The algorithms underpinning how a search engine works are constantly evolving. To make your content rank in the search engines, you need to stay on top of the evolving SEO trends. After all, you can guarantee that your competitors will be trying to gain a competitive advantage over your business.
This guide will discuss the trends that you should stay on top of. We’ll discuss factors like the increasing popularity of AI for content creation, SEO tools that will help you optimize your content, and more. Let’s dive right into this guide.
For most of the last decade, keyword optimization involved selecting a word or phrase and repeatedly including it in the article, alongside your meta description and URL slug. Most of us would use a tool like Yoast, which had a simple traffic light system, to optimize content.
I’m sure many companies still rely on the Yoast traffic light system for content optimization. Companies that are getting ahead in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are increasingly turning to a suite of advanced keyword optimization tools.
Arguably the two market leaders in this space are Surfer SEO and Clearscope. Though, the number of new entrants is increasing fast.
The new range of keyword optimization tools relies on AI to help them understand what keywords to include in a keyword-optimized article. Here’s a basic overview of how they work:
- You enter the keyword that you want to target.
- The software does an API call to an AI platform.
- The AI analyzes the first 30 or so search results for the phrase. It then identifies the most important keywords and headings.
- You get the results for this via a browser extension or a writing dashboard.
- You create a piece of content that includes the necessary keywords and headings.
The most commonly used AI platforms for the API call are Google Natural Language Processing AI, OpenAI, or IBM Watson. These are the big three AI platforms in the US.
Google Natural Processing AI is the algorithm Google uses to determine what content means and where it should rank. OpenAI is a platform part-funded by Tesla. Meanwhile, IBM Watson is the AI platform that became a world champion Go and won Jeopardy.
Here’s what the dashboard looks like for one of these keyword optimization tools.
Most tools either use a traffic light or grading system to reveal if the content is SEO optimized. If you’re serious about content marketing, you need to invest in an advanced keyword optimization tool.
One trend that seems to be working well at the moment is the SEO-optimized FAQ sales page. These types of sales pages often target definitions. Here’s Shopify’s sales page. The content above the fold seeks to generate a conversion. In this sense, it follows the classic outline of a sales page and is designed to generate click-throughs to the free trial.
A large portion of the content below the fold answers frequently asked questions. In the image below, you can see a definition for the term “What does Shopify POS do?”
Sales pages that include definitions and address frequently asked questions related to a key phrase seem to be doing well in the search results. If you’re creating sales pages that you want to rank, try taking this approach. Invest some time in creating valuable content for your visitors and make sure you run it through a grammar checker.
In the last two years, companies have started to use AI to create content. Initially, AI content was being used to create simple things like meta descriptions. Then, we’ve seen that broaden out, with AI used to create sales copy for Pay Per Click ads.
I’d argue that we’re on the cusp of seeing AI used for creating blog posts and sales pages at a quality that is as good as, if not better, than what many writers can produce. When that happens, it will result in a seismic shift in how we approach SEO.
We’re not there yet, though.
At the moment, you can use AI to speed up the content creation process. Here’s an example paragraph of content created using the SEO tool Writer.
It took just a second to change the headline from title case to sentence case. It may not seem like much, but those seconds shaved from your editing time all add up to a substantial amount of time.
The AI writer understands the context and quickly creates the content. It doesn’t get it right every time, though. And you do need an editor to review and improve the content.
The second most used search engine on the planet is YouTube. Given that fact, it makes sense to incorporate video within your marketing efforts. These statistics from Wyzol highlight why this is important:
- 87% of marketers report increased traffic to their website as a result of videos
- 96% of people have watched explainer videos about products or services
- 84% of people cite video as part of what convinced them to buy something
To establish your brand’s YouTube presence, you need to create a channel where you post a mixture of short and long-form videos. Those videos should address common issues that your product or service can resolve.
For instance, Zoho’s YouTube channel has hundreds of videos, including case studies and how-tos, that answer audience questions. The channel also contains snippets from webinars were Zoho executives and other industry experts discuss common questions related to tech and business.
The video content you produce on Google can also appear in the video carousel on the SERP page. Google introduced displaying video carousels to its SERPs back in 2018. You should also add videos to your email marketing campaigns and client prospecting. Use them to embed videos or add links to your YouTube channels. Use your subscriber list and email finder tools to reach out to your target audience.
Mobile SEO for e-commerce sites continues to be a hot trend in 2021. For over 2-3 years now, global mobile traffic has overtaken desktop computer traffic. Over 40% of transactions also occur on mobile.
It’s important, therefore, to ensure that your site is optimized for mobile.
You can check if your website has issues on mobile using the Mobile-Friendly Test tool created by Google. The tool will identify any mobile issues you need to address and provide suggestions for fixes.
One of the biggest challenges many businesses face when it comes to mobile is page speed. We’ll discuss that in more depth in the next section.
In May 2020, Google launched three new metrics, called Core Web Vitals, to measure user experience on a website. These metrics focus on three key aspects of the user experience – loading, interactivity, and visual stability. Those metrics are expressed as Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift.
- LCP: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures the time to load the largest content element on a page.
- First Input Delay: First input delay (FID) measures the time it takes for your site to become responsive. That means a person can click on a link, for example.
- Cumulative Layout Shift: CLS measures the visual stability of a page. A page with a low CLS score should provide a good user experience.
If you’re managing a website, you need to focus on these three metrics. You can use a tool like Google PageSpeed Insights to review how your site is performing.
As mentioned earlier, you need to review how your site performs on desktop and mobile.
Another SEO trend that runs parallel to the growth of mobile devices is voice search. More people switch to voice search because it is quicker and more convenient than typing in your queries. Millions of people worldwide are already using Voice Assistants such as Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Google assistant.
Voice search is no longer a novelty, with around 20% of searches being done through voice commands. You should be optimizing your site for voice search.
Here are three tips to help you optimize your website for voice searches:
- Choose long-tail keywords: When users type a search, they tend to use short and disconnected phrases. However, with voice search, they will usually speak a complete sentence or long phrases. Hence you need to optimize your website to these long-tail keywords. It will increase the visibility of your website in voice searches.
- Optimize for questions: Voice searches are mostly in the form of questions. Instead of searching for “frozen pipe fix”, voice search users will probably search for “how to fix a frozen pipe”. Therefore, you should structure your website content so that it answers your potential customers’ questions.
- Create content for user reference: Many voice searches are made by people who need answers to commonly-asked questions. Publishing evergreen content or updating old articles can help your site attract traffic that is searchable through voice searches.
Voice search is not a gimmick. It is here to stay. If you want your e-commerce website to remain visible, you need to optimize it for voice commands and searches.
SEO is constantly evolving, and you need to keep on top of the latest trends. This guide discussed seven such trends for you to look at in greater detail. We discussed topics like using AI to optimize your content, using AI to create content, FAQ sales pages, and more.
Implementing or acting on the tips shared in this guide should provide you with a competitive advantage over your competitors. Use that edge to your advantage and dominate those search results for the terms that matter for your business.
Nicholas Rubright is the communications specialist for Writer, an AI writing assistant designed for teams. Nicholas has previously worked to develop content marketing strategies for brands like Webex, Havenly, and Fictiv.