Digital marketing invariably revolves heavily around effective search engine optimization (SEO) implementation and it’s crucial that you take measures to ensure a strong online presence for your company by remaining vigilant with new trends that are impacting the future of SEO.  By focusing your resources on the most critical changes, you will avoid wasting valuable time and money on SEO opportunities that, ultimately, turn out to be insignificant in the long-term.  You would also avoid putting all of your efforts into one single SEO technique or method and instead take a multi-pronged approach when planning your SEO strategy for the near future. So, what will the future of SEO bring?

The Most Important Things that Are Impacting the Future of SEO

1.  Content Remains King

This trend shows no signs of ever-growing old and arguably is becoming more important than ever.  It should come as no surprise that achieving the best SEO results is much more likely if the content you create and provide is of the highest possible quality.  Of course, while great content is critical for SEO success, it is not everything and having additional strategies at your disposal continues to be important.  However, you will get nowhere quick without a solid foundation of authoritative, engaging content that is valuable to the reader.

The Importance Of Quality Content

In the not so recent past, you could publish unique content that would be good enough to rank for your targeted keyword as long as your on-page and off-page optimization was on point.  However, this trend is changing dramatically and Google has made huge changes, including implementing a manual search team that validates pages based on Google’s latest quality guidelines.  But, what this means for your content strategy?  To ensure Google recognizes your content as highly valuable and rewards you in the search resutls, you need to focus more on creating long-form, current and authoritative content going forward.

In a recent Phantom update from Google, many websites saw a huge shift in rankings, as Google made more updates to its core algorithm to reward genuine, valuable authoritative content.  The result was that many businesses were disappointed to find that their content had dropped in the rankings.  However, as Google is focusing more and more on the user experience, this content likely didn’t provide the best information on the subject matter and was replaced with better, more valuable content.  To get your content closer to that coveted number one spot, you need to create the very best content possible with as much up-to-date information as possible so that it truly brings value to your readers.

How To Produce Valuable Content

For your content to provide some real value for your audience, it is vital that you identify and know your audience.  Have a clear idea of whom it is that you want to be engaging with and the type of people who you ultimately hope will form a kind of community around your content, brand, and products. After you have the right target in mind, creating quality content that brings value to the reader and answers their questions or solves their problems will become a lot easier. Find out the information your audience wants and provide them with detailed information to help them out.

As Google is intensifying its focus on content quality with developments like Google RankBrain, you would need to go as in-depth as possible on every topic that you write about. Generally speaking, your blog posts should be at least 2,000 words long. You should discuss different aspects of the subject matter, exploring it from different angles, providing examples and citing (and linking to) other authoritative content creators in your niche.

Finally, featured snippets are gaining a lot of traction and will continue to play an important role for digital marketing managers going forward. To learn more about Google snippets, take a look at our blog post ‘Understanding Google Snippets and their Impact’.  Once you have a grasp of just how important the Google snippet is and will continue to be going forward, you should take steps to get your content in the Google featured snippet, or what is commonly being referred to as position zero.

2.  Perfecting Performance

Site speed, and therefore page speed, is critical when it comes to your on-site SEO.  In fact, Google acknowledges that performance is a factor with regards to page rankings, going so far to say that they are “obsessed with speed”. You can be sure that if Google is this focused on site speed that you need to pay very close attention to your load times.

No matter how much effort you have put into making your website look and function great, if your site takes forever to load, nobody will ever get to experience it. Remember that in order for your visitors to access the content that you have put so much effort into creating, they need to be able to access it efficiently. Your competitors faster loading websites are only a click away and if your pages don’t load quickly, that’s exactly where your visitors will go.

How To Improve Your Load Times

Learning how to improve the load times of your pages and of your site, in general, is a topic for another blog post. There are a lot of different factors that affect site speed and making your site load more efficiently means assessing different elements of your pages, how your content is structured, on-page media, as well as a host of other issues. However, to get started, here are a few key areas that you should pay attention to:

3.  Google’s Changing Page Layout

Over the last number of years, the appearance of the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP)  layout has changed a lot.  For digital marketing managers and business owners, it is important that you are aware of these changes so that you can adapt your strategy accordingly.  Google rules the world of online search and as a result, they pretty much dictate the future of SEO.  With their ever-changing page layout, we can get some clear insights into what the future of SEO is going to look like.

2013 – 2019 SERP Changes

From the very beginning of Google search, the results have featured a combination of both organic results and paid listings.  However, with small changes to the page layout, there have been some big changes.  For example, in 2013, the first organic listing was approximately 330 pixels from the top of the page.   In 2019, the number 1 organic result is now 1,050 pixels from the top of the page.  Ultimately, this has resulted in the top organic search result being pushed below the fold, where it is less visible, especially among the multiple paid results, which now blend in, much more than they used to.

Featured Snippets

As we discussed earlier, featured snippets are now also becoming much more of a feature.  Google is prominently displaying the content the user is looking for in a box at the top of the page. The result is many users are not even clicking through to the provider of the content, never mind the other results on the page.

Less Organic Listings

Google has also dropped 5.5% of the organic first page listings.  The aim of digital marketers and SEOs used to be to get their content into the top 10 results, which meant a first-page result.  However, nowadays, the first page does not always have ten results.  2% of first page listings used to have less than 10 organic search results but now 18% of first page results have less than 10.  This is a huge consideration for business owners and digital marketing managers who are aiming for the first page of the SERPs.

4. Optimizing for Voice Search

Rewind back to 2103 and 83% of Apple customers commented that they did not use Siri.  Now in 2019, the game has changed dramatically with more and more people turning to voice search.  This has been largely due to the uptake of technologies such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and the Google Assistant in smart home technology around the world.  Google has also found that younger users, teenagers in a particular, are using voice search with increasing frequency.  In fact, when hanging out with friends, teens are using search 57% of the time, while adults only use the facility 24% of the time. With that said, adults are not left behind either, as overall, 55% of teens and 41% of adults use voice search more than once a day according to Google.

This change in user behavior will have a huge impact on the future of SEO.  For business owners and digital marketers, it is imperative that you follow the best practices in voice search optimization in order to drive traffic to your site and improve your ranking.  It is thought that by 2020, 30% of all web browsing searches will be done without a screen and 50% of all searches will be done using voice alone.  Now is the time to take action and get ahead of the game for what lies ahead.

SEO’s Place In The Bigger Picture

What does all this mean for the future of SEO?  Ultimately, we will see more rich snippets, providing answers to users queries right there in the search results, without the need to click through.  There will also be fewer click-throughs to your website as voice search becomes increasingly popular.  It’s important to remember that no matter how much Google pushes the organic results down the page, users generally ignore paid links and will still be likely to scroll to and click on the organic listings.   SEO is still a crucial tool for digital marketing and will continue to play a vital role in any digital marketing strategy in the future despite Google’s continuing changes to its search results page layout.

SEO is not the end-all-be-all for luring new organic traffic to your pages.  It will remain a crucial element of any digital marketing strategy going forward.  It’s important that you implement an omnichannel approach to ensure that you diversify your efforts.  Ultimately, we have no control over Google’s changing algorithms in the future, so it’s important to cast a wider net and look at alternatives to SEO to help your products, services and/or brand to reach a wider audience.  One of the best parts of marketing is the creative process and in an increasingly competitive market, take steps to ensure that you stand out from the crowd.

Get in touch with our team of digital marketing experts at Mikesell Digital Consulting and let us help you to keep up with the constant developments in SEO.