Some of the changes that SEO may move towards …
1- Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) will continue to become more and more personalized, lowering the value of rank tracking- There will still be value to understanding what ranks if a new user is using a new machine, but it will have less and less correlation with how many clicks you get, as user intent, geo location, current trends and more will increase in weight.
2- User satisfaction signaling will continue to advance- Right now I feel that Click Through Rate (CTR), bounce, time on site, etc are used as primitive proxies. But I see this trend continuing as Google acquires more and more data and is better able to process it into meaningful signals it can incorporate into its algorithm.
3- Google will continue it's war on SEO users, making most SEO efforts ineffective if not intentionally counter productive- This will open new opportunities to those who are intelligent enough to think with high levels of abstraction, but will decimate the thousands of 'SEO users' that provide services to most smaller businesses.
4- Hiring an 'SEO' will continue to make less and less sense- In the place of SEO users who will get crushed we will see more and more the rise of digital marketing professionals who have a holistic understanding of 'web presence effectiveness', those who understand Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), technical SEO, reputation management, how servers/Domain Name System (DNS) works, email marketing, user funnels, etc.
5- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will be less and less a game apart from creating a digital based business and will be more and more similar to say- Business Development and Product Management. For too long SEO has been a way for ineffective businesses to stay afloat using algorithm hacks. As the market becomes more efficient (for everyone) and transparent (for Google), the best will conquer and consolidate while the rest will wither.
6- Google will continue to try to move away from their original PageRank (PR) system which continues to dominate- As we have seen with Google My Biz (GMB), Google is seeking to 'understand' the web more and we will see these elements weighed more with general Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Maybe incorporating more author 'trust' (something we know they tried with Google +), and other non-link based methods of inferring authority. I wouldn't be surprised if Google would start to show the school in the richer ZIP code before the one in the poorer one, or other such methods of classification that are currently used by humans to prioritize listing. Basically, if an insurance company is inferring something from a data point, it makes sense Google might want to also experiment with it.
7- Continuing on with #6, I think user activity in real world situations will have more bearing on Google search- So if a restaurant has 30 people inside it at dinner and another 10, Google might infer that the restaurant with 30 people inside it will be more relevant to people searching in that area. This can have far reaching implications, especially when combined with prediction #1 and 2.
I see this as an opportunity to redefine what an SEO company does for a client. Instead of manipulating, they can help businesses understand how to reach more clients.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services aren't going away anytime soon. A plumber doesn't have the know-how or the time to setup a Google search console or an analytics tracking code to his wix website.
Not just that, but they'll have to move towards Local SEO, and possibly some paid ad campaigns as well to become a more integrated marketing services provider.
It's starts making more sense to spend $700 a month on AdWords campaigns instead of $700 a month for an SEO company to do something for you.
For small business of course. Hiring the real SEO people probably costs too much to be worth it.
That's true. Anybody worth their salt in SEO in … isn't going to work at $500-1000 unless they are working to build just 1 power page a month and provide some recommendations.
I agree with 4 and 5, although I would say that a good SEO already understands search engine optimization as a marketing function and should already take into account Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), technical SEO, branding, reputation management and everything else you mentioned. There has been far too much emphasis on 'gaming the system' rather than understanding SEO as a part of an overall marketing strategy.
This is why I've always looked at black-hat SEO as a way for individuals to basically say "I'm not very good at my job."
Great bit of insight and it aligns with my philosophy greatly. If Google is indeed looking to cut out SEO users (by rolling back the effectiveness of techniques they employ) then the logical reasoning is to increase Pay Per Click (PPC) sales.
The problem that comes with that is Google can't replace the 10 blue links with more ads, it would render the experience akin to yellow pages and as bitter SEO users help businesses and content creators realize they can't rank their content anymore, they'll stop allowing it to be indexed by Google in favor of a more level playing field.
This would lead to a Search Engine Result Page (SERP) full of ads and corporate content partners and would quickly become a ghost town as people migrate elsewhere. Honestly, now would be a great time for providers like Duck Duck Go to step in with a smear campaign that illustrates the 'walled garden' Google's created and start culling users by saying "we're fair over here".
Useful info thanks for sharing. I agreed from few points but not agree that the hiring of SEO will be less. The world is becoming digital, and year … can be boom for many SEO professionals as Artificial Intelligence (AI) is demanding, algorithms are more AI based, Google focus on understanding user and started giving preference to user experience. Everyone has no knowledge about basic to advanve SEO, marketing skill and to take any business to next level we need both.
Everyone wants to run their business online everyone font know about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & digital marketing . So, I am very positive that 2020 can be a great opportunity for many of us.
I'm also one for doom and gloom when it comes to the SEO status quo. Google hates us, wants to replace us (with itself.) That said…
Reputation management (ie. hiding bad shit people say about your client and/or getting people to say good stuff) AND on-page technical tricks will be the answer.
I've been preaching that Search Engine Result Page (SERP) personalization will be the death of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as we know it for a while now. You can have 2 computers on the same wifi next to each other and the results are likely to be different because the computer owners are different.
Sorry to burst your bubble. I've been in the game for 20 years and this exact list (or some very close variation of it) comes out every couple years.
• more personalized SERPs – we've had those for years. doesn't diminish the impact of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
• user satisfaction signals – again had those for years hasn't had a verifiable impact on rankings.
• war on SEO users – if you follow all of google's suggestions when it comes to SEO then you are in the wrong game. Google needs SEO users otherwise it doesn't work
• hiring an seo makes less sense – again. I've heard this before over and over and over. But it still makes sense to most businesses who realize that simply having "great content" isn't enough to get rankings
• seo a game apart – well this too has been happening for years. Just a few years ago, web designers never advertised SEO or even Pay Per Click (PPC) as part of their offering. Now many digital firms bundle SEO into their offerings. The biggest question is how well they can do it. Just because someone offers SEO doesn't make them an SEO.
• move away from PR – I assume that means PageRank. This is pretty much impossible. It is the core of the ranking algorithm. You remove PR and you remove Google's advantage (however slight it is)
• real world activity affects rankings – I've been waiting for this one since about 2003-2004. Still not happening. Privacy laws around the world make this one an impossibility.
I've done SEO for like…a few months? And even I recognize that these are the same old predictions as always.
7 is also especially concerning for winner-bias. If your store has more people in it, being shown more favorably will lead to.. more people. How do you catch up?
Ideally, you don't need an SEO at all.
• Your web developers should understand how search engines work, what they look for when evaluating a page, and how to make a technically sound website.
• Your marketing team should use search traffic as a metric for demand and SERP results as a metric for intent… then integrate that into their overall marketing strategy.
• Your writers should understand the criteria used by different publishers when creating content for them – email, newspaper, flyer, Facebook, search, Amazon page, etc.
Both most companies utterly fail at one or more of these things. So you need someone, lets call em an SEO, that understand what is important and works to get the folks above to do the right thing. Add in the fun fact that attrition on most of these marketing/dev teams is two years or less…
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