Google updates its search algorithm thousands of times a year. Sometimes there are big updates, but you won't even notice most of them. Therefore, search rules are constantly changing, which doesn't make search optimization easy.
But if you know the history of Google updates, you know that their sequence can be predicted and you won't be surprised. Step by step, Google is improving in searching for really relevant content. This means that it is becoming increasingly difficult to manipulate Google using techniques that manipulate search results, such as black-hat and gray-hat tactics. Almost everything depends on the content itself.
Of course, people have begun to wonder if search engine optimization is still justified in this case, and this year we've seen many articles claiming that the days SEO are already counted. I wouldn't go that far. It is true that some SEO practices are becoming part of other branches of digital marketing and some are disappearing completely. But on the other hand, they are constantly being created as well new SEO industry such as structured data, entities, and site search optimization is becoming increasingly complex. Search Engine Optimization we don't have to bury yet. On the contrary - it is more competitive and professional and more and more SEO subcategories are emerging.
In this article, I will focus on some of the newer ones SEO trends and analyze the factors affecting placement in search results that have emerged in recent years and are expected to become even more dominant:
- Metric data from the new user experience will affect placement in search results
- Mobile site indexing priority will apply to all pages
- Artificial intelligence will guide all searches
- Entities and backlinks will be equivalent
- EAT factors will be more important
- Local SEO will become more complex
- Structured data cannot be avoided
- Google will use its best endeavors to satisfy the user's intention
Metric data from the new user experience will affect placement in search results
In May 2020, Google introduced a new concept called Core Web Vitals. It includes three new metrics that Google uses to measure user experience. All three metrics are more or less focused on the speed of the website - the speed of its loading, how quickly it becomes active and the stability during loading.
Google recently announced that Core Web Vitals will officially become a rating tool in May 2021. These metrics will primarily become a decision factor, not a strong evaluation factor. For example, if two pages appear with equally relevant content, of similar quality and authority, then they will decide on the page order of the user satisfaction metric.
In addition, Core Web Vitals will act as a qualifier for sites striving for the top spot in Google News. Previously, only AMP pages (pages that load quickly on smartphones) could get into the main news section because they were reliably fast. Since Google can now measure speed with Core Web Vitals, all sites with a sufficient optimization score will be given this opportunity.
Google is considering introducing an identifier to identify search results that give users a good impression. The identifier will be similar to marking the AMP pages with a flash icon. This way, users would be able to identify which pages are fast and will be able to prioritize them over slower pages.
How to optimize
Core Web Vitals metrics can be measured using various developer tools from Google. For example: PageSpeed Insights, Chrome UX Report, Search Console, Chrome DevTools, Lighthouse and Google Chrome Web Vitals Extensions. Most of these tools will suggest how you should improve your metrics. You can follow their advice until you are satisfied with the result.
Mobile site indexing priority will apply to all sites (mobile-first indexing)
Already in 2016, Google began to give preference in the index mobile versions of websites. This means that when you rank in search results, the mobile version of your website will load more.
However, the transition to mobile version preference is a slow process. Google checks each website to see if its mobile version is ready. If the page passes the check, then Google will rank it in the mobile version. In addition, all new websites are indexed for mobile phones by default.
4 years have passed and this process is coming to an end. But there are still a few old websites that have failed to adapt to smartphone displays. Google is not going to negotiate with these websites and will force them to submit to the priority indexing of mobile sites. The transition is currently scheduled for March 2021.
How to optimize
If you're still waiting to optimize your site for mobile, Google has created a detailed list of everything you need to consider. Don't worry, most of the transition can be done simply by going to responsive website design.
Artificial intelligence will perform all searches
In 2015, Google enriched its algorithm with a component RankBrain and in 2019 introduced a new one BERT algorithm. With these updates, Google has made a significant leap in the use of artificial intelligence to interpret search queries and search results. One year after the launch of the BERT algorithm, the use of artificial intelligence in English searches has risen from 10% to 100%.
The BERT algorithm has proven its effectiveness in recognizing the exact intent of a search query. Can solve lexical ambiguity, learn new words, correct mistakes, find synonyms and take into account excluded words. Here you can see one of the cases where BERT has improved an inaccurate search result to a completely accurate one:
BERT is the algorithm responsible for so-called "passage indexing". The algorithm can extract the relevant passage from an almost irrelevant point:
Artificial intelligence search can highlight relevant parts of a video, recognize songs from the blink of a melody, and many other seemingly impossible things.
How to optimize
The BERT algorithm understands natural human language, so you don't need as much SEO help to publish content. Now you can write for users, not search engines. You no longer have to force keywords and variations into your texts, so you have more room to improve your writing.
Entities and backlinks will be equivalent
To date, Google's knowledge graph has accumulated more than 5 billion entities and 500 trillion entity properties. Which is not so much when we take into account that entities are not only famous people, but also books, songs, movies, companies and other concepts - literally everything.
More importantly, Google has developed a new technology to search for new entities (it no longer writes them off from Wikipedia). It now uses artificial intelligence to track the syntax associated with existing entities and see if it introduces them to new entities. This is a simplified explanation, but that's basically how it works.
So instead of linking websites with backlinks, Google will build a network of entities that will be interconnected, basically like in the real world. According to this model, Google will know which companies are trustworthy, which authors are experts, and which content really deserves a better place in search results.
How to optimize
First, it would be good to read the post page link-assitant.com about entities. You will learn what entities are, how they are used and how you can use them in SEO. For example, you can try creating an entity from your brand (using clear syntax and frequent mentions), creating a Google My Business profile, trying to use structured data, or finding relevant entities to include in your content. This process is similar to building backlinks or keywords, but it's a little more complicated.
EAT factors will be more important
EAT stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness, translated as Expertise, Authority and Credibility. The topic of EAT factors is controversial in the SEO community. Some argue that EAT factors are taken into account when ranking pages in search, others say that it is not possible for Google to be able to register EAT at all with its algorithms.
Google cannot answer most EAT questions directly. It cannot check whether the information on the website is scientifically accurate or whether the author himself is an expert. Google can only check indirect EAT signals. For example, if a page mentions all the correct entities associated with a certain topic, it means that its content is probably correct. If the author's name is known on the web and associated with other thematically similar platforms and profiles, then the author is probably an expert.
These capabilities of Google are improving every day. With the help of artificial intelligence and a constantly growing knowledge graph, we can assume that Google will soon be able to reliably measure EAT factors.
How to optimize
Don't worry, it's not all about entities and artificial intelligence. Many indirect EAT signals are relatively common and easily detectable. Good old backlinks they are still an indicator of authority. Security protocol and user satisfaction is still a signal of credibility. See the guide at link-assistant.com for easier ways to signal your expertise, authority and credibility (EAT).
Local SEO will become more complex
Until recently, Google recommended local businesses based on their distance from the user. In recent years, it has turned away from the distance factor and attention is beginning to pay attention to quality and relevance. This means that companies have more opportunities to influence local rankings.
Google is happy to provide them with the tools they need. My business on Google is constantly adding new features to its profiles. Businesses can share posts, answer questions, add products and services, make reservations and write messages - all from just their profile. The profiles are so detailed that in most cases users don't even have to visit the company's website.
Following the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, Google did not hesitate to offer even more options on Google My Business. You can mark your business as temporarily closed, add customized opening hours, accept financial donations, sell gift cards, and highlight security measures:
Due to the pandemic, Google introduced an interesting update that allowed telemedicine providers (remote transmission of medical information) to create a Google My Business profile. Until then, online companies could not register. Some SEO experts think this is a step towards even greater change.
How to optimize
The best thing you can do for an SEO site is to optimize your Google My Business profile. Treat it like your other website, study all its options (posts, questions and answers, features, etc.) and follow your reviews closely.
You can no longer avoid structured data
Structured data is not a new trend - it has been talked about for years. Although their importance is still growing, they are not yet perceived as a full-fledged tactic in the SEO world.
The clearest place where structured data can be used is the rich results (rich snippets), which are necessary especially if you want to get a good position on the recipe or news page:
You can also use structured data in local SEO. There is a scheme called "local business" in which you can enter your business, address, and main contact information. Once you apply the scheme to your website, it will give Google information about where your business is located and improve your chances of your site appearing in local search results.
This data will also help you create entities. Although Google can retrieve entities from unstructured data, you can speed up the process. You can use structured data to identify important places, people, and companies.
How to optimize
It may seem to you that working with structured data will be too complicated and you will not be able to handle it yourself, but the opposite is true. All you need to do is add snippets of HTML to your content. You can do this manually, or use Google Help with Structured Data Tags to do it for you. For more information on structured data, see the link-assistant.com article
Google will use its best endeavors to satisfy the user's intention
Thanks to the BERT algorithm, Google can find not just pages, but smaller parts, to show you exactly what you're looking for. For example, if I wanted to know if elephants could jump, Google would show me exactly the part of the article that answered my question, and I no longer have to visit the website itself.
If I wanted to know how to sharpen a knife, Google will skip the unnecessary parts of the video and show only exactly the part I need.
Google also answers your queries with multimedia results, dashboards, lists, and spreadsheets:
For SEO, this means that multiple queries will be answered directly on Google and above all pages in order. And since the BERT algorithm has full access to search, it will happen even more often.
How to optimize
Create your content with the rich snippets in mind. Try to create sentences with the same grammatical structure, and Google may turn them into lists. Add a FAQ section to your site and Google can use them to answer users' questions. Mark important sections of your YouTube videos, and Google may offer them as a result of highly specific search queries.
At the end
Search engine optimization seems to be taking on the role of assistant. In the past, SEO was the main engine, and with it you were able to get to the top of the search results page, although your site may not have been the best. Today it is different. You definitely need to have good content and then you can use SEO to get Google to notice you. In the future, the SEO side will become even more complicated as multimedia results become more common. The site will no longer be beaten by rankings, and multimedia results will become a priority.