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, the 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, more technical and more 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-A-T and site architecture. 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 that occasionally can do some of these things. But the future lies with search architects that have the skills and wisdom to put it all together.

We must look at these signals and forecast what 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.

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 and other social networks from Bruce's author page.
Comments (16)
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16 Replies to “The Future of SEO: Where We’re Headed”

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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