Recent changes in the global landscape affected far too many sectors. This prompted industries and business to shift gear and start to adopt new trends and strategies. Most cannot simply stay idle and remain perpetually in hibernation under lockdown, otherwise their businesses will get left behind.
Search engines remain to be the strongest digital arena for attracting targeted customers. Online users make up to 3.5 billion searches on Google each and every day, accounting for more than 70% of the overall global desktop search traffic in 2021 up to this point. With the top of Google’s organic search engine results pages generate a high 31.7% Click-Through-Rate (CTR), getting to the top of these pages remains a top priority for Search Engine Optimization during the first half of 2021 and beyond.
To push your digital marketing efforts towards greater results, it would be wise for businesses and marketers to adopt to these SEO trends that has now come full circle – and would persist in the years to come.
Boost Your Video with Dedicated Structured Data
With as much as 83% of businesses claiming that marketing with video gives them a good ROI, video remains to be a strong force in digital marketing and the continued use of video content should be at the center of your SEO strategy. There were as much as 228.8 million online video users in the United States alone, a figure that is expected to reach the 248.9 million level by 2022.
In 2021, Google I/O has made it even more effective for business to improve their search results with the launching of two new dedicated structured data markups with their video content:
By embedding this information in your video object element, you can tell Google the particular label and timestamp to use when displaying the key moments of your video content
By using the properties of this structured data in your video object element, key moments that are identified with your video can be displayed by letting Google understand how your URL structure works.
Watching What You E-A-T
The online world is inundated by fake news and erroneous or misleading information, a fact that Google gives extra effort with to directly address. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness and these three key elements are what Google has focused on in their Search Quality Rater Guidelines (SQRGs) as part of their bid to fight disinformation.
By aligning your content to these guidelines, you can show Google’s human quality raters that your content is worthy for ranking. The following is how you can improve your E-A-T:
Google gives ranking priority to websites with up-to-date and factual information that is updated and fact-checked on a regular basis.
Prove your mastery, expertise and authority of your focused field with the type of information you provide in your content
Links and Mentions
Getting links and mentions from other authoritative and influential sites can give your websites a strong boost in your E-A-T
Focus on User + Search Intent
Google attitude in prioritizing search intent is evident in their BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) algorithm. Powered by Machine Learning (ML) technologies and the Natural Language Processing (NLP) of more than 70 languages, Google’s search engines are now in a position to give users what they were actually looking for.
So, how can your business take advantage of this in your SEO strategies? Here’s how:
- Study the queries and search intent of your targeted users. Streamline your content to topics that can answer these queries
- Ensure that you provide users with factual, well-research and right information that can satisfy their search intent
- Do not flood your website visitors with outright promotion of your brands, products and services, or inundate them with pop-ups and redirects to lengthy forms. Try to address and answer their search intent first.
Structure Your Content for Passage Indexing
A whole website page may not help search users trying to find a specific piece of information, but a specific passage embedded within that page may be enough to help these search users with what they were looking for. This is what Google’s new Passage Indexing algorithm is intending to address, claiming it will impact as much as 7% of all search queries in multiple languages.
To take advantage of this new algorithm, it would be wise to structure your content to be able to answer both broad and nuanced queries. Here are some tips on how to do this:
- Long-form, in-depth and holistic approach to certain topics that addresses the most pressing queries search users may have will get the most benefits from Passage Indexing
- Divide your content into separate sections, complete with title tags, header tags, and sub-topics. Adding a table of content at the start of your content may prove helpful
- Avoid using pages with multiple links to information, login-form pages, and poor navigation
Of MUMs, LaMDAs and AI
Google has always been providing greater efforts to improve the quality of search engine results pages in their bid to provide users with relevant and useful content. They continue to do so with the use of advanced Artificial Intelligence technologies that include the following:
Multitask United Model (MUM)
MUM combines and analyzes the different aspects of a search query – text, images and video –
so it can understand the context, sentiment and intent of the search user and provide them with search results that are as close as possible to what they were actually looking for
Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA)
LaMDA is set to revolutionize the quality of search results made through Google Assistants by using a new language model that utilizes advanced natural AI conversation technologies. By understanding the relationship of words within a sentence, LaMDA may be able to conduct natural conversations with search users and provide them with specific and relevant responses
Greater Page Experience through Core Web Vitals
Starting May 2021, Google has included three new key page experience metrics called Core Web Vitals to its existing Page Experience Algorithm in the ranking of pages, particularly for mobile search results.
While good quality content remains at the supreme core of any SEO campaign, the addition of the Core Web Vitals metrics has also placed importance on the technical aspects of SEO. These factors include:
- First Input Delay (FID) – this measures and quantifies what search users feel and how they respond while interacting with a page
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – Visible page content may sometimes encounter unexpected layout shifts. CLS measures and quantifies the occurrences of such visual instabilities
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – The loading speed and the point in the timeline as to when the main content in a page is loaded is what LCP tries to measure and mark
Mobile SEO is The Way to Go
Since 2015, Mobile-friendliness has been an important search ranking factor. In recent periods particularly during the pandemic year of 2020, the first half of 2021 and until today, greater focus is leaning towards the mobile device user experience in most SEO efforts.
With a whopping 4.28 billion mobile device users – practically 90% of the world’s total internet population – optimizing your SEO effort for the mobile user is the ultimate way to go. In fact, by 2025, it is expected that up to 73% of the total online users will access the internet via their mobile devices.
So, aside from taking the free Mobile-Friendly test from Google, consider the following focus areas that will streamline your SEO for mobile-first indexing:
- Content: Your mobile site should have the same valuable content – text, videos and images –
with your desktop site
- Structured Data: Structured data markup should exist in both your desktop and your mobile site pages
- Metadata: Configure your meta descriptions and title tags for mobile optimization
- Sitemap: Ensure that your sitemap links are accessible in your website’s mobile version
With so many changes in the global scenario caused by events from last year and from the early parts of 2021, businesses should reconsider and develop a better SEO strategy that will make their online real estate more visible to targeted users.
The competition towards the top is now more competitive than ever and the introduction of new algorithms and Artificial Intelligence should signal marketers to revise their existing strategies and adopt these new trends, provide more value to their targeted users – and give them an experience that leads towards conversion.
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