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SEO trends, changes, and Google updates to watch in 2021

Last Updated 
Posted on
March 2, 2021
Emily Desrosiers

Whether you’re an SEO expert or a newbie discovering the basics, it’s a continuous journey to keep up with search engines, especially Google, as they update their content requirements and ability to gather and analyze data.

With many exciting and important changes coming in 2021, it’s key to understand these updates and adjust your content strategy accordingly. Recently, our content team attended an informative webinar by Searchmetrics to stay on top of these updates, adjust our strategies to best serve our clients, and put together this key takeaways summary to hopefully help other content marketers navigate the changes coming!

Read on to discover 4 SEO trends and updates to watch and plan for in 2021.

1. Say Goodbye To Third-Party Cookies

The short and sweet of this update is that third-party cookies are going away. What are third-party cookies? Well, they’re essentially tracking codes generated on a website by another website that is not the website the user is browsing. This is set up by the web server or a scripting program such as JavaScript, which creates the code. The code, in turn, tracks information from the visitor’s session and provides it to the entity that created the third-party cookie.

Advertisers use this information for understanding consumer behavior and targeting consumers.  They also give advertisers the ability to enhance measurement for attribution capabilities, which allows for campaign optimization. For example, third-party cookies help track users across different platforms to create a holistic view of what goes into a conversion. As third-party cookies are phased out, these attribution models will become less reliable.

Browsers, such as Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome, started a phased removal of third-party cookies in the wake of increasing demand for user privacy and stricter data-sharing laws.

So, what will replace them? LiveRamp is launching an Authenticated Traffic Solution (ATS) for advertisers. The ATS will gather current, consented user data without the use of cookies. ATS provides control and privacy for users through IdentityLink, offering an opt-out option for platforms and publishers. In simple terms, advertisers can improve their audience targeting and measurement capabilities through ATS without the use of third-party cookies.

Additionally, Google is working on a new solution called The Privacy Sandbox, a privacy-preserving technology to protect consumers. Google will create targeted groups based on anonymous data that can be used by advertisers (e.g., target, retarget, measure, optimize). Throughout 2021, advertisers should test these API methods and provide feedback to aid in the development of alternatives that protect consumer privacy while also supporting an ads-based internet.

2. Mobile-Only Indexing Coming In March

Listen up, marketers, because a major change that could potentially change your content strategy entirely is coming your way. Ready? Google is moving to mobile-only indexing in March of 2021.

In other words, websites that are only optimized for desktop viewing will be dropped entirely from Google’s index—essentially becoming invisible to Google’s content-crawling tools. Not only that, but any images or other assets that are in a desktop version of a site and not on mobile will also become invisible. Only the content that exists on the mobile version of a website will be indexed and ranked.

The main takeaway: Be sure that the mobile version of your site accurately represents the content that you want to have ranked in Google, since desktop content will be completely ignored. Mobile-first design and development are no longer options, but necessities.

3. Google Has Adjusted How They Crawl And Analyze Content

Throughout 2021, Google will work on breaking search results into tiered structures, which will change many of the ‘rules’ for content. This is good news!

Google is getting better at crawling and analyzing subtopics and passages in larger content pieces and extracting them — creating more ranking opportunities.

The action for content marketers: Create content that addresses the depth of a variety of user questions, and don’t be afraid to create blog posts and website pages that are over 2,000 words. Since Google is getting better at picking out answers to questions within larger pieces of content, you can expand your content pieces beyond just focusing on one topic or solution.

Long-form content is king — the more robust pieces of content that answer many user questions will rank better. Websites will continue to rank for “quantity of high-quality content”.

4. GPT-3 Is Coming

Be on the lookout for GPT-3, a cutting-edge AI content-writing and language generating tool. It’s still in the early stages but will be a game-changer for content writing within the next few years.

Essentially, you’d be able to type a sentence or two that covers the main topics of your content, such as “What are some tips for cybersecurity companies who want to optimize blog content?” and using AI content-writing technology, will write a long-form piece of content that is 90% accurate —grammar-wise and information-wise. This also means it will be a game-changer for international content, as it will be able to accurately translate to any language within minutes.

Adapt And Get Ready For SEO Changes In 2021

With these updates in mind, you can ensure your content strategies are at the forefront of ranking opportunities and one step ahead of your competition.

To listen to the Searchmetrics webinar in its entirety and uncover even more exciting updates to come, click here.

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