2020 black tiles being replaced by 2021

Tips for SEO in 2021 (+ Review of 2020)

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Despite 2020 not going as planned, there’s still time to start preparing for 2021. As many people have changed the way they work and their means of communication with family, friends and colleagues, digital communication is more important now than ever. 

Following this rapid adoption of technology and behavioural change is digital marketing, and the importance of using these new marketing opportunities effectively. It’s safe to say that digital marketing is no longer a luxury for large-scale organisations, but instead an essential ingredient of success for almost all businesses. 

Improve the growth potential of your business in 2021 by optimising your website – with tips for SEO in 2021. But first, let’s start by reviewing the changes that we saw coming in 2020.

Quick Review of SEO in 2020

While my travel plans for 2020 were way off, my SEO predictions from December 2019 weren’t too bad.

2020 SEO predictions on LinkedIn posted by James Hare, SEO Manager at Bliss Search
Follow me on LinkedIn for more SEO insights, tips and advice
  1. Local Search does continue to grow and Google My Business is increasingly important

It was reported in November 2019, that 77% of consumers reported using Google Maps when searching for local businesses (Search Engine Land) and this was expected to increase during 2020. From this survey, the first action users were most likely to take was visit the business in person (56%), call the business (36%) then contact the business via email or online form (13%).

Backed by this data, it’s increasingly important to have a Google My Business presence (on Google Maps) but also an optimised listing. With increased competition, to make your listing stand-out, you need to update all business information, include more photos and information on services and/or products, but most importantly obtain (and respond to) more Google reviews.

What’s the future of Google My Business? Possible monetisation. Therefore, it’s best to maximise your current listings now!

  1. ‘Zero-Click’ searches are here to stay, as are search results that include Featured Snippets and People Also Ask accordions

As of June 2019, less than half of all Google Searches now result in a click (SparkToro). This means that the answer to a user’s query is answered at the top of search results and they don’t need to click on a link for more information. 

Zero-Click Searches in Google, study by SparkToro in 2019
Zero-Click Searches in Google, study by SparkToro in 2019

At 50.33% in June 2019, and maintaining similar statistics throughout 2020, zero-click searches have shifted the goals of many SEO strategies. Instead of aiming for clicks, many businesses are now aiming to appear in Featured Snippets and People Also Ask (PAA) accordions instead.

Featured Snippets appear for ~12% of search queries (Ahrefs) and PAA’s can appear in up to half of all searches (SEMrush). As Google aims to answer a users query as quickly as possible, ensuring that your website content answers relevant questions as succinctly and completely as possible will assist in improving your presence in search results.

  1. Not all users are jumping to private internet browsers (like DuckDuckGo) but everyone is certainly more aware of their data.

Despite holding just over 1% of the mobile search market in the US in 2019 (99firms), DuckDuckGo is gaining momentum – as shown by the number of queries on the search engine throughout 2020 (DuckDuckGo). Given that 91% of US internet users felt they had no control over their data privacy in 2019 (99firms), there is a growing awareness of private internet browsers.

DuckDuckGo traffic growth in 2020
DuckDuckGo traffic growth in 2020

As businesses in the European Union are adapting to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Google is also adapting by allowing better control over how data is collected, retained and used with their reporting platforms (Google Analytics). Incorporating this data control into a new Google Analytics 4 property, you can run this in parallel with existing properties and prepare your data for future changes, innovations and improvements. 

Moving onto 2021, below are a couple of tips, predictions and recommendations to help you get a head start.

Tips for SEO in 2021

Historically, search engine updates have shaped SEO priorities, so monitoring and adapting to these updates should continue to be your SEO focus for 2021. Introducing more algorithms, machine learning and artificial intelligence, search engines are investing in processes to answer user queries quickly but with detailed information. At the core of this investment is recognising insightful content on websites with ‘signals’ that show user satisfaction. 

Therefore, the top SEO tip for 2021: invest in your website content.

Satisfy their search intent by answering their question, offer a solution (product or service) and provide an experience that meets their need. But, to maximise the potential of your content, follow these additional tips and SEO best practises for success.

Provide a Great User Experience

This requires synergy with other marketing channels (social media, email, display) and communicating a consistent message. Are users directed to relevant internal pages with more information on the marketing message? How do these internal pages fit within the website hierarchy and structure?

Also, consider how users are searching, whether it’s on mobile, desktop or even voice search – is your website responsive on different screen sizes? How easy is it to navigate through your site? And can search engines easily identify answers to common questions for voice search?

There are plenty of other considerations to improve user experience, such as pop-ups that hurt SEO, so put yourself in the shoes of your customer to ensure you provide a great experience.

Google examples of intrusive pop ups
Google Examples of Intrusive Pop-Ups

Ensure Your Page Speed is Fast

To help quantify user experience and identify opportunities for improvement, Google developed Web Vitals as guidance for quality speed signals. A subset of these Web Vitals are Core Web Vitals that apply to all web pages and should be optimised to improve 3 aspects of user experience:

Google Core Web Vitals
Google Core Web Vitals
  1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) which measures the loading time for the largest image or text block
  2. First Input Delay (FID) which measures the speed of interactivity when the browser can begin processing the first user interactions on a page
  3. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) which measures the visual stability and any unexpected layout shifts that occur

By reaching the 75th percentile for all 3 metrics for most of your users, you’re ensuring high-quality signals are attributed to your pages.

Other speed opportunities could include:

  • Image compression 
  • Remove render-blocking resources and unused code (CSS/JS)
  • Implement lazy loading and defer offscreen images
  • Reduce server response times and implement server-side tagging

Resolve Important Technical Issues

Audit your site regularly (at least monthly) to resolve issues with broken links, duplicate content, metadata and more. Individually, these issues are unlikely to push you to 1st in search rankings but the sum of several technical issues can impact user experience, speed and rankings.

This is even more important for ecommerce websites which changing stock availabilities, discontinued products and promotions. Ensure that you’ve across the fundamentals of website redirects and that your products have up-to-date information.

Infographic on 301 or 302 redirects by SEMrush
Summary of 301 vs 302 Redirects by SEMrush

Need Assistance with SEO? Contact Us to Learn More

Kick start the growth of your business in 2021 with a comprehensive SEO strategy with Bliss. We have a portfolio of successful clients that we’ve helped grow online. Contact us today to chat about your goals and business aspirations. 

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