The SEO And Search Engine Facts You NEED To Know in 2021

Written by Sam

93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.

If you want people to find your business online, there’s simply no better method than search.

From small startups to giant global brands, organic search is the lifeblood of successful business marketing, and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the dominant strategy for getting your brand noticed by the right audience at the right time.

Why? It’s simple…

  • Most online experiences start with Google search.
  • Almost everyone clicks on the first page of results.
  • To reach Page 1, you need high quality content with good backlinks.
  • Mobile optimisation is crucial in 2021.
  • Long-form content is essential, and increases your chances for voice search.
  • Your best starting point is to update your current content first.
  • Focus on audience-friendly content that Google will love.

The 15 Power Stats that Prove SEO is vital in a 2021Marketing Strategy

Much has changed about SEO over the years, but its vital importance to businesses hasn’t.

In fact, we’d say 2021 looks set to be the biggest leap for SEO yet, bringing audiences and brands closer after a difficult, “distanced” year.

According to Google Trends, 2020 is the first time that the UK has seen more demand for an “SEO Agency” than a “Creative Agency”, with Social Media following closely behind.

And in Northern Ireland specifically, the rise in searches for SEO and Social Media has reached new levels of interest.

SEO Trends Northern Ireland

So if you are looking for the stats to sell SEO services to your management team, or reviewing your marketing channels for the next financial year, we’ve brought together 15 of the most important SEO statistics around, ready to help you tap into the valuable world of digital traffic, all while attributing real value to your content investment.

The SEO Statistics you need to sell Digital Marketing for 2021

93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. (Source: Search Engine Journal)

First and foremost, SEO isn’t just a digital priority, it’s a business priority.

These days, search engines are the starting point for almost any information we want to find out – from recipe tips to cinema times, which makes it the most important marketing arena there is.

As a result, businesses that aren’t paying enough attention to SEO are risking missing out on a wealth of customers. 

BONUS STAT: More than a billion people use Google Search every month. (Source: Business Insider)

With such eye-watering numbers in play, ask yourself – how much better would your bottom line look if everyone could easily find the information they needed about you online?

We want to make searching for you, your business and your content simple – and SEO makes that possible.

The stats don’t lie, SEO should be a key pillar of any marketing strategy going into 2021 and beyond if you want to keep pace with the modern world.

Last year, Google made up over 87% of all global desktop search traffic, followed by Bing at 6%, Yahoo 2.85% and Baidu at 0.7%. (Source: Statcounter)

To score highly at SEO, you need to be where the web traffic is. And for almost 20 years, that’s been Google. As you can see, they hold the lion’s share of people making web searches on desktop.

On mobile, it gets, even more, one-sided, with Google pulling in 95% of traffic. That means whether you’re looking for recipes or the weather, they’re the ones you turn to.

So, when you want to get extra eyes on your website – you have to play by Google’s rules, and that means you need a smart, agile SEO strategy to get yourself rocketing up the rankings in 2021.

Global Search Share 2021

On the first page alone, the first five organic results account for 67.60% of all the clicks. (Source: Zero Limit Web)

How often do you scroll to the 2nd page of Google? Or do you just keep narrowing down your search until you find what you want?

The sheer weight of searches and clicks towards the first page of Google makes it the holy grail of website traffic. In fact, 75% of people never make it past Page 1 when searching for something.

All together, that means your business is virtually invisible online if it slips to the search engine’s second page or beyond. Thankfully, there are plenty of excellent marketing strategies for boosting your site’s presence, almost all of which revolve around smart, strategic use of SEO.

70% of marketers believe SEO is way more effective than PPC. (Source: Databox)

If PPC is one of the crown jewels of your marketing strategy, then it’s time to think about shaking it up.

Is it better to put in the time and effort to climb to the top of Google’s rankings organically, or pay to skip the queue and save time for other parts of the business? The arguments between SEO and PPC for search engine dominance have rumbled on for years, but in recent years SEO has emerged as the key priority for many businesses. 

BONUS STAT: SEO Leads have a 14.6% conversion rate vs outbound leads (direct mail or print), which has a 1.7% conversion rate. (Source: Search Engine Journal)

While it’s important to note that they don’t have to be separate parts of your marketing strategy (in fact, we would encourage using both to compliment one another, supplementing your SEO with PPC in the short term while climbing the search engine rankings), recent expert opinion has swung towards SEO as the superior method. And if you needed any more encouragement, SEO can often be a far cheaper method of improving your business’ marketing than the “pay-to-win” world of PPC – making it key for your budget priorities too.

In the long term, the benefits of working with an SEO agency should continue and last for a while, even if you switch it off, but if you switch PPC, you will see an instant decrease in traffic and revenue.

“Over a two year period, there was a 900%+ growth in mobile searches for “___ near me today/tonight.” (Source: Think with Google)

And then they kept on growing. The stat compared 2015 to 2017, in the three years since, we’ve seen further growth and in 2020 there was a further 40% increase on the previous year. Depending on your business, you need a marketing strategy flexible enough to promote you from the top down.

In 2020, search which included the phrase “near me” exploded in amongst the pandemic and local businesses online thrived with new, local customers.

Near Me 2020 Searches

When it comes to SEO, that means an awareness of more than just the wide-reaching search terms and general audience appeal. Instead, it’s a simple step to widen your net and target people directly with local results too.

Other buying phrases that saw huge increases included “best”, like “Best Burger”, which saw a 400% increase Year on Year and “promo codes” saw an increase of 100% in 2020 as we sought to redefine value and grab a bargain.

So, if you’re already spending money on local advertising, it’s essential to supplement your efforts by making sure your content is tailored for local search results too – as this crucial statistic shows.

Check out, how local search trends across the UK were impacted during 2020, which gives insight into how they will continue in the “new normal” during 2021.

Google hinted at over 200 factors in their algorithm for ranking websites…in 2009. We can assume there is a lot more in 2020 (Source: Backlinko)

We’ve already seen statistics that show a renewed focus on local search results and mobile optimisation, but what does Google actually use to measure your website’s ranking?

Unsurprisingly, the full quota of ranking factors is a closely guarded secret, but google hinted back in 2009 there are more than 200 in play, and through a mixture of reporting, feedback, testing and educated guesswork the SEO community has supported one another to improve websites and discover what helps improve a site in the rankings.

At Brand Ambition, we check well over 300 factors for every technical SEO website audit we run.

More importantly, though, it also reveals and reinforces the need for a multi-dimensional SEO strategy going forward. If there are 200 or more things to be aware of when creating or posting your content, then it means you’ll need even more strings to your business bow to be successful.

In 2020 alone, we saw three core algorithm updates and the introduction of BERT. A natural language processing AI that was said would impact “1 in 10 of all search queries”

High-quality content and link building are two of the most important factors for Google when it comes to your website’s ranking. (Source: Search Engine Watch)


As the famous saying goes, quality is more important than quantity – and that’s certainly true when it comes to organic traffic. As we’ve seen, there may be 200 or more factors that Google looks for, but high quality content is one of the most essential for pulling in consistent traffic and getting you moving up those rankings.

What’s more, the better your content’s quality is, the more likely customers and competitors alike are to recognise your expertise and link to it. As a result, the correlating impact is that number one rankings on Google have more backlinks than lower-ranking pages.

Top Ranking Pages in Google have more backlinks in 2021 Source: Backlinko

After all, search engines don’t just measure your content, but the links pointing to it too, making link building equally essential for better rankings. And if you can get the balance between the two just right? That’s the real magic.

The average length of an article on the first page in Google is 1,400 words or more. (Source: Backlinko)

SEO experts have suggested for a while that longer form content often ranks better than short form content, and now we’re able to put a number on it. Finally, we can ignore anyone who tells you to treat your audience like goldfish, that they can only handle simple, bite-sized pieces of information. Instead, this recent research proves that audiences prefer detailed, thought-through content instead.

And it’s not just word count that Google measures, but the structure and depth of your articles too. The better, richer and more detailed the content – the most benefits you’ll get, like quality backlinks from other sites. After all, if you’ve got the most informative and comprehensive information on a given topic, people will want to link to it.

BONUS STAT: The average word count of a voice search result page is 2,312 words. (Source: Backlinko)

What’s more, if your content is long enough, linked enough and content rich enough – it could be in line for the a new age SEO reward too, voice search. Not only will you be ranking high, but your content will be read out to the world for specific searches, demonstrating you (and your brand’s) mastery of a given topic.

Almost 25% of companies invest in mobile optimisation as a top SEO tactic. (Source: HubSpot)

If the majority of people are searching Google on mobile, then giving your business site a mobile-friendly makeover seems like a smart and sensible thing to do.

But clearly, not everyone is doing it, which leaves room for you to take advantage – optimising your mobile site in line with your desktop site to make it as easy as possible for Google to push you up the search engine rankings now and in the future.

Google started “Mobile-first” indexing by default for all new websites on July 1st, 2019. This means that all new websites (or those previously unknown to Google) will by default be initially judged for their “mobile-friendliness”. As of July 22nd 2020, Google announced that in March 2021, this would be rolled out across the whole web.

So in 2021, the focus of your website upgrades should be on making your site “mobile-friendly” as competitors that already have this in place will get a boost when the switch is made. For more details on Google’s announcement, you can view this here.

Sample advice from Google on Lazy-loading images Desktop vs Mobile

Sample Google insight on Mobile First Indexing

22.6% of all search queries on Google are for images. (Source: Moz)

We’ve seen the benefits of thought pieces, long-form content, link building and even voice search. But there’s one more piece of SEO knowledge missing – images. From Instagram to Pinterest and Snapchat, the searching and sharing of visual content is more popular than ever, meaning it should be a key tool in your marketing arsenal too. 

BONUS STAT: Across Gen Z and Millennial consumers, 62% demand visual search more than any other new technology.

Call it instant gratification, call it simplified information – visual search is set to be one of the breakout marketing methods of 2021, and SEO is right at the heart of it, especially among millennials and Gen Z. What does it mean for you? Simple – increasing the number of properly linked images on-site and in your articles will pay dividends.

40.7% of all voice search answers came from a featured snippet. (Source: Backlinko)

Featured snippets, or “Position Zero”, have been the top dog of SEO rankings since they were launched back in 2014, but if anything – they’ve only become even more important in recent years with the growth of voice search.

From Siri to Alexa, people all over the world are starting to ask Google questions without ever picking up their phone – and, as you can see, a growing percentage of the answers are coming from featured snippets. 

So, when we say that good SEO rankings are important, it’s not just to make your website and content easily findable from a Google search, but increase the likelihood of it being picked up for a featured snippet (and therefore potentially voice searches) too.

As a result of the pandemic, the smart speaker market has continued to see massive adoption rates, with almost three in ten Brits now owning and engaging with a Smart Speaker. Voice commerce is still a long way off being an established market, but brand engagement through voice search is more popular than ever and worth structuring your online content to pick up additional engagement in this manor.

47% of consumers view 3-5 pieces of content created by a company before talking to them. (Source: DemandGen)

There’s a reason that quality content is so important, and this stat shows exactly why.

Customers may have never heard of your brand before, so if they come across an informative piece they like organically, they often want to make sure it’s not a fluke – so they’ll read through more of your content before getting in touch.

If all of your pieces are optimised, content-rich, image-rich and up to date, they’re clearly far more likely to trust your brand than competitors that aren’t.

61% of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority. (Source: HubSpot)

Take it from those who are working on improving their ranking day in and day out, your competitors are most likely part of this 61% – which means there’s no time to waste. With rankings becoming the top priority for so many, we all need to start taking SEO and organic traffic seriously.

After all, ranking well on Google has the ability to drive inbound traffic that can give your business a boost for years to come. It’s a simple balance: improve your SEO, and it can work on bringing in the traffic.

Then, your inbound marketing teams can get to work converting that traffic into leads and eventually – sales!

Updating and republishing old blog posts with new content and images can increase organic traffic by as much as 106%. (Source: HubSpot)

Writing new website content is not only time consuming, but can be a complicated process too – from research to proofing and rewrites. Which is exactly why more and more companies are revisiting their current content instead.

As this stat shows, simple updates to refresh already existing work not only delivery fast results, but effective results too. After all, even the best original content can become stale over time and lose SEO effectiveness. By enhancing its search engine capabilities, you’ve already got a mountain of content waiting to be processed, re-ranked and rewarded by Google’s ranking system without writing a single extra word.

Improving or maintaining your Google ranking is never an easy thing to do, but a few simple tweaks can make a real difference to you and your business. As these stats show, SEO makes a huge difference for bringing organic traffic to your website, getting you in front of the right customers, and proving your expertise through quality content to anyone that’s looking for it. What’s more, competition is only getting more fierce.

So, if you want to give your marketing a major upgrade in 2021 and beyond, it’s time to embrace the world of SEO.

91% of all pages never get any organic traffic from Google, 55% of pages don’t have a single backlink, and 30% have less than 3. (Source: Ahrefs)

It’s a simple equation – the more backlinks your page has, the more Google search traffic it gets.

So we say, stand out from the crowd by joining the 9%.


With interesting content that people want to read or share, and make sure it’s presented in a way that gives it some ranking traction on Google and makes link building easier. After all, if your website is being glossed over for organic traffic, it puts unnecessary pressure on the rest of your marketing strategy, rather than supporting it.

With a few simple fixes and a focus on quality backlinks, you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to your business.

The Top 10 Facts to Headline Your SEO Sales Deck.

  1. 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
  2. In 2020, Google made up over 82% of all global desktop search traffic.
  3. The first five organic results account for 67.60% of all the clicks.
  4. 70% of marketers believe SEO is way more effective than PPC.
  5. Google uses more than 200 factors in their algorithm for ranking websites.
  6. 91% of all pages never get any organic traffic from Google.
  7. Updating old posts with new content can increase organic traffic by as much as 106%.
  8. The average length of a top search position article in Google is 1,400+ words.
  9. Almost 25% of companies invest in mobile optimisation as a top SEO tactic.
  10. There has been a 900%+ growth in mobile searches for “___ near me today/tonight.”

Further Reading

Want to find out even more about SEO’s marketing power? Check out these 2020 SEO stats…

Hubspot: The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics for 2020

SMA Marketing: 80 SEO & SEM Statistics That Prove the Power of Search

Ahrefs: Why SEO Is Important: 8 Undeniable Facts and Case Studies

Impact Plus: 26 SEO statistics for 2020 and what you can learn from them

Search Engine Journal: 10 Important 2020 SEO Trends You Need to Know

Want to chat about SEO?

Brand Ambition is an SEO First, Brand and Digital Marketing Agency based in Leeds and Belfast. If you are looking for someone to help get your marketing strategy on track for 2021, give us a shout today.