2020 has been a one-of-a-kind year for the entire world, and that includes the SEO community. We’ve witnessed more people using search, rankings volatility, shifts in behaviour, site updates and index changes. Even Google, the world’s fourth most valuable brand, reported its first-ever ad revenue drop because of the coronavirus pandemic.

And while the impact of COVID-19 will undoubtedly continue into next year and beyond, Google is already making moves to assert its dominance in 2021. In fact, there’s a strong possibility that Google will emerge even stronger thanks to its scale, leadership and innovation.

Ad revenue and device adoption are top priority

Despite the fact Google has an incredibly diverse product and service range, 80 percent of its revenue still comes from advertising. Therefore, it’s safe to say this will remain a priority, with new features such as a larger font size in ad paid search ad headlines to improve click-through rates and drive more paid search revenue set to rollout in the near future.

“Another way Google is protecting its ad revenue is by encouraging device adoption,” says Search Engine Land’s Adam Dorfman, citing its investment in security firm ADT. “Google is not interested in home security,” he continues. “Google wants ADT technicians to become more proficient installing Nest devices, which are Google’s smart thermostats.”

Android device adoption is also a key focus for Google in 2021. With features like Verified Calls, which provides the reason why a business is calling you, there’s a higher chance users will buy into Google’s larger ecosystem.

The ongoing importance of local

Given the huge growth of services that helped small businesses stay open during the coronavirus pandemic, and the speed at which features like ‘Temporarily Closed’ and the ‘COVID-19 Post’ type were rolled out, it’s clear that local remains a crucial part of Google’s business model.

That’s why updates to Google My Business listings – an expanded messaging feature, access to performance analytics and an easier user experience – are coming thick and fast. Google Maps hasn’t been forgotten about either with a rebuild of its traffic data designed to help people travel during the pandemic.

“What impressed me especially is how quickly Google rolled out these changes,” said Dorfman. “Google had to. Local search remains an essential user activity on Google. Google needed to protect its turf.”

Making moves in healthcare and education

Did you know that Google now operates a compliant cloud to help healthcare systems ingest patient data and manage algorithms against that data? Chances are Google will become an even stronger partner for healthcare systems by using data to improve patient outcomes.

Virtual care is another area in which Google could move into. The tide against Telehealth is turning, which Google knows all too well after partnering with Amwell to deliver healthcare solutions on its own cloud.

Then there’s education, where investment in the virtual learning platform Google Classroom continues to grow. With 50 new features including more controls to make online learning safer, schools already using Google’s ecosystem will be quick to sign up.