Google’s Search Relations team gets together for a discussion on the future of SEO in the latest episode of the Search Off the Record podcast.

The team of Google’s John Mueller, Gary Illyes, and Martin Splitt talk about the changes they’ve seen in the past decade and anticipate what’s next for SEO.

More specifically, the three Google veterans touch on the following aspects of SEO and predict how important they’ll be within the next several years:

  • HTML
  • JavaScript
  • URLs
  • Meta tags
  • Structured data
  • Content
  • Voice search
  • And more

Here are all the highlights from the 45+ minute episode.

The Future Of HTML In SEO

Mueller suggests SEOs won’t need to learn HTML in the future as content management systems (CMS’s) become more adept at taking care of the technical aspects of a website.

“Well, I mean it’s like if you just have a a rich editor and you just type things in and then you format your text properly and you add some links. What do you need to do with HTML?”

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Illyes disagrees, saying SEO is more than just writing content. There are important elements of SEO that require some understanding of HTML, and that’s not likely to change in the future.

“But SEO is also about link tags and meta tags and title elements and all those weird things in the head section of the HTML that you can put there.

So you kind of want to know about them to control how your snippets look like or how your titles show up in search results and the rel canonical tag to control what will be the– or what should be the canonical version of a URL. You kind of want to know that.”

By the end of the discussion they’re all in agreement that HTML isn’t going anywhere as far as SEO is concerned.

The Future Of JavaScript In SEO

JavaScript may become more important to SEO in the future, but more on the progressive web app (PWA) side of things versus traditional websites.

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Mueller states:

“I think the user is kind of expecting to be able to use any app that they have in any platform, any device that they use. And it feels like that kind of work is going to continue as well. And probably, that means things like understanding JavaScript will become more and more important for SEOs as well…

But it probably also means that a lot of these apps suddenly have to think about SEO in general. Like what do they actually want to have findable on the web, because in the past, they were just apps.”

The Future Of URLs In SEO

Mueller brings up the topic of URLs and whether they might go away in favor of entities or IP addresses.

Illyes says he doesn’t see URLs going away any time soon:

“Fortunately, URLs cannot go away… At least not in the foreseeable future, because the URLs they are the
standard way to communicate addresses on the Internet. And without that the Internet is just not the Internet.

The same way domain names cannot go away because of how the Internet is built or IP addresses cannot go away because of how the Internet is built. The same way URLs cannot go away.”

The Future Of Meta Tags In SEO

Mueller asks if there’s a possibility more meta tags may be introduced in the future.

Splitt immediately shoots down that idea, saying there’s almost never a good reason to introduce a new meta tag:

“I hope that we are not introducing more meta tags. And usually, when you see internal threads about, like, this search team wants to introduce a new meta tag. Then usually both John and I jump on that thread and we are pushing back quite aggressively because there’s very rarely a good reason to introduce a new meta tag.”

The Future Of Structured Data In SEO

Will there ever be a point in the future where Google doesn’t need structure data to understand what’s on a page?

Splitt says Google is almost at that point already, but structured data is still helpful and recommended:

“I’m pretty sure we can understand: Oh, this is a product, and the product’s name is this and the product’s price is that and this is a product image.

But it is kind of nice to have this explicit machine-readable information where you can say: “Oh, so they specifically want us to think of it as a product.” It’s basically a glorified meta tag…”

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The Future Of Content In SEO

Mueller brings up the topic of text generation algorithms and whether SEOs will even need human writers in the future.

Illyes has so much to say on this subject that he believes it should have its own podcast episode.

In short, Illyes sees potential in machine generated content and says it can be indistinguishable from content written by humans at times.

However, Google doesn’t want to rank machine generated content in search unless it has been reviewed by humans.

“I think that could be a topic on its own for a future podcast episode because we can see the pros and the cons of machine-generated content, and we are quite strict about what we allow in our index.

But on the flip side, you can also see very good and smart machine-generated—I don’t know if smart is a good word, but very intelligent machine-generated content…

Right now, our stance on machine-generated content is that if it’s without human supervision, then we don’t want it in search. If someone reviews it before putting it up for the public then it’s fine.”

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The Future Of Voice Search In SEO

Voice search is unlikely to be the next big thing in SEO, so don’t worry too much about learning how to optimize for it.

When asked about voice search, Splitt says:

“Oh God, the future that never will be. I think no, because if we learn anything—I remember a bunch of years ago, people were like: Oh, we’ll stop using keyboards and just do voice.

And I think that has been a recurring theme from the 90s. But I think in the future, it won’t change and will naturally or magically become the number one thing that we need to worry about, simply because it changes the input modality, and it changes probably how queries are phrased, but it doesn’t change the fundamental use of natural language to retrieve information from the Internet.

So I think you don’t have to worry too much about it, to be honest, but that’s maybe just me.”

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Listen to the full podcast episode below:

Source: Search Off The Record


Featured Image: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock





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By Rose Milev

I always want to learn something new. SEO is my passion.

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