A guest post by Nikolay Stoyanov.
Internet is constantly changing.
Last couple of years were especially turbulent as we noticed a serious shift towards mobile devices. At the same time, technology used by search engines such as Google has drastically improved so in future, we may expect whole process to be automated.
Although some SEOs may say that this is the end for optimization, there will always be opportunities to improve rankings and thus traffic of a site. Still, there is a debate in terms of what this future will look like.
No matter what, techniques that are being used will adapt to this newfound situation. For now, we can speculate based on all the changes that we’ve seen recently.
Let’s check the most important innovations that happened as of late.
What is inside?
Regardless of your SEO knowledge or experience within the field, it is necessary to place Google RankBrain algorithm at number one. This update was so severe that it might affect, not only search engines, but other informational systems as well.
RankBrain is a machine learning system. It is used by Google search engine and it helps sort the results. It uses users’ feedback in form of clicks, time spend on a website, dwell time, bounce rate etc. If your pages are able to get good stats and satisfy users’ query, Google will continue placing your content among top SERPs.
Last time we got news from Google, this system was still in its trial form (that was during 2016). It was mainly used for ambiguous and rare queries. These queries make a small percentage of overall queries but still, there was enough of them to make some basic assessments.
It is uncertain at which stage is RankBrain project. Google might be using it for all queries, who knows? One thing which is important is that RankBrain presents an important switch from traditional search engine to automated, machine-learning based one.
When it comes to SEO, focus will probably change. So, instead of getting links through quality relationships with other bloggers, we will have to satisfy users instead.
#2. Mobile-friendly approach
The funny thing is that people still talk about mobile-friendliness as if mobiles are secondary to desktop. Instead, we should start talking about how to be desktop-friendly.
Why am I saying this?
As of late, Google will start using mobile version of a page as primary page. In other words, regardless of whether you’re accessing the internet from a desktop computer or mobile device, your mobile version of a page will always have a priority.
However, do not be concerned if you only have desktop page; you won’t get penalized and user will still see desktop version.
This is a clear indication in which direction the search engine is going. Of course, this is all based on users and their needs.
Have in mind that mobile devices have finally overtaken desktop computers in terms of web users. People are more likely to surf the internet from their phone than any desktop device. This change is also present in e-shopping: people use mobile devices much more often when purchasing online.
With all the being said, you cannot avoid having mobile pages. Mobile-friendliness is no longer a term – it is a reality.
#3. Video content
Content is cyclical. As soon as you start using an approach based on unique form of content to get links, this method soon becomes obsolete. This is mainly due to the fact that people are copying successful strategies and using them for their own good.
We constantly have to alternate between different methods and to invent new approaches.
In the last few years, video content has become more popular, both for users and search engines.
If you browse random queries, you might see much more YouTube videos among top Google results. This is connected to various things such as: increased use of mobile devices making it easier to watch videos instead of reading textual content, young generations growing up and are used to more interactive content, overall change in content popularity.
My prediction is that in the next few years you will be forced to start producing videos. Simply put, you cannot neglect the attention this type of content is getting.
If you’re already creating videos and are successful at it, you might consider adding explainer videos to your arsenal. Explainer videos or explainers are the news video form that last for couple of minutes and is meant to explain something.
It is great for certain industries that are pretty dry and focused on definitions. It gives your content another dimension and based on everything I’ve seen, they really convert well.
Here are some ideas on how to use the different animated explainers for your campaigns.
#4. Secondary channels
Given everything I’ve wrote so far, it is easy to see how the SEO profession will change.
Basically, we will need to have a good relationship with our readers in order to get the necessary attention and boost content stats. That being said, I need to place emphasis on social media.
Although there haven’t been many changes to social media (Facebook still rules with numerous platforms trying to catch up) you need to consider benefits of going social. Of course, every expert will tell you that you have to have a secondary channel besides your own blog. However, this is becoming more important now than ever before.
As we won’t be able to manipulate the search (if we presume that Google will be able to protect itself from artificial clicks) we will need to focus on readers and what they want to see. So, it will be link white hat link building where outreach is the most important part of the process. However, this will be done on a much larger scale.
There is a new wave of technology coming our way threatening to change the search forever.
My prediction is that user engagement factors will become irreplaceable. Of course, there are still some issues that Google will have to fix as these factors are easy to manipulate. We still need to see what future holds but there is a rocky road ahead of us.