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When you think SEO, there are certain areas that quickly come to mind, like back linking. In reality, search engine optimization is a continuous process. It is also influenced by actions on both your end and the consumer’s end.
For instance, if you’re running an ecommerce store and you add new products or run a discount, that might come with a revision of your SEO.
When some new technology, say wearables like the Apple Watch come onto the scene, you may have to cater to them as they become popular.
So with all that in mind, what has changed in the last few years in this field? More importantly, how can you adjust to accommodate these new trends?
Let’s clue you in on some things you can do in 2021 to keep up with those other sites on the first page of search results:
7 Latest SEO Trends You Can't Afford To Ignore in 2021
1. Expand Your Voice Search Strategy
One thing to remember is that optimizing for Amazon Echo might require a slightly different approach from that of Siri, Google Assistant etc. For the general tips, try to keep your answers to keywords under 30 words.
Here are some more specific tips:
- Keep your target answer distinct by giving it a paragraph of its own or different formatting. This is to help you be more likely to appear in featured snippets that make up about 41% of voice search answers.
- Use natural language to stay closer to the longer phrase formats used by many of those performing voice searches.
- Who, how, what, when, why and where questions are common in both typed and voice searches. Utilize resources like answerthepublic.com to find out what questions people are asking in regard to different topics.
- Get developers to create voice-oriented apps like Skills for Alexa and Actions for Google. You should have a coherent plan in place for how to run a multifaceted approach for Echo, Google Home, Cortana, Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant.
2. Switch To More Recognizable Images
To be more visual search-friendly, use less stock photos and invest in producing original, high resolution ones where possible. Resize your dimensions to standard ratios.
Make sure you use file formats that support a variety of colors. Describe them with captions for those who scan. Place the images amongst surrounding text that gives better context/is relevant to them.
Render files to the lowest possible size that still gives a crisp clear image so as to maintain fast load speeds.
Be as descriptive as you can in the image filename and metadata, staying close to keywords that appear most in searches. Represent the images in a sitemap that can be easily scanned by search engines.
Remember to think beyond Google Lens. Do research on new technology like the AI-fuelled fashion shopping app, Trendii to find out how their image search works. Others to consider include Samsung’s Bixby Vision, and Pinterest Lens.
The same goes for social media sites. Ensure that even your images in social media posts relating to your website can appear high up in search results, especially if you sell directly on your social media pages.
3. Change Your Phrasing To Capture Intent
Start by identifying the common intentions of users by category. They could be of an informational, transactional, commercial or navigational nature.
For example, if someone searches for a quick recipe, chances are that one which requires extra prep, marinating and slow cooking won’t make the cut.
With Natural Language Processing and other related learning techniques growing, you should scrutinize the tone of your page copy. A key area to watch is the verbs and verb-based nouns and adjectives you use.
Rewrite your content to capture type, format and angle. A format may be something like a “how-to” or “step-by-step” guide. An angle is usually more descriptive, like “thin-sliced”, “homemade” or “breakfast-style”.
4. Create Videos To Support Your Popular Pages
It’s important to cater to people who search more for videos related to the topics they want. They can enable you to gain an advantage over the more text and image-based sites, particular in the search engine video tab.
Go with platforms you know are popular. When you post videos, say on YouTube, include a transcript, especially for the short ones. Use eye-catching thumbnails, maybe with good-looking faces or bold headlines.
If you’re going to have multiple videos on one page, make sure the one you want to rank higher comes first. It is also more advisable to stick to one video and make sure the text and other content on the page are related to it.
Try not to embed the same video on multiple pages as each of these will compete against the other.
Create clear sections in your video content with named markers. Edit various information fields (title, description and other metadata) to make your videos more closely related to the relevant keywords typed by users.
5. Pay Close Attention To Your User Experience
Oftentimes, the way you set up your site to be crawled by search engines will have a resultant effect on the user experience.
This can turn into a loop as a difficulty in navigating your page and low clicks for various pages can hurt your ranking.
Start by adopting a flat site architecture, the goal being to reduce the number of steps required to reach a desired page from the homepage.
In the case of an ecommerce store, you might have to fuse certain product categories or kill sub-categories.
This depends on how diverse your listings are. Create a more uniform URL structure so that visitors can easily remain aware of where they are. You can also use breadcrumbs to improve navigation.
Use tools like Ahrefs and the Raven Tools Site Auditor to find duplicate content on your website.
Your web page size and load speed are also very crucial. Test your performance with various CDNs to make sure your speeds are consistent. Get rid of third-party scripts that aren’t necessary.
Perform tests with Google PageSpeed Insights. Enter your URL into other usability tools like UserReport, Pingdom and UsabilityHub. These will give you a better idea of which areas of the page have poor grades.
Activate Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) where the platform being used supports it. This helps your site load faster on mobile devices. Switch to lighter and more responsive themes for your design.
If your budget allows, you can use a more headless approach for your ecommerce store. This makes use of APIs to govern the movement of data between a split front and back end.
The result is a smooth shopping experience across all devices/channels.
6. Vary Your Formats For Featured Snippets
If you want to appear in the featured snippet at the top of a search engine results page, pay attention to the different types that qualify.
When people search for things like “top 10 health ecommerce stores”, you’re more likely to see a list at the top. In other cases, you may see a table or a paragraph.
Craft text blocks that are formatted according to the kind of search phrases they are geared towards. Use bullets and numbering for your lists. Make your headings bold or change them from a regular font to a heading (h1, h2, h3).
For statistical data like price plans or transaction fees, adopt a tabular display. Pay close attention to the “People also ask” section. Use the inverted pyramid style when writing.
Keep the word count low, 40-50 words where possible. Some featured snippets may be longer but it’s better not to risk it. Read more on how to design effective featured snippets and how much they can help you here.
7. Automate Some Time-Intensive SEO Tasks
From running website performance tests to assessing backlink quality and quantity, and managing pay-per-click ads, automation can be of great help.
However, it is important to choose the right tools so that you don’t get in the penalty zone. These include SE Ranking, A1QA and RIO SEO. While plugins like Yoast are great, you may need more tools for the offsite activities.
Here is a list of some activities you can automate plus the respective tools to help you do it.
To wrap this all up, most SEO Practices should always come back to contribute to a few major areas. One of the more important ones is web performance.
There’s a lot more searches happening on mobile phones so you should pay attention to every aspect that affects the mobile experience. Redesign page elements like CTA buttons to fill the screen width so that you can pass the thumb zone test.
The other area that is undoubtedly vital, especially 2021 onwards is multimedia. Infographics, podcasts, vlogs etc. are all getting more consumers so it is important to invest in producing high quality versions.
Lastly, automation is here to make your life easier. You don’t have to be an expert at it, but take time to understand it. Particularly, the variation in results from processes involving AI and machine learning.
Ricky Hayes is the Co-Founder and Head of Marketing at Debutify - free Shopify theme, helping dropshippers build high-converting stores in minutes. He is a passionate entrepreneur running multiple businesses, marketing agencies and mentoring programs.