The Future of SEO: Where We’re Headed

Looking into the future of SEO.

SEO came from humble beginnings. Back in 1996 when I started doing SEO, we had very few SEO practices. Editing a webpage with keywords was all there was to do.

One of the best of the early search engines was Infoseek. You could make changes to a webpage and immediately see how it affected the rankings. Clearly, many search engines have changed, and now only a few are left.

Over time, editing a webpage with keywords wasn’t enough. Links became a factor; the algorithms got smarter, Google introduced AI — and, well, the rest is history.

Today, SEO is a highly complex discipline spanning on-page optimization, off-page activities, technical SEO, as well as a deep understanding of expertise, authority, trust, intent, and even sentiment.

While Google has claimed the top three ranking factors are content, links, and RankBrain, it is not enough to know just that.

Each of these factors is only a piece of the larger algorithmic puzzle. For every query, Google applies a different set of signals with different weights to every possible keyword (as in trillions of keywords). So there are essentially as many algorithms as there are queries.

Implementing precise SEO techniques so that search engines pick your webpage as the most relevant for a query is not a common skill for many.

But buckle up because the future of SEO will be even more involved.

What Recent Google Moves Indicate

Recent updates are giving us clues into what we’ll need to compete at the top of the search results in the near future. SEO will be even more involved, technical, and focused on architecture from the site to page level.

Here’s a quick overview of the most immediately significant Google updates and how they impact near-future SEO strategy.

E-E-A-T and Site Architecture

Experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness are concepts from Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. We can learn a lot about how Google views quality from these guidelines and apply that to SEO strategies, one of which is site-wide content architecture known as SEO siloing. This technique helps your website show expertise at the site level. Not only that, but it creates a good user experience, which Google cares about.

BERT and Page Structure

Google announced BERT, a deep learning algorithm, in 2019. BERT helps the search engine better understand the meaning of conversational queries. As a result, BERT allows Google to better answer queries via featured snippets in the search results. So website publishers will need to understand how to better structure webpages so that they can rank for featured snippets, aka “position zero.”

Page Experience and Page Performance

The Page Experience ranking update creates a signal that combines ranking factors we’ve already been optimizing for with new ranking factors called “core web vitals.” Each factor has its own set of technical requirements to ensure a webpage performs well for its visitors. Understanding the metrics for each of these factors and meeting the thresholds will take work for most websites. We have a great free e-book on this: get it here.

Of course, there are many website builders and content creators who occasionally can do some of these things. But the future lies with search architects who have the skills and wisdom to put it all together.

We must look at these signals and forecast what the search will be like in two years with a goal to get there first. This is the future of SEO.

If you’re looking for SEO solutions and would like help, request a free quote today.

FAQ: How has the field of SEO evolved over time, and what are the key strategies for adapting to Google’s changes?

Search Engine Optimization has grown remarkably since its conception, from simple keyword-stuffing techniques to complex algorithms that deliver user-centric content. Sophisticated algorithm solutions dominate today’s SEO landscape. Central to this evolution is Google, the search giant that has consistently refined its algorithms to deliver more accurate and relevant search results. To thrive in this dynamic environment, understanding the evolution of SEO and mastering strategies for accommodating Google’s changes is essential.

Historically, SEO was largely about manipulating search engine rankings through technical tricks. However, Google’s algorithmic advancements, such as the Panda update, shifted the focus towards quality content. Keyword stuffing and low-quality backlinks became counterproductive, leading to informative, engaging, and original content creation. This marked the beginning of a new era where user experience and relevance were paramount.

As Google continued to refine its algorithms, mobile-friendliness gained prominence. Websites that were not optimized for mobile devices saw their rankings plummet. This shift forced businesses to adopt responsive design and ensure seamless user experiences across all devices. Additionally, local SEO gained significance, enabling businesses to target geographically relevant audiences effectively.

Voice search marked another turning point. With the rise of virtual assistants and voice-activated devices, search queries have become more conversational. This necessitated a shift towards long-tail keywords and natural language in content creation.

Nowadays, Google’s BERT algorithm leverages machine learning and natural language processing to understand the context of words in a search query. This means that content should focus on answering specific queries comprehensively. Structured data markup, which helps search engines interpret content better, has also become crucial.

Step-by-Step Guide: Adapting to SEO Evolution and Google’s Changes

  1. Understand SEO’s Historical Evolution: Familiarize yourself with the journey of SEO from its inception to its current state, acknowledging the pivotal role Google has played in shaping the landscape.
  2. Embrace Quality Content: Shift your focus from keyword stuffing to creating high-quality, relevant, and engaging content that caters to user intent.
  3. Prioritize User Experience: Optimize your mobile-device website to ensure seamless experiences and consider local SEO strategies to target specific audiences.
  4. Optimize for Voice Search: Adjust your content strategy to accommodate conversational, long-tail keywords that align with voice search queries.
  5. Stay Current with Algorithm Updates: Keep abreast of Google’s algorithm changes and adjust your strategies accordingly.
  6. Focus on User Intent: Craft content that precisely addresses user queries, aligning with Google’s BERT algorithm.
  7. Implement Structured Data Markup: Utilize structured data to help search engines better understand and display your content.
  8. Monitor Analytics: Regularly analyze website performance and user behavior to refine your strategies based on data insights.
  9. Diversify Keywords: Expand your keyword strategy to encompass semantic variations and synonyms to capture a wider range of search queries.
  10. Build High-Quality Backlinks: Prioritize authoritative and relevant backlinks over quantity, as Google values credibility.
  11. Invest in Technical SEO: Ensure your website’s technical aspects, such as site speed and mobile optimization, are up to Google’s standards.
  12. Utilize Social Signals: Engage with your audience on social media platforms, as social signals indirectly impact SEO rankings.
  13. Adapt to Visual Search: Optimize images and visuals on your website for visual search capabilities as this feature gains traction.
  14. Create Evergreen Content: Develop relevant content over time, generating sustainable organic traffic.
  15. User-Centric Optimization: Design your website with users in mind, enhancing usability and overall experience.
  16. Explore Video Content: Leverage the popularity of video content to increase engagement and reach.
  17. Regularly Audit and Update Content: Remove outdated content and refresh existing pages to maintain relevancy.
  18. Engage in Online Communities: Participate in forums and discussions related to your industry to establish authority and gain backlinks.
  19. Adopt a Holistic SEO Approach: Integrate on-page, off-page, and technical SEO strategies for comprehensive optimization.
  20. Stay Informed and Adaptive: The SEO landscape will continue to evolve; staying informed and adaptable is key to long-term success.

The evolution of SEO is intertwined with Google’s ever-changing algorithms. By embracing quality content user experience and staying attuned to algorithm updates, you can navigate this dynamic landscape and ensure your online presence thrives.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

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24 Replies to “The Future of SEO: Where We’re Headed”

Always new things to look after in SEO :-)

Thanks for a really good article. I have just recently got into blogging and have been having abit of trouble with it to be honest. Much informative blog

Yes what you said is true. sEO is not dead. SEO is forever.

Yes what you said is true. sEO is not dead. SEO is forever.

I certainly agree with these points however also think that engagement and having more types of rich content like video will also become more important.

Always new things to look after in SEO :-)

Great share, Bruce. Looks like Google really wants websites to focus on providing users with a safe and quality user experience.

Soon there will be only ads in the search engine. Unfortunately, SEO is slowly coming to an end : /

Always new things to look after in SEO :-)

Such a wonderful article. The future of SEO will rely more heavily on voice search, RankBrain, and AI. The actual SEO of websites will become less important as Google’s algorithms improve. … Rather than needing to fish through websites for the answer, you’ll be given it directly, much like the way the Google Quick Answer Box works now.

How much ever i think, always there is something new in Google updates and also make me lack in SEO :P

SEO needs only a one-time investment in human resources and can produce long-term results. Although SEO takes time and effort, but it is a gift that keeps on giving.

I like this article. I was searching over search engines and found your blog and its really helps thank you so much

Thanks for sharing your experience.

I certainly agree with these points however also think that engagement and having more types of rich content like video will also become more important.

Introduction of 5G technology, introduction of minimalistic design and content, over-reliance of video content and voice searches may nearly see the end of tradtional SEO in the time to come. However new thinkings and new technologies will definetly emerge. I will write an article on this on 30th April, 2021.

Great article. The beauty of SEO is that it is quite dynamic and doesn’t belong to a fixed time period. The changes that occur every now and then in the SEO space, provides everyone with a fair chance to grow.

The future of Search Engine Optimisation is very demanding because nowadays all the businesses and industry now come online.

Great share, Bruce. Looks like Google really wants websites to focus on providing users with a safe and quality user experience.

Soon there will be only ads in the search engine. Unfortunately, SEO is slowly coming to an end : /

Always new things to look after in SEO :-)

Yes what you said is true. sEO is not dead. SEO is forever.

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