2021 predictions: Keep a close eye on these 4 upcoming SEO trends

2021 predictions: Keep a close eye on these 4 upcoming SEO trends

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Meet the new year, same as the old year? If January isn’t exactly turning the page on a crazy 2020—with certain aspects likely to take much longer to improve than we had hoped—we can at least take solace in the fact that digital is always the exception to the rule.

Even in SEO, one of digital marketing’s most established and venerable disciplines, change is afoot. So, don’t let these upcoming trends overtake you: get well ahead of the game with the latest installment of our 2021 predictions.

  1. Predictive search: Results without a search

    Way back in the beforetime of 2017, Google launched the Google feed to allow users to discover new content without conducting a search. In 2018, this was relaunched as Google Discover and it now boasts more than 800 million active users.

    Google Discover

    Image: Google

    Predictive content visibility is based on pre-search factors associated with the individual user as well as overall quality and engagement signals. But how do SEO strategies maintain relevance in a world where searches are predicted rather than typed or spoken into existence? We fully expect this year’s most potent SEO strategies to expand from topics to holistic user experiences—something that’s much easier said than done.

  2. Video will become (even more) critical

    As 5G begins rolling out globally, baseline internet speeds are expected to continue increasing. With average speeds expected to reach above 20MBPs globally in 2021, the barrier for entry to video will be removed globally. That’s a huge leap forward.

    Chart showing global mobile internet speeds

    Video resonates with web users, especially younger consumers. That makes it an excellent opportunity not only for younger brands to engage their target demographics, but for more established brands to develop relationships with younger audiences. If customer age isn’t yet a factor in your organic search strategy, now is the time to make it so.

    HubSpot graphic showing user engagement with branded content

  3. Don’t forget to optimise your images

    Google is now returning images within SERPs for nearly 30% of searches. For users browsing products, we’re predicting excellent opportunities for brands to showcase their style and leapfrog traditional results.

    Google search results showing images

    Brands will need to expand their optimisation toolkit to include image performance metrics. Ensure images are fast, accurate, and relevant to on-page content. Where possible, include imagery with all content to provide multiple formats for users to digest topics and bolster engagement.

  4. Expect increased competition from… Google?!

    Search results continue to become increasingly competitive as Google introduces new features—features that serve to increase the diversity of results. As this trend takes shape, traditional results will continue to be pushed further below the fold. Unsurprisingly, that means search strategies will need to become equally diverse.

    Appearance of Google features within SERPs:

    • Related questions: 90%
    • Local pack: 42%
    • Knowledge panel: 35%
    • Images: 28%
    • Videos: 23%

    In 2021, the most successful optimisation programs will embrace multiple tactics and formats. More importantly, the brands that thrive will not only optimise but measure every aspect of the search result, regardless of channel.

    Google SERP

Want to know even more about the next 12 months in digital marketing? Check out our handy (and free!) PDF, which includes predictions in media, content, analytics, creative, and more.