Has the pandemic changed the codes of organic research?

The Web is constantly evolving: it is an absolute reality. But in the last two years the evolution of the digital ecosystem has been more marked, even faster. The pandemic has in fact changed the codes of organic research, just as it has consolidated some and removed others. This requires marketers, regardless of the industry they operate in, to understand these changes and then adapt to them.

So what are the new organic research trends that have emerged with the pandemic? Are those that existed before still valid? Would we be inclined to marry pre-pandemic and post-pandemic trends? We rely on a report published by Semrush to decipher the new practices.

What is the state of the web in 2021?

More sites, but fewer pages!

Covid-19 has greatly affected the online presence (a clear interest gain). Clearly, there has been a very significant increase in the number of new sites and URLs. The numbers speak for themselves: in 2021 3.4 million new domains were created per market, with an increase of 24.1% compared to the previous year.

The graph below shows the number of newly classified domains year over year, by region.

Photo credit: Semrush

However, this increase is not decisive. For good reason, there was a 7.4% drop in new pages created in 2021 compared to 2020. The only exception is the United States, which hasn’t experienced any decline.

The chart below highlights the number of re-ranking URLs year over year, by region.

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Photo credit: Semrush

Pandemic and organic research: the evolution of traffic

Again, the United States stands out with particular statistics. In fact, in October 2021, double the number of visits (from a computer) compared to the average was recorded: that is, 616 visits. Note that the average traffic per domain in France was estimated at 252 during the same month.

Another fact that may prove surprising: Desktop traffic increased over the course of 2020 and 2021 while mobile traffic recorded a 9% decline. This rate was established on the basis of an analysis of the first 100,000 sites.

In addition, all business sectors saw a marked increase in organic traffic between 2020 and 2021. The education sector is the only exception: its organic traffic decreased with the resumption of face-to-face studies.

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Photo credit: Semrush

User Behavior

The above data is in part associated with user behavior that impacted organic search with the pandemic. The bounce rate has significantly decreased by 3% in 2021. Similarly, the time Internet users spend on a website has not changed significantly, for all business sectors except financial services. Time spent on the latter sector decreased by around 1 minute in 2021.

For information, the pages created by the following sectors were the least visited and recorded the highest bounce rates:

  • hobby,
  • online media,
  • Editing.

As for the sectors whose pages have been the most visited with the lowest bounce rates we find:

  • clothing / fashion,
  • High school education,
  • Logistics / supply.

Types of research in 2021

With a rate of 61.2%, the informational keyword category outperformed the other categories: namely navigation, commercial and transactional keywords. As a result, the information category generated nearly half of the overall search volume. The use of the Internet for information and information would therefore seem an integral part of people’s lives.

distribution-keywords-2020-2021
Photo credit: Semrush

Be careful though, it was the navigation keywords that saw the most keyword search volume. It is quite understandable, a user may have to type Login Société Généralefor example, several times during the day.

Furthermore, in order to target a good SEO strategy, the following data must be known:

  • Queries of 3 to 5 words are the ones that predominate, but generate a lower keyword search than short queries,
  • 1-2 word queries generate the most keyword searches,
  • The ads displayed by Google are mainly for 3-5 word queries.
semrush-keyword-length-2020-2021
Photo credit: Semrush

And Google?

In terms of algorithm, it would appear that the ranking in 2021 was more stable than in the year 2020. However, it should be noted that the former mentioned had slightly higher ranking volatility than in the year 2020. This is believed to be partly due to to Google algorithm updates.

As for the SERP (Search Engine Result Page), some changes are to be known:

  • Google Shopping and Search Ads showed fewer ads in 2021, regardless of device. The only exception is the ads that appear at the bottom of SERP 1, which are displayed more frequently on mobile devices.
  • Featured snippets appeared slightly less frequently on desktop, but more frequently on mobile. But more generally, this functionality tends to decline.
  • The FAQ and Instant Answers feature has grown in importance, with considerable growth.
  • Local Sheets were more present on mobile than on computer.
  • The Fact Sheets have not lost neither in efficiency, nor in utility, nor in frequency of appearance: they occupied 25% of the SERPs both on desktop and on mobile.
  • The SERP tends to become more visual, but by reducing the Image fields. Video viewing levels have also increased on both desktop and mobile devices.
  • Site title tags were only used by Google in 37.9% of cases in October 2021, although an 80% similarity was observed in cases where Google was not using the exact title of a page.

E-commerce in 2021

In 2021, the e-commerce market experienced a very slight decline in its organic traffic during the summer of 2021. This would be explained by the gradual return to normal life during this period, as the physics of in-store purchases re-emerged.

It should be noted that the giant Amazon recorded a more significant drop in traffic than all other e-commerce platforms / sites. By contrast, the French business market is experiencing significant growth (17% for La Redoute, for example).

Note that Amazon isn’t the only one losing market share. In fact, other international e-commerce giants, such as E-Bay, have also suffered this loss.

Local SEO

In terms of local business, there was a particular interest in:

  • contractors,
  • Healthcare and drug providers,
  • Legal services,
  • Home and garden shops,
  • Business services.

In fact, and according to the data collected, it would seem that the attributes used by companies in Local Sheets occupy a dominant place. Therefore, it would be interesting to bet on attributes related to your business sector so that your local SEO does not deteriorate due to competition.

Download the full Semrush report

What should be remembered for a successful site in 2022?

As Covid-19 has accelerated the evolution of digital marketing, vaccine campaigns have redefined a new path to follow. Of course, having an online presence is always popular – new websites continue to flourish on the web. On the other hand, the pace would be far from the same as at the height of the pandemic.

However, and for any organic strategy, it is very important to consider the new context. Indeed, it is difficult to predict a return of the organic landscape to its normal state before the pandemic. It is unclear what new organic market standards will apply in 2022 and beyond, whether it is local, national or international SEO.

Ultimately, your best bet would be to closely follow the evolution of trends and take the time to study any future digital marketing strategy. Each website is truly unique, and so is each business. Don’t settle for conclusions dictated by studies and reports, but combine them with careful analysis from your own platform. In this way you will be able to understand and anticipate the changes induced in organic research after the pandemic.

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