If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that change can happen very quickly. SEO has changed a lot over the years, and the same tactics that got your website to the top spot in search engine results pages (serps) in 2010, 2015 and even 2020 might not be quite enough to keep you there in 2021 and beyond.
The purpose of search engines is to deliver users the best content in relation to their queries. As the algorithms improve and gain a better understanding of what exactly users are searching for and what websites are delivering, they return better results.
SEO is evolving: what should marketers focus on?
The landscape of search looks a lot different now compared to what it once was. Over the years there have been several advancements in search engine algorithms and there are many more live websites than ever before.
For brands to stand out online, it’s not enough to produce the best content and website experience. They also need to properly indicate to search engines that their website is relevant and trustworthy.
The value of technical SEO has only increased over the years and it now plays a large role in organic visibility of a website. If you have a solid technical SEO foundation, search engines will have a greater chance of understanding what your website is about and who it should be shown to.
The importance of technical SEO is only going to continue to grow, but there will be an increased focus on improving user experience.
A key update that marketers need to be aware of is Google’s introduction of Core Web Vitals, which is set to become part of their core algorithm in May this year. Google’s update is representative of the search engine’s shift from prioritising backlinks towards user experience as a crucial ranking signal.
This means that, from May, having a slow website could not only be costing you loss of online visibility, but it could directly impact your revenue figures. Core Web Vitals is made up of three indicators that Google uses to measure the overall user experience of a web page. Marketers should focus on improving user experience of their website in these areas:
- Largest Contentful Paint, or loading time, measures the page loading speed in which a user can see and interact with the content on a page.
- First Input Delay, or interactivity, is the time between a user first interacting with your site to when the browser responds to that interaction.
- Cumulative Layout Shift, or visual stability, measures any unexpected shifting of elements on a webpage while the page is still downloading.
Find out what you can do to improve the user experience of your website here.
The way Google and other search engines analyse and understand content has evolved. It now takes content across the entire website into consideration when evaluating how relevant a page is to a search query, where in previous years it may have made a judgement just using that one page’s content.
In recent years there has been a gradual shift away from an exclusively keyword focused content strategy towards a strategy surrounding topics, concepts and entities. Marketers should focus on identifying what topics they want to rank for and then create content for these topics and sub-topics, as this is key to increasing organic visibility.
Stand out from your competition
To achieve – and maintain – a strong position in the serps, you need to have an awareness of how SEO is changing so you can adapt your strategy in the face of these changes.
In Search Laboratory’s new SEO whitepaper, What does SEO look like in 2021?, you will discover the biggest changes coming to SEO in 2021, such as Core Web Vitals as a ranking factor and the rise of zero-click search results. You will also find out how to adapt your strategy for success, including:
- Moving away from keywords towards topics, concepts and entities.
- Producing content around intent.
- Optimising for zero click search results.
- Investing in automation and big data.
This article was originally published on The Drum.