Let’s face it, we’re all set to leave 2020. And yet making predictions for 2021 also seems like a tempting fate. What can we expect for next year? I don’t know – but being able to eat out and not have to eat surf and turf in a makeshift draft yurt on the sidewalk would be nice.
But back to the topic at hand. If I’m going to put on my tipster hat, I’d bet we’re not going to see any game-changing disruptions this year. However, we will see changes that are already planned and in place intensify and become increasingly critical to SEO success. Old methods that still worked will become obsolete, while failure to embrace newer best practices will undoubtedly hamper your research efforts more than ever.
Here are some research trends to watch for in 2021.
This is called clickless search, but it might as well be called zero sum search because one player wins and everyone loses.
A no-click search is a search in which Google displays an answer at the top of the Search engine results pages (SERP), eliminating the need for users to click on a website. A unique site that provides an authoritative answer is presented.
Why is it important? Is not the referencing point to get people to click on your site for more information? Why would you even want Google to take your content and display it in a way that removes the incentive for people to visit your website?
Well, this matters for two reasons: Firstly, it has decimated the search engine traffic for many websites. It’s not good. Second, it opened up the possibility for small businesses to get traffic if they are not the first result listed in the SERP for a specific query. Even with a response on the SERP itself, many people will still click for context. They will click to find out more about the site in the featured snippet, not on the first page of search engine results.
Additionally, these snippets serve as free advertising for your business. You build brand awareness, and best of all, you can do it for free by simply using your industry expertise to create useful content.
Google Passage Ranking
While Google announced the new pass rankings in October, it is slated to roll out in 2021. Like no-click search, the goal here is to help people identify precisely the information they need.
The idea is that a page could be entirely devoted to the topic sought without being as valuable as a page on an entirely different topic. If you are looking for how to install a dimmer switch, perhaps the page that provides the best instructions is the one that also has instructions written by an electrician for a number of other DIY electrical projects. Now, instead of deciding that this page has low relevance because it covers a wider range of topics, it’s more likely to be found higher up in the SERPs.
This change is predicted to primarily target long tail searches, so traffic volume may not be high, but such searches can be useful when it comes to conversions.
Core Web Vitals
Basic web vitals is probably one of the biggest updates we’re expecting in 2021. All the things Google has been telling you to do for years that really matter to the user experience will now be official ranking signals. (But that’s okay, because you already do them, right?)