2021 Google Search Trends
To know where you’re headed, you have to know where you’ve been. So it is with search engine optimization, which relies on a combination of past trends and current best practices to determine how to rank for the keywords, phrases, and queries users search.
At Twelve Three Media, we provide SEO services to small and mid-sized businesses across a wide range of different industries. One of the secrets to our success is keeping a pulse on how consumers search and positioning our clients to rank on the first page for the terms that drive leads and sales.
Naturally, that means we jump at any opportunity to dig into data concerning Google search trends – especially when the data comes from Google itself. Here are the insights you need to know about the top search trends in Google from last year, and how your business can take advantage of the emerging trends in the SEO landscape to win big in 2022.
Top 10 SEO Statistics You Need to Know from 2021
1. Google Handles Nearly 100,000 Search Queries Every Second
(Source: Internet Live Stats)
To put that into perspective, approximately 8,536,924,800 (more than 8.5 trillion) are processed by the world’s largest search engine every single day. Of course, these web searches encompass everything from current events to sports scores to where to find the best local restaurant.
Obviously, not every search query is going to apply to your business. The ones that do, however, may be phrased a number of different ways and include (or exclude) terms that add context (i.e., “the best,” etc.).
It is crucial to be aware of the many ways users may phrase a search. You can miss out on a huge portion of the rankings and traffic in your market if you only stick to a static keyword list that doesn’t account for semantic variation.
2. Yes, Google Still Dominates the Search Landscape – 92% of It, To Be Precise
Google is not the only game in town when it comes to search engines. However, when it comes to marketing, most of your focus should be devoted to ranking on the first page of Google search results.
As of December 2021, here is where Google stands compared to the next closest competitors for market share in online search:
- Google: 91.94%
- Bing: 2.86%
- Yahoo!: 1.5%
- Baidu (the dominant search engine among consumers in China): 1.37%
- Yandex (the dominant search engine among Russian consumers): 1.1%
- DuckDuckGo: 0.67%
It is important not to disregard traffic from Bing, Yahoo!, or even DuckDuckGo. These platforms still represent a significant portion of web searches worldwide, and ranking on the first page of results for these search engines can be beneficial for your business. If your business operates internationally, it might also be worth tracking traffic from organic search on Baidu or Yandex.
However, given the sheer dominance of Google over its competitors, Google search trends are always going to be the most important. You need to make sure your website content is written and optimized in accordance with Google ranking factors to improve your likelihood of ranking on the first page.
3. 15% of Google Searches Are 100% New
Google announces updates throughout the year, prompting significant research, analysis, and debate among SEOs. One of the most notable pieces of information released by Google in 2021 is that 15% of daily search volume consists of queries that have never been seen before.
Unsurprisingly, Google is investing heavily in machine learning in an effort to deliver optimal results for the onslaught of novel queries. Although it might seem like you need a supercomputer to keep up with how Google processes information and delivers results, the key to success is to harness the available tools and create content that effectively addresses the emerging search queries in your industry and market.
4. Mobile Makes Up 55% of Online Traffic
Smartphones continue to be the dominant device for accessing the Internet. As of December 2021, here is how the race between mobile, desktop, and tablet stood:
- Mobile: 54.86%
- Desktop: 42.65%
- Tablet: 2.49%
Google does not have a separate index for mobile results and another for desktop results. What the search giant has made clear, however, is that Google indexing is done on a mobile-first basis. If your website doesn’t work on mobile, your rankings will suffer.
So, in addition to optimizing individual pages for search, you need to keep mobile-first top of mind when designing and developing your website. A plethora of technical issues can tank the performance of your website in search if you don’t think through how the site will look and operate on a smartphone.
5. The Click Through-Rate on the First Organic Search Result is 28.5% – Nearly Double That of the Second Result
If you want to get customers to visit your website from Google search, the first position on the first page is where you want to be. While nearly 30% of users will click on the first result of the Google SERP, only 15.7% will click on the second. Predictably, the click-through rate only gets lower for results in the third position, fourth, fifth, etc.
Bottom line: We’re living in the attention economy. Users are not going to go to the second page of results (you’ll be lucky if they get to you if you are lower on the first search results page) to find what they’re looking for. So, it is crucial to make sure your content delivers the most informative, authoritative, engaging content based on the user’s query.
6. Nearly 60% of Consumers Are Using Voice Search to Find Local Businesses
Voice search is the fastest growing area of online search. With 75% of U.S. families expected to own a smart speaker by 2025, optimizing content for voice search is now a necessity.
Many of the same tactics for organic search apply to optimizing for Alexa, Siri, and other voice-based virtual assistants. The major difference is that you have just one shot to rank for a voice search – only the top result will be delivered for the user’s query.
For a virtual assistant to use your page as the top voice search result, it needs to be the best. Although the result delivered over the speaker may only be 10 to 30 words, the page from which the result is drawn contains over 2,000 words on average. This suggests that authoritative, high-quality long-form content is necessary for competing in the voice search space.
7. The Highest-Rated Page in Google Search Has Nearly 4 Times as Many Backlinks
Business owners and marketers alike often wonder: “What makes the page ranked #1 on Google different from the one ranked #2, #3, and so on?” The answer is complicated, but there is a strong correlation between the number of backlinks and better Google search rankings. On average, the page in the number 1 position of Google search has 3.8 times more backlinks than the pages in the lower positions.
As the name implies, backlinks are links on other websites that point back to your website. Google treats high-quality links from authoritative domains as a kind of “vote of confidence” in the quality and reliability of your website.
In the past, unscrupulous SEOs tried to game the system by amassing a backlink portfolio comprising thousands of links from low-quality domains. Google has cracked down hard on this strategy. Today, you need to focus on building backlinks from high-quality domains. The way to start this is to create compelling, authoritative content that customers and industry leaders alike feel they can trust and – ideally – post elsewhere online.
8. Nearly 95% of Web Searches Are Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords have limited monthly search volume. They also tend to contain more words than high-volume search queries, which frequently consist of one or maybe two words. Though individually these keywords might seem to present limited opportunities for driving search traffic, long-tail keywords make up 94.74% of the searches performed every month.
This trend shows why you need to be creative and flexible in the search queries you target. Analytics and reporting tools are essential for identifying new and emerging opportunities in Google search. If you confine yourself to a static keyword list only going after the most popular terms, you’re missing out on a massive potential audience.
9. The Click-Through Rate Is 3-6% Higher for Long-Tail Keywords
(Source: Smart Insights)
Long-tail keywords contain context that is not present in generic search queries consisting of one or two words. This added context often reflects a change in the searcher’s position within the sales funnel. For example, a search for “solar panels” suggests a user who is just dipping a toe in the realm of renewable energy, while “how much does it cost to install solar panels” is a user who has done the research and is well on the way to making a purchase.
It should come as no surprise, then, that users are more likely to click on one or more of the results on a Google SERP when they search for long-tail keywords. Users at this point in the funnel are looking for more specific information, so it makes sense that they would click on a result that is likely to answer their questions.
The trick, of course, is to reward that click with high-quality information. Once you identify the long-tail keywords you want your page to rank for, it is important to optimize the content so it (a) ranks, (b) persuades the user that you are an expert, and (c) drives them to convert.
The #1 Google Search Trend for Small Businesses and Service Providers in 2021
Every year Google releases a Year in Search report highlighting major trends for businesses and brands. Although the Year in Search 2021 report offered compelling insights on how brands can capitalize on emerging search trends related to working from home, positive life changes, sustainability, and more, the category that most caught our eye was Year in Search 2021: Life Calculus.
According to Google, web searches in 2020 centered on DIY. Last year, however, the trend shifted back to professional service providers.
10. Web Searches Grew for Busy People Outsourcing Tasks
Google cited a number of statistics indicative of the overall trend that people once again want to use reputable businesses to handle tasks related to home upkeep, repairs, etc. These include increases in search volume year over year in the following categories:
- “House cleaning services near me”: 100% increase
- “Handyman near me”: 100% increase
- “Installation near me”: 100% increase
- “Lawn mowing service near me”: 100% increase
In addition, Google also recorded an increase in searches related to the etiquette involved in using professional services. For example, searches for “how much to tip movers” in 2021 grew 200% compared to 2020.
This is great news for small businesses, as it shows that people are beginning to break out of the bubble created by the pandemic and looking for companies that can help them with everyday tasks. However, customers aren’t just going to hire anyone.
People have gotten a taste of doing things for themselves that they might have outsourced in the past. As such, they not only expect but demand quality. You need to make sure the quality of your service is self-evident in search by:
- Ensuring that your website content addresses customers’ common questions and provides authoritative information on your services
- Optimizing web pages for the queries users search to find businesses and services like yours
- Managing your Google Business Profile – last year Google rebranded Google My Business to Google Business Profile; the name is different, but the value is still the same
Your Google Business Profile is potentially the first thing prospective customers see in local search results. In addition to optimizing your website, you need to make sure your Google Business Profile delivers accurate information concerning your name, address, phone number, hours of operation, services, etc.
Just as important are your reviews. All businesses need to be active when managing reviews on Google Business Profile, social media platforms, and other areas of the Internet. That means expressing appreciation when customers leave positive reviews, attempting to resolve unfavorable reviews left by customers who had a negative experience, editing inaccurate suggestions, and flagging reviews that are inappropriate.
What’s in Store for Search Trends in 2022?
The SEO Experts at Twelve Three Media don’t have a crystal ball. What we do have, however, is years of experience, an obsessive attention to data, and the knowhow to implement best practices for helping our clients rank at position 1 on Google.
With fingers planted firmly on the pulse of search trends, here are our predictions for what will work when it comes to SEO in 2022:
- The number of search queries submitted to Google will continue to grow. This growth will lead to a competitive, multifaceted market where optimizing strictly for static keyword lists will no longer result in a high ROI on SEO.
- Google will continue its dominance of online search. However, if you notice traffic from other sources (Bing, Yahoo!, etc.), it is worth delving into your rankings on other search engines to ensure that you’re doing everything to stand out to users outside of Google’s hegemony.
- Novel web searches are the new norm. As the world changes, Google will likely report that more and more of its searches are totally new. Brands and businesses need to be ready to answer never-before-seen questions about their products and services.
- More and more Internet usage will shift to mobile. By 2025, smartphones are expected to be the only way 72% of people will access the Internet. If your website is not developed with a mobile-first mindset, this should be a huge wakeup call.
- Capturing and keeping position #1 on Google will grow in importance. As attention spans shrink, so too will users’ patience for scrolling through search results. The vast majority of users won’t even access page 2 of search results, so taking the top spot is critical for your SEO marketing.
- Voice search optimization will become mandatory. The technology behind voice search is only getting better and becoming more accessible. Savvy brands and businesses should start identifying opportunities to rank #1 in voice search now.
- Quality backlinks will help elevate reputable content. Google will continue to prioritize reputable, high-quality links as a primary ranking factor. Businesses that want to rank on the first page of search results will need to invest in link building tactics that harness the power of authoritative domains.
- Optimization for long-tail keywords is becoming more and more essential. Users have discovered the limitations of results for queries of only one or two words. As they include more context in their searches, it will be up to businesses and brands to provide the additional information consumers crave.
- Quality content will get more clicks for long-tail keyword searches. Not only will the best content dominate search rankings, but well-written and properly optimized pages will actually drive traffic and improve leads for businesses that invest the time and thought into their content.
- Local customers will continue to be discerning in the businesses they hire. All aspects of search – from Google Business Profile to on-page optimization and more – will need to be on point to generate leads and customers.
Perhaps the most important trend of 2022 (and any year before or since) is the need to optimize your SEO (as well as all of your marketing efforts and ad campaigns) for the customer you want to attract. Identifying your target audience is a branding exercise as much as it is a function of keyword research. Businesses that know what they are and whom they serve are generally the ones that deliver the most compelling information via online search – and enjoy the best search engine rankings as a result.
SEO has only gotten more complex, and the trends discussed above show that the knowledge and resources required to thrive in search rankings is only going to grow. Although a DIY search marketing strategy may be enough to get your business off the ground, most businesses find that hiring an SEO agency is an essential part of scaling for growth.
Twelve Three Media has the expertise you need to succeed. We handle SEO totally in house – no outsourcing projects to vendors overseas. In addition, we don’t use copy-paste, one-size-fits-all strategies. Your SEO marketing will be customized to your industry, your business, and your goals.
Gain the unfair marketing advantage: Contact the SEO experts at Twelve Three Media to learn how to maximize your rankings, leads, and new business!