1. Inclusivity
  2. No click searches and featured snippets
  3. Sustainability
  4. Image and video SEO for visual searches
  5. Interactive content
  6. Audience centric
  7. Local SEO
  8. Carried over from 2020

1. Inclusivity

Now more than ever brands, online and offline are needing to communicate and accommodate for ALL.

In 2021, ,digital marketing includes media and subject matters that cover a variety of races, sexualities, religions, etc., as well as representation for people with physical disabilities and learning disabilities. This includes and applies to the content for your imagery and videos, but also the topics you discuss in social media and blogs, or even the line of products you offer.

It's important not to isolate anyone and have an honestly inclusive communication strategy and ofc product alignment is key too.

2. Featured snippets & no-click searches

For many, many years, the goal of SEO has been to get your listing in the “position number one” spot of search results. Now, going into 2021, the end-goal is continuing to shift to more SEO visibility in “position zero.” The much-coveted spot that only gets awarded to the most relevant piece according to Google.

Position zero refers to Google’s “featured snippet”, and 2021 SEO marketing trends are prioritizing this above all else. The featured snippet is fundamentally different from other search results entries— it’s separated by a small box and located at the top. More importantly, it also displays extra, relevant information with the attempt at answering the user’s question without them needed to click on it, prompting the nickname “no-click search.” A truly strong goal for 2021!

If you’re going to target a featured snippet yourself, there are a few things you need to know. For starters, featured snippets are mostly deployed using/leveraging long-tail keyword phrases like questions (such as “how to market a website”). They come in different forms, from step-by-step lists to straight-up definitions to even videos (and more), so match your content with the appropriate format - there are many tools out there that can assist with matching this for you and helping you with a gap analysis you can use to identify this content.

In the content itself, make sure you answer the keyword question clearly and succinctly, preferably with bulleted lists or a table structure - just a tip 🙂

3. Sustainability: stand up and stand out!

Just like the trend of inclusivity, people in 2021 are similarly passionate about environmentalism. Just as madame Thrunberg has made very clear, the matter is dire and not going away any time soon - so boast your initiatives to assist this global movement. The modern audience wants to make sure the brands receiving their money are just as concerned for planet earth as they are.

With 81% of consumers strongly feeling companies should help improve the environment according to Neilsons, what we’re seeing is a popularity boost for sustainable and eco-friendly brands, especially for younger consumers. This goes well-beyond the market for green products—every brand can benefit by broadcasting their sustainable practices. These can include recycling, remote offices (reducing travel emissions), CSI initiatives, and more.

4. Video and Image SEO for visual search

We're all using Google for image and video search, but you may not be aware of how popular and how fast using an existing image for a search actually is, or even take original photos and search for context? As more users discover these visual search techniques, it changes the overall landscape of SEO in general.

To capitalize on the increased amount of visual searches, you want to make sure your image and video SEO campaigns are in prime shape. Apply some basics now:

Moreover, familiarize yourself with Google Lens, especially if you’re an e-commerce brand. Handle your SEO techniques right, and you can take traffic away from competitors when shoppers conduct picture searches for products and barcodes.

5. Interactive content

Here’s a trend that’s technically been around for a while, but it’s just now being included as a best practice mechanism. Interactive content doesn’t just promote more engagement, it also improves the user’s enjoyment.

We saw a sharp rise in this content throughout the COVID period where people needed other's opinions, or simply didn't trust the main-stream media to provide a perspective alone. Interactive content like quizzes, open-ended questions, surveys, contests, giveaways, polls, calculator widgets, etc., can do wonders for your brand. At the very least, they increase the length of time users engage with you, which helps your standing in algorithm-based searches and feeds. But most importantly, people want to be engaged, so interactive content almost always improves your user experience.

6. Audience centric

Another trend that’s not new by any means, and in fact is just climbing in relevance. The idea is simple: instead of a small number of large marketing campaigns targeting general audiences potentially feeling cold/corporate and like you don't understand your client base, it’s better to have a larger number of small marketing campaigns targeting specific audiences - showing you understand their interaction with your brand is different and you know this. People love being treated as unique as they are.

Audience segmentation/centric marketing means grouping your target audience by certain traits or behaviors, such as demographics or shopping habits. This allows you to more accurately tailor your content to suit their preferences; for example, having two separate email lists for big spenders and small spenders, and sending different newsletters to each that feature different products.

Semantics comes in nicely here, and there are many tools and consultants that can you can help you unpack and understand this better.

7. Local SEO

Google frequently updates their local SEO algorithm, so if you’re a local business or operate in various local spots/areas, you should continuously update your business’ appearance in local results too. In many ways, local SEO is even more powerful than broad SEO—people searching for a specific type of business with their geographic location have more intent to purchase, so it’s easier to convert them.

For starters, you have to get verified by Google. You can do this by signing up for Google My Business and either claiming your listing or creating a new one. This helps you rank higher in Google SERPs, and also gives you the chance to offer additional information about your company to online searchers.

UpBeet Digital offers a full localised SEO solution for ALL local and international businesses.

8. Carried over from 2020

2020 saw some incredible trends becoming entrenched, and there's no reason to ignore them now, in fact they may be more relevant.

Make 2021 better than 2020, it's coming with old weight from the year we'll refer to collectively as the year we wish to forget, but we can take the immense learnings and leverage these throughout business and to best align with our consumers and company's goals.

Development is no longer just for building websites

When it comes to development and digital marketing evolution one of the big things taking shape right now in the digital marketing community is the programming language, Python.

It feels like just yesterday all the rage was PHP because it was open-source, anybody could use it and you didn’t have to pay to learn it. Sounds ideal

,Python, however, is now becoming the go-to tool because it’s nice to work with, easy to learn, and is allowing SEO professionals to do what they need to do really quickly.

Now more than ever before developers and SEO professionals need to have a strong understanding of Python, but also have a holistic view of the digital ecosystem and understanding of SEO and PPC as well as their combined effect on the landscape.

Coding has never really been an expectation or need for a digital marketer, but with the evolution of everything out there – it’s becoming more and more valuable and definitely sets you apart from the rest.

Having Python knowledge can also help marketers analyse large amounts of data without having to manually input data points into an Excel spreadsheet and laboriously setting them up with a formula. Python also allows you to search more extensively than Excel.

Data analysis and leverage in your strategy and planning is the best and strongest way to make sure you’re achieving your goals and driving your bottom line.

We believe, with a wealth of data there’s no reason to not use this to your benefit. In fact, if you’re not – I guarantee you’re missing out.

If you're running an SEO agency, freelancing, handling SEO for a company or perhaps looking for someone/some agency to manage your SEO, one of the most difficult things for both parties is the cost.

When it comes time to propose costings and an SEO solution for a client, we begin a potentially dangerous game. In this scenario, there's a client needing SEO and an agency operating in tough economic times (like today).

On the client side the understanding of the practise of SEO is not entirely clear. That is not their fault but ours as marketers. We're failing to keep our clients up-to-date and educated enough to measure us and keep us accountable accurately. Which is now having a flip affect we're ALL feeling in our pockets as a result. We the agencies are struggling with massive goals and small budgets and the clients are struggling with getting such slow returns in a sluggish market.

An easy way to make sure the real value of SEO is understand is to outline this at the beginning, so customise every proposal specifically to them and their industry. Unpacking the higher-levels of detail goes a long to way establishing that open-line communication and understanding of the efforts that go into the day to day operations of search engine optimisation. And they don't give away IP just a roadmap for understanding.

If you asked a client what what SEO experts/specialists do every day, I would bet most clients would say

"it's putting in some meta data on websites and writing some blog posts I think?"

But that's the furthest from the truth. While those components are necessary and recommended, the hours of research, expert copy-writers that come at high hourly rates for amazing sharable content, technical structuring, design production, coding and all the other aspects aren't seen. And that's because we're not showing them.

We discuss value all the time, but often we undercut ourselves because we perceive a possible position or situation and try pre-empt in favour of what we call a summated or "educated" guess. Well guess what? That's what's hurting us.

Mopping up after bad agencies and freelancers is a marketers daily struggle. But are they bad marketers? Are they bad agencies? Or did they assume the client hadn't the budget needed to succeed, and pitched at a rate they knew they'd get business at. The problem here is that while they closed the business and the client is getting efforts towards their SEO, they mis-advised the client when it came to return and growth timelines.

A simple case of trying to understand our client without offending or pushing for budgets and a well-intended consideration for others managed to get us into the opposite scenario to what we thought it would. We're stuck with tiny budgets, and frustrated clients. And no-one did it .LOL

The correct approach after winning the business at a low budget, if indeed the budget was truly the limitation. Would be to return to the client with a building-block-phased-approach proposal mapping out and forecasting long-term wins and success over time for budget, and compare that with the trajectory of the current project.

If this is done, the client is in control and can make the right decision. Affording them the ability to remain in control, understand their path and it makes them far more likely to keep using your services. If this step is not done, the client will no doubt (in my experience at least) end up frustrated because they bought into the hype of SEO, and that rockstar go-getter AM you have - and now they're not moving anywhere as all their paying for and receiving is the bare-bone-basics.

Which yes, they agreed to but they were not equipped with the knowledge to understand that actual ROI would only be felt at x-x-x level of spend. Which in my experience is where they're willing to spend if the return is right.

In this scenario, for the agency - they probably just lost their client to another agency or freelancer out sheer frustration at the same answer being given to the client "budgets limiting" without that explanation of what "budget" should be for the expected outcome.

It's important that agencies remember that they're in control of the success of the client, that's no easy task and not one we take lightly at UpBeet Digital. It's also important we all remember our value, the way we at UpBeet Digital do this is verified* data reporting providing an accurate view into the performance live.

Now don't get me wrong, we are not encouraging deep analysis monthly - this can have dire consequences on your efforts, especially if you're responding to too many pattern indicators which will just confuse the search engines and most likely your users too.

It's important for the client to understand the field well enough to know that sure it's taken us x-x-x hours in the month at the rate we charge them, but it took hundreds of thousands of rands to get educated, positioned and experienced in the field. The difference between a good SEO expert and a bad SEO expect, is very clear in the results.

If we all remember our value, and our place in the mix of the wonderful world that is business, success is the only result!

*Cross referenced in more than one tool and data source against more than one view point for validation.

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