of 2020, and a little earlier, it was made crystal clear that mobile was now king — and a king that won’t be dethroned anytime soon.
Mobile continued to grow in 2020 with a 55% market share worldwide and will continue at a higher rate in 2021.
Mobile seems to be caught up in two SEO trends for 2021 and rightly so. Both are critically important for 2021 SEO.
5. Voice Search Gets Moving
This is a love-hate relationship for me. I cringe when hearing the dreaded, “Hey Google, blah blah blah,” from people around me. But the reality is more people are using voice search every day. It’s just easier at times. Add in the smart home devices like Amazon’s Alexa that are becoming more popular, and voice search is moving up the ranks.
The good news is that it’s no different than regular searches in terms of optimizing for SEO. You really don’t have to do anything different to keywords, UX, backlinks, etc.
There you have it — five trends for SEO in 2021 that should give you a headstart in dominating the search results.