17 May 5 Predictions for the Future of SEO
On February 26, 2015, Google announced that its mobile-friendliness algorithm would take effect on April 21st, marking a rare instance of advanced notice for a major change to SEO. With insights into SEO shifts being extremely rare even a month or two ahead of time, clear ideas of what SEO will look like 10 years from now may seem impossible. That said, by analyzing key patterns in the development of SEO up to this point, we can get a good idea for the direction SEO is headed. Synthesizing past transformations in SEO with current trends informs the following major themes for the future of SEO.
- SEO and Social Media will fuse to form the new standard for PR and Marketing practices. In keeping with Google’s ever-increasing emphasis on creating quality content and engaging an audience through authentic, interesting and unique information, old tactics of manipulating search engines through black hat SEO practices will disappear entirely. The priority for driving value over simply pushing for numbers or sales will result in social media messaging that is less product-based and SEO that is more content-based. Storytelling, relationship-building, and interactive content that enriches, inspires, and appeals to the senses will dominate, resulting in user experiences enhanced by video, vibrant new apps, and up-to-the-second updates.
- The fittest social sites will survive. Going along with this takeover of all things dynamic and useful, social media platforms that don’t evolve to create new solutions or improve their technologies to fulfill more functions won’t last. Facebook has already started making these advancements, transforming its Messenger function into a mobile-friendly IM solution that many users prefer over regular text messaging. Facebook’s ease of use for organizing online groups or forums as well as its prominence as the access point for logging into thousands of outside apps and websites ensures that the social network will stay relevant and central to the gamut of online users. In a sense, Facebook has astutely transformed itself into the PayPal of social media sites, becoming a trusted tool and gateway for a variety of other digital activities.
- Embedded online search will extend to all desktop and mobile applications. Between email, social media, text messages, app diversification, and the use of external drives and cloud drives, the amount of data we comb every day has surged dramatically, and it will continue to do so. The “search” function within each of these channels has thus become a necessity, and in the future, the principles of SEO will extend to these in-app searches rather than only to those performed on major search engines. Considerations of the default names for documents, the naming of applications according to keyword research, and the optimization of in-app searches to provide relevant supplemental results online will all be crucial to achieving quick and effective experiences for app users.
- Search engines will be selected according to specific objectives. Though Google currently owns 80% of the market share for search engines, we’ve seen how the online world is moving towards greater specialization, ease of use, and access to relevant information within shorter timeframes. As such, search engines specialized for particular types of information will predominate , allowing users to find what they’re looking for more quickly than ever before. We’ve witnessed this phenomenon already with Amazon, where users are skirting Google and going straight to the homepage of America’s largest online retailer to conduct searches for products.
- SEO will change as a skill and as a profession. Content management systems have and will become much more search engine friendly, providing advanced new features such as SEO plugins that allow businesses to choose pre-built CMS and ecommerce platforms rather than developing websites from nothing. With a great deal of the SEO work already completed, SEOs will no longer be needed to complete the technical functions for agencies. They will instead work on the development of these out-of-the-box CMS platforms for businesses to use themselves. Because SEO has already started to blend with other key marketing skills such as writing, creative direction and web development, SEO will move away from becoming a stand-alone career and will instead be considered an essential aspect of generalized marketing training.
While significant shifts to the way search engine optimization is conducted will certainly unfold in the near and distant future, SEO as a whole is far from dead. The methodology for optimizing online searches will change and evolve as trends appear and technology develops, but the need for an augmented process of delivering search results will be the driving force in perpetuity.