Top 10 Local SEO Predictions for 2021

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Let’s be honest, even without the added pressure of keeping up with competitors online, running a business these days is more challenging than ever. You need to create better products and services, market your offerings, and, most importantly, get found online. In this fast-paced, digital world, ranking online is pretty much the key to success.

For this reason, staying updated with the latest trends in SEO has never been so crucial. Consumers want to spend money on brands or businesses that are current and that they can easily find and get in touch with online. And falling behind SEO trends can cost you thousands of dollars of those sales. Without further ado, let’s get right into the top SEO trends to watch out for in 2021.

1. Greater focus on search intent

In case you’re not familiar with search intent, it pertains to the reason behind a searcher’s query. While this concept isn’t necessarily new, it’s always a smart move to refocus. Before, businesses prioritized optimizing for the keywords and integrating them into the campaigns regardless of the content’s quality.

However, Google is getting smarter and smarter, working hard towards user experience to give the most accurate results possible. Learning what’s happening with the search engine results pages (SERPs) will give you clear insight into a searcher’s intent. Pay attention to organic listings, paid ads, and knowledge graph results.

Our SEO experts also recommend preventing content-intent mismatches, as this can cost you high rankings online. Still, note that searcher behavior and intent change every time, so be sure you’re up to date.

2. Mobile SEO will be more relevant

In 2021, mobile optimization will become more vital than ever too. With almost every consumer relying on online shopping, this is surely a perfect time for businesses to be visible on the Internet. In fact, SEO experts claim that mobile device user experience is one of the biggest focuses for this year.

It’s also predicted that Google will prioritize your mobile website over your desktop in terms of ranking. In fact, Google rolled out mobile-first indexing in 2019, emphasizing your site’s mobile version is more relevant now.

Businesses and brands are advised to keep their web designs simple and their elements and content tailored to the users. A mobile-friendly site is easy to navigate, intuitive, and appealing on smaller screens. If you want visitors to stay longer on your site, the website should be clean and load quickly.

Furthermore, watch out for lazy-loading content this year. The last thing you want to happen is for it not to be crawled or indexed by Google. If Google bots don’t see your content, your rankings might be affected.

3. Long-form content for higher rankings

While some studies show that the attention span of individuals has reduced greatly, research related to content strategy found that long-form content outperforms shorter reads. It was also found that long reads get about three times more backlinks than your average short blog. Want to rank higher on the search engine results page? Start creating long reads.  

With long-form content outperforming short reads, it’s critical to note that quality is still key. Packing your content with great depth of information is an obvious one, but be sure to consider other important factors too. These include focused topic, audience, intended aim, and scope. It must have purpose and substance for it to be deemed valuable by readers and rank highly on the SERPs. For headlines, tricks such as using power words and odd numbers are recommended.

Still uncertain why writing long-form content is an amazing idea for 2021? Other benefits include more social shares, better reader engagement, more room for CTAs, and higher conversions. Providing more educational articles also enables you to build authority and trust for your business or brand.

4. Leverage voice search

Advancements in technology continue to transform the digital world, particularly the innovation of voice. Virtual assistants such as Google Assistance, Amazon’s Alexa, and Siri by Apple are the top contributors to voice recognition technology.

According to a recent study, about 55 percent of households in the U.S. will own smart speakers by 2022. But beyond our homes, voice search is becoming more versatile and accessible in smartphones. Today, these mobile devices are not solely for texting or calling but also for accessing information of local businesses, such as locations, store hours, and reviews.

With voice search expected to become more popular in 2021, it’s best to take this chance to optimize your site for voice search. More for this year, natural-sounding and question-based keywords are expected to have bigger roles in searches and marketing.

5. GMB is still a crucial local marketing tool

Just like in 2020, Google My Business (GMB) continues to be an essential ingredient for an effective local marketing strategy. If you missed out on GMB last year, 2021 is the time to leverage its power and boost your local relevance. Google My Business is expected to have better attributes focused on user experience.

It’s imperative for local businesses to understand that in order to have a better SEO strategy, using GMB in an accurate way is vital. These include claiming and verifying your GMB listing and making the effort to regularly update your account. Doing these can help you dramatically improve your business’s local traffic.

Also, Google is expected to improve and expand its GMB services this year. For that reason, be sure to keep your account (if you already have one) up to date and use the latest GMB features available.

6. Reviews continue to be essential

In selecting a business, customers often look for social proof as a basis. Consumers always want to know the opinions or feedback of others before making a decision. In recent years, we’ve witnessed a rapid increase in consumers creating and referencing reviews.

Online reviews help people decide where to eat, where to travel, and what to buy. And as reviews continue to hold a major role in the digital market, online reputation management is becoming more crucial than ever. If you’re looking to get more clicks in the local SERPs, you’ll need to start working on your review ratings.

For businesses that already have reviews, make sure to respond to them to show your current and potential customers that you pay attention to their experiences. With a proper response, you can convince a critic to reconsider or make that one-time visitor into a loyal customer. Get in touch with our team to learn about our strategies on online reputation management, review generation, and how we can help improve your business visibility and credibility.

7. Better predictive search

In 2017, the Google Feed, now called Google Discover, was launched to provide users with relevant content even when not searching. This was made possible by learning the behavioral patterns and habits of the user. And in 2018, Google rolled out a major update to provide searchers with a smarter feed with better features.

That said, SEO specialists and digital marketers are expecting to see more surprising improvements in predictive search. As of now, there are no claims from Google that they specifically choose the content they display on Discover or what exact factors are taken into account. The only thing that’s quite obvious is that the search engine giant uses a user’s browsing and location history, calendar, search history, and app usage for predictive search.

8. Online ordering experience is a top priority

For local businesses, 2021 is the year to continue improving their delivery and online ordering services. Restaurants, in particular, were forced to face bad fortune and adjust for the worse due to the pandemic. In turn, consumers are preferring to order online for safety and convenience.

Furthermore, experts see significant growth for the takeout market, leading to more and more local shops and restaurants adding pick-up and delivery channels. This trend in online ordering is also anticipated to fuel further support for local and small businesses, as consumers tend to get their groceries online too.

For this reason, business owners, especially restaurant operators, are advised to focus on contactless technology and strategies to continue minimizing human contact. These include payment apps, self-service kiosks, digital menus, and tableside ordering systems.

9. Harder push on Google Messaging

Another trend to watch out for this year is the expansion of local business messaging on Google My Business and Google Maps. The search engine giant launched two updates last year providing customers with more ways to message a business. Businesses, on the other hand, can now get better local insights and connect directly with their customers.

These improvements are made in response to the observation that users tend to message merchants multiple times using their business profiles on Maps and Search. And for 2021, more improvements and updates are expected, particularly on the performance page displaying information about how the customers found your business online.

This business messaging feature isn’t just a new element or a trend, it’s also a way to further support local and small businesses during these uncertain times. In fact, just this past February, Google My Business rolled out the messaging feature for the desktop interface, which isn’t fully live yet but has already been seen by many. Before, messaging was only available on the GMB mobile app. Businesses can now communicate with their customers in real time using their desktop browsers.

10. Focus on Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals becoming a Google ranking signal is one of the most talked-about topics in 2021. It will be an official ranking factor for search results this coming May as confirmed by Google Search Central in a tweet last November. Announcing Core Web Vitals as a new ranking factor, the focus will be primarily on the technical aspects.

For this update, Google will be tapping into certain things such as the loading speed, visual stability of the page, and how soon users can interact with it. Other signals that will be considered are safe browsing, mobile-friendliness, HTTPS security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.

Curious how you can incorporate these trends into your SEO or marketing campaign? Let our team do it! Our expertise and passion are to help you create a positive brand image through our products and services. Have no idea about your business’s current online presence? Get your free online presence scorecard from us or shoot us a message with other questions.

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