Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results.
Here’s some of our collective thoughts on the future of SEO. We run analytics for over 150 clients of all stripes and can see trends over time. But this isn’t based on complied data like Slingshot’s awesome Click Through Rate study. These are theories, thoughts and hunches. Some are informed by research and experience and some are just gut feelings. Let us know what you think.
The future of SEO is Content
This is also the present and past but is increasingly important. There was a time when you could have crap content and still win searches since you had the right keywords on your website and enough off-site links. Google’s Panda updates have started closing that window. Now you actually have to (gasp!) create great, consistent, diverse and keyword relevant content - blogs, landing pages, videos, infographics, etc. There is no shortcut for great content, so make the investment because you’re going to need it for this next one...
The future of SEO is PR
In 2-3 years it will be hard to tell a PR company from an SEO company because they will be doing the same thing. Thanks to recent changes by Google that make “tricking” their algorithmn trickier, we are looking at a “new” era of SEO. New in the sense that dirty or “black hat” SEO’s will have to get on board with clean “white hat” SEO techniques and actually create real, quality content and have it picked up by real, quality websites (often blogs). Building relationships with influential bloggers so you can post on their website, or so they will review/feature your product/service is the key. That is why the future of SEO is PR.
The future of SEO is Usability
When you think about it Google and Bing are just trying to think like users. Search is Artificial Intelligence. So what do these humble users want? An easy to use to website. Don’t make me think - right? And I want the websites I visit to load quickly and be mobile friendly. Oh yeah, make sure you show me results based on my previous browsing history and current location- which is already happening most of the time.
The future of SEO is Social
Legitimate social signals are where it’s going. This is about trusted, known users creating content that references or links to your website or content. In the future look for signals like Klout scores to weigh heavily in how links from Social accounts are weighted.
The future of SEO is the Brand Digital Ecosystem
What’s that? It’s all of this stuff and more put together. It’s the sum of all digital activities that can be measured around your brand. If there is a signal that relates to your brand then chances are it’s being measured and weighted against other signals. How signals are weighted is Google’s secret sauce but we feel you should worry more about creating a healthy ecosystem and less about manipulating specific signals.
SEO has historically been a cat and mouse game with Google’s algorithm. But let’s face facts. Google’s computing power is growing exponentially and our window to influence search results solely with keywords and external links is closing. Yes these still and will matter but we predict they will continue to decrease in importance. If you want to lay the ground work for winning search in the future I suggest you do it right. Create and sustain a vibrant Brand Digital Ecosystem and your search engine traffic will start to take care of itself.