SEO, like all other things in the world, is constantly evolving. There was a time when you could stuff a page full of keywords, and trick search engines into thinking you were the expert on a topic. Nowadays, that approach is useless – and even dangerous at times. There are 3 trends for the next year in SEO that will surely dominate the practice. Make sure you are ready for them.
- Google will look for more user-tailored results
Google has already begun their shift away from ambiguous results to a more concise, fuller results display. What we mean by this is that not too long ago, you had 7 results for local listing, and the top few organic results right next to each other at the top of the page. Nowadays, when you search local, you get what is called a “snackpack.” This means that you get fewer, but more relevant results.
Now when we search for “NBA” on Google, we no longer see several results above the fold, only NBA.com, the upcoming schedule, the wiki description, and all of their social media accounts. On top of that, below the results are news articles related to the league. We have to scroll down to even get to the next unrelated website, which is ESPN.com. It is generally accepted that above the fold is better than below, and in this new Google, only one result is seen above it. That’s great news if you are up there and bad news if you aren’t. Expect the few results on top to be highly-targeted and full of information, and the rest of the results to be disregarded.
- Content will be even more important in driving search engine rankings
Although we are all aware that content drives search engine rankings, and that you need regular, high-quality stuff to reach the top of the SERP, it will only become more important as time goes on. We expect that eventually SEO will only be concerned with a site’s technical elements, and that content marketing will be what is used to achieve rankings. Think it isn’t true? Google “painters for hire”, and you see the top ranking on the SERP isn’t a website; it’s a blog post from Angie’s list. Try “best laptop models”, and again it’s a blog post. Having content that fits to what users are searching for will be more important in the future than it is now.
- Mentions will become the gold standard
People tend to think that SEO is about links. While we don’t expect them to go anywhere, their value in the world of SEO is being challenged constantly. We no longer go through massive link building campaigns like in the past, and new rules have restricted valuable links to one that are in the text naturally, which effectively limits how many can be on a page or in a post at one time.
If it’s not happening already, very soon mentions of your brand on social media will become just as important as links, and perhaps even more so. Perhaps it is because they are more natural than links, and that they can reach larger audiences more quickly.
Going back to the NBA example, a simple search shows all of their social media accounts tied together in one box at the top of the SERP. While it might be easy for a professional sports league with a monopoly on the basketball market to dominate the social media of their product, it’s still important to realize that your brand or company will need these too. More and more businesses will begin to track their mentions and value them over links, and we expect the same from Google.
Warning: Where there is value, there is spam. As with links, mentions can be abused too. However, this is not as easily done, and this is certainly one of the main reasons that Google is shifting their emphasis.
In the end, we can only expect more and more things to change in the future of SEO. What we can identify, however, are lasting trends that will heavily affect the industry. As old tactics begin to fade into memory, new, more refined tactics take to the limelight and begin to become widespread. It is important to get ahead of the trends and prepare. You don’t want to be left behind. The three trends are certain to dominate the next year of SEO, and beyond.