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Are you struggling to reach prospective students online? You need a strong search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. SEO can help you reach students and boost enrollment!

In fact, over 50% of all website traffic comes from an organic search. Meanwhile, search engines generate 300% more website traffic than social media. With an SEO strategy, you can boost brand awareness to reach more students.

It’s not enough to understand the SEO basics, though. You also need to keep up with the latest SEO trends. Otherwise, other institutions might rank higher than you on Google.

About 75% of people never look beyond the first page of search results. You need to reach the top of the first page to make an impact.

Not sure where to get started? Here are the 13 trends you need for SEO in 2021. With these tips, you can boost your ranking and get ahead this year.

Start reaching more students. Make these 13 trends part of your 2021 SEO plan today!

1. Core Web Vitals

Before you start using the rest of these SEO trends, take a look at your website. Your website performance can have a major impact on your SEO ranking.

Google originally introduced its Core Web Vitals in 2020. These vitals consider user-centered ranking factors. Understanding these vitals will help you make informed changes to your website.

You can improve the user experience (UX) to ensure your website is fast and easy to use. Google prioritizes the UX when determining rankings. It wants to provide its users with ease and convenience. 

If your website is difficult to use, visitors will leave. Your SEO ranking will drop. You could miss the chance to attract new students as a result.

There are three aspects of the user experience you’ll need to consider: loading, stability, and interactivity.

LCP

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) focuses on loading performance. It considers how quickly the largest element on a page loads. These elements can include text, images, and videos. 

A one-second delay in mobile load times can impact conversions by up to 20%. Meanwhile, people who have a negative mobile experience are 62% less likely to make future purchases.

Ensuring your website loads quickly will give students easy access to the information they need. If the largest element on a page is too much, the page will lag. Visitors will leave without converting as a result.

You can improve your LCP by:

  • Choosing better hosting
  • Optimizing images
  • Minifying CSS and Javascript codes
  • Using page caching

Consider using a content delivery network (CDN), too.

FID

FID stands for First Input Delay (FID). This element considers the site’s interactivity. 

What happens when a student clicks or types on your site? How long does it take the browser to react? 

You can improve your FID by:

  • Enabling browser caching
  • Minifying and compressing Javascript
  • Splitting up long Javascript tasks
  • Eliminating unnecessary third-party scripts
  • Deleting unwanted files or code

Improving the reaction time ensures your pages are responsive.

CLS

The final element is Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), which measures how elements move as pages load. You can improve your CLS by:

  • Limiting embedded content and iframes
  • Setting fixed dimensions on images
  • Preloading custom web fonts

Improving your CLS ensures stability.

Otherwise, work with an experienced web design and development agency. They can update your website with UX design trends in mind. Any easy-to-use website is an important component of your SEO plan. 

2. Artificial Intelligence

As you follow these SEO trends, it’s important to remember that Google updates its algorithm throughout the year. The algorithm uses its machine learning abilities to learn more about people.

RankBrain gathers information to determine Google’s ranking factors. You can use UX signals to determine how students are interacting with your website.

For example, you can use a heat map to determine where students click and linger on your website. If your clickthrough rate is low, improve your buttons. Find ways to engage your audience.

Do your buttons and links stand out on the page? Do you feature videos, interactive infographics, polls, and quizzes? Is your navigation bar organized and easy to follow?

Make sure to captivate your visitors with helpful, organized content.

You can also assess your page strength with an on-page SEO checker. 

3. Mobile-Optimization

Google uses mobile-first indexing when determining how websites rank across search engine results pages (SERP). You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to determine if your site is optimized. If it’s not, you’re neglecting a huge part of your online audience!

Google looks at the mobile version of your website first. If you’re not optimized, your competitors will rank ahead of you. You’ll appear in front of fewer students as a result.

A lower ranking means fewer visitors, which could hurt your brand awareness and conversion rate. 

People interact with twice as many brands using their mobile devices compared to desktop. In fact, mobile conversions are 64% higher, too.

If your website isn’t mobile-optimized, students will struggle to explore your pages. Your content might not appear correctly, either.

About 40% of people stop interacting with unappealing websites. Meanwhile, 70% of people leave without converting due to poor website design.

Remember, Google wants to provide its users with the best possible experience. Mobile optimization is essential if you want to improve your ranking. 

Otherwise, students will leave your website without clicking around. Your clickthrough rate and dwell times will drop. Meanwhile, your bounce rate will increase.

A high bounce rate can have a negative impact on your SEO ranking.

Instead, make mobile-optimization part of your SEO strategy. Find ways to boost engagement on your website. 

4. High-Quality, Long-Form Content

When creating an SEO strategy, don’t forget to consider the content you’ll post on your website. What content will help you attract new students? What questions are students asking about your institution?

Google prioritizes unique, high-quality, helpful content when determining rankings. 

Try creating long-form content to increase the visitor’s dwell time. A higher dwell time can boost your SEO ranking.

As you create long-form content, make sure it’s easy to consume and engaging. For example, you can use headers and subheaders to keep your content organized. Add images and videos throughout your content as well.

You can also improve the content’s readability with bullets and lists.

Then, make sure the content is easy to share. Add social share buttons as a sidebar or at the bottom of a post.

Add a search function to your website, too. A search function will make it easier for readers to find the information they’re looking for. 

5. EAT

Remember, Google is focused on providing users with helpful, high-quality content. To determine the quality of a post, Google looks for EAT.

EAT stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. 

Here are a few ways you can develop an EAT strategy for your content:

  • Include author names and biographies for your posts
  • Show Google trusted, authoritative experts are helping your readers
  • Showcase your expertise
  • Develop a personal brand
  • Tell your institution’s story
  • Connect with influencers
  • Share content on trusted platforms
  • Back up any claims you make with high-authority website links and research
  • Add social proof/reviews to your website

Make sure to keep your content up-to-date as well. Otherwise, old links and information could impact EAT.

6. Voice Search

Voice search is changing what keywords you’ll need to focus on as part of your SEO strategy. More people are using assistants like Google, Siri, and Alexa to search online. These search queries are usually longer and posed as questions.

About 75% of voice search results rank in the top three slots on a SERP. Meanwhile, about 40% of voice search answers come from featured snippets. These results are usually 29 words in length.

To appeal to voice search within your SEO strategy, consider your keywords.

Focus on long-tail phrases students are likely to use in a search. Then, use these keywords to create fresh content. Summarize the answer to the student’s question at the beginning of your post. 

7. Predictive Search

Predictive search doesn’t require user queries. Instead, it’s driven by Google’s artificial intelligence tools.

Predictive search uses behavioral patterns to learn more about the user. Then, it can identify what content will most likely interest the user.

Google will index your page automatically before showcasing your content in Google Discover.

Make sure your content appeals to EAT. Create high-quality, informative posts on your blog. Understand what students are looking for to better appeal to their search intent, too. 

8. Featured Snippets

Featured snippets appear at the top of organic search results. These snippets appear as summaries, bullets, recipes, and other formats. You can format your content to increase your chances of appearing as a snippet.

Appearing as a snippet will help you rank at the top of a page. It can also help you steal traffic from your competitors.

You can use a schema to better format your content.

Think about the questions students are asking. Then, create content that will better appeal to their search intent. Answer their questions in a summarized form at the beginning of your posts to appear for summary snippets.

9. Video Content

By this year, video content will account for 80% of all internet traffic. That’s up from 67% back in 2016.

Emerging video mediums are becoming more popular as well. For example, live internet video will increase 15-fold. These videos will account for 13% of all video traffic. Virtual reality and augmented reality are gaining traction, too.

These mediums will increase 20-fold.

Start creating eye-catching, engaging videos as part of your content marketing strategy. For example, you can create video testimonials featuring current students. 

As you create videos, optimize your descriptions. Feature your keywords within the title. Consider adding a transcript, too. 

Look out for other SEO trends that relate to content creation in the meantime. 

10. Image Optimization

Visual searches are starting to become more popular, too. Students can use images to learn more about your university. Make sure you’re optimizing your images to appear for these searches.

First, feature only high-quality, unique images on your website. Customize each file name. Then, update the image alt text with your target keyword.

Add images to your site map, too.

Optimizing your images will make it easier for Google’s bots to crawl and index your content. 

11. Local Search Listings

Don’t neglect prospective students who are in your area. You can develop a local SEO plan to reach these students. Local SEO is one of the SEO trends that’s constantly evolving. 

First, make sure to update your Google My Business listing. Keep this information up-to-date.

Try to improve your backlink profile, too. Gaining links from other websites can boost your SEO ranking.

Ask students to add their reviews to your Google My Business listing to further boost your ranking. 

12. Semantically Related Keywords

Keyword research is another important component of any successful SEO strategy. What keywords do students use to find your website? How are they phrasing their questions?

It’s important to write with your readers in mind, not Google. Otherwise, your content might sound awkward.

You’ll need more than a single focus keyword within your content, too. Consider adding secondary keywords throughout your posts. 

Google doesn’t look for a string of words when crawling and indexing your content. Instead, it considers the user’s search intent. Understanding search intent helps Google ensure the content is relevant to the user’s search.

Add primary and secondary keywords throughout your content to better appeal to Google.

13. Data and Analytics

As you follow these SEO trends, keep an eye on your website data. Data can help you determine where you need to make changes and improvements.

Is your website lagging down? Do you have too many redirects and response errors? What’s causing your bounce rate to increase?

Use a heat map to learn more about your website. Keep an eye on your Google Analytics and Google Search Console, too. The information you gather can help you make more informed decisions regarding your SEO plan.

Step Up Your SEO: 13 SEO Trends for Higher Rankings in 2021

Don’t miss the chance to reach more students! Instead, keep these 2021 SEO trends in mind. By adding these trends to your SEO strategy, you can rank higher on Google.

Then, you can reach more students and generate more enrollments!

Need more help creating an SEO strategy? That’s what we’re here for!

Contact us today to get started.

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