To provide insights into the future of the SEO industry, we asked eighteen SEO strategists and specialists to share their thoughts. From AI-based search revolutionizing SEO to a transformation of SEO with behavioral analytics, these experts predict a significant shift in the landscape over the next five years. Dive into their predictions to stay ahead of the curve.
- AI-Based Search Revolutionizes SEO
- Shift Towards Multimedia-Centric SEO
- Focus on Local Rankings
- AI-Generated Content Influences SEO Landscape
- Rising Importance of Voice Search
- Emphasis on Engaging Content i
- Dip in Content Quality as a Main Goal
- AI Algorithms Altering SEO Landscape
- Adapting SEO to AR, VR, and Voice Assistants
- The dominance of Google’s SGE and ChatGPT in SERPs
- Google’s Transition to an “Answer Engine”
- Increased Role of Social Media
- Return to Link-Building
- Critical Role of Authority and Content Depth
- Growing Importance of UX i
- Shift Towards Short-Form Material and Podcasts
- Evolution in Search Result Rankings and CTR
- Transformation of SEO with Behavioral Analytics
AI-Based Search Revolutionizes SEO
Will Wright, Lead SEO Strategist
Traditional SEO is about to be thrown on its back by the advent of AI-based search. While we previously wrote content to ask and answer questions to get in the Rich Results, I feel that will quickly go away and what will separate websites, besides authority, will be criteria considering user experience in a much more powerful way.
I strongly feel we are moving to a world where AI will understand if people are making purchases on your website, and how they behave during that purchase journey, as a major ranking signal. It is not fantastical to assume that AI will see you make a purchase and then follow your behavior to see if you leave a review later on. Why wouldn’t that kind of information influence your rankings if Google’s mission is to serve what is best for the user?
Shift Towards Multimedia-Centric SEO
Harry Boxall, Roofing SEO Consultant, Roofers SEO
I fully expect SEO to shift towards a more multimedia-centric approach. Search engines are likely to place increasing importance on video, audio, and interactive content in rankings, besides traditional text-based content. Adapting to this trend will be key.
Focus on Local Rankings
One change that we anticipate over the next five years is a significant focus on local rankings for businesses, particularly with the introduction of Google’s local service ads.
As a company that primarily focuses on local SEO, we see this change starting to take effect already. Businesses that have a good number of reviews, a strong response rate, and operate within their radius and prioritize that in their listing already rank higher, no matter how old or prominent the business is.
We’re seeing our clients go from simply having a website to being optimized to serve their local area, and Google’s algorithm is pushing those above others. We’re even seeing clients choosing their next locations based on SEO performance, which has been major. Businesses that prioritize local SEO and utilize all available SEO tools are more likely to rank the highest in local search results, and this impacts their business offline, and in the real world.
AI-Generated Content Influences SEO Landscape
Over the next five years, AI-generated content will increasingly influence the SEO landscape. Far from a grim outlook, this presents an exciting challenge.
AI’s ability to produce large volumes of content quickly is undeniable. In the B2B sphere, where decision-makers seek quick answers, AI-generated content is gaining traction.
However, this uptick in AI-generated content is an opportunity, not a setback. The key to standing out will be offering unmatched value and depth in your content. As the landscape shifts, those who provide real insights will rise above the noise, setting a new standard for quality in SEO.
Rising Importance of Voice Search
Over the next five years, voice search for local SEO will grow in importance. While there has been discussion of this topic for years, as more and more homes have smart speakers and similar devices, and people increasingly rely on them for information about local business offerings, optimizing your content for voice search will become much more important.
Emphasis on Engaging Content
As a digital marketer, I anticipate that SEO in the next five years will be significantly different from what we know today. Over the last couple of years, search engine algorithms have become much more complex and advanced. This means that traditional SEO tactics, such as keyword stuffing and link building, are no longer as effective as they once were.
In the coming years, there is likely to be an increased focus on creating content that is both useful and engaging for customers, rather than just using questionable tactics to rank higher in SERPs. Content quality, relevancy, and discoverability will become even more important factors for successful SEO campaigns going forward.
Dip in Content Quality as a Main Goal
I believe we will soon see a tremendous amount of AI-generated content produced for ranking purposes only.
I’ve noticed that content quality is no longer the primary goal for content creators and site owners. The majority aim to generate engagement. That’s where AI tools come in handy, replacing content and copywriters.
I predict ranking in the top positions will be more challenging since site owners will compete for the top 10 positions with their content. Nevertheless, online user behavior will remain a distinguishing factor in helping Google define high-quality content worth ranking.
AI Algorithms Altering SEO Landscape
It’s no surprise that with time, SEO trends will change, making it completely imperative to adapt and excel further. One such change is particularly in relation to Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is highly capable of altering the SEO as we know it! Generative AI has largely spread its roots within the SEO domain as well.
The AI-based algorithms are well capable of curating content and responding to queries that are already SEO optimized. This makes it easier for users to simply read the AI-generated summary at the top of the pages and leave scrolling through the entire page part. In response to such notions, Google has also launched what’s named Bard as an element featuring Search Generative experience.
However, users will still want to go through in-depth pages to lure around for deep knowledge. Integrating with such user intent can particularly help businesses link it up and increase their traffic through better SEO.
Adapting SEO to AR, VR, and Voice Assistants
The SEO industry will need to adapt to emerging technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and voice assistants. Websites will have to optimize for AR/VR experiences, create immersive content, and ensure compatibility with voice search.
For example, a retail business could optimize its online store for AR, allowing customers to visualize products in their own spaces. Additionally, voice-search optimization will require businesses to focus on long-tail conversational keywords and provide concise and accurate answers to voice queries for featured snippets.
The dominance of Google’s SGE and ChatGPT in SERPs
Google’s Search Generative Experience and ChatGPT will take over the SERPs for top-of-the-funnel queries. I don’t think it’s going to disrupt SEO as much as we’d like to think, but it will hurt informational queries where a direct answer is better than a 2,000-word article.
There’s a reason why users are adding Reddit to the end of their search. They want direct information. With ChatGPT and SGE, we can now get the answers we’re looking for without having to read multiple fluff articles. So, expect most informational queries to go away in the next five years.
Google’s Transition to an “Answer Engine”
Google is going to move to be more of an “answer engine” than a “search engine.” We see this in how they are moving to implement AI within their search results. The AI, or Search Generative Results, basically comes up with direct answers to whatever the searcher is looking for. It may have some kinks, but Google is working on refining it, and ranking in the SGE section will become the standard for SEO.
Increased Role of Social Media
Experts predict that social-media reach will play a much larger role in SEO than it does today. Search engines will still use things like keywords and backlinks, but will also include better results for websites with a wider social-media reach over those who don’t. This means that businesses should work to expand their social media connections to opt for the best results.
Return to Link-Building
I foresee the SEO pendulum swinging back to link-building in a big way. Over the past five or so years, links have somewhat been demonized by Google and other SEOs as either entirely bad practices (guest posts, etc.) or as having diminishing value compared to great content and UX.
The reason why I think backlinks will be more important than ever in the next five years is because of AI. AI is enabling people to create good content at scale, leading to more competition and dilution in niches. You can now also create websites with AI. This will only get better too, as many big players have already thrown their hat in the ring for this.
So, when you have great content and rapid website design at scale, at the fingertips of anyone, great links are the true differentiator.
Critical Role of Authority and Content Depth
Authority and content depth will become more critical than ever because of AI. Anyone can spin up a website using the many no-code tools and write 100 articles in a day. It may look like you’re an authority in your space, but it’ll require so much more in the future.
Links are a subject that will continue to be super important, as they show authority. Another thing is content depth. AI is not at a point where it can create new content that Google hasn’t seen before. AI is “just” summarizing the web, the content already out there.
So, creating in-depth, analyzed content with original research where you write content that hasn’t been seen before is going to become more critical than ever.
Growing Importance of UX
I believe one major shift in the SEO business over the next five years will be the growing importance of user experience (UX) and Core Web Vitals as ranking considerations.
As contrasted with traditional SEO, Core Web Vitals measurements show that search engines, especially Google, are placing greater emphasis on elements like visual stability, interactivity, and the speed at which pages load. This change highlights the need to make sure websites offer a smooth and quick user experience besides keyword optimization.
UX will become increasingly important in the changing SEO landscape as SEO practitioners will have to prioritize technical elements like mobile-friendliness, site speed, and easy navigation to retain or increase search ranks.
Shift Towards Short-Form Material and Podcasts
The world has gone crazy with short-form material and podcasts. Many people these days prefer to receive information in audio and video formats rather than reading hefty blog posts and articles.
Podcasts are now a great way to engage in in-depth conversations, and visual platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram may be used to combine fun and instruction. These platforms engage viewers personally and offer insightful content.
If we look at the community side, Slack and Discord are two popular platforms in the B2B marketing space. Professionals may network, ask for guidance, and share ideas in these communities. These platforms are dependable for exchanging important information and enable real-time communication. People use these networks to ask questions and gain advice from peers and professionals, and they can receive prompt answers.
Evolution in Search Result Rankings and CTR
Over the next five years, I predict a fundamental evolution in the dynamics of search result rankings and their associated click-through rates (CTR). Traditionally, securing a position within the top three search results was the gold standard, as they captured 54.4% of all clicks according to a study by Backlinko.
However, with Google’s introduction of the Search Generative Experience (SGE), the game is poised to change. The SGE initiative provides AI-powered overviews, giving users concise answers directly from the search page. As these AI summaries become more prevalent and sophisticated, they could reduce the need for users to click on search results, especially when they receive immediate answers from the generated content.
This has the potential to reshape the SEO landscape, emphasizing the importance of being featured within these AI-driven responses.
Transformation of SEO with Behavioral Analytics
In the next five years, I expect the SEO industry to transform with the increasing incorporation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in SEO strategies. While traditional SEO practices will remain important, there will be a shift towards embracing AI-driven approaches.
Using AI algorithms will play a role in refining search engine rankings by prioritizing user intent and delivering experiences. SEO professionals must adapt their strategies to keep up with evolving algorithms and meet user expectations.
Another anticipated change is the shift in focus from keyword volume to behavioral analytics. This is already being seen towards the end of 2023, as organizations are working harder to bridge the gap between web traffic and SEO ROI. Data on behavioral analytics will become one of the significant areas of focus.