The fact of the matter is Google will never stop changing. Their goal is to help searchers find the information they need, when they need it, in the format they want it. And so, SEO will have to continue to evolve and adapt to meet those changes.
What’s coming next for SEO?
Content and SEO will Continue to Combine Forces
There’s a lot of noise out there that says SEO is dead and Content is King. Admittedly, I roll my eyes when someone tells me that “Content is King”. Maybe it’s just my natural aversion to buzzwords and phrases. Or maybe it’s because “Content is King” is insanely misleading as it suggests you can just create content and ta-dah! you’re done.
In fact, content needs SEO, and SEO needs content. Why? Because both play a major role in the user experience—a growing ranking factor with Google.
The opportunity for an SEO specialist to make content work hard for the brand, means taking a deep dive into what questions your audience is asking and how they’re asking it. In the past, SEO specialists would spend hours doing keyword research; today, SEO must move away from short-term keyword research to a more long-tail keyword approach, one that takes those specific audience questions in mind.
You also need to know how users are interacting with your current site. As the technology advances, we’ll see the use of heat maps and user experience analytics used as SEO tools, as well as a bigger push towards A/B testing of content and layouts. Finally, SEO specialists will become a growing part of helping brands provide more personalized, dynamic content.
In the meantime, your SEO efforts should support content by making it easy for Google to crawl and ensuring the user experience is optimized on all fronts—including desktop and mobile.
Mobile Will Be Mandatory, but Not the End All
In 2015, it was confirmed that the amount of searches performed on a mobile device had surpassed the amount of searches performed on desktop. Yes, it’s official. 2015 was the year of mobile. And mobile use will continue to rise. This means you want to make sure your business has a mobile friendly or, ideally, a responsive design website. You want to make it easy for users to interact with your pages and content, as well as convert, from their smartphone or tablet.
But that doesn’t mean you only need to worry about mobile users; desktop will likely never go away. And there are still many industries that get higher desktop traffic than mobile, particularly in B2B. So while we may have moved from the Year of Mobile to the Mobile Era, don’t forget to consider your audience across all platforms and devices.
And as new ways of viewing content are introduced, whether it’s in the form of wearable technology, such as smartwatches, SEO specialist will have to adjust their methods accordingly, focusing on how content on new devices can be viewed, and how to help those users find content as quickly as possible.
The Move Towards Instant Answers will Become More Commonplace
Google’s Knowledge Graph will continue to grow and evolve in order to provide instant answers to searchers. This means SEO specialists will have to pay even closer attention to technical elements, as well as schema and rich snippets.
Finally, this move to instant answers will leave SEO specialists having to consider the impact voice-based searches will have on their strategy. Technology like Google Now, Siri and Cortana are already impacting how consumers search. And over time, it will make searches more conversational in nature, meaning the move toward long-tail keywords and optimizing with sentences and phrases in mind will completely trump just optimizing for keywords (if it hasn’t already.) Voice-based search will also increase the importance of proper tagging and schema, and perhaps will one day lead to special mark-up for voice search specifically.
Right now, there is no data around traffic that is brought in specifically by searches performed via a voice-based search, but as these types of searches become for frequent, perhaps that’s something we will see in the future.
SEO Won’t Die, but it Will Evolve
Every year someone puts out an article claiming SEO has officially died. But rumors of its death have clearly been greatly exaggerated. SEO will never die. It is too engrained in our Internet experience. However, it must continue to evolve to meet the new challenges presented by changing Google algorithms and new technologies—which is something SEO specialists should be used to by now.