Three 2021 SEO Trends to Factor Into Your Strategy

On one hand, it seems silly to lay out a list of SEO trends that will encompass all of 2021. We’re not even one full month into the new year – so how can we really know or predict what this year will bring for SEO? A full year ago in January 2020 – could anyone have predicted what was to come?

On the other hand, you can arm yourself with enough information to build an up-to-date SEO strategy that will just need enhancements along the way. And with that, here are 3 things you need to ensure your SEO strategy is ready for 2021:

2021 SEO Trend #1: Core Web Vitals and UX

Answer this one question immediately: “Do you have a quick website that renders and stabilizes fast?” If you answered anything less than an unequivocal “yes,” then you have work to do. If you’ve been hearing about Core Web Vitals but haven’t had time to check it out, then get excited because now is the time.

Let me ask you another question: have you ever clicked a website link on mobile for something you really wanted to read, and had so many pop ups come at you right and left, you hit the back button or clicked out as fast as possible, frustrated?  I’m pretty sure that it’s a universal law on the Pinterest mobile app that 2 out of every 3 good recipe Pins lead to a horrific page experience with pop ups, video auto plays, and surprise affiliate banners that jump out at you? You know what I’m talking about, right?

Just show me the dang recipe for Ranch Chicken Enchiladas already!!!

example of bad UX for core vitals

Well, with the new Core Web Vitals update that Google will be rolling out this spring, you can bet websites like this won’t be anywhere near the top of Google. Here is an article from Google about how to review your Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console, and more of a “101 Beginner Guide to Core Web Vitals.”

2021 SEO Action Item:

Take 2 minutes now and do one of the following: read an article on Core Web Vital, and act accordingly: email the article to your developer or make fixes on the fly or 2) Take 2 minutes now to schedule further exploration onto your SEO calendar

2021 SEO Trend #2: Keyword Research and Content Creation for Trending Terms

One of the most important takeaways from 2020, was that in unprecedented times where user behavior changes so significantly, we needed to throw our keyword research tools out the window. The problem with many keyword research tools, is that they show search volume based on historical data. With hyper recent events you need to create content on, there is no historical data, making the keyword selection decision more difficult. A good content strategy will consist of both evergreen strategic content, as well as up-to-the minute content.

This is why in 2021, it’s going to be critical to identify and regularly utilize a customer/prospect/industry/community listening tool which will serve as source material, inspiration, and a keyword bank for content.

What you’re looking for, are all the potential ways your content, product, and services can be discoverable based on how people are looking, what challenges they’re facing, what sentiment they’re expressing, and what language they’re using. That is gold.

And what do you do if you don’t have access to first-party data, or a listening tool? Then you pay for access. Check out this paid webinar form the Education industry, and the pieces I’ve highlighted below:

example of listening to audience

2021 SEO Action Item:

Where are you listening? List out all the places you should be regularly visiting. And if you have no idea, then make identifying your listening strategy a top Q1 priority.

2021 SEO Trend #3: Optimize and Update Your Messaging

I actually read a 2021 SEO article just the other day that said in 2021, it’s important to “create great content.” I wanted to throw up. Seriously?

Maybe I’m being too harsh, but do we even need to say that anymore? Can we all please make an agreement that in 2021, “create great content” is a given and we do NOT need to list it as a trend??  “Just create great content” is what you need just to play the game, not to get ahead.

Ok, now that that’s established, let’s move on. In 2021, the trend is not going to be to create new content 100% of the time, but to ensure you’ve fairly balanced going back to update OLD content. In fact, last year Databox updated 24 old blog posts in early 2020 and saw a 75% increase in website traffic.

Why else should you update content? Umm…. #because2020.

2020 seo landscape and world changes

If you don’t have any updates to make to your copy, content, pages, and blog posts (messaging, keywords, positioning, benefits, offers, or meeting objections), then I’m a little worried for you.

Because behavior, desires, and needs have changed. They continue to change every year, and keeping up with the changing needs, desires, and search habits of our audience is nothing new. Take a look at some of these trends across these industries that Facebook shared in a Business Insights article:

  • Green products and sustainability reflect a new eco-consciousness across beauty, fashion and travel.
  • Lifestyle: As people reconsider where they live and how they get around, they’re revamping the role of spaces in their lives—from offices to backyards.
  • Food topics also popped outside of cuisine discussions, as people took new interest in the health and wellness benefits of some ingredients.
  • Decentralization of traditional models in things like exercise, shopping and even screen time
  • Gardening: “New to even kitchen gardening, many are consulting how-to books and online resources for their first season in the soil; searches for “how to grow an avocado,” for instance, increased by 100 times between mid-April 2019 and 2020.”
  • Casual Culture. Casual culture is a reflection of the fact that many people don’t have to focus on their exteriors such as haircuts or fashion. The consumer focus has turned to comfortable clothes, self-care and what Facebook calls more authenticity in communication.
  • Online Shopping: online shopping continues to become the standard way of purchasing goods. It also shows how consumers are focused on purchases that enhance their home life. These trends are predicted to continue through 2021.

Spending time refreshing content, and telling people you’ve refreshed content, is time well spent.

Updating content is important to increase relevance, improve SEO chances, signal freshness, and build trust with your audience. (Reminder: so is SERPS checking and understanding what content Google is prioritizing).

2021 SEO Action Item:

Here are two ways you can update your content:

  1. add the 2021 date where applicable to your title tags and headings:

Well done, Moz!

example title tag that was updated

Date updates result in an increased CTR, one of the essential indirect SEO metrics.

  1. Spend some time identifying content that could benefit from a refresh, and do the following: update headlines to make them more engaging, update and optimize images, add internal links to and from that page, beef up the copy, and remove outdated information. Of and of course – add a call to action. Then, make sure to tell people that content has been updated:
example post that has been updated

You can schedule this, or take time now and do it on the fly. Regardless, don’t forget to go back and measure.

There are many more things to think about to bring your site up to 2021 SEO standards, but these three areas are a great start. We’ll of course cover more areas as we go along. The good thing about SEO, is that your job is never done. There is always more to do (job security!).

Cheers to a great 2021!

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Jenny Munn

Jenny is an independent Digital Marketer and SEO Consultant with more than 10 years of experience helping companies and content creators generate brand awareness, traffic, and conversions with SEO. She is a frequent speaker and is on the faculty for the AMA (American Marketing Association) and has taught SEO to thousands of marketers over the past 10 years.
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