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Best practices for search engine optimization continue to evolve year after year. As agency professionals know all too well, any business that doesn’t want to end up on the wrong side of a new algorithm or major search engine change must keep up to date on the latest trends and changes to understand their potential impact.
Being aware of what’s coming down the pipeline can help a business plan for and prevent possible penalties, or a massive drop in its site’s ranking. Below, 11 experts from Forbes Agency Council look at some SEO trends and changes that are likely to impact how businesses market and advertise online to reach target audiences this year.
1. Mobile SEO
The most impactful trend is just how mobile SEO is. More and more people do most of their searching through a mobile device. If you’re doing SEO for desktops and not for mobile, sure, your desktop ranking may be higher, but your mobile ranking could be abysmal. Focusing on mobile SEO is important and is only going to become more so. – Danny Star, Website Depot
2. Zero-Click Search
Don’t underestimate the local search listings. Local SEO is crucial because of the steady rise of zero-click searches, where top search results provide answers via the SERP itself. Many zero-click searches are local, so it is vital to build a solid backlink profile and set up a Google My Business account. – Oganes Vagramovich Barsegyan, Digital Beverly Marketing Solutions
3. Voice Search
Voice search, without a doubt, is going to change the way the world interacts with search engines. Conversation sampling is happening on a day-to-day basis, and the AI race to a world where we can have answers to questions prior to users asking them is for sure going to change the SEO landscape. These are exciting times! The end goal for anything is to make it more efficient, and voice search does just that. – Rhys Boulanger, RAB Digital Inc.
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4. Intent Content
The one major trend in SEO that will continue in 2021 is having best-in-class intent content curated with the user in mind; this is a must in order to rank well. We will continue to see websites using black hat SEO techniques lose traffic and rankings. You need to do smart keyword research to write about topics people are searching for, then study your competitors’ content and create something better – Jonas Muthoni, Deviate Agency
5. Buyer-Centric Content
Aside from any technical algorithm shifts, most of which are outside of your control, simply ensure that your content is searcher- and buyer-centric and not just “me-me-me” sales copy. Be there, be useful and address the specific pains your buyer is looking to solve or fix. Rather than trying to outsmart the search engines, focus on your user; your site will perform better and therefore rank better. – Raman Sehgal, ramarketing
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6. Video Content
As YouTube’s impact on SEO continues to increase, it’s worth keeping in mind that your SEO strategy should have a video component. These videos should voice the target keywords and be optimized for search. You also want to embed a video on your landing page that targets the same keyword. – Alex Quin, UADV MARKETING
7. Core Web Vitals
This year more than ever, SEO will focus on the user. In May, Core Web Vitals will gain prominence as a ranking factor. This means websites will need to be optimized for good user experience, including quick loading and response times and easy mobile navigation in order to make the coveted top ten in SERP. The more focused your website is on meeting user needs, the better your SEO results will be. – Patricia Rioux, Team ODEA
8. Google’s SMITH Algorithm
Google’s new algorithm, SMITH (Siamese Multi-depth Transformer-based Hierarchical), builds off of the BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) algorithm to allow Google to better understand the intents and purposes of longer, more in-depth pages with a high frequency of content. This also allows for the possibility of housing numerous (related) topics on one page, rather than dedicating different landing pages to different topics. – Larry Gurreri, Sosemo LLC
9. Cumulative Layout Shift
If you work in marketing, advertising or PR, your job involves SEO, and CLS is one of the biggest changes on the horizon this year. Users experience it when site content suddenly displaces, causing errant clicks. Google has said it will become a ranking factor in May, meaning it will impact search results, so it is something that all marketers should have on their radar. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative
10. More Showing And Less Telling
Today, SEO is influenced by context, rather than just keywords and word count. Think: compelling graphics, videos and even audio creatives. We are in a world where attention is fractured, and any attention that can be earned needs to be nurtured with care. SEO is just the beginning of the journey. SEO needs to not only attract attention, but also convert that attention. – Bernard May, National Positions
11. High-Quality Backlinks
Google’s search quality advocate, John Mueller, recently stated that a single, high-quality backlink from a top-tier news site is more valuable than millions of low-quality links from other websites. That means, if you are doing PR well, you could be better off than if you were working with a traditional SEO firm. Technical SEO and media relations are a powerful combination for the future of search. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove
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Author: Expert Panel®, Forbes Councils Member
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