Five Website Trends to Watch in 2021
After a challenging 2020, our digital experience has shifted to reflect the need for virtual connection, remote work, and more. All of this, however, is only the beginning. Get ready for a website transition like no other in 2021.
This year’s upcoming changes may be less urgent, but they’re no less important. Updates from Google promise to shake up the very nature of search engine optimization (SEO). The parameters that determine results are changing before our eyes – and websites that thrived under previous models may be in for a rude awakening if they fail to keep up.
To ease the upcoming transition, we’ve highlighted not only the latest updates from Google but also several other noteworthy features that will influence our digital experience in 2021:
1. New Definitions of User Experience
Through a blend of industry research and internal studies, Google has uncovered a clear preference among users for “sites with a great page experience.” According to the search giant, a variety of factors determine how users feel about the pages they visit, including navigation, security, and mobile-friendliness.
While the Google team insists that quality content will remain as crucial as ever for organic SEO, pages can now gain a greater edge on the competition by leveling up user experience (UX) metrics deemed important by Google. If all else is equal, the page with the better UX will always come out ahead, even when other sites boast exceptional content.
2. A Greater Emphasis on Page Speed
Although the effort to reduce webpage load times is far from new, it will take on a new level of urgency in 2021. Brief loading times previously delivered a modest boost to search rankings, but now, speed is even more prominent within Google’s definition of page experience.
The importance of speed can be seen in Google’s Core Web Vitals, which include everything from user’s perception of load time (known as Largest Contentful Paint) to the time it takes for users to interact with sites (known as First Input Delay). Google’s 2021 update will integrate the Core Web Vitals with visual indicators to let users know whether they’re likely to enjoy a positive experience with any given page.
3. Avoiding the Intrusive Interstitials Penalty
As you make an effort to improve page speed, don’t forget about intrusive interstitials, which slow page loading and annoy visitors. In general, this term references common website features that make content difficult to access. A chief culprit? Pop-ups, which are especially problematic when they cover the entire page or are tricky to dismiss. Banners and overlays can also veer into this territory when they impede upon accessibility.
To discourage pop-ups and other intrusive features, Google has implemented a penalty that demotes interstitial-heavy content within search rankings. While this “soft” ranking factor holds far less weight than page speed and content quality, it can still make a notable difference in 2021.
Even features that Google doesn’t explicitly reference should be avoided if users find them annoying. Auto-play videos, for example, harm UX much like image-based pop-ups or banners. Instead of frustrating users with video content that plays automatically, you should embed YouTube videos for SEO. These should be integrated in a way that supports – not blocks – content. If videos are optimized for YouTube, they can promote UX and improve brand visibility.
4. Optimizing for Voice Search
The need for mobile-friendly design is old news. Now, users are moving on to the next big search method: voice. Solutions like Siri and Alexa allow users to access information on the go. Websites can accommodate this new preference by integrating question-based keywords that reflect how people interact with voice search tools. When in doubt, incorporate keywords adapted for voice search within FAQ sections.
5. Trading Stock Photos for Unique Imagery
Bid farewell to the stock images of yesteryear. Today’s visuals should be relevant to the content they’re included in and, of course, quick to load. Use unique imagery, such as motion graphics, to keep users engaged, rather than boring them with the familiar stock photos they’ve been viewing online for years. Don’t forget to optimize with relevant file names and alt text.
Prepare for the Opportunities of 2021 with Zero Gravity Marketing
From UX audits to organic SEO services and voice search SEO services, Zero Gravity Marketing offers a variety of solutions to help you take on the greatest challenges and opportunities of digital marketing in 2021. Contact us today to get started!