What 2021 Search Trends Mean for Your Digital Strategy

By Ilia Jones | January 2022


As you plan for 2022, looking back at 2021 can help you better understand your customers and what they want to see from you, specifically by utilizing data around what they searched for in 2021.

Search trends, or the emergence and growth of key search terms over time, can help you learn more about your target audience and identify their needs. By reviewing the search trends of 2021, you can gain a deeper understanding of how the desires of your audience evolved over the year and help you gauge where they may be going in the year ahead. 

While data collected in the past cannot possibly act as a crystal ball for the future, it can provide valuable insight. 

Search = Demand

What people are searching for is a direct indicator of demand. People search for what they want, and hopefully, local businesses can provide it.

For example, there was a massive increase in searches for outdoor seating last year, as people were looking to socialize safely. Additionally, this search was often conducted with "near me," indicating that local restaurants that were advertising or had added outdoor seating to their SEO strategy likely saw a boost in business. 

Additionally, search terms like "in-person," and "virtual" were popular in 2021, indicating that people were looking to get out and reconnect with their communities but that the reliance on technology to connect us was still strong. 

As we move into 2022, it seems like that trend is likely to continue. With the Omicron variant keeping people from socializing as much as they'd like, organizations that offer virtual (or hybrid) events, classes, and services will continue to be well situated. 

Search Continues to Evolve

Gone are the days when keyword stuffing and basic SEO strategy were enough to stand out from the crowd. Today's keyword and SEO strategies require a bit more nuance. 

As search engines like Google focus more on page value and user experience, keyword strategies to drive traffic and garner search results have evolved. 

Today there are long and short-tail keywords, featured snippets, and on-page SEO. There are also different levels of search match results, broad match, phrase match, and exact match, and with SmartBidding and other techniques, you can better capture the audience seeking what you offer. 

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Learn More About the 2021 Search Trends

Google has released a report outlining the most significant trends in search over the entirety of 2021. The report outlines seven categories that saw explosive growth in 2021.

  • Together Again
  • Entertainment, Evolved
  • Powering Potential
  • Big Moves
  • Life Calculus
  • Sustainable Living
  • Redefining Normal

These categories should seem pretty familiar to anyone who has lived through the past year, but let's dive in a little deeper. 

Together Again

This category of search trends details an exponential growth in searches for wedding attire, fancy restaurants, and online dating that reflects desires to get back out in public and connect. However, online activities also remained popular, with searches for how to host a meeting and watch party.

This indicates a trend that we think will continue into the new year, which is why we see hybrid events as the future for nonprofits and thoughtful brands alike. 

Entertainment, Evolved

As searches for movie theatres, stadiums, and other large group gatherings increased, there was also a trend toward outdoor activities that are great for dates or the whole family, such as zoos, berry picking, or car shows. These search trends show that people are starting to think outside the box or outside the four walls of their homes and apartments to find entertainment and activities that provide an authentic experience. 

People spent 2021 trying to make up for lost time and sought out entertainment that would make memories and provide a momentary escape. 

Powering Potential

It's New Year's Resolution season, but as it turns out, people spent much of 2021 looking to improve themselves through fitness, wellness, and mindfulness activities. Fitness apps and home fitness equipment were popular searches along with skincare and vitamins. 

The fitness and wellness industry has been growing year over year for the past decade, but the focus has shifted to prioritizing home workouts in our new reality. 

Big Moves

The past two years have seen a shift from cubicle life to the flexibility of work from home. While there are concerns that working from home full-time can cause feelings of alienation and loneliness, some workers have embraced its flexibility. Searches for tips and tricks for being productive at home and tools for successful work/life balance saw a rise. 

Because we've spent so much time in our abodes, home improvement and DIY searches were also very popular in 2021.

Life Calculus  

With work no longer tying people to offices and realizing that a bit more space might be nice, people spent 2021 searching for handypersons, builders, and mortgage calculators. 

Additionally, people searched for services to help make their day-to-day lives a little easier. House cleaning services, lawn care, and snow removal (for us in the northern part of the country) search spiked as people realized that more time at home doesn't necessarily mean more time doing chores. 

Sustainable Living

With the impacts of climate change being felt worldwide, it's no surprise that searches related to sustainable living were a big trend in 2021. Searches on the environment, electric vehicles, and sustainability were popular. 

Additionally, people were looking for more minor ways to make an impact, such as searching for secondhand stores and other ways to get what they wanted without buying new. 

Redefining Normal

As people grappled with life in the pandemic, with all of the ups and downs that 2021 brought, they searched for restaurants offering takeout or for businesses that were open near them. The "near me" search option especially saw massive growth. 

Additionally, searches for clarification on travel, travel restrictions, and getaways were very popular as people sought to visit friends and family again or get away after so much time at home. 

Explore Which 2021 Search Trends Impact You

As you learn more about what populations were looking for last year, dive into the areas that impact your business or organization. And as you're learning more about what was popular last year or where search terms saw growth, brainstorm ways those searces may take place in the year ahead.

Remember that search trends and SEO strategy are constantly evolving, so be prepared to keep an eye on search trends in 2022 so you can stay nimble and capture your target audience when demand is high. 

Topics: Digital Marketing

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