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  • Writer's pictureDiarmuid O'Loughlin

SEO Trends: How Search Engine Marketing Will Evolve in 2021.

There’s been a lot of talk in the SEO community recently, about whats next for SEO and its importance as a marketing channel. In the realm of online search, SEO has had the single biggest impact for any brand during 2020. This has been proven globally as cash strapped businesses (due to the pandemic) relied heavily on SEO to drive quality traffic to their websites without the use of big ad budgets. A slower process (SEO), but one that has stapled organic search as a prominent marketing channel going forward.

2021 will create its own challenges for search marketers, so we decided to pin a few more predictions below on what SEO trends will dominate search this year.

1. How SEO will impact on retail.

2. Ad Spend will be far harder to predict.

3. Making the most of Video Marketing Channels.

4. Apple’s influence in the Search Marketing industry.

5. The ever growing relationship between SEO and UX.

6. Leveraging the Power of Search Data.

7. The growing importance of SEO.

1. How SEO will impact on retail.

The exponential growth in online shopping during the pandemic drastically changed predicted eCommerce growth across the Irish economy. The first lockdown in Spring 2020 saw many Irish shoppers flocking to online platforms to buy essentials. Buying habits changed over night, Luxury & Travel retail took a massive hit as 'active wear' and DIY products were deemed more important.

With these changes in consumer buying behaviours, retailers found a new appreciation for search data and the use of analytics. Online marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy thrived in supplying products that matched changing consumer preferences. With that said, Organic Search still accounted for a large proportion of eCommerce product based searches. Well optimised sites are reaching organic traffic levels of over 60% out of their total web traffic, so SEO is here to stay and also well worth the investment for long term retail brand growth.

2. Ad Spend will be far harder to predict.

As 2020 saw the biblical growth not seen before in demand for online products and services it also saw a massive decline in advertising. This mainly due to businesses across many industry sectors forced to shut down their operations indefinitely as a result of the pandemic.

Whilst it's unclear at the moment to predict what value Ad Spend will bring to businesses with the current lockdown, many advertisers expect growth to return in late 2021.

Speaking with some clients about their overall marketing strategy and budgets one thing is clear, the Ad spend amount will be very agile compared to this time last last year before the pandemic hit. As the old cliche goes "only time will tell".

3. Making the most of video marketing channels.

Its nothing new realising the power of video as a marketing tool. Google generously favours any website with embedded video content especially from YouTube. YouTube can also help your organic growth in other ways, its a very useful platform to aid your SEO efforts, not just for publishing video content.

From an advertising perspective, YouTube now offers new advertising opportunities for search engine marketers in 2021. The new integrations directly link with Google Ads allowing for expanded insights and optimisation features. New YouTube Ads also include targeting features (audio advertising) towards those who use YouTube as a music & podcast streaming channel.

With new ad targeting, ad type and optimisation features, YouTube has become more exciting with new options for search engine marketers and advertisers in 2021.

4. Apple’s influence in the Search Marketing Industry.

You might not know this but a multi-billion-dollar deal currently exists between Google and Apple, where the later receives $10 billion a year from Google to allow ‘Chrome’ to be Apple’s Safari’s default browser.

It’s no surprise that Apple (now under renewed pressure from competition authorities) has started to look into developing its own search engine. This evident with their latest, iOS 14, having capabilities of showing direct links to websites in its own search results.

*An opportunity also for advertisers to use iOS as an alternative to Google & Facebook ad products.

With this possible development by Apple in 2021, it could have a very different outlook for Google as a first choice search platform and massive benefits for Apple iOS users who account for 27% of total global mobile usage.

5. The ever growing relationship between SEO and UX.

The single biggest event in 2020 to finally weld the importance between SEO and UX was Google’s announcement last May about using certain metrics to gauge and rate user experience as a ranking factor.

Google knows what the perfect user experience should be, they’ve gone as far as releasing an eBook publication called: The UX Playbook for Retail, hinting they're trying to teach marketers and designers how to design the perfect eCommerce website experience.

Core Web Vitals are an existing set of metrics that measure, page speed, mobile responsiveness and visual stability. See the infographic below for a more detailed explanation.

Google’s recent Core Updates were very focused on assessing user experience across websites. The design, the user flow and even the check-out processes are all part of it’s assessment criteria.

"Basically if you want to rank high on search results you have to understand what your users really want to do on your website and allow them do it in the easiest way possible."

As the focus has shifted somewhat on how websites will be ranked in relation to user experience, it will not impact on SEO...well not immediately anyway.

Content is still your most valuable asset and when I mean content that includes video and graphics.

Technical SEO elements that can render website’s uncrawlable and slow to upload will still fail under Core Web Vitals so there is a need for regular SEO and website audits.

Target Keywords and other metadata are still very important for On-page SEO, as search engines will still need to crawl your website landing pages for search relevancy and interpretation.

6. Leveraging the Power of Search Data.

With the process of analysing search data in the wake of the pandemic, online retailers have seen the need to stay relevant with their customers. Search intelligence has now become an integral part of business strategy planning, providing huge insight into how consumers search for brands.

The pandemic has empowered consumers to use search more, 60% of brand discovery starts with a search engine query, it’s no doubt that this statistic will increase in 2021. With this in mind search intelligence data could be one of the most powerful tools available for marketers in 2021. Allowing them to drill into the search preferences of their clients target audience.

7. The growing importance of SEO.

So as not to duplicate whats already been said on how the pandemic impacted digital advertising spend, consumer buying preferences or even how search intel has become more relevant to some organisations. It’s still worth reiterating how important 2020 has been for SEO as a key component of a marketing strategy.

As its seen as a somewhat ‘free’ continuous strategy rather than a direct spontaneous campaign, brands have warmed to the benefits of SEO. With many panicking to begin a digital transformation process and get their businesses selling online with the onset of the pandemic. SEO showed it's worth as a key marketing and audience behavioural insights channel.

As SEO is now the spearhead for many successful marketing strategies, the use of AI and machine learning will also become imperative in providing greater user insights, a good example of this is the updates made last year to Google Search Console.

Google itself as a entity is controlling more about what we see, when we search. It isn’t giving search marketers a secret key to success, but it’s certainly showing more positive signs in helping them with literature on how to improve web experience’s and insights into Core Updates being rolled out.

I hope you found this latest publication useful. If planning your SEO strategy this year is an issue, don’t delay! reach out to us via our website or email and let's start planning your business growth.

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