SEO trends to watch in 2021

Hello everyone and welcome back to our blog. In today’s article, we’ll discuss some of the more significant upcoming trends and changes to Google’s search algorithm and the impact they will have, not just on SEO, but also on the Internet as we know it in 2021. Because let’s face it –Google’s algorithm is the one calling the shots here. If your website fails to adapt, or worse yet – refuses to fall in line with the new implementations, it is going to fall behind the competition and ultimately fade into obscurity. 

Since this article is going to be on the lengthier side, you can use the list below to jump to the points that interest you the most. Still, we would highly recommend that you read through the entire post, because, whether you like it or not, this is going to be the new face of the Internet.  

The top 8 trends to watch in 2021:

New UX Metrics: The user-first approach is going to be mandatory

User experience metrics are going to be the key to outranking your competitors. 

According to a recent Google announcement, the Core Web Vitals system will become the new criteria for ranking higher in search results. Since Google’s entire model is centred around delivering streamlined and easy-to-consume content to the user, this implementation should not come as a surprise. The main points here are loading speed, interactivity and visual stability

What this means

For a long time, both business owners and SEO agencies have had difficulties grasping this rather straightforward concept. So, to put it in layman’s terms: if two websites offer the same content relevance and quality, then user experience will be the deciding factor. If your website performs better than those of your competitors, you will receive a boost. 

What you need to do 

Google presents its users with a wide range of tools, capable of gauging the performance of their website.

This includes (but is not limited to) Page Speed Insights, Search Console, ChromeDevTools and the Web Vitals Extension for Google Chrome. These tools will highlight the areas in which a website is lacking and, on some occasions, present the users with suggestions on how to improve them.

Google Page Speed Insights

AI & Search Intent Predictions: The algorithm knows best

With each passing year, Google’s algorithm grows smarter. The AI in charge of query interpretations can now accurately “understand” contextual queues, identify the user’s search intent, resolve ambiguities and suggest spelling mistakes, all to present more accurate search results. As a result, people are much more likely to find precisely what they need within a single search.

What this means:

In the future, content optimisation will not be nearly as reliant on keywords and repetitions. 

What you need to do

This update will provide you with a lot more freedom to publish user-focused content, as opposed to the keyword-stuffed search-engine-targeted word soups of the past. Since you won’t have to chase a specific keyword percentage, you will be free to unleash your creativity and get your message across in the way you want to. 

Mobile-first Indexing: Mobile friendliness will be even more important

Is Your Website Mobile Friendly

Mobile-friendliness has played a big part in ranking higher in the search results for quite some time now, so this particular implementation was expected. Google wants to provide its users with easily accessible content, no matter where they are or what device they are using and they’ve been pushing mobile-first ranking for years. 

Besides, even if it wasn’t for Google’s ranking algorithms, mobile optimisation is something that every website owner ought to leverage since a huge portion of the users today access the web via their mobile devices. 

Of course, this sort of adjustment takes a while, and the engineers over at Google have given website owners plenty of time to adapt. So far, the algorithm was enforcing mobile-first indexing only if the given website was considered mobile-ready. In the near future, however, this will change, and websites will be forced into the system, regardless of their current situation. 

What this means

Websites which aren’t fully optimised for mobile browsing will suffer a big hit in their search results position. This situation presents website owners with an opportunity to climb higher in on the search results at no real added cost. 

What you need to do

The experts over at Google have prepared a mobile-first indexing checklist, detailing the criteria that a website must meet to rank higher in the search results. And, since a significant portion of this depends on the type of theme that a website is using, the transition will be relatively painless for the majority of website owners. For projects with custom-build themes, however, the procedure might require professional assistance, or, in some of the more extreme cases, a complete redesign. 

EAT factors could move up in importance


If you’ve been keeping track of the search engine optimisation community, you’ve probably noticed the notoriety, surrounding the whole EAT debate. Even though there are hundreds of experts out there who swear by the effectiveness of EAT signals, there are also those who believe them to be entirely useless for the sake of ranking. Given the last few waves of algorithm changes, however, it is safe to assume that Google’s algorithm is pretty close to being able to accurately measure the EAT rating of a website. 

What is EAT and why do people care about it? 

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. It is a way to gauge the accuracy of the content/information provided by a given page. If the website mentions the “correct” entities, it will be considered accurate. Additionally, factors like the author and brand credibility and their connections to other authoritative entities also play a role here.

What you need to do

Focus on publishing high-quality content, use accurate and trusted sources and don’t worry about what is happening under the hood. As long as your content is created in good faith and follows the general guidelines, you will do just fine. This change is mostly aimed at culling “alternative” sources and dissenting theories and will not hinder the positions of business websites. Furthermore, backlinks remain a reliable alternative for raking up those coveted authority points.

Entities, Entities, Entities

Speaking of authority, Google’s algorithm is expected to start judging the trustworthiness and authority of pages, based on their relationships with various entities. Now, this might sound a bit confusing, since “entity” is quite the nebulous term, but for the purposes of Search Engine Optimisation (and Google’s algorithm), entities are things or concepts which are: singular, unique, well-defined and distinguishable. This means that everything from people and companies to songs, movies and books classifies as a separate entity

What this means:

Even though backlinks from authoritative pages are not going to lose value directly, their importance will be somewhat diminished, due to the increased weight of entities. This change aims to create an entity relationship-based model, which Google will then use to automatically assign trustworthiness and authority to websites, brands and individual authors. The more trustworthy and authoritative entities will receive a “boost” to their ranking.

What you need to do

Ideally, you would turn your brand into an entity, recognisable for Google’s algorithm. This process involves a number of steps, from claiming your Google Business Profile profile, all the way to using a specific content creation strategy and unique syntax queues. And, if this sounds a bit conflicted with the previous point, don’t worry, because it’s not meant to put your creativity “back in the box”. Instead, think of it as solidifying (or, if you still haven’t gone through that process yet, forging) your brand’s identity and online presence. From a website owner’s perspective, the process is quite similar to the already familiar marketing approaches. 

Structured Data will be a must

Structured data is a way of telling search algorithms (or in this case – Google) more about the type of content, product or service, offered by your website. A page properly leveraging structured data can benefit from Google’s ability to create rich snippets. This is very important for websites that focus on recipes, news articles, reviews and more.

Beyond that, Google also utilises structured data to determine where your business is located and push it higher up in the local search results. This is achieved by the “local business” schema and is considered a key component in local SEO for small and medium-sized B2C websites with physical stores, offices or other facilities. 

Google also relies on structured data to define entities. And, even though the algorithm is more than capable of retrieving entity information even from unstructured pages, implementing the appropriate elements will serve to dramatically speed up the process. 

What this means:

Websites which make the necessary adjustments will enjoy a smoother transition into the new era of SEO and benefit from better ranking opportunities. 

What you need to do

Structured data implementations require adjustments to the code of your website. But don’t worry – it’s not nearly as complicated as it sounds. You won’t need to build a new website from the ground up. The entire system is very streamlined and adding it to an existing page isn’t exactly rocket science. 

Intent will be the name of the game

Since Google’s algorithm is good at recognising search intent, it’s natural to assume that it will do everything in its power to deliver the exact answer in snippet form, rather than a link to a homepage, for example. And while this sounds great from a user standpoint, it can be rather annoying for you as a website owner. If the visitor gets their question answered without even visiting your website, then they might not bother clicking through, right?

Well, yes and no. 

What this means:

Well-written and adequately structured content is going to potentially drive even more traffic than before. It’s all up to the specific website’s marketing strategy. If you are publishing content with the idea to drive traffic by answering 50 different questions in your 1000-words-long listicle, chances are that the user won’t have any reason to click through, since they would’ve already seen everything that you’ve got to offer on the subject. If your content is detailed, well-written and captivating, however, you are going to stand out from the competition and enjoy a not insignificant boost in traffic. 

What you need to do

Publish only high-quality, user-focused content, tailored with the rich snippet function in mind. Of course, this also makes schema implementations a must. For video content and answers to specific questions, consider including FAQ schema elements and marking down the critical portions of the video. 

Local SEO will take more finesse 

Local Seo

When it comes to local search engine optimisation, Google Business Profile (or GMB, for short) is your best friend. When combined with the appropriately structured data implementations, a Google Business Profile registration will allow you to appear higher in local (relevant) searches and put your message right in front of your potential customers. With the recent updates to the service, you can now add additional information about your products and services, publish short-form posts, offer digital reservations and set up messaging options. 

What this means:

Google Business Profile Optimisation is vital for local SEO. In fact, thanks to all of the newly added advanced features, your GMB account is almost as important as your actual website. A well-optimised GMB can provide your potential customers with all of the needed information on whether they want to do business with you, that they might convert before even visiting your website. 

What you need to do

Familiarise yourself with the options presented by GMB and take the appropriate steps to optimise everything in line with your brand message and marketing strategy. Think of your GMB registration as an extension (or a crucial part) of your business model, rather than a separate (or optional) add-on.

In Summary 

Q: So, is SEO Dead?

A: No, these changes will not “kill SEO” or “make SEO obsolete”. And, no, we are not just saying that because we are an SEO & Marketing agency. Changes of this sort aim to minimise the “mechanical” component of optimisation to decrease the number of low-quality websites that clutter the top positions in search results. If anything, it is guaranteed to make well-optimised websites stand out even more, as Google’s algorithm will filter out the low-effort projects much more effectively.

Q: But you just said that some of the standard optimisation strategies will take a big hit!

A: Yes, that much is true. But, as we have said time and again, Search Engine Optimisation should not be viewed as a separate process, but rather as an integral part of your long-term marketing strategy. We believe that things like brand-centric design, user-first content marketing, seamless navigation and stunning visuals should be a staple, rather than the “added benefit” that they are today. 

Q: Can a business owner leverage these changes to gain a competitive advantage?

A: Yes, that is most certainly possible. Even though the changes might seem a tad drastic to some, they are definitely workable and, if you approach them properly, you can expect to gain a significant boost in your position in the search results. 

So, to sum it all up, here’s what these changes mean for website owners:

  • UX Metrics – Your website has to meet (or ideally – slightly exceed) the current standards for loading speed, interactivity and visual stability.  
  • AI & Search Intent – Your content strategy has to be centred around the user, rather than the search engine.
  • Mobile-first Indexing – Your users should be able to enjoy your website, regardless of their location or choice of device. Mobile-friendliness is a must.
  • EAT factors – Your content needs to be accurate, on point and created in good faith. 
  • Entities – Your brand strategy should be centred around solidification of your online presence and long-term client retention. You want authoritative sources, trustworthy content creators and high-quality publications. 
  • Structured Data – Your website should be prepared to leverage schema to its full potential. 
  • User Intent – Well-written and adequately structured content is going to drive even more traffic than before.
  • Local SEO – Your GMB account is just as important as your official website. Take good care of it, and the benefits will soon follow. 

And, with this, we’ve reached the end of today’s post. Of course, there is always more to learn about Google’s ever-evolving search algorithms, but we hope that this will serve as a good starting point and will help you prepare for the upcoming changes. Before we wrap up and call it a day, we’d like to reiterate that Search Engine Optimisation should be treated as a part of your long-term marketing strategy, rather than an entirely separate process. 

SEO alone won’t boost your sales, just like marketing alone won’t drive organic traffic to your website. And, the latest changes to Google’s algorithm only serve to solidify our position even further. 

With the more technical aspects of SEO taking the back seat, your content strategy and marketing approach are going to play a pivotal role in whether you rank well or not. 

If you need help with the Search Engine Optimisation of your website, or advice, regarding your Marketing Strategy, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our experts will be more than happy to help.

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