After each year, digital marketers worldwide have developed the strategy of transitioning their focus and thought processes to the following year so they can adequately prepare for what’s to come. Strategic thinking and planning are particularly important for yearly SEO spending projections as the digital marketing industry continues to expand with new trends, in size, and direct market competition.
Borrell Associates projected companies throughout the United States will be spending as much as $80 billion on SEO services alone. Compared to 2016 and 2018, this number is significantly higher as businesses were previously spending $65.26 and $79.27 billion. 
Digital marketing budgets for businesses ranging in industry have continued to grow, and a CMO survey completed in February 2020 indicated a 7.6% increase heading into 2021.  As the digital world continues to grow and transform, many companies are reforming their digital marketing strategies to better cater to the consumer and their overall experience, whether on a website or SERPs.
User Experience Design
Identifying ways to create the ultimate user experience (UX) has been a critical focus area for online businesses for quite some time. However, as we head into the current year and years following, the user experience is more likely to impact search engine rankings than ever before. The Google search console and other search engines have found benefit in focusing on user-centered metrics as this data directly contributes to an appealing web experience for people browsing the internet. As a business owner, you’re encouraged to take time to explore your own website and identify how user-friendly the overall experience is. You should analyze and tweak many areas of your website as needed because failure to cater to the user experience may result in fewer visitors and lower search engine rankings.
- Page loading time
- Site navigation
- Device and platform friendliness
- On-page pop-ups
44% of companies have moved to a digital-first approach to help improve the customer experience.  Business owners are encouraged to view a website through the consumer’s eye. This will help identify roadblocks, problematic word usage, lack of clarity, and other details that may negatively impact your website’s SEO and ranking. Keep in mind; first-time customers are more likely to turn into a long-term client if the user experience is considered. 56% of CEOs have identified that digital improvements lead to revenue growth. 
Google My Business
You’re likely familiar with location-based searches, but I’ll break it down for you anyway. Say when a small business owner residing in Minneapolis searches Google Maps for “SEO services,” it’s likely they want to see companies offering these services from the surrounding geographic area rather than companies located in Los Angeles. For your company to show up on these location-based searches, your Google My Business listing must be optimized and complete. Whether you’re just beginning or are an established business owner, you must have a Google account and go through the process of adding your company to Google My Business and complete all information accordingly.
Not only should you verify your Google My Business listing is complete and regularly updated with any changes and current photos but giving attention to featured snippets is also essential. Today’s consumers are likely to pay more attention to the information shown on SERPs rather than clicking through (CTR) to an actual website. Because featured snippets are drawing more traffic, business owners are encouraged to craft content around question-based search queries, keywords, and FAQs. In 2017, Ahrefs conducted a study surrounding 2 million featured snippets that revealed that featured snippet content gets more traffic compared to organic search results. 
Video and Content Quality
Incorporating quality content is essential for any online business’s success, as the more credible and authoritative your content is, the more likely your traffic and rankings will improve. Business owners must stay informed of critical topics of interest within their industries and identify what information potential customers will be looking for or need first. Aside from having strong content and copywriters on your team, when developing your content marketing strategy for the current and following years, it’s recommended to create buyer personas and conduct search intent research. Based on your findings, you can develop content that potential and existing customers actually want. It’s also time to begin reconsidering the length of your content, as longer articles and blog posts can increase dwell time. Google will pick up on the amount of time a user spends on your website reading content, and if longer than average, your content will gain more credibility and climb higher in search rankings.
With particular consideration to Google, today’s search engines are attracted to quality video content, meaning this content style should hold a substantial role in your SEO strategy and digital marketing efforts. Video content is more likely to improve a company’s search visibility, views, and overall website traffic. Companies that incorporate video content onto their web pages are 50 times more likely to show up on the first page of SERPs than those that utilize plain text.  Consumers are attracted to video content as it’s usually quick, mobile-friendly, and allows for effortless multitasking. 96% of people have watched explainer videos about products or services.  A statistic like this translates the importance behind catering to what your target audience wants or user demand.
Search Intent and Style
As voice search continues to gain traction, optimizing your content to better serve a natural speaking style will be beneficial. Google and other search engines are finessing their ability to interpret a searcher’s underlying intent instead of relying solely on semantics. These updates and advancements translate that today’s SERPs are primarily based on what the end-user wants. Zero-click search results are also becoming a popular focus for businesses to rank for, which eliminates the searcher’s need to click through to a website. Instead, their initial search will provide all information a person might need for an entered question or query. Below are a few quick tips business owners are encouraged to consider when optimizing web page content:
- Create content aligned with the target audience’s intent and questions
- Write for your target audience, not search engines
- Use relevant data and statistics as necessary
- Add bullet lists for increased voice query ranking
- Understand the importance of internal linking
- Incorporate FAQs for authoritative content ranking
- Develop topic content clusters instead of focusing solely on keywords
Companies in every industry can benefit from influencer marketing. Utilizing influencers in marketing strategies has continued to grow in popularity as today’s consumers are more likely to trust a product or service when it’s backed by well-known figures or influencers. SEO and influencer marketing work hand in hand as businesses that work with influencers have reported an increase in online visibility, traffic generation, and overall content reach. As influencer marketing has continued to gain traction in every industry, 17% of businesses invest more than half of their marketing budget into influencers, meaning 65% of influencer marketing budgets increase each year.  Authenticity and trust are behind every successful marketing campaign, especially in today’s market. Suppose you choose to incorporate influencer marketing into your yearly plan. In that case, it’s recommended to select niche-related influencers who already engage with your target audience as this will help you gain backlinks that will drive SEO results and authority with Google and other search engines.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The digital world is continuously evolving, meaning SEO strategies, processes, and procedures will be improved with each passing year. Consumers continue to use search engines to find information and services, but these algorithms are transforming to better serve voice searches, searcher intent, and one-stop results. Business owners are encouraged to stay up-to-date with SEO strategies and techniques as we move into this year and those following. Taking these methodologies into consideration and making recommended changes early on will set your business up for success and increase consumers’ likelihood of noticing your products and services in the everchanging, competitive online world.