It is always a matter of debate whether SEO is there to stay or not. Search Engine Optimization tactics have so far been the reason why certain websites rank well while others don’t. It’s a question that’s immensely important for people who plan to have a career in SEO. To put it in a straightforward manner- SEO is here to stay.
However, what’s continuously changing is what kind of SEO tactics work for people at a certain point in time. SEO has been dynamic ever since its inception.
The reason we are here talking about the future of SEO is that there are many factors, including technology, algorithms, and many more that influence how SEO works. To make more sense out of it, let’s see how SEO has changed over the past few years, and then let’s move on to the future of SEO.
The Future of SEO in 2021: How SEO Has Changed Over Time?
As already discussed, there are some significant ways in which the way SEO applies to rank pages has changed over the last decade. Here are some of the changes we’ve witnessed:
KEYWORD STUFFING HAS DIED
Initially, as people figured out keywords help in ranking the content, the practice of keyword stuffing became a popular way of ranking the content.
However, the two major Google algorithm updates by Google- Panda and Penguin- focused on this practice and penalized all the websites engaging in keyword stuffing. Thus, keyword stuffing is no longer a way through which you can make your content rank better.
The way keywords work to help the content rank better changed even more after the Hummingbird update. Semantic search has been introduced, and user intent is of great importance. The meaning of the keyword is the primary focus rather than using a matching keyword.
MOBILES HAVE COME INTO THE PICTURE
Two decades ago, we could’ve never imagined how mobile phones or any device other than the desktop would be useful in doing searches on Google or any search engine. But here we are, holding phones in our hands to conduct most of the searches that we make on the internet.
Since a majority of people look up information using their mobile devices, Google has also started ranking websites better when they are optimized for mobile phones. This is in a constant effort to make the task of searching and accessing information easier for the users.
LOCAL SEARCHES HAVE BECOME DOMINANT
The Pigeon update made local searches enter the picture, and soon, local SEO experts realized how optimizing a website for local searches can work as a Holy Grail. This was when people started listing their website on online directories. Ever since this update was made, Google ranks directory websites with high authority.
If you optimize your website for local keywords and focus on Google My Business, you know your website would do a lot better. Thanks to the changes that happened over time.
CONTENT HAS BECOME MORE IMPORTANT
Back in the days when people were figuring out how to rank their site, spammy content and keyword stuffing were in trend. The Google Panda update not only put an end to keyword stuffing but also sent clear signals that spammy content was no longer welcome. Furthermore, these days, the content has to be unique for it to rank well. You have to offer something better than what your competitor has to offer.
In the initial days, when certain SEO practices were lauded, nobody would have imagined content marketing would be a thing.
Today, for people to call an SEO strategy ‘well-designed and planned,’ it is important to involve content marketing. There’s no doubt about the fact that content is king and content marketing is the queen of SEO.
VIDEOS HAVE BECOME INTEGRAL
A few years back, content and images were largely where most of the focus went in for providing information to the user. However, noticing a trend as to how videos are more preferred and how users access YouTube for info, video marketing has also become an integral part of SEO strategy.
How SEO Will Change In 2021? : Expert Predictions For Tomorrow
Most of the SEO experts believe that the coming years are bright for SEO. While SEO being dead is out of the question, a lot might change based on other technological changes. The reason why there’s so much change happening is due to the fact that SEO has become quite complicated over time.
Google started with a couple of ranking factors, and today, we have two categories of those factors (on-page, off-page) and so many subcategories.
It also makes sense since every other business out there wants to be on Google, as a result of which there’s a lot of crowding. To rank websites with all fairness, the evolution of the SEO factors with passing time is essential.
UX MIGHT PLAY A BIGGER ROLE
Most people would say that SEO is technically oriented, and there’s only a limited space for creativity and innovation. However, the way SEO has evolved over the years is proof of how SEO efforts have much to do with creativity. While there’s no denying technical stuff is a major part of SEO strategies, a search engine optimization is equally a form of art of knowing the search engine, knowing the audience, and striking a balance.
UX or user experience identifies aspects and works on them to provide users with the best experience. Today, Google prioritizes its audience, and constantly updates its algorithms to rank the best pages on the first page of the search results.
UX resonates with Google in this, and we are already seeing a change as to how UX has become a part of SEO.
In the future, as search engines and search results align themselves more with the user experience, we might witness UX become a compelling factor to do better SEO and rank better.
While your content and marketing can be impeccable, if you’re unable to engage users despite that, you won’t be able to progress. You can focus better on UX by using Google analytics.
AI MIGHT HELP RUN SEARCHES
AI has become a part of our everyday lives. Whether Alexa or Siri, artificial intelligence has made things easier for us. AI is already being used to provide users with better search results.
It considers the location, frequently visited websites, search history, and search pattern to get you the results. Since AI is involved in how we search and what the search results are displayed, they are sure to affect the ranking of websites.
RankBrain of Google came into existence in 2015. RankBrain was introduced in an effort to promote results based on search intent. Feeding data from various sources helps RankBrain in providing useful search results.
Therefore, the density of keywords used would be of lesser significance in the future. Instead, conducting proper keyword research, using a variety of keywords, and writing relevant content matters much more so that RankBrain analyzes the content better and ranks it accordingly.
This is why SEO will have to take AI into account to make pages rank better. To begin with, images and videos will have a huge impact on your rankings because AI makes it easy for search engines to understand what visual content is about. Visual content that is of contextual importance to the user’s search query will rank better. Therefore, when you create visual content, you have to be wise in using keywords, description, and tags.
INFLUENCERS WILL PLAY A HUGE ROLE
One of the biggest challenges of implementing any set of SEO strategies is that they don’t pay off immediately. You have to be very patient and wait for a few months to see if your SEO strategy becomes fruitful. There are too many websites, and out of hundreds of them, there are only about 10 websites on the first page. Imagine starting from scratch and having to outdo so many websites; it doesn’t happen that easily.
While your website would hardly be visible to people, having someone famous promote your site will at least draw people’s attention to it.
This is why the role of influencers in promoting websites has been trending currently. It’s safe to say that influencer marketing might take up an important place in SEO and digital marketing in the future.
When you establish a relationship with an influencer, it becomes easier to target a large number of people. Influencers are capable of helping you have more people to your website by creating a positive impression through a seemingly neutral review. It works even better if the influencer is from your niche and is a highly influential personality.
GOOD CONTENT WILL ALWAYS BE CRUCIAL
Over the years, various Google algorithm updates have focused on raising the benchmark for the quality of content on websites to rank. Today, you have to craft unique content that is relevant to what people are looking for. However, what’s in store for the future concerning content?
Good quality content will always be required. Videos and images are increasing in popularity among users. However, written content builds brand trust.
In the future, you might need to focus a lot more on the quality of content to ensure what you write builds trust and retains clients.
While content is here to stay, what may change is the way the keywords will be used in the content to make it rank. Various features that we have been talking about, like artificial intelligence and so much more, will impact the kind of content that will be preferred. One such example is voice search.
Since so many people are more likely to do voice search in the future, it’s important to write in a format that is voice search-friendly, for instance, headings being in question format.
COMBINATION OF FORMS OF CONTENT WILL BE THE HOLY GRAIL
Voice search is gradually becoming a more preferred way of running a search. With Alexa, Siri, and Cortana, it has become more than convenient to speak to your phone and ask it to provide you with results. Moreover, voice searches are the fastest way of making a query.
However, the fastest way of consuming information is through scanning written content. With that said, you know you can’t fire all your content writers in the future by saying you don’t need written content. However, it’s not going to be just about written content. In the coming times, you have to add a combination of content to your website to thrive.
If you’re adding video, podcasts, and written content to your website, people who prefer different forms of content would be attracted to your page. Thus, you’re targeting a vast number of people without disappointing people who prefer a particular format.
For people who have been wondering if SEO will even be alive after a few years, this major discussion about SEO makes it clear that it’s here to stay for a very long time in the future. While SEO is more clearly defined today, it’s most likely to become a combination of so many things in the coming times. However, adapting won’t be difficult because that is what SEO experts are great at. We have seen a significant change in how SEO works, and SEO experts have been doing great so far.
While we have talked about the various ways in which the future of SEO might change or progress, it’s not possible to make accurate conclusions. This is because we are in a time where every other day, we see something new happening.
Whether it’s a new Google algorithm update or new features and technology being rolled out, there is so much that SEO depends on. We can only make estimates as to where this road may go.
What’s important for online businesses is to realize that real efforts will always count, no matter how Local SEO and digital marketing changes in the coming years. If you’re adopting the best practices of the time, you won’t find it difficult to keep up with the changes or compete with other business owners on the internet.
Author Name: Shreya
Shreya is an ardent content writer and has been a part of the digital marketing industry for 2 years. Each day, as she learns new things about the digital marketing landscape, she puts her knowledge and experience to words to come up with helpful blogs.