Yes, I have picked this topic on purpose and the main reason is to start a conversation on the future of SEO. I’ve read a lot of ‘this person said this’ type articles, but no one seems to be venturing their own opinions on the future of SEO. So, I am going to do it! I will predict the future of SEO and it may be wrong, but if it is right, you read it here first!
Disclaimer: don’t be disappointed that I haven’t gone into the minute detail of every tiny SEO focus and task, we could be here for days. I know my own SEO team is going to be struggling not to ask a million questions starting with ‘What about this?’.
My prediction for the future of SEO is focused very much on the EAT acronym (Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness) and the old-school SEO fundamentals that will never change. But before I reveal all – let me tell you what’s not going to be quite so important.
AI is going to change SEO forever
I am really going after the provocative titles. I don’t mean to teach anyone how to suck eggs, so I’ am not going into the deep dark depths of AI. From an SEO perspective, AI can now create a huge amount of content at a rate that humans simply can’t match. This means that with some attention, a website can massively increase their content volume, especially around the real ‘edge case’ content opportunities.
This makes it a level playing field from a content perspective, with everyone being able to create the same content. If anything, it makes content less valuable because it isn’t unique. So surely Google cannot put the same value on content as it did before? How can you stand out when everything is the same? Content is king, eh?
Links are outdated and dead
The bane of every SEOs life has been link-building. I could write a book on how much I hate link-building, and how unfair it is. I totally understand why Google used links as a ranking system, but really this was ruined when people started gaming the system with link farms and spinning up a web of new domains that all link back to your website. Yes, they managed to stop that particular practice, but some websites still rank well even when they’ve got an awful backlink profile – which is really annoying with the promises of penalisation!
Surely Google now has to admit that links just don’t work as a primary ranking factor anymore. Of course, they still work to build trust, but as SEOs, deep down we all knew backlinking was ruined when all our prospects knew worked out what we were doing. This stopped people from adding links to ‘useful content’ because they truly believe it was good content because they knew that it would benefit SEO, or even worse, they could potentially leverage some money!
Now, it doesn’t matter how good the story or content is, you try and get a backlink for free from a website that publishes anything. Google set up links as a ranking factor at a time when people were unaware of the true benefits of SEO, but times have changed. Links are dead!
My SEO prediction for the future
Drum roll please…….don’t do it. I am joking and that would not be my advice or my prediction. SEO will always be valuable. Gaining SEO traffic in the future will be very different to how it is now.
Prediction Part 1: Fundamentals
The SEO fundamentals and foundations that we have been talking about since the dawn of SEO, and especially with Core Web Vitals, will be more important than ever. The user will always be at the heart of everything Google wants to achieve.
User experience will leap-frog ranking factors such as backlinks, and measures of how a user interacts with your website will be absolutely critical. Companies will be paying for constant and ongoing UX and CRO, which will replace link-building investment.
The foundations of your website will be even more important than they are now. It annoyed me five years ago when a client would say that their website speed is just as good as their competitors’. The future of SEO will be about who can get their CWV score to 100/100 for desktop and mobile.
Prediction Part 2: The big one
If AI can write content quicker and better than a human, it’s low cost, and everyone has access to it,; how can you stand out? My prediction says that content isn’t king anymore – well, great content isn’t king anymore.
SEO fundamentals weren’t a big part of this prediction, what’s coming next is. There is one thing that our AI friend can’t do, and that is to tick off the full EAT acronym. I’m really surprised that SEOs aren’t shouting about it. Or, perhaps some of them do know about it, and now that I’ve told everyone they will be coming after me.
AI can create content with expertise, and it can create content with authority, but can it create content that is considered trustworthy? I don’t think it can. The content that we trust comes from reputable sources, and when I say that, I mean people. My prediction is simple:, Google will place all of its SEO love on content that has opinions because, let’s be honest, that’s what we want to read.
Factual content is great, but again, AI can do that. What I want is to read what someone actually thinks about a topic. I don’t mind if that is a celebrity, an industry leader, or even ‘just’ a business leader – it is the opinion that counts.
As SEOs, our focus will be to secure these opinions and I imagine Google will add more ‘weight’ to opinions that come from more coveted individuals. Therefore, we should also work with our clients on building their own personal brands, their social following and the content that they write.
We all know that social media is in Google’s exhaustive algorithm, but I have no doubt that Google will enhance this and utilise it so that it will rank websites based on the strength of the opinions within the content.
Future SEO success will rely on two key things. Firstly, the one that won’t change: strong SEO fundamentals. Make sure your website foundations and user experience are incredible. Secondly, the most controversial and provocative prediction: , trustworthy content is going to be the number one reason why your SEO traffic will rank and grow, because AI can’t match it.
Opinions matter. Create content based on the views of thought leaders and enhance the personal brands of your clients and /colleagues so that they become thought leaders in their own right.
Then watch your SEO flourish.