Search, and the way we search in general, is evolving so fast that sometimes it feels like everything has changed in the blink of an eye. And the last 1-1.5 years have seen some particularly impactful transformations in SEO, from helpful content updates to the emergence of Google SGE, not to mention the impact of AI on search.
But how can you adapt to this fast-changing environment to gain/maintain a competitive advantage/leadership?
How to adapt your SEO strategy to prepare for the year ahead?
1. Users first
All signs point to search engine optimisation becoming even more user-centric, ethical and advanced.
This is because artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning adaptations allow search engines to better understand the intent behind user searches and return more relevant results.
Google prioritises Experience, Expertise, Experience and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T), the production of quality content. (We have written a detailed article about E-E-A-T, which you can read by clicking on the link.)
And artificial intelligence (such as chat adapted for Bing) makes SEO a much more interactive experience.
2. The Google Search Generating Experience (SGE)
The Search Generative Experience (SGE) is Google’s AI-powered search experience. Since we’ve already written about it in more detail (it’s worth a read to get the picture), we’ll just touch on it briefly here.
Google SGE provides AI-generated results for many search queries, which appear at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs).
For now, it is only available in the US, but if it becomes more widespread, it will fundamentally change the way people interact with Google and how they search.
And of course, it will also change the way websites are search engine optimised, as the goal is still to drive organic visitors.
The essence, or quintessence if you like, of SGE is to provide clear, concise answers to user questions, with relevant visual elements and an interactive model.
However, the SGE is not a chatbot like ChatGPT, but rather an enhanced, extended search assistant that better understands searches and provides more human results.
How should we prepare for this?
It’s too early to give foolproof tips on how to optimise content for Google SGE.
However, it is almost certain that there will be a preference for content that responds directly, yet comprehensively, to user questions.
The artificial intelligence-based content generated by the SGE will also include links to relevant content and resources. However, it remains unclear what factors influence the links that appear next to the snippet.
So far, early tests show that content that contains reviews or tests (i.e. direct experience of a service or product) is preferred. Direct, clear, simple language is also important, as is writing by a professionally credible author. In addition, sharing new information with the target audience is a priority.
These should also be incorporated into your existing SEO strategy.
3. Zero click searches
One of the biggest nightmares of SEO professionals and website owners, which unfortunately happens often, especially in SGE. These are searches in which the user does not click on any of the results displayed. Mostly because the snippets contain enough information to make a user scroll down or start another search.
They may also include:
- local businesses or services
- information about celebrities
How to prepare for all this?
The fear is not unfounded, but fortunately it is avoidable. The way to transform content and the strategy behind content production is to build keywords around the snippets you highlight.
This is because you are more likely to appear in a prominent position, and users are already somewhat familiar with your brand.
In addition, it is worth not only focusing on organic results, but also expanding your marketing strategy to other channels, such as:
- közösségi média,
- e-mail marketing,
- various forums (such as Reddit, Quora, etc.)
4. Video SEO
People are eating up video content like never before, and search engines have noticed.
The Wyzowl Video Marketing Statistics 2023 report contains some interesting information:
- 51% of people are more likely to share video than any other type of content.
- 91% of international businesses will use video as an online marketing tool more than ever before in 2023
- 89% of people say that watching a video convinced them to buy a product or service
In addition, Wyzowl reports that 70% of those who have not yet produced video content said they plan to introduce video into their marketing strategy in the near future.
So you can expect more and more videos and more and more competition. And that’s when YouTube SEO becomes very valuable.
5. Link building is constantly being refined
Link building has been an integral part of SEO for decades.
Inbound links (or backlinks) are valued by Google as a form of trust.
When another website links to your website, it essentially says that they trust your site and its content.
Therefore, the more backlinks a website receives, the higher it will rank in the SERPs, and even higher if the links come from relevant and credible websites.
However, while the same concept remains, the way Google evaluates these links has changed significantly in recent years.
In the past, link building was mostly a numbers game: the more links you have, the better.
However, Google’s algorithm has become much more sophisticated over the years in understanding the quality and context of links, so the focus has shifted to the quality and relevance of links rather than the quantity.
This means that if you have, for example, a basketball-related website, a single link from NBA.com will carry much more weight than 50 links from other random sites.
The linking system takes into account the entire network of links on the web, and by analysing this system and interconnection, the search engine can better understand the links between different websites.
In recent years, Google has refined this system to better understand the context behind each backlink and the quality of the web pages the links point to.
Thanks to this refined link system and the artificial intelligence technologies used in Google’s search algorithm, Google is much better at detecting spamming link building methods that contain low-quality links.
This artificial intelligence-driven algorithm analyses signals and patterns to distinguish between natural links and links created solely for the purpose of manipulating search rankings. As a result, Google is actively penalising sites (on both sides) with low quality or manipulative links, so it’s worth paying attention to this now.
6. Google and AI generated content
One of the core capabilities of LLMs like ChatGPT or Google Bard is that they can generate content (e.g. emails, social media posts, blog posts, etc.) much faster than any text writer or social. This raises the question of how Google and other search engines will handle this AI-generated content in their search algorithms.
Google has made it clear that its primary mission remains to provide quality content to users, and that it doesn’t particularly care whether the content is written by humans or generated by AI. Quality and relevance matter.
This means two things:
- Even if a piece of content is 100% AI-generated, it can still rank high in Google’s SERPs if it is relevant, authentic and valuable to human readers.
- We can’t get away with using AI-based content generation to circumvent the system without producing meaningful and substantive content.
While AI tools can help in creating drafts, SEO-optimizing content and performing analytics, it is not (at least for now) a substitute for content producers who deliver relevant and readable articles of value to readers.
SEO 2024 – Frequently asked questions
Will SEO still be around in five years?
In short: yes.
SEO will continue to exist and evolve, despite the many times it has been buried. Search engine optimisation has always adapted to technological advances and changing user searches.
Is artificial intelligence really the end of SEO?
One of the most common questions we receive and read in many forums. The answer is no, AI is not going to kill SEO.
Instead, it transforms it, as we see with AEO.
AI technologies like GPT-4 provide a more personalised user experience by automating tasks.
SEO professionals need to adapt and leverage AI to effectively optimise content and strategies. So SEO “doesn’t die, it just transforms”.
Is SEO still worth it in 2024?
Absolutely. SEO remains one of the most useful parts of marketing and will continue to be so in the future.
Methodologies may evolve, but optimisation for search engines will still be necessary. However, ongoing algorithm updates and changing user behaviour will require SEO professionals to take a more strategic approach to search engine optimisation than ever before.