Working at Wellspring Digital with an SEO OG, Karl Hindle, has given me access to some of the smartest people in SEO. I’ve been able to interview a few of them already, namely Lily Ray, Duane Forrester, Jim Hedger, and Tim Capper. And more are on their way.
2020 was a year of upheaval, to put it mildly. Marketing your business has become even more challenging in these turbulent times, and SEO is not any different.
So, I thought I would ask some of my favorite SEOs, including many friends of Wellspring Digital, their thoughts on SEO in 2020 and what’s in store for SEO in 2021. I asked these SEOs only two questions…
- In what significant ways has the global pandemic changed SEO?
- What should be the top SEO priorities for marketers in 2021?
The SEO Experts
So, who did I ask?
- Lily Ray, Director of SEO for Path Interactive
- Duane Forrester, VP of Industry Insights at Yext
- David Harry, Owner, and Sifu at SEO Training Dojo
- Doc Sheldon, Founder/Owner at Intrinsic Value SEO
- Omi Sido, Senior Technical SEO at Canon Europe
- Jim Hedger, Owner of Digital Always Media and Co-Host of Webcology
- Dave Davies, Owner of Beanstalk Internet Marketing and Co-Host of Webcology
- Barry Schwartz, President of RustyBrick, Inc., and Editor at Search Engine Roundtable
- Tim Capper, SEO Director at Online Ownership and GMB Expert
These SEOs gave me quite a bit of information to work with, so I’ve done this in segments as a three-part series. Last, but certainly not least, we have Dave Davies, Barry Schwartz, and Trash Talkin’ Tim Capper (Tim can explain)…
The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on SEO
The first question I asked these three was “In what significant ways has the global pandemic changed SEO?” We’ll start with Dave…
Dave Davies on the Pandemic’s SEO Impact
I think for different industries it did different things, but overall the long term impact will likely come in two areas:
Google My Business Added Attributes
Google added new functions to Google My Business for the pandemic, but I believe the attention to added attributes like “Dine In”, etc. will draw users’ attention and with it business owners to the idea of additional info.
And with that, I suspect we’ll see Google expand on it.
More Money in Business Budgets for SEO
Businesses moved more budget online after the initial crunch, as they did in 2008.
The attention that SEO and other well-tracked systems get during times of economic hardship will likely carry forward, with more budgets shifting to the space as businesses put together their 2021 budgets.
Barry Schwartz on the Pandemic’s SEO Impact
Technically, the pandemic changed SEO through new structured data features around health, social distancing, hand washing, masks, virtual events and so much more.
But from a business perspective, many agencies had to handle migrating their workforce to work remotely, deal with emergency client budget changes, and the rapid search behavior changes.
Tim Capper (the Trash Talker) on the Pandemic’s SEO Impact
The Value of “SEO Packages”
As I specifically deal with local SEO – I saw some interesting things during the pandemic which showed me and hopefully business owners the massive limitations of “package SEO.”
Businesses using SEO packages were limited by their package and could not – or rather were not provided support in pivoting the business in order to survive in a COVID search landscape.
The COVID landscape required a whole new approach to what users were searching rendering your “package keywords” pretty much useless.
As a bespoke local SEO business, we were able to pivot businesses pretty quickly allowing them to get their business in front of customers and their new COVID search queries.
I hope that SEO’s have realised they need to take the time to understand their client’s business instead of relying on some keyword reports that have become pretty useless in the new COVID search landscape.
Top SEO Priorities for Marketers in 2021
OK, same three SEOs, different question…
What should be the top SEO priorities for marketers in 2021? Again, we’ll start with Dave Davies…
Dave Davies on the Top SEO Priorities for Marketers in 2021
What a fun question. (I aim to please)
SERP Layout Changes
The biggest changes in strategy I believe will come from layouts and structures. With passage ranking, we’ll see new and better possible content layouts evolve. And with that Google will continue their march towards new and improved SERPs.
Combine the new formats available to us (still to be seen) and new layouts on Google and I suspect we’re in for a lot of change.
And of course, there’s the endless march of machine learning, and more space for ads to compete with.
So if you’re setting priorities, pay attention to the announcements out of the Googleplex and pay attention to SERP layout changes.
Barry Schwartz’s Top SEO Priorities for Marketers in 2021
Hard to list a single most important SEO priority because each client and web site has their own unique priorities.
Mobile-First Indexing and Core Updates
If you look at it more generically, Google’s mobile-first indexing is going fully live in March 2021, the Page Experience Update is going live in May 2021, and we can expect future Core Updates throughout the year.
So prepare for those generally but it is more important to look at your individual client’s priorities because they differ from client to client.
Tim Capper’s Top SEO Priorities for Marketers in 2021
Changes in Google My Business
Again, dealing specifically with local SEO – there are some significant changes coming up in local. In the US, Google My Business, or rather Local Service Ads has started flogging Google Guaranteed badges to business listings.
And Local Service Ads rolled out in the UK and parts of Europe which will prove significant for service-related businesses in 2021.
As mundane as it sounds, marketers should make sure their GMB attributes are up to date – Online Ordering, Curbside Pickup, Take Away, etc.
And trading times, these are all what customers are looking for at the moment – so make sure you provide it.
Thanks for Playing!
So, there you have it from nine unique SEO perspectives. Thanks again to Lily Ray, Duane Forrester, David Harry, Doc Sheldon, Omi Sido, Jim Hedger, Dave Davies, Barry Schwartz, and Tim Capper for providing such great insight into these topics.