People live online. It’s where they socialize, shop, and find answers to questions. In fact, search engines like Google answer billions of search queries every day, from “what’s the height of Mount Everest” to “how to breakdance.”
And as long as people rely on Google for answers, search engine optimization (SEO) will be a critical part of digital marketing.
After all, if customers can’t find you on Google, how will they know you exist? You need to rank on search engines to be visible and relevant.
Of course, ranking high on search engine results pages (SERPs) is not easy. It’s highly competitive, and Google doesn’t share how their ranking algorithms work. Instead, we learn through trial and error what Google values in web pages that rank high.
And even then, Google rolls out frequent algorithm updates that make it hard to keep up with SEO. That’s why some argue SEO is dead. They feel it’s too volatile to be a reliable form of marketing.
But in fact, SEO is more important than ever. Ranking algorithms change, but only to better satisfy search intent. Google constantly tweaks its ranking factors to better serve users. So as long as search engines are around, having a long-term SEO strategy will be critical to your brand’s success.
To succeed at SEO, you need to put in the work. You can’t simply optimize your website once and expect it to start rising in search results. You need to put into place a long-term strategy and make tweaks along the way. With time, your consistent SEO efforts will yield measurable results.
That said, here are the latest search engine trends to look out for when developing your SEO strategy:
People are using their smartphones to search online more than ever before. In 2020, there were 211 million mobile phone search users. And that number is expected to grow as users become more dependent on their phones.
To accommodate the increasing amount of mobile search users, you need to make sure your web pages are optimized for mobile screens and load fast on mobile devices.
Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant—they’ve all transformed how we use search on the fly. Now, we can simply ask our device questions with our voice and get an audible answer in return. In fact, a whole third of the US population uses voice search.
Voice search users are also asking longer questions. For example, instead of saying only the keyphrase “Detroit sushi,” they might ask, “where can I find sushi in Detroit?” So targeting long-tail keywords in SEO is critical in capturing more voice search traffic.
User Experience (UX)
Ever since Google released its Core Web Vitals metrics in May 2020, user experience (UX) has been an important SEO factor. Specifically, Google favors pages with fast loading speeds, interactivity, and visual stability.
So it’s not enough to provide basic content anymore. You also need to make sure that the content is user-friendly and that the user experience is as seamless as possible.
Local Business Search
With COVID-19 disrupting the economy, many shoppers want to support their local businesses. Plus, with travel restrictions, many are limited to local options anyway. So optimizing for local business searches is more important than ever.
Make sure your Google My Business page is up to date, so shoppers can find you easily when searching for local brands. And make sure to offer contactless pickup or delivery options when you can to support customers who are social distancing.
Zero-click searches are queries that get answered without the user needing to click on a search result. For example, Google often displays a “featured snippet” at the top of SERPs to provide quick answers to a question.
To take advantage of zero-click searches, try developing content that provides concise answers. Lists, guides, tables, and definitions all make for good featured snippets.
In 2020, online retail sales rose from 16% to 19% of total retail sales. So optimizing your product listings on ecommerce platforms like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy is also important. You can do this by adding high-quality photos and engaging listing descriptions.
Since 2019, Google has started highlighting key moments in video search results. This means you can make your videos more searchable.
You can either use clip markup to manually tell Google how to mark different segments of your video, or you can use seek markup to tell Google your URL structure and have them use artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically identify key moments.
This allows you to tell users exactly where in a video they will find the answer to their question.
High-Quality Visuals and Infographics
People have short attention spans. Having high-quality visuals and infographics to break up a text helps keep readers engaged and on your page longer. And the higher your page’s dwell times, the higher Google will rank it.
On top of that, Google’s AI is getting better at reading online images to match search queries. So use programs like Canva or Adobe Spark to develop visuals that add value to the reader, or hire a graphic designer to do it for you.
Matching Users Search Intent
At the end of the day, Google will always try to satisfy search intent. They state on their website that “as technology evolves, we will continue to help everyone find the information they’re looking for.”
So the more you can give searchers what they want, the more inclined Google is to showcase your page at the top of their SERPs.
Final Thoughts On The Future Off SEO
If you don’t stick to an SEO strategy, your brand will eventually drown in irrelevance. But if you focus on providing real value to others, you can leverage search engines to your advantage. But it takes diligent and consistent effort.
If you don’t have the time or skill to manage your SEO strategy, our team of experts can help. Get in touch today to learn how we can help you take your brand to the next level.