Any industry avoids stagnation. Without finding new ways of improvement and new solutions, there won’t be any progress. The SEO industry is not an exception to the rule.

Google improves the quality of search results by updating and releasing new algorithms. SEO experts keep abreast of the times and brainstorming new SEO trends that would help optimize websites properly.

Google Search for SEO

Some of the trends are a kind of blast from the past that still look fresh.

In this guide, you will find out eight SEO trends that you should be focused on in 2021.

Shall we begin?

1. The Growth of Voice Search Popularity

48% of consumers used voice search to find whatever information they need on Google back in 2019. And this percentage grows from year to year.

Taking into account this tendency, Google started to prioritize the development of such search technologies as RankBrain, the Knowledge Graph, and BERT. The goal of investing in these technologies is to make the results from voice search far accurate.

Thus, the Knowledge Graph aims to understand the relationships between entities (places, things) easier. While BERT and RankBrain work on understanding the meaning of search inquiries.

What can you do with this SEO trend?

First of all, keep in mind that it is impossible to optimize your site for these technologies explicitly. Likely, you can do optimization of the site for voice search.

Voice search optimization

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Here are the steps you should take:

  • Make sure you use Google My Business profile
  • You need to add schema markup
  • Build backlinks
  • Optimize for site speed
  • Answer the questions from your target audience
  • The length of answers is short (no more than 29 words)

To know what people are using voice search exactly, you should check out a “Questions” report. This report you can find in Keywords Explorer tool from Ahrefs. For instance, let’s see what people ask with voice search around “fondant”:

Ahrefs screenshot for the keyword fondant

By reviewing this report you will be able to optimize your content for voice search without any problems.

2. E-A-T Will Be Better Identified by Google

Let’s start with the understanding of what “E-A-T” means. E-A-T stands for “expertise”, “authoritativeness”, and “trustworthiness.” Plus, you should realize that E-A-T is not a ranking factor.

Google E-A-T

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E-A-T works in three stages:

  1. The process starts with assessing E-A-T of search results by human search quality rates
  2. The next step is when Google uses the feedback to identify signals that would align with E-A-T
  3. The last stage of the process is when Google suggests search algorithms accordingly

To meet the requirements of E-A-T you should do the following:

  • Update your content
  • Review your content in terms of the reliability of the information
  • Cover only those topics that you are aware of
  • Work on building backlinks
  • Get more views and mentions

If you do all the above-mentioned conditions, you will benefit from this SEO trend.

3. Image Search Will Gain More Popularity

Nowadays, image SEO plays a huge role in an overall optimization strategy. Optimized images drive traffic to the website indeed.

Even though this SEO trend has already been a part of the game, it still matters in 2021.

Why?

Because people tend to search for information using visual elements like images. Thus, image search expands rapidly.

Are there any new suggestions on how to use this old-fashioned SEO trend this year?

Frankly speaking, image SEO hasn’t changed technically. You don’t need to use some new additional techniques to optimize images. But you should realize that the importance of this type of optimization has become far important.

What was the reason for this?

People started to use their smartphones to find information about whatever they see around them. This option is available with the help of Google Lens. To put it simply, you point your smartphone at any product or thing that you can see. Google Lens provides images with links to the websites where a similar product is available to purchase.

Image search using Google Lens

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Plus, the search results can suggest images that have been featured on product pages. For example, a query “bicycle for kids”:

Google Search for Bicycle for Kids

Once you click on the “images” tab, you will see that there are suggestions taken from product pages directly.

Image search results with product links

As you can see, image SEO is a powerful trend that you should use in practice. Make sure you do the basics for this type of optimization like adding schema markup, writing descriptive filenames, and optimizing for alt text.

4. Zero-Click Searches Continue to Grow Rapidly

Everything has two sides of the same coin – positive and negative. Zero-click searches are not an exception to this rule. The positive side of zero-click searches is that people get whatever information they need in a blink of an eye as a piece of a featured snippet. In other words, you get a direct answer to your question in a short form.

Zero click search results screenshot

The other side of zero-click searches is that it doesn’t drive any traffic to the website.

Why?

Because there is no necessity in clicking the link to get more advanced information on the particular page.

Google tries to satisfy users by providing them with the most compelling results per their queries. That’s why Google suggests the answers to the questions in a form of featured snippets that leads to zero-click searches growth.

What can you do with this SEO trend?

First of all, you should understand that you can’t affect this SEO tendency. This is an unquestionable fact. On the other hand, you can identify those keywords that you should avoid using for your optimization needs. If these keywords are the ones that don’t attract clicks, you should not take them into account.

However!

You should realize whether a featured snippet answers the question to a full extent. If it requires people to get into detail and click the link, you can work with these target keywords for sure.

5. Search Intent Is Priority Number One

Search intent is a core component of how you should do your SEO. It shows you the real reason why people search for something on the web.

Search intent is quite tricky in terms of identifying the purpose of the search. Let’s review a few examples to give you a better understanding of this.

If you type a query “how to change skype name”, the search intent of this query will be learning. A person wants to find out detailed information on how to change his or her name on Skype. But if you type a query like “report maker tool”, Google will suggest different search results because it is not quite clear the search intent behind this query. The things are confusing because the query doesn’t contain any trigger words.

There are two possible types of search intent for this query at least. The first one is learning – people want to find information about this tool. The second type of intent is the commercial one. People show their interest in purchasing a report maker tool for their work.

It is important to be able to see search intent behind the queries by yourself.

How to deal with this SEO trend?

You must produce content that aligns with search intent. To make it follow search intent, you should analyze the SERP and see what type of content Google ranks for the specific keywords.

6. Google Discover Will Drive Tons of Traffic

Google Discover is a newish way to search for content that you are interested in by using your mobile device. It analyzes your activity on Google search and YouTube and suggests content based on the findings. Also, it takes into account topics you target and location data.

What can you do with this SEO trend?

Since you optimize your website using various marketing agency tools to get traffic directly from the main search engines, Google Discover is not your priority to bother yourself with.

Nevertheless, you can get some traffic from Google Discover if you follow these requirements:

  • Keep your website mobile-friendly
  • Optimize a site speed
  • Cover topics related to your target audience’s interests
  • Make sure the titles look compelling
  • Optimize images
  • Demonstrate E-A-T
  • Strictly follow Google Discover’s content policies

7. Prioritization of User Experience

If you want to see your content ranks high on Google, it must provide an excellent user experience. You might wonder how Google chooses which piece of content stands out in terms of providing UX. For this, Google analyzes it with certain criteria. Among these criteria are HTTPS, intrusive ads, mobile-friendliness, and Core Web Vitals (will become operative in May 2021.)

What can you do with this SEO trend?

First of all, Google needs to know if your website meets the requirements of the upcoming Core Web Vitals. For this, Google will rely on three metrics:

  1. First Input Delay – the average time between user’s interaction with the page and how quick it responds (avg. 100ms)
  2. Cumulative Layout Shift – if a user experiences unexpected layout shifts, how often it happens (no more than 0.1)
  3. Largest Contentful Paint – this metric helps identify when the content on the page has finished the rendering on the screen

To check these metrics use the PageSpeed Insights tool.

PageSpeed Insights screenshot

By the way, use the Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console to see if the rest of the pages on your site need improvements.

8. Mobile Optimization Will Be the Part of SEO Game

2015 year was full of different things that happened. Different services and marketing collaboration tools entered the market. Lots of various releases were introduced to the public. One of these updates was a new ranking factor called “mobile-friendliness.”

2019 year was the year when Google announced the importance of mobile-first indexing for new websites.

Mobile optimization

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It led to the following stats – 70% of the websites became mobile-first indexed. 30% remaining will be switched by the end of March 2021.

What can you do with this SEO trend?

First and foremost, you need to check if your website is already mobile-first indexed. The most straightforward way to do this is by visiting Google Search Console. There you need to review a report called “Indexing Crawler” available in “Settings.” If there is a “Google Smartphone” indicator on, thus your website is mobile-first indexed.

In the case, your website hasn’t been switched to mobile indexing, you need to do a few things. You can relax on this occasion if your website is responsive. But if your website is a complex one or m-dot, you’ll need to check if there is no difference between the two versions of the site – desktop and mobile.

Furthermore, you can check the alternatives rules in robots.txt, site speed, internal linking, and site navigation.

Conclusion

The SEO industry is constantly evolving. New trends appear and force marketing specialists to rethink their SEO strategy considering these tendencies.

If you are not as experienced in SEO and digital marketing as Neil Patel (his one-hour long consultation costs $5K), you should keep an eye on these tendencies for sure.

SEO is not a science but it requires you to learn something new every day.