5 SEO Trends for 2021 Ecommerce Marketers Need to Watch

A person typing on a laptop, focused on SEO trends for ecommerce marketers in 2021.

As most customer interactions remain online, optimizing for search traffic is paramount to success in 2021.

In this article, let’s look at those trends for next year. So the next time you promote those ecommerce products, you’ll see them ranking higher on search engine results pages than  your competitors. And that will give your ecommerce sales a boost.

1. More Data-Driven SEO Strategies Thanks to Artificial Intelligence 

Artificial intelligence can help your SEO strategy in ways we couldn’t have imagined even a few years ago. AI’s advanced analytics abilities can help you analyze customer intent to create effective ecommerce content that will consistently rank highly. You can do this because your content contains keywords potential customers search for in search engines. With AI, not only can you personalize content, but you can also understand your potential customers better.

AI can also help you look for link-building opportunities to give your ecommerce content that added boost. For example, you might wish to write guest posts for other sites, which is a great way to organically and ethically build links to your site. AI can help you choose which sites you should approach for opportunities. All of this will improve your content’s organic search ranking and help you stay ahead of your competitors. 

With AI, expect SEO to be even more competitive. But if you use the best technology, strategize based on data, and put in the work, your ecommerce store will be able to leverage its capabilities to get ahead. 

2. Rise of Voice Search

Get ready to optimize your ecommerce store for voice search. According to Brafton, 20% of mobile queries were done through the spoken word as of last year. That’s not surprising. People on-the-go don’t always have the time to type search queries. It’s much easier (and less dangerous) to verbally ask Google to search for something when you’re driving or walking to work. 

That figure will increase in 2021, as Google continues to improve its AI-powered Google Assistant. As of 2020, its understanding of the English language is at a whopping 95%, while word percentage error is at a minimal 4.9%, based on data from StanVentures

Only the top three results are so far displayed in mobile voice searches, so don’t be surprised if less is displayed in 2021. If that happens, you’d have to work extra hard to get your ecommerce store ranking. To help you, here are some of the findings of a 2018 Backlinko study of 10,000 Google Home search results:

  • Pages in voice search results load in an average of 4.6 seconds. That’s 52% faster than a regular Google search page.
  • HTTPS websites dominate voice search results. 
  • Authoritative domains tend to produce more voice search results than non-authoritative ones. 
  • Content with high social engagement levels performs better in voice search results.
  • The average Google voice search result uses language 9th graders can understand.
  • Content that ranks high in a desktop search is also likely to appear in voice search results.
  • Voice queries are more likely to be conversational in nature and phrased as full sentences. For example, a text searcher might type “Italian food Boston”, while a voice searcher might ask “what’s the best Italian restaurant in Boston?”.

In other words, to boost your ecommerce store’s chances of appearing in voice search results, you’d have to make sure that your site loads quickly, uses HTTPS, and uses simple and straightforward language. Create unique and high-quality content, too. Running a guest posting campaign can also boost your authority as an ecommerce site and your search results for both voice and text searches.

3. Fluid SEO Rankings Because of Social Shopping

Social media will only play a more critical role in the future. Just look at the statistics. According to Statista, there are 3.6 billion social media users in the world. That figure is forecasted to climb to 3.78 billion in 2021 and even more in the years to come.

Source: Statista

Ecommerce stores are already leveraging social media to reach more potential customers. But many of them stick to a single social media platform to promote their products. To stay ahead, you should tap multiple social media channels to cater to consumers with increasingly omnichannel shopping habits. If you already have a Facebook account, create an Instagram and Pinterest account, too, and take advantage of each platform’s strengths.

Set up your social media accounts for social selling. Take advantage of the buy buttons on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, specifically creating a Shoppable Instagram.

Expect the bar for quality social media content to be set even higher as the competition among brands on social media platforms heats up. As a result, SEO rankings may be more fluid than ever before. Social signals such as likes, shares, and comments also influence SEO rankings. To address that, you need to create an engaging social media content plan.

4. More Emphasis on Mobile SEO

In February 2015, Google announced “mobile-friendliness” as an SEO ranking factor. That meant it would demote websites that did not provide an excellent mobile user experience and promote those that did. 

Since then, Google has stuck to its view. It even created a tool for website owners to check whether their sites passed Google’s standards.

Source: Google

John Mueller’s announcement that the company would switch to a mobile-first index by March 2021 shouldn’t come as a surprise. Around half of all web browsing globally now happens on mobile devices. Mobile-first indexing means that the search engine giant will drop from its index websites that don’t have mobile counterparts.

According to Data Report, a whopping 91% of internet users use mobile devices to go online. And of those users, many are making purchases. This graph from Oberlo shows the growth of ecommerce sales since 2016 and the forecast growth in 2021:

Source: Oberlo

In other words, you still need to optimize your ecommerce website for mobile. That means using a responsive WordPress theme and choosing a reliable web host. Here are other tips from Hostgator to make your ecommerce website mobile-friendly:

  • Make information people look for easy to find. 
  • Don’t use text-blocking ads and popups.
  • Make your web design simple.
  • Keep your site’s button sizes large enough.
  • Use a big font.
  • Don’t use Flash.
  • Include the viewport meta tag. That tells browsers to fit your website’s width to the screen of your website visitor’s device.

Mapping your customer journey helps to ensure you give them an excellent user experience. You can ask for customer feedback and make adjustments based on that, too. If customers don’t find your website easy and intuitive to use across devices, they’ll simply go elsewhere. So it pays to understand and respond to their experiences.

5. Focus on Global SEO Due to Cross-Border Shopping

More consumers are purchasing items from outside their home countries. An Invespcro article published in September 2020 found that 35% of consumers shop on sites outside their country. That figure increased from 26% in 2014, which means, if the trend continues, you should expect another increase in 2021. 

To succeed as an ecommerce store, you need to think big and not just focus on local SEO. That doesn’t just mean trying to rank for keywords that global consumers use on Google. (By the way, those keywords don’t necessarily have to be in English. Keywords that are popular for one language may not be that for another). It also means setting up your ecommerce store for when consumers outside your country visit it. 

You can do this by creating different language versions of your website. You can use Google Analytics to check which country your visitors are based, and, from there, make intelligent choices about which languages to prioritize. Once you have those different versions, create subdomains for each. It’s easier to rank that way because Google sees each subdomain as a separate entity. You can also set up your site to switch prices into the relevant currency depending on which country your users are visiting from.

For an ecommerce store to succeed in 2021, the world should be its playground. The local market will always matter, but we must think globally for best results.

Wrapping Up

As with everything, how SEO for ecommerce looks now will continue to change and evolve through 2021 and beyond. Whatever type of ecommerce field you’re in, you’ll need to remain adaptable and stay on top of these changes. Nothing in this world is permanent, and that includes SEO.

In this article, we looked at five SEO trends you should watch out for as we move into the new year. Thanks to artificial intelligence, SEO strategies will be more data-driven. AI can help marketers determine customer intent and other data they can use to feed into their SEO strategy. Voice search will continue to be big in 2021, too, as companies continue to develop their technologies. 

Expect more fluid SEO rankings as brands try to outdo each other on social media due to increased social shopping. There’s also an increased emphasis on mobile SEO and the focus on global SEO due to cross-border shopping. The key is to adapt to stay ahead of the pack. 

Good luck!

Matt Diggity is a search engine optimization expert and the founder and CEO of Diggity Marketing, The Search Initiative, Authority Builders, and LeadSpring LLC. He is also the host of the Chiang Mai SEO Conference.

Special thanks to our friends at Pixlee for their insights on this topic.
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