3 Things You Must Know About SEO in 2021

2020 has been…a 12 months.

I believe this screenshot of a Giphy seek for “2020” nearly sums it up.

But regardless of all of the challenges we’ve confronted as people this 12 months, 2020 hasn’t been all unhealthy.

After all, I welcomed my youngest son to the world this 12 months, and I believe he’s fairly nice!

I additionally discovered quite a bit about our trade, SEO, and I really feel we should always all pay shut consideration to what transpired this 12 months and leverage that data to grow to be higher, extra ready search entrepreneurs transferring ahead.


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So, with out additional introspection, listed below are three issues it’s essential learn about SEO in 2021!

1. Search Intent & Demand Are Fluid

It’s essential to know that search intent and demand are fluid – and rather more so than I beforehand thought.

Understanding searcher intent is a essential a part of a profitable SEO technique as it’s essential have a fundamental understanding of the intent behind a search question in order to construct a web page that satisfies that intent.

If your web page is the very best match for the intent, Google will rank your web page in their outcomes, easy as that (though making your web page the very best match is a little more sophisticated).

But what occurs when a world pandemic modifications the search intent for a question?

Well, you both adapt or lose rankings.

For instance, Lily Ray of Path Interactive shared a study the place she noticed queries like [Alcoholics Anonymous] and [Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings] returning web sites like AA-Intergroup and In the Rooms which supply digital restoration conferences and sources.


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This demonstrates how shortly Google can alter their outcomes to match intent for individuals in quarantine who wanted digital restoration help, even with out together with “digital” or “on-line” in their search question.

And shifts in searcher intent aren’t the one methods searcher conduct can change.

There’s additionally the potential that search quantity and curiosity in a given question may explode or disappear virtually in a single day.

Again, we noticed this occur in a number of verticals through the early phases of the pandemic.

Check out this Google Trends graph for [toilet paper]:

Google Trends graph - toilet paper

Or this development line for [sourdough bread]:

Google Trends graph - sourdough bread

We may see how shortly search curiosity can dip as effectively by taking a look at [movie tickets]:


While the chances of one other pandemic like COVID-19 occurring are (hopefully) slim, these graphs illustrate how essential diversifying your key phrases could be.

In truth, it’s robust proof that it is best to diversify your entire marketing strategy, relatively than placing all of your eggs in the “Google basket.”

These graphs additionally emphasize the importance of flexibility and having the ability to capitalize on alternative, or pivot when alternative lies elsewhere.

So how do you shield in opposition to shifting search intent or a large drop in search quantity?

While you’ll be able to’t management searcher conduct, you’ll be able to monitor it and alter accordingly.

To establish potential shifts in searcher intent, regulate your goal SERPs and how they are changing.

If you see an increasing number of pages beginning to rank that serve a distinct intent than your web page, it’s probably Google is testing serving a distinct intent – you could must ultimately change your web page or threat shedding rankings.

To observe search curiosity, you’ll be able to select from quite a lot of instruments that measure month-to-month search quantity, similar to SEMrush, Moz, or Ahrefs.

Google Trends offers you some directional sense of the place search curiosity is headed as effectively.


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In 2021, it is best to by no means get too snug.

Being versatile and being able to adapt is essential to on-line success.

2. Local Businesses & Local SEO Pros Must Be Agile

Speaking of needing to have the ability to adapt shortly, nowhere is that extra true than in native search this 12 months.

One of the hardest-hit sectors throughout this pandemic has been native companies.

Lockdowns and social restrictions compelled many of those enterprise homeowners to get artistic and discover new methods to remain linked with their clientele similar to contactless pick-up or digital consultations.

However, for a lot of companies, merely letting their prospects know in the event that they’re open or not could make an enormous distinction.

To their credit score, Google has finished an honest job offering varied choices inside Google My Business for native companies to speak with their prospects.

I attended a powerful presentation from GMB savant Joy Hawkins earlier this 12 months, outlining all of the choices out there inside Google’s platform. Some of the just lately added GMB options embody:


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  • An LGBTQ-friendly attribute.
  • Call buttons in native information panels.
  • An on-line working hours attribute.
  • An on-line appointments attribute.

If you wish to keep updated on all the brand new attributes which were and proceed to be added to GMB, I extremely advocate testing this resource on Hawkins’ web site.

Although most native companies are brick-and-mortar places, they need to account for search as a reputable channel for speaking with prospects, and the pandemic highlighted this truth as shutdowns made serving prospects in their bodily areas tough.

The most agile companies and native SEO professionals ought to have the ability to leverage new alternatives from native search by taking full benefit of the instruments Google and different engines like google present – and with new options being added on a regular basis, these agile companies and SEO execs will proceed to thrive past the pandemic.

3. The SEO Community Continues to Become Stronger

Even in the face of such adversity, the SEO group will stay as open, supportive, and modern.


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I’ve all the time been proud to be part of this vibrant group of search professionals, however by no means extra so than this 12 months.

Amid what has been one of the difficult years in the U.S. and throughout the globe, I’ve constantly seen SEO professionals stepping as much as assist each other.

I’ve seen SEO execs supporting different professionals which were laid off as a result of pandemic by sharing their resumes on Twitter and serving to them discover new roles in the trade.

I’ve additionally seen quite a few search professionals and businesses sharing free recommendation and knowledge to assist companies throughout these powerful occasions.

This has all the time been a observe inside SEO, however I’ve seen it particularly ramp up throughout 2020.

In truth, I’ve had the privilege of being a part of one such initiative at my very own firm.

SEO professionals have even been leveraging their non-SEO abilities to assist elevate cash for people affected by COVID or to help constructive psychological well being.


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For instance, Lily Ray has been placing her DJ’ing abilities to work on Twitter with free live shows and even carried out an “afterparty” concert for SEJ’s eSummit earlier this 12 months!

I’m all the time impressed by how open and collaborative the SEO trade is, however this 12 months has felt completely different as we’ve all leaned on each other throughout unusual and difficult circumstances.

I’m proud to be part of such a beautiful group and will probably be stronger nonetheless in 2021!


2020 confirmed that change can occur in a short time, and it’s essential be agile as an SEO skilled to regulate your technique swiftly to adapt to new search conduct, client environments, and potential restrictions.

Fortunately, search is a channel the place pivoting and shifting comparatively shortly is feasible in the event you’re ready for it.

So, in 2021, be sure you’re recurrently reviewing SERPs to make sure your pages or future pages nonetheless align with intent and search curiosity.

Remember, too, that you simply’re not alone and there’s a complete group on the market able to help you and enable you develop.


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Connect on social media, go away feedback in your favourite blogs, get entangled with SEJ’s implausible Friday Focus series…there are quite a few choices out there to you.

I do know it’s been a tough 12 months for many people, however I do know the longer term is vivid and higher occasions are forward.

So, thanks for studying, hold your chin up, and let’s hold pushing the search trade ahead into 2021 and past!

More Resources:

Image Credits

All screenshots taken by writer, December 2020

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