Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the most important aspects of any business online. Ranking as high as possible is crucial to success, which means carefully following algorithm changes and adapting content and keywords. When Google makes a change, or there is a shift in consumer behavior online, SEO follows. We work extensively with optimizing websites for SEO on behalf of our clients for a range of industries and it gives us a great view of how it changes each time.
As last year saw a massive boom in e-commerce, with more and more brands turning to online, the need to rank higher in search engines has increased even more. However, it is not just the importance of optimizing pages for SEO but paying attention to the trends and what will work best with the algorithms for the coming year. So far this year, three trends have emerged to make a major impact on SEO — namely, video content, FAQs and voice search.
By far the biggest change to client strategy for 2021 is the inclusion of video content. Whilst it is not exactly new by any means, video content has seen a massive increase in the last decade, one that does not look to be stopping anytime soon. One simply has to look at the astronomical success of YouTube or more recent short-form video apps like Instagram Reels or TikTok. What is even more noteworthy is that whilst these are more popular with younger audiences than older ones, they have the ability to convey large amounts of information in a short period of time. Videos are powerful storytellers, and with one billion hours of YouTube video content watched each day, the effectiveness and popularity of them cannot be argued.
Additionally, video content has the massive benefit of being easy to view on mobile devices. As more and more people not only consume media but shop and research products from tablets and smartphones, the value of content that can capture the attention of mobile viewers is extremely useful. Your average social media user is far more likely to respond favorably to a short video talking about a product than they are reading a paragraph of information, with research seeing 40% of users having better responses to visual content than that of text. This has led to more people wanting to see content from the brands they support.
So, with this rise in demand, companies are looking to use more video content. Turning to videos in your own strategy is a good choice, though it shouldn’t be done simply for the sake of having videos. Video content on its own is not enough to drastically increase a business’s SEO. Instead, it needs to not only be relevant with your industry and the page it is on to ensure the ranking is high, but it also needs to be relevant to your audience as well, especially something that can interest or educate them.
Frequently Asked Questions pages, or FAQs, have begun to take on a bigger role recently as more consumers look online. As mentioned before, it’s not just purchasing online that has increased recently, but people looking to research products and services to find out as much as they can before spending. FAQs are also an effective way to establish trust between company and customer, showing a brand to be both helpful and knowledgeable. As 2021 progresses, I believe more consumers are going to be looking for FAQs to help educate their purchases.
This means that the optimization of these pages is extremely important, even more so with Google valuing websites that focus on providing users with information that educates their choice. These pages should be set up covering the questions you see most commonly asked or searched for in relation to your company, with keywords to match.
The big newcomer to the SEO trends is voice recognition technology and voice searches. Since 2017, the amount of people with smart speakers has increased rapidly, with roughly 1 in 4 American adults having one by early 2020. Products such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Nest have become common household items, though voice search devices are also prevalent elsewhere.
From smartphones holding voice recognition technology to desktop computers (as with Microsoft’s Cortana), it has become widely available. They offer convenience and accessibility, with a report from PwC finding that 71% of respondents would rather use voice search than typing, and statistics from Google showing that 72% surveyed said it was now part of their daily routine. Smart speakers have become a part of day-to-day life for many. And with the recent e-commerce boom, they are being used more to research products and shop online.
The big challenge with voice searches is that they do not work with short keywords. If you think of the average text search, how many words do you put in? Most likely no more than three. As such, we set up short, choppy keywords to reflect that. However, it does not work the same way with voice searches. Many users often pose their searches as questions, using natural language, which means longer searches, most over seven words at least. To adapt to this, long-tail keywords need to be added and more long-form content used to match the way most voice searches are worded. For example, you wouldn’t say “Best Coffee Toronto” — you’d more likely type that as a search. Meanwhile, if you were to vocalize it, you would probably say something like: “Where is the best coffee in Toronto?” Same question, but vastly different wordings.
Making sure to keep up with these SEO trends is extremely important, and might be the difference between being seen online or not. As these trends come in, it is interesting to think about what changes to SEO will be next, how content ranks, how people search for products and services, and what generates the best organic traffic.