Opinion

The Organic Search Landscape for 2021

Charlie Whitworth

,

11.01.2021

Organic search landscape 2021 BBI

2020 was a tumultuous year for us all and it was no different for the world of SEO. 

Three Core Updates, a search bug that impacted millions of queries and the inevitable impact of COVID on consumer search behaviour, saw the search industry having to adapt everything from where and how we work, to the way in which we optimise websites. You may well have read our article regarding this and how can brands capitalise consumer behaviour in the next normal?

With yet more key updates on the horizon and the continued onus on the relationship between SEO and user experience, we take a look at how we see 2021 shaping up for SEO and organic search.

The Page Experience Update: May 2021

When we’re looking at the year ahead for organic search, it makes sense to start with the update to the algorithm we already know about.

Google has taken the rare step of telling us about their forthcoming Page Experience update far in advance, not least due to how significant a change it will be and how laborious it could be for many webmasters to prepare for. 

In a similar fashion to their Mobile Friendly Update (aka Mobilegeddon) back in April 2015, when they gave us all plenty of notice that desktop only websites would no longer rank; there will be little excuse for any websites that aren’t well prepared come May.

This update will reward classic page experience metrics such as security and SSL along with page speed via their Core Web Vitals. 

Any SEOs who have been on the ball will have been optimising for these for a few years now, as these are scored via popular tools such as PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse, but they will now represent an even more significant aspect of the ranking algorithm.

Onus on Technical SEO

The technical aspect of SEO has always been important but as GoogleBot becomes more and more sophisticated, technically sound websites are faring better and better organically. 

Of course, this needs to be complemented by winning content that demonstrates all of the E-A-T factors that we know the Core Updates reward, but without these solid technical foundations, you could well see your content getting lost in the noise.

From ensuring that your website is as hospitable as possible from a crawlability point of view, to diagnosing issues using server logs and adding additional signals to your code base; the job of a technical SEO is never done.

At BBI, we see technical SEO as the bedrock of our organic search campaigns; ensuring content of all types is rewarded by search engines and ultimately turns into traffic and customers.

Don't Forget Your Brand

SEO has historically been primarily focussed on organic non brand traffic and driving more users to websites via these keywords, but brand activity is paramount. 

This may not be nice to hear for the smaller brands with more modest budgets, but Google is always looking to reward brands that are doing great things offsite and building a product that offers genuine value to their users. 

Therefore, your brand and Digital PR activity can have a significant impact on your SEO performance and any integrated campaign should be looking to harness this, ensuring your website takes full advantage.

How Will Your Brand Respond to Future Core Updates?

Google’s algorithm updates will continue indefinitely and probably for as long as the search engine exists, they will therefore remain key to successful organic strategies. 

The core updates usually target similar concepts surrounding expertise, authority and trust and are usually Google moving some dials here and there to fine tune and improve the SERPs. 

But search engines are always looking to improve their results and the quality of the websites they are serving to users, whether this is around content quality, security, user experience or engagement. 

Although these updates come much to the chagrin of many an SEO as they are often out of the blue, they should not be feared and look to reward all of the things that we are pretty obsessive over at BBI; technical SEO, content led performance, engagement and ultimately, the user.

For many brands content focussed campaigns will still be the order of the day for 2021 when it comes to SEO. We plan to continue to deliver work on the aforementioned solid technical foundations and on beautifully crafted websites to deliver ultimate digital performance.

To have a chat about your organisation's SEO needs and ambitions, contact us today - we'd love to help. Or find out how we've helped big brands achieve ambitious digital performance goals in some of our recent case studies.