Working at Wellspring Digital with an SEO OG, Karl Hindle, has given me access to some of the brightest people in SEO. I have already interviewed some of them, namely Lily Ray, Duane Forrester, Jim Hedger and Tim Capper. And more are on the way.
2020 was, to say the least, a year of upheaval. Marketing your business has gotten even more difficult in these turbulent times, and SEO is no different.
So I thought I’d share some of my favorite SEOs, including many friends of Wellspring Digital, their thoughts on SEO in 2020 and what to expect SEO in 2021. I only asked these SEOs two questions …
- How has the global pandemic changed search engine optimization?
- What should be the top SEO priorities for marketers in 2021?
The SEO experts
So who did I ask?
- Lily Ray, SEO director for Path Interactive
- Duane Forrester, VP of Industry Insights at Yext
- David Harry, owner and Sifu in the SEO Training Dojo
- Doc Sheldon, founder / owner of 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 a ton of information to work with so I did this in segments as a three part series. Last but not least, we have Dave Davies, Barry Schwartz and Trash Talkin ‘Tim Capper (Tim can explain it) …
The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Search Engine Optimization
The first question I asked these three was, “How has the global pandemic changed SEO?” We start with Dave …
Dave Davies on the SEO impact of the pandemic
I think it has done different things for different industries, but overall the long-term effects will likely be in two areas:
Google My Business added attributes
Google added new features to Google My Business for the pandemic, but I believe that paying attention to added attributes like “Dine In” etc will draw the attention of users and therefore business owners to the idea of additional information.
I suspect that this will expand Google.
More money in business budgets for SEO
After the first crisis, companies put more budget online than in 2008.
The attention that SEO and other well-followed systems get during tough economic times is likely to continue to grow as more budgets move into space as companies compile their budgets for 2021.
Barry Schwartz on the SEO impact of the pandemic
Technically, the pandemic has changed search engine optimization with new structured data functions related to health, social distancing, hand washing, masks, virtual events and much more.
However, from a business perspective, many agencies have had to deal with migrating their workforce to remote work, changing client budgets in an emergency, and rapidly changing search behavior.
Tim Capper (the trash talker) on the SEO impact of the pandemic
The Value of “SEO Packages”
Since I am specifically concerned with local search engine optimization, I saw some interesting things during the pandemic that showed me and hopefully the business owners the massive limitations of “package search engine optimization”.
Companies using SEO packages were constrained by their package and could not – or rather receive no assistance in panning the business to survive in a COVID search landscape.
The COVID landscape required a whole new approach to searching for users, making your “package keywords” virtually unusable.
As a bespoke local SEO company, we were able to pan companies pretty quickly so they could put their business in front of customers and their new COVID searches.
I hope SEOs have realized that they need to take the time to understand their clients’ business rather than relying on some keyword reports that have become pretty useless in the new COVID search landscape.
Top SEO Priorities for Marketers in 2021
OK, the same three SEOs, different questions …
What should be the top SEO priorities for marketers in 2021? Again we start with Dave Davies …
Dave Davies on the Top SEO Priorities for Marketers in 2021
What a fun question. (I’m trying to please)
Changes to the SERP layout
The biggest changes in strategy will, in my opinion, come from layouts and structures. With the passage ranking, new and better possible content layouts will develop. And with that, Google will continue its march towards new and improved SERPs.
Combine the new formats that are available to us (to be seen) and the new layouts on Google and I suspect we are facing a big change.
And of course there’s the endless march of machine learning and more space for ads to compete with.
So when you set priorities, watch out for the announcements from Googleplex and changes to the SERP layout.
Barry Schwartz ‘Top SEO Priorities for Marketers in 2021
It is difficult to list one of the top SEO priorities as every customer and website has their own priorities.
Mobile-first indexing and core updates
If you look at it more broadly, Google’s mobile-first indexing will go fully live in March 2021, the Page Experience Update will go live in May 2021, and we can expect future core updates throughout the year.
So prepare for these in general, but it’s more important to look at your individual customer’s priorities as these will vary from customer to customer.
Tim Capper’s Top SEO Priorities for Marketers in 2021
Changes in Google My Business
Again, this is specifically about local SEO – there are some significant changes in the local area. In the US, Google My Business, or rather Local Service Ads, has started whipping Google Guaranteed badges into business listings.
Local service advertisements have been launched 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, roadside pickup, takeaway, etc.
And trading hours are exactly what customers are looking for right now – so make sure you provide them.
Thank you 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 this great insight into these topics.