Predicting the Major SEO Trends of 2021

On January 28th, 2021, I attended a webinar called 2021 SEO Predictions, conducted by SearchMetrics. The webinar included a panel of SEO influencers discussing some of the trends they anticipate over the coming months, along with their general assessment of where the SEO industry is and where it’s headed.

It was a rewarding session, with plenty of notable takeaways. What follows are just a few notes taken during the SearchMetrics panel.

The State of SEO: Takeaways from the 2021 SEO Predictions Webinar

Apple ITPS

Just recently, Apple has begun limiting the duration of cookies, shifting from 30 days to seven days. Now Firefox and Google are also getting on board, announcing that cookies are to be taken completely out of browsers, severely limiting the data that’s made available to advertisers, marketers, and SEO engineers. Some implications of this:

  • Data monopolies like Amazon, Google, and Apple will be created.
  • Third party data will effectively go away, leaving advertisers and search engineers to figure out better options for retargeting. 
  • Brands will have to rethink their retargeting and digital marketing campaigns… and frankly, most brands are not prepared enough for this. 
  • Marketing executives should be worried!
  • The upside is that there will likely be more pressure for SEO, which offers:
    • First party acquisition
    • First point of getting data 
  • Also consider the importance of data partnership (second party data).

Google Mobile Only Indexing

A few thoughts regarding Google Mobile Only Indexing:

  • Context will create a foundational context challenge for SEOs.
  • There will likely be some very limited tools available.
  • Anticipate mobile and responsive changes.
  • SEOs and search marketers need to think mobile first, and have a mobile first strategist; mobile design education will be useful. 
  • Design for mobile first. 
  • Traditional SEO tools that are desktop first will be less useful. 
  • Have conversion with mobile UX team and engineering team.

Passages and Subtopics

The panel also had some helpful reflections regarding the new “Passage” concept from Google.

  • Google will break search results into tiered structures, which change the rules for content. Further: 
    • Passage is a concept that Google can extract some elements of content within a webpage and rank that content based on quality and relevance to users’ searches.
    • This means more ranking opportunities, if you create content. 
    • Well-designed content that meets the needs of users will be even more important than ever.

Antitrust Lawsuits

Another key topic regarding the future of SEO:

  • The lawsuits may have impact in indirect ways, but it will vary from industry to industry and vertical to vertical. 
  • The impact is likely to be more on paid (prices may go up) than organic, but organic will be impacted:
    • There will be specific industries or groups that will be impacted by this. 
    • Publishers may be impacted too by some industries. 

GPT-3: Amazing Development in AI

It’s impossible to assess the state and future of SEO without considering AI. The GPT-3 marks a truly major development. So what is it, exactly?

  • Natural Language Processing by AI.
  • Will be utilized more as it produces very human-type text.
  • GPT-3 will not result in mass content marketing layoffs but it may change the role of writers to editors and\or strategists.
    • It relies on open Internet, so much of the data produced may be inaccurate, it will need writers and editors involved.
    • Still too early for it to completely take over jobs; if anything, it will help expedite content production.
    • Trains on billions of parameters and parameters will keep adding, so it will improve over time.
    • Lots of smaller tasks like meta data, or short content (that actual writers don’t want to do) can be generated and can be a good solid first draft that will be ready for editors to make adjustments. 
    • It doesn’t understand facts, it understands relationships, so it can still produce bad facts; hence, it will still need to be closely watched.
    • If anything, it will help the writer; at some point it will be solved, but we are not there yet. 

Long Form Content

A few quick notes about the state of long form content and its role in SEO:

  • Long form content will continue to be the most impactful content for SEO.
  • A majority of searches, especially topical searches, are long form content.
  • Refurbish old content and transform it into long form content.

Increased SEO Competition 

major seo trends

Finally, some thoughts on the potential for increased competition within the SEO industry:

  • As retargeting and some of the paid advertising methods become less impactful due to the cookie restriction and poor targeting, marketers will focus more on SEO.
  • This means:
    • Increased activities in local SEO.
    • Increased activities in eCommerce SEO and Shopify SEO. 
    • Video and Youtube SEO will become even more important as more video content is going to be consumed.
    • Apps like TikTok will also be increasingly valuable.

Keep Tabs on the State of SEO

There’s obviously a lot going on in SEO. The success of your own optimization efforts will be largely dependent on your ability to stay current, and to pivot according to new technologies or industry shifts.

At Sefati & Co, we are true students of our industry, committed to SEO’s cutting edge. Our participation in webinars like this one is just one example of how we stay up-to-date, ensuring we can always provide our clients with more advanced and sophisticated SEO strategies.

To speak with us further about the state of SEO, or about our own role within it, reach out to the team at Sefati & Co.

Author: Al Sefati

Al Sefati is an enterprise SEO and search marketing expert and the founder of Sefati & Company. Al works with marketing agencies and enterprise level clients and he is in charge of forming and monitoring their SEO and SEM strategies. Al blogs often about latest SEO, SEM and digital marketing trends and tactics.