This article was co-authored with Benj Arriola, VP of SEO at Internet Marketing Inc.
It is not uncommon that many digital marketing professionals write about their SEO predictions in the beginning of the year. Some play it safe and state the obvious trends that will most likely become reality, while some make bolder claims at the risk of those events not materializing.
During a past speaking engagement at a global conference of Fortune 500 companies, Mr. Arriola was once asked what SEO will look like in the future. Mr. Arriola then asked the audience memberÂ if he could be more specific about what he meant by â€œthe future.â€ The gentleman clarifies by explaining that he didnâ€™t want to know about next year, but rather 10 or 20Â years from now.
Without having a SEO crystal ball and being at the mercy of search engine algorithm changes, we canâ€™t say what will happen with exact certainty. But the best indication of the future is often the patterns we see from the past. We know the reasons why many changes have occurred and can therefor use this as a foundation from which to make these ambitious claims of what SEO will be in the future.
We believe these 7 themes will define SEO ten years from now:
- Users will rely on specific niche search engines for certain topics. More webpages appear online every day at a rapid rate. More specialized search engines for different types of information will emerge and be preferred over search engines like Google Google. Amazon is a great example. More consumers are bypassing Google and going straight to Amazon for online purchases.
- Embedded online search in apps will be on almost any desktop and mobile application. Searching is already a part of almost any application today. We search email accounts due to the large volume we all receive on a daily basis. We search apps on our own phones because so many are installed. We search on our cloud drives and external drives. Data will be forever increasing and the need to search for information seamlessly will be more important in the future. SEO will extend beyond the search engines into everyday applications. Things to consider are how applications name documents by default. Names of apps should be accompanied with proper keyword research. We can also optimize for results in apps that look for supplemental information online. For example, searching an app on an iphone that is not installed will suggest results found online. If a company is promoting a similar app that can do the same task, theyÂ can potentially gain traffic from that search activity.
- SEO social media will further merge with traditional PR marketing practices. Old SEO tricks at the code level and spammy link building will continue to decrease. SEO will focus on the production of great content that can come in a number of mediums: textual, images, videos, interactive apps, and more. This is what traditional advertising experts are excel at; they just have to adjust it for the user behavior on the web. Link building will involve content promotion, influencer outreach, and relationship building. All the same tactics used in traditional marketing, but powered by new tools and social media. SEOs that do not evolve and understand the fundamentals of traditional marketing and storytelling will become obsolete.
- Social media sites that have everyday user functions will outlive others.
Social media will continue to be part of SEO in the future which makes this an important piece. Social media sites will continue to rise and fall over the coming decade. Sites like Facebook however that continue to improve technology for common usage will thrive. For example, people are starting to use Facebookâ€™s messenger phone app more than traditional SMS SMS messaging. Many online applications also use Facebook as a centralized holder of login information. Online forums will be gradually replaced by their Facebook group counterparts. This convenience is a big factor in adaption and retaining memberships. The more time users spend on these sites and apps the more likely they will see promoted content.
- Users will be increasingly more savvy making older online marketing tactics obsolete.
You may have heard the term â€œbanner blindness.â€ Users no longer respond in the same way to online display ads. While still valuable when supported with omni-channel analytics, tactics will have to evolve. Useful and compelling content will still be king. These savvy younger generations will be the online population majority soon, and targeting specific demographics with valuable content will be critical. In-depth research and strategy will be imperative.
- SEO will never be a popular professional degree in college. SEO as a career is already merging with other talents needed in marketing such as journalism, writing, creative and web development. Sure, there will always be certification courses available but it will never bloom into a bachelorâ€™s level degree. Developing a detailed curriculum that remains relevant would be almost impossible. Traditional marketing and computer engineering degrees will continue to remain most important in the SEO space.
Certain things will never change in SEO and thatâ€™s the intent of users, search engines and SEOs. Search engines change, user habits change, and therefor SEO will change along with it. Industry professionals sometimes refer to these changes as the â€œdeath of SEO.â€ Thatâ€™s not the case at all. Like all things, itâ€™s simply evolving.
Follow Brent Gleeson on Twitter at @BrentGleeson or view his website at www.brentgleesonspeaker.com.