Web marketing

State of Research: Find out how the web has changed in 2021

The pandemic has shaken up the research world… and things may never be the same again. If you’re still relying on pre-pandemic tactics, it’s time to update your understanding of research, including technical SEO, ranking volatility, e-commerce, and market trends.

At Semrush, the digital marketing platform with over Over 50 tools and reports…we are in a unique position. We were able to comb through millions of data points to investigate, analyze and document significant changes across the web.

the State of Research 2022 analyzes some of the world’s major markets and contains everything you need to plan your post-pandemic growth strategy. You can download the full report to dig deeper into the data, or keep reading for a sampling of some notable findings.

web state

In 2020, the number of new websites has increased as companies clamor to turn to online business. Many people also restarted their old laptops in 2020. But in 2021, trends have changed again:

  • 2021 saw significantly fewer newly ranked URLs in the top 100 search results compared to 2020
  • The average drop in the number of newly ranked URLs per market was 7.4%.
  • Per-device traffic share increased for desktops in 2020, which continued through summer 2021 even after many brick-and-mortar establishments began to reopen

Research Status

How does your audience search online? In fgeneral:

  • Informative Keywords accounted for 60% of unique search terms
  • More than half of all searches in 2021 were 1-2 words, while nearly three-quarters of ads served by Google were 3-5 words

Rating Status

Ranking volatility can disrupt your KPIs if your site bounces back, so it’s important to understand its overall health:

  • Volatility in all niches was higher on average in 2021 than in 2020
  • Despite this, the average maximum volatility score actually decreased year over year.

SERP and SERP Features

The design of SERP and SERP features such as featured snippets can have a huge impact on your CTR and the amount of traffic you get from search.

  • Top Search Ads SERPs were down in 2021 compared to 2020 on desktop and mobile
  • Featured snippets appeared less frequently year over year on both device types
  • Knowledge Panel average view levels increased on desktop, but decreased on mobile
  • FAQ markup was much more common on desktop and mobile in 2021 than in 2020
  • Google was still ignoring title tags and rewriting the SERP title 62% of the time

state of e-commerce

Has the explosion of online shopping in 2020 continued? You might be surprised:

  • Organic traffic to e-commerce sites decreased 23.2% year over year
  • Amazon lost 37.5% of its organic traffic in 2021 compared to 2020 and appeared much less frequently in the Search Ads space on all devices

State of the premises

How about local listings?

  • The overwhelming majority of local ads shown to users were within two miles of the user’s location
  • Only 6% of listings were more than 10 miles away

State of technical referencing

We dive deep into technical SEO in The report, with data and analysis on topics such as hreflang issues, using structured data, and Core Web Vitals. Here’s a taste:

  • Large sites were more likely to suffer from hreflang problems than the little ones:

Size of domains (number of pages) with Hreflang issues


  • Use of different forms of structured data varied in our dataset, with larger sites more likely to have implemented it:

Different forms of using structured data by domain size (number of pages)


  • Part of our analysis focused on the sites’ abilities to pass Core Web Vitals (CWV) trials. The results indicated plenty of room for improvement as some of the world’s biggest domains look to start growing again post-pandemic:

Share of URLs with “good” CWV scores by metric


Download the full report to learn more about the state of research

How does your site compare to the web in 2022? Do these facts and figures correspond to what you have experienced and are you changing your strategy in 2022?

Whatever your plans, make sure they are backed up by data. Download the free State of Research report now to equip you with global and industry-specific data to help you on your way.