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SEO Trends That Will Dominate in 2021

Let me guess:

You want to dominate SERPs and generate a consistent stream of revenue for your brand. 

But it’s challenging to stay on top of over 500 small improvements Google makes in its search algorithm every year. Don’t fret! In this article, you’ll learn the top SEO trends that might impact your search rankings in 2021.

User experience becomes crucial to rank in search

In May 2020, the Chrome team introduced Core Web Vitals (CWV), a set of metrics to measure the user experience on the web. Later Google announced a new signal that combines them with existing user experience signals. 

These page experience signals will roll out in May 2021.

The goal: To measure the quality of experience a user has on a web page — which is broken down into speed, responsiveness, and visual stability. Here’s a diagram from Google showing all the search signals comprised of CWV and the existing UX-related signals:

Here are the recommended values of the three metrics for your reference:

  • 2.5 seconds or faster for the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) — the time taken by the page’s main content to load.
  • Less than 100 milliseconds for the First Input Delay (FID) — the time between the first user interaction of a page and when the bowser begins dealing with event handles in response.
  • Less than 0.1 Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) — the unexpected layout shift of a page’s content and elements during its lifespan.

In an analysis of 2,500 keywords and 20,000 URLs by Screaming Frog, only 12% of mobile and 13% of desktop results passed the CWV test. 

Google might add labels to search results that provide a good experience, thereby positively affecting your click through rates. Faster loading, interactive pages make for a better branded experience, anyway.

Core Web Vitals get the spotlight

To prepare for this update, access your Core Web Vitals Report from Google Search Console. My mobile report shows a need for improvement in the LCP.

Next, use Page Speed Insights and Lighthouse for fixing these issues. Also, work on your site’s loading speed, ensure it’s mobile-friendly, and aim to build an engaging website design.

Multimedia content gets more SERP real estate…

In their first CWV announcement, Google mentioned the following: “…A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content.”

This reiterates that content not satisfying user intent doesn’t stand a chance to rank. And while comprehensive and high-quality textual content alone can do the job for most search terms, users love multimedia. It makes for a more “helpful” and “enjoyable” experience.

In competitive niches, where long-form content dominates search results, videos provide a breather and convenience to the readers. It can potentially increase the average time on page users spend, thereby helping your rankings.

YouTube videos factor more in search results

Some queries have a “video intent,” which makes YouTube videos relevant to them. Google prominently features video carousels in its featured snippets for them.

There’s a separate video carousel with YouTube videos appearing for many searches as well:

Having a YouTube presence for your business could help capture more real estate in organic listings and create better brand awareness. No wonder Content Marketing Institute research found that pre-produced videos were the fourth most popular content type B2B marketers used last year.

So get started with video marketing if you haven’t already. Focusing on YouTube might make sense as a Hootsuite social media trends report for 2021 found the video platform to be one of the top three channels brands plan to increase their investments in.

If you’re not comfortable in front of the camera, a podcast could also lend a personal touch and improve your site’s engagement. Choose from one of these podcast hosting platforms and get started with creating an audio version of your blog posts, like Podcast Insights:

Emphasis on E-A-T

The acronym E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It was popularized in 2015 when Google shared its Quality Rating Guidelines PDF

Demonstrating E-A-T in your content can help your search rankings. In a post on its Webmaster Central Blog about core algorithmic updates, Google recommends: “…assessing your own content in terms of E-A-T criteria may help align it conceptually with the different signals that our automated systems use to rank content.”

Here’s a quick visual summary of the criteria designed by Shreya Dalela from The Creatives Hour:

So how can you come across as a trustworthy, reputable, and legitimate source of information?

Relevant links and personal brands play an important role

Gary Illyes, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, said that links and mentions from authoritative websites play a critical role in bolstering search rankings. Google can assess the quality accurately, so prioritize building high-quality links.

Besides fact-checking your content, referring to credible external sources and keeping information up-to-date will also help.

Additionally, you can aspire to become a well-known content creator in your industry by working on your personal brand. Guest posting, building a social media audience, and getting interviewed on podcasts in your industry are great starting points.

Usage of online education for building authority

Services like Ahrefs offered their premium courses for free during the pandemic. It was a great way to capitalize on the rising demand for education while adding value to their community.

Such a course not only lets you earn your audience’s trust — it also builds your brand and establishes you as an authority on the subject. In their post on building an inclusive internet, Google shares how providing online education is key for the next billion users to adapt to the web.

In that vein, you can package your expertise in a course addressing your audience’s pain points. Begin with picking one of these online course platforms and creating a multimedia module. Then share it for free with your audience.

If you carefully optimize the landing page of your course for relevant keywords, you could rank its landing page in Google. Elna Cain, a freelance writing coach, created a free 6-day writing course. Its landing page ranks for the phrase “get paid to write:”

Final Thoughts

Even as SEO grows more complex, the sophistication of the search algorithms continues to reward high-quality content. 

An informed SEO strategy could help reach more people, and the above trends are great starting points. 

Are there any major SEO trends you expect to become huge in 2021?

Chintan Zalani is a writer and an ROI-focused content marketer. Get in touch with him at Elite Content Marketer to discuss how to grow your business through content.