SEO analysts and experts work hard to keep up to date with changes in the way search engines rank web pages. However, with Google constantly changing the rules and adding newer metrics that need to be met to be high on the SERPs it is increasingly hard to stay ahead of the game.
This year looks to be no different and there will be existing SEO concerns that remain important and other, newer areas that will need to be considered to make sure of ranking high on Google.
Here are some predictions for SEO during the next 12 months and beyond.
Artificial Intelligence will become more important in SEO
AI is already being used in SEO and by Google. Machine-learning algorithms such as RankBrain are employed to assist with search results. Machine-learning means that the software teaches itself to do something rather than being programmed to do so.
Custom search results are delivered to users because AI is used to monitor geo-locations, devices used, and previous searches. AI can help with content creation by targeting specific search queries and helping to identify opportunities.
There are many AI tools to help with keyword research and also to aid in creating content. Some of these platforms are there to assist humans with their content creation and others will provide whole articles using natural language generation based on a topic and the number of words requested. These tools can currently be limited in the quality of what they produce but in the future as AI develops they will be used more often to provide quick, long-form content.
As Google keeps changing the way that search results are produced with AI it will affect how sites are optimized and what content is published. This means AI will be used to produce content that is optimized and contains organic keywords through automated platforms.
Content will remain as important as ever
There are two main forms of content and they are known as short-form and long-form. They both serve purposes when planning your content strategy and if used properly will help improve your website’s performance. They also both have pros and cons.
Short-form content advantages and disadvantages:
Pro – visitors can have short attention spans and this is one way to engage your audience and get your point across without boring them to death
Pro – easy to read and find the information that a visitor requires
Pro – easy to produce and takes less time than long-form content
Con – limited length means the information given will not be detailed
Con – easy to end up just listing a set of specs or details which is not very engaging
Con – may not rank well on search engine results pages
Long-form content advantages and disadvantages:
Pro – it ranks better with Google
Pro – will normally gain more backlinks
Pro – can contain more relevant keywords and phrases
Pro – can create trust with visitors who see that you produce relevant, engaging content regularly
Con – takes a lot longer to produce which means researching, production time, and costs are increased
Con – can leave some users cold if the content is too long and not engaging
Con – most internet users access sites via mobile phones which means long-form may not suit some devices
Why is content so important?
Content helps to engage and educate your audience. In turn, this means they can fully understand the products or services you are selling, and this results in brand awareness, trust, and loyalty. Content allows you to explain how your products can help improve someone’s life whether that be with legal services or by selling them the latest smartphone.
It also helps with SEO and search engine results. To make your website perform to its maximum potential you need strong, relevant content. Content allows you to place keywords and phrases and in return, this can earn backlinks and visitors. All of these areas help improve SEO and without content, you would have nothing for websites to search and nothing to be linked with.
It also allows you to connect with your social media accounts and drive traffic through them. While social media may or may not be ranking signals – Google says not – it has been shown to help with search results. Promoting your business on social media will certainly increase your traffic. You can use posts and short-form content there and links to take visitors to your long-form content and sales landing pages.
Visual content gains and retains audiences and will be more important
Images and video play an important part in websites and their SEO. Not only do they engage audiences more than text content but they can also help keep visitors on your site for longer. Research has shown that users viewing video content will more likely purchase those who don’t. Websites with video can grow revenue almost 50% faster than other businesses.
However, creating stunning videos for your website isn’t enough. You need to optimize them too meaning the right file types and sizes, using relevant filenames, and using engaging thumbnails. The video will become more and more important to SEO in 2021 and onward as a visitor’s attention is easier to keep this way. By using a video transcript on the page you are also providing content for Google to view.
User experience will become more important than ever
While it is easy for Google to monitor bounce rates, keywords and content to see where your site ranks it hasn’t been as easy to judge a user’s experience. However, they are launching new metrics in the second quarter of 2021 that aims to do just that.
These metrics are called Core Web Vitals and will be used to monitor the performance of a website and therefore how that translates to the user. Three areas involve how quickly the first page loads, how the content is initially displayed and if it shifts around, and also how long until the site is responsive to a user request. Failure to meet these new requirements will lead to webpages tanking in the search results.
It will become harder for black hat SEO techniques to work
Anyone involved with SEO understands that black hat methods should be avoided and in the future, they will have even more negative results as Google changes the way sites are ranked. A professional SEO Consultant would only use methods that play by the rules and increase the performance on a long-term basis rather than quick-fix black hat techniques. That is always the guiding principal of the best SEO agencies.
Mobile phones will become more important than computers
Most people have a smartphone these days and it is the most common and popular way to access the internet. They are affordable, portable, and easy to use. This means that m-commerce is taking a bigger slice of the overall e-commerce business each year. Designing for mobiles and making sure the mobile site is SEO friendly will become ever more important. Google looks at mobile sites for optimization more than it does desktop sites when it comes to search results and ranking.
These areas will all be important in the coming year but many other trends will need to be utilized including speech and how it affects SEO, local SEO, semantically related keywords, and zero-click searches and the effect on businesses. Keeping up with SEO predictions promises to bring a challenging year for the experts.