One of the most exciting aspects of working in digital marketing is that technology is constantly changing to become more relevant and useful. However, this can also be frustrating and expensive for businesses that have to adapt to constantly changing norms.
Here are some of the digital marketing trends to look for in 2021: some of these changes have already happened, while others are expected to happen over the course of the year.
1. Website load time should be a top consideration
Make sure that your website loads fast, meaning in less than 3 seconds. It is also important that your website is secured with an SSL certificate (the little lock next to your URL).
According to Moz1 here are some of the best ways to get a faster page speed:
- Enable Gzip Compression
- Reduce redirects
- Leverage browser caching
- Improve server response time by buying fast hosting
- Use a content distribution network (CDN) such as Cloudflare
- Optimize Images to be as small as possible while still looking good
At my company MRB Media, our MRB Host Web Hosting uses the Litespeed Enterprise web server, which works in tandem with the Litespeed Cache WordPress Plugin and QUIC.cloud CDN to provide automatic load speed optimization for websites running WordPress.
Two resources that you can use to check the speed of your website, along with optimization tips are:
2. Google is prioritizing content relevance over length
The conventional wisdom for content to rank well in terms of SEO was 5 minutes for video and 600 words for text, but that has changed to prioritize content relevance over length.
Is your blog post about “How to fry the perfect egg”? Use graphics, videos, or animated gifs to help the user figure out the answer, not a 2000 word story about the history of egg consumption in your family (that we all love so much when we are trying to find a recipe online).
That said, for content that can’t be answered with a graphic or short video, Google is prioritizing longer form content:
- Blog posts that contain 1000-1500 words rank better than shorter blog posts
- Videos and audio that are 15 minutes rank higher than shorter videos, but videos that are longer than 20 minutes did not see a significant increase in ranking2
3. Voice search and voice-assistant facilitated commerce will be big
Now that the majority of consumers have computers, smartphones, high speed internet connections, and, increasingly, an AI-driven voice assistant, the next big technological evolution is going to be in voice search.
50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, per Comscore3.
Voice search is increasingly important – make sure that you’re optimizing your website for voice search. Amazon and Google account for 94% of all smart speakers, so I recommend optimizing for their platforms first.
If you have an ecommerce operation and want to sell your products by voice, one tool to consider is Jetson.ai.
4. Google’s new algorithm update is going to prioritize Page Experience
User Experience will be the most important factor in SEO ranking going forward.
“The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction.” (Evaluating page experience for a better web)
The first page of Google is more important than ever and Page Experience is the best way to get there. Backlinks will become much less important for ranking.
As Google makes algorithm changes to page experience with an increasing emphasis on local SEO results4, there are now often less than 10 organic results on the first results page.
Businesses that are not on the first results page will get very little organic traffic, forcing businesses to rely on paid ads to capture traffic.
The best way to achieve achieve page one ranking and keep it, is to make sure that your website offers a good page experience, defined by Google as delivering the most helpful and enjoyable experience relative to competitors in the same niche.
Some of the new core web vitals Google is now factoring into overall page experience score are:
- Loading – how long the page takes to load, referred to as Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- Interactivity – how long before the page can be interacted with, referred to as the time to interactivity or First Input Delay (FID)
- Visual Stability – how much elements on the page move around as the page loads, including things like image placeholders and font swaps, known as Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
And, of course, the previous ranking considerations are still important as well, including:
- Mobile friendliness – is the website mobile responsive, or is there a separate mobile version?
- Safe browsing – is the website safe, meaning free from malware, and spammy content?
- HTTPS – is the website secured with an SSL certificate (the little lock icon in the top left corner)?
- No Intrusive Interstitials – is the website free from annoying popups and intrusive ads?
5. Repurpose old content to stay relevant.
With Google’s shift to page experience, this includes making sure that website content is relevant and accurate. One way to do this without reinventing the wheel is to repurpose old content.
Repurposing content involves adding to or heavily revising your content in order to add more value5
SEO is complex, but recycling content helps your SEO.
- A more recent update record. Google likes to rank websites that are constantly changing, updating, or posting new content. But content is expensive. One way to make Google happy, while keeping content costs down, is to update older content with new information. For example, updating a blog from 2016 for 2021.
- It allows you to reach a wider audience with your existing content. For example, taking an old blog post, updating its content to be current, and turning it into an eBook or expanding it to include an infographic, video, or audio.
- Changing your SEO strategy. Perhaps when you initially wrote the blog, you were optimizing for different keywords than are currently relevant. You can rewrite a blog to focus on a more up-to-date keyword strategy.
6. Your brand will be increasingly more important.
As Google and social platforms continue to focus on delivering relevant content to users, and trying to filter out fake news and extreme viewpoints, brand trustworthiness is becoming increasingly important.
What this means is that it is important to optimize your brand’s entire digital presence to ensure that everything is consistent. This is especially important with Google assets such as Youtube and Google My Business.
According to Search Engine Journal6 some factors to look at are:
- Ensuring a complete and correct organization markup – meaning an organizational schema on your website.
- Establishing a presence in relevant knowledge bases such as Wikidata
- Claiming your knowledge panel to use the Posts by Google feature
- For businesses with a physical address, setting up your Google My Business profile
7. A prioritization of local SEO and businesses with a physical location
Once upon a time, Google tried to enter the social media sphere and compete with Facebook. They launched Google Wave, which evolved into Google Buzz, which eventually became Google Plus. All of them flopped and by 2019 they phased out Google Plus. The part of Google Plus that actually worked was the business pages, which Google has now rolled into the Google My Business platform.
As a whole, Google tends to prioritize search results from its own services, including Google My Business and Youtube. This is especially true of local search results, which rely almost entirely on having a Google My Business profile.
According to Search Engine Journal7, here are some of the top reasons to claim your Google My Business listing:
- It tells your customers that you sell what they are searching for.
- It verifies you are a legitimate business.
- It provides social proof in the form of reviews.
- It tells potential customers where you are located and how to buy from you.
- You can appear in the top search results more easily.
Appearing in the top search position prioritizes: physical location and then number of reviews. Business with many reviews on Google My Business will outrank their rivals with fewer reviews. So it is super important to solicit reviews on Google.
Some additional things that you can (and should) do on Google My Business are:
- Keep your business listing complete and accurate, including your address, phone number, business hours, products & services, etc. This is especially important amid COVID-19 with changing public health requirements.
- Share offers and specials, including creating specials and promotions specifically for your Google My Business listing.
- Post encouraging content, including the experience you wish for your customers to have. This can include things such as daily specials, seasonal offerings, or even introductions to staff members.
- Use media as much as possible, including images, videos, or even a 360 virtual tour.
- Answer frequently asked questions to help potential customers answer their own questions.
8. Niche down.
As an increasing number of brands compete for real estate on a shrinking Google first page, it is important niche down your website, to focus on less competitive keywords.
Website authority – and thus ranking – will be easier to achieve for a business that is niched, with priority being given to eCommerce sites.
Here are some suggestions to conduct the keyword research needed to niche down8:
- Use a keyword research tool such as Ahrefs, SEM Rush, Moz.
- Start with more broad seed keywords, use the autocomplete features to expand your list out to include more related keywords.
- Sort your list to focus on keywords with higher search volume.
- Look at the competition of the various keywords, opting for keywords that have high search volume, but are more broad, less competitive long-tailed keywords that will be easier to rank for.
- Convert keywords into content: blogs, articles, white papers, ebooks, videos, and audio (with transcripts).
9. Quality visual content will be as important, if not more important, than text content.
There should be enough text for the search engines to be able to figure out what the page is about, but beyond that the focus should be on helping the user find the answer to their question. As people have shorter and shorter attention spans, this often means the best way to communicate what you are trying to communicate is with visual content.
- Videos, particularly videos around the 15 minute mark
- Audio, again 15 minutes in length
- Animated gifs9
When posting video and audio, be sure to include transcripts and fill out descriptive alt tags to help the search engines figure out what the content is about. You can use tools such as Sonix.ai or Amazon Transcribe to automate the transcription process.
5 Huge SEO Benefits of Transcribing Audio and Video11
- Better search rankings
- Increased traffic to your website or blog
- Link building opportunities within the transcribed content
- More time spent watching the video
- Lower overall bounce rates
10. Focus on multilingual SEO, not just English SEO.
This may be shocking, but English is not the only language in the world, or even the one most spoken. But English is the most competitive language when it comes to search engines.
If you work with a population that speaks something other than English, it will be hugely valuable to create a multilingual version of your website and then work on optimizing in multiple languages.
According to Weglot12 there are four major considerations for multilingual SEO.
- Use a dedicated URL for each language. This could be a subdomain such as en.yourdomain.com and es.yourdomain.com for English and Spanish. Or yourdomain.com/en/ and yourdomain.com/es/. Don’t use multiple languages on the same page, this can confuse search engines and be less effective.
- Apply hreflang tags on links, to indicate to Google which language the target page will be in. For example
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es-mx” href=”https://yourdomain.com/es/” />
- Stick to one language per page. Multiple languages on the same page, even with things such as the website navigation, can dilute the user experience. If you can’t avoid having multiple languages on one page, be sure to use hreflang tags referenced above.
- Translate your metadata. This may seem like common sense when trying to do multilingual SEO, but a lot of multilingual sites make the mistake of leaving the metadata from their primary language. Write optimized titles, descriptions and URLs for each language.
11. Accessibility is important
Just like not everyone speaks the same language, consumers have different levels of usability needs. In the interest of creating a great user experience for everyone, it is important to create a website that can adapt to different usability requirements.
Not only does it make good business, but it’s a legal requirement for some industries in the US. According to Accessibility.works13 there is not yet a national standard for the internet in the US, but disabled persons have successfully sued companies that did not have accessible websites. It is expected that the Biden administration will work toward some kind of national framework, but until then, here are four accessibility principles to consider for any website: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust.
1. Perceivable – information and user interfaces must be presentable to users in ways which they can perceive.
- Provide text alternatives to non-text elements such as images and videos
- Provide captions for multimedia
- Create content that can be interpreted by assistive technologies, without losing meaning
- Make it easier for users to see and hear content
What this looks like in action: news sites such as the NY Times and NPR have audio versions of their content now for the visually impaired. So they can listen to a human news reader rather than a digital assistive device.
2. Operable – user interface components and navigation must be operable.
- Make all functionality available from a keyboard
- Give users enough time to read and use content
- Do not use content that can cause seizures
- Help users navigate and find content by using a hierarchical approach to your website
This is an important consideration when adding modals or popups to your website, such as lead captures or exit popups. If you’re going to use them, it’s important that the user be able to make them go away without the use of a mouse – such as the use of the escape key or tapping elsewhere on the screen.
3. Understandable – information and website operation must be understandable.
- Make text readable and easy to understand
- Make content appear and operate in predictable ways
- Help users avoid and correct mistakes
This is also just a general best practice for user experience: if your website is difficult to operate, people are going to leave.
4. Robust – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
- Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools.
For a lot of websites, this means creating a simple user interface. Avoid the use of overly creative designs if the design can make your website difficult to use for differently abled users.
Accessibility tools for WordPress
A great resource for WordPress is called Userway – they offer both a free and a paid tool that helps users with different accessibility needs access your website.
12. Mobile-first everything
All SEO is mobile SEO now, and every platform that your business uses must be designed with a mobile-first user experience in mind.
As of 2021, Google is essentially ignoring your desktop site. Your mobile site will determine your SEO rankings.
For the past 10 years or so, most websites have been built with themes that are mobile responsive, meaning that the website resizes to accomodate mobile devices. However, just being responsive is not enough. It is important to work with a web designer or user experience (UX) consultant to make sure that the website is specifically optimized for mobile.
This includes design, user experience, and SEO.
- Page Speed ↩
- 6 Tips For Your YouTube SEO Strategy/Campaign ↩
- 33 Voice Search Statistics to Prepare You for the Voice Search Revolution ↩
- Timing for bringing page experience to Google Search ↩
- The Only Guide to Repurposing Content You Will Need in 2021 ↩
- 10 Important 2021 SEO Trends You Need to Know ↩
- How to Use Google My Business to Boost Your Content & SEO ↩
- SEO: Use ‘Niche Down’ Keyword Research for Content Ideas ↩
- The 11 Best Free GIF Makers for 2021 ↩
- Best Infographic Makers In 2021 ↩
- 4 Proven SEO Benefits to Video Transcription ↩
- 4 Key Search Engine Optimization Tips for Your Multilingual Website in 2021 ↩
- 2021 ADA Website Accessibility Standards ↩
Is your website ready to compete in 2021?
Contact us for a free website audit to find out!
During your free audit, we will look at your: website design, mobile friendliness, overall user experience, technical SEO, and load time.