Search engine optimization (SEO) is, by far, one of the most foundational elements of successful digital marketing. Solid SEO strategies can give you the visibility you need, just as a poorly executed SEO campaign is nothing but a waste of your marketing budget.

That said, SEO is ever-changing, and new trends emerge every year. For this reason, it’s important to keep up with all the innovative approaches in SEO to understand the industry’s current state – and its future. Here are some predictions:

AI Will Be a Major Part of SEO

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for some time, but marketers have used it extensively only recently. That is not to say it hasn’t been leveraged in the past. In fact, the reason for its fast-growing popularity is the significant traction it has gained in the last decade or so. What’s even more interesting is that AI will likely be a major part of SEO and will only continue to develop in the next few years.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of AI and machine learning is their versatility. AI isn’t used for one purpose only – it can be applied to different aspects of your digital marketing and can benefit SEO in different ways. Visual content needs to be optimized for search engines just as much as text, making AI-powered tools important for analyzing different types of content to help with further optimization.

In addition to all of that, Google’s RankBrain is picky with the content it favors. The AI-powered algorithm tends to choose content with high quality and relevance, which is why it is increasingly important to incorporate these alongside your SEO-specific elements, like keywords. In other words, you need to create content that is rich with the right keywords while also providing value to your audience.

There Will Be Even More Focus on Mobile SEO

Much like how the AI-powered algorithms are changing the way content can rank, consumer habits are changing the way marketers approach content creation. A huge portion of all searches is now done on mobile devices, requiring various elements of a website to be mobile-optimized, including content.

Optimizing your website only for desktop computers will be counterproductive. Not only are you providing a poor customer experience to mobile users, but you are also preventing your site from showing up in mobile search results.

Conversely, if you do optimize your website for mobile, you reap the rewards in three ways:

  • Not all of your competitors will have mobile-optimized sites, and having a mobile-ready, mobile responsive storefront could easily set you apart from the rest.
  • You will increase your exposure by showing up in mobile searches and get through to more potential customers.
  • You will be updating your SEO according to the latest standards and preventing stagnation in your SEO strategy.

Content Will Be All About the Buyer

It goes without saying that your content needs to correspond with your target audience’s interests, needs and pain points. Yet, many content marketers focus their messaging on the brand or the products they are promoting. Therein lies the danger. Content that reads too salesy is the fastest way to turn your potential customers away.

It’s not just about stuffing your content with relevant keywords or trying to outsmart search engines using questionable SEO tactics. On the contrary, the more you invest in your content’s quality, the better it will be received by your target audience. The better your content is received, the better it performs, and the more people will see it. And the more people see it, the better for your marketing strategy overall.

If you’ve done your research, you will know what problems your customers are struggling with. Address these pain points. Solve them. Offer something of value your audience won’t be able to resist. Show them that they can’t miss out on your offer.

Video Content Will Still Be Front and Center

As mentioned earlier, Google is getting smarter at analyzing all types of content. Because visual content has grown popular, AI-powered tools have emerged to help analyze visual content and optimize it for search engines. Currently, video is the most preferred form of content, and this trend is projected to continue into the future.

If you think about it, YouTube itself is a search engine. Considering how many searches are made on YouTube daily, it’s safe to say it’s one of the biggest, too. But videos can be used in your strategy even without the involvement or heavy reliance on YouTube as a platform for promotion or video hosting. Remember that you can incorporate visual content into your overall campaign without focusing your entire digital marketing strategy strictly on video.

As content experts from a custom writing reviews site explain, “iI’s important to have video as a part of your strategy in some way. You should optimize your video content for search engines just like you do with everything else – keywords and the like. Consider embedding videos on the key pages on your website and use them on your landing pages for different campaigns.”

Voice Search Will Gain More Traction

Voice search is a combination of the two major SEO trends we just mentioned. It is connected both to the widespread use of AI and mobile optimization. Users who regularly perform searches on their mobile devices are the same people using voice search more often today. It’s only natural that voice search is on a similar upward trend as AI and mobile use.

What’s interesting is that the popularity of voice search is directly tied to voice assistants. From Apple’s Siri to Google Assistant to Amazon’s Alexa to Microsoft’s Cortana, there are so many options to choose from that pretty much anyone can start using a virtual assistant right away. And when someone does start using a voice assistant, it usually involves anything from “play song X” to “what’s the weather tomorrow?”

Obviously, the second function is what you should be aiming for. When someone asks for information from a virtual assistant, the assistant will perform a search (e.g., Google Assistant will Google the information). Start optimizing your content not just for keywords like “toothpaste for sensitive teeth,” but also for queries like “which toothpaste is good for sensitive teeth?”

Backlinks Will Get More Attention

One major element of SEO that has been around for ages is backlinking. With a strong link profile, your website and its separate web pages could rank extremely high in search results. With search engine algorithms getting smarter, backlinks will start getting even more attention.

Keep in mind both the cumulative power of a number of backlinks and the impact a single high-quality backlink can make. Even one backlink from a top-tier, authoritative site in your niche can boost your website’s SEO profile. Instead of trying to get as many backlinks as you can from dodgy websites, try to get a few from higher-quality sites.

It’s also a good idea to get more selective with your link building. If you set higher standards for the links you choose, whether these are backlinks or external links, you will be able to select the ones that effectively enhance your SEO profile. This is especially important for linking to external resources because linking to untrustworthy resources will only serve to damage the reputation you’ve worked hard to build.

Multi-Channel Marketing Will Be More Prevalent

Last but not least, SEO is becoming more diversified, paving the way for the dominance of multi-channel marketing.

When you structure your digital marketing strategy around multiple channels, you get the opportunity to cross-promote on these channels. In other words, you can boost your website’s SEO with the help of your social media, while improving your social media marketing with your email campaigns.

Multi-channel marketing does require more planning and organization. But when executed well, it can bring massive benefits to your bottom line. 

Final Thoughts

As SEO continues to be the foundation of digital marketing for many years to come, always be ready for the trends that crop up along the way. Being able to adapt to the changes is only the way to future-proof your SEO campaigns and ensure the success of your online business.

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By Margaret Blank

At the moment I am an expert-analyst in the field of search engine optimization, leading several projects and consulting on website optimization and promotion, I am actively involved in various thematic seminars and conferences.

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