Updated: Apr 23, 2021
Search engine optimization is a digital marketing enigma
Just when marketing professionals think they have figured out a reliable, repeatable blueprint for sustained SEO success, Google makes drastic changes to its algorithm. What was once a sure-fire ranking hack suddenly doesn't garner similar success numbers, not to mention that there's no one-size-fits-all SEO approach in 2021 and the future.
There are numerous factors that determine the effectiveness of SEO strategy for a website. Some of these factors include the website's domain authority, amount of existing content on a specific domain, geographical location of the target users, number & maturity of direct competitors, sales cycle, and more. Most of these are constantly changing, which results in the ever-changing approach to search engine optimization. Here are essential predictions for the future of search engine optimization.
1. User experience (UX) is an important ranking factor
With regard to search engine optimization, UX refers to how a website user goes through a
specific website. It is currently a strong ranking factor this year and beyond. What most website
owners don't know is that Google can now measure their website's UX, and if the website doesn't cut it, it doesn't deserve that top rank.
2. Backlinks are still relevant
This might sound so obvious, but it must appear in your website's playbook for SEO. With all
other elements being equal, evaluating a website's backlink profile is one of the top ways
search engines will differentiate two websites. A recent study revealed that backlinks are one of
the top contributing factors to better rankings. It is beyond any doubt that backlinks will be a
significant ranking factor this year and beyond.
There are two ways you can incorporate backlinks into your marketing strategy.
First, explore your competitor's backlinks. Leverage SEO tools such as Ahrefs to analyse who links to your direct competitor's websites and not yours. Export that website list, reach out to them and try
to secure backlinks from them.
The other practical approach to building a good link profile is to build relationships. This is by
far the most reliable way of generating and building high-quality links.
Begin now, and with time, you will have built an impressive relationship infrastructure
with website owners who may be willing to send you excellent backlinks.
3. EAT SEO is becoming more popular
Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (EAT) is a simple concept that revolves around
Google's objective to giving its users reliable and accurate information written by experts. And if anything can begin to eat away the effectiveness of backlinks is the EAT concept.
One effective way of optimizing EAT involves finding reputable authors with
expertise in the topic your website is covering.
Have the author create informative, well-researched content.
4. Mobile searches are soaring
In September 2020, Google moved back to mobile-first indexing for nearly all websites. The
giant search engine made it clear that mobile-first indexing was now king that will not be
dethroned any time soon. Generally, mobile searches continued to grow last year,
with a 55 per cent market share globally. It is expected this trend will continue in
2021 and beyond.
5. Voice search has gained ground
This one is somewhat a love-hate relationship for some consumers. Some people cringe,
especially when hearing the dreaded & Google, blah blah… from nearby people. But the reality
is that more consumers are using voice search daily. It is just easier than typing a search query
Now combine this tech with Amazon's Alexa and other smart home devices, and
voice search will continue moving up the popularity ranks.
Fortunately, voice search is almost similar to regular searches in terms of SEO.
However, you don't need to do anything more than optimize your website content for the right search phrases, add excellent backlinks, address all UX issues, and implement other best SEO practices.
6. Google's BERT is now looking for intent matches
Google's Bio direction Encoder Representation from Transformers (BERT) utilizes machine learning and natural language processing to understand searches and what internet users may be looking for. It works with over 70 languages and for nearly every query in Google English.
With this update, Google bots have become somewhat more conventional, which means
Google's algorithm can successfully interpret search intent. In simpler words, Google can now understand things just like your brain.
What this also implies is that sites that have content intent miss-match may be impacted
negatively. Regardless of how detailed or excellent your long-form content is, if it doesn't
satisfy user intent, BERT is likely to ignore it and showcase another piece of content that
successfully satisfies the given query intent.
It is essential to mention that Google BERT isn't an algorithm that makes a penalty. Instead, it is
part of the giant search engine that filters out the most useful and relevant content to
searchers by interpreting search queries and the available content as humans.
That means it will not penalize websites or de-rank them, but it will favour websites that show the most relevant, informative, and useful content to users. This is exactly what Google has always tried to do.
For this reason, it is essential to perform a Google search for a specific keyword you intend to rank for just to be sure that your intent matches the user's intent.
This way, you will be sure, but you'll create content that is useful and relevant to the target user.
7. Artificial intelligence
Similar to most industries, artificial intelligence is changing the entire search engine
optimization and marketing industry. The primary reason behind this effect of artificial
intelligence is the high level of personalization that this technology provides.
Just think about it Google uses artificial intelligence to provide internet users with answers or results they are looking for. But how does artificial intelligence help brands SEO strategies?
It takes a long time to understand Google's algorithm and how it ranks web pages.
Besides, creating effective SEO strategies accordingly may take time too.
Though SEO professionals can help set up such strategies, using machine learning and artificial intelligence can be a game- changer. It can be much more efficient in terms of decoding the algorithms and implementing favourable strategies.