Predicting the future is usually something I do over the weekends, but I’ll give it a shot here in a little more of a professional manner.
Does anyone really know what the future of SEO is going to look like? Not really, but I have a few solid ideas. Honestly, everything we’ll be talking about today is more of a reality than it is a prediction. Based on my experience and what I have heard from SEO folks with more digital dexterity than I, the following SEO trends are hot hot hot:
- On-SERP Results
Boy oh boy, these are three large cans of worms to open at one time. I’d like to chat about just one of them today, On-SERP results, because it is definitely the most practical.
This one is a doozy. For those unfamiliar, SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page (the thing you are brought to after hitting enter on Google). Long story short, Google is basically giving the user everything they need to know about their query directly on the search results page. Google is using featured snippets, FAQ blocks, and other unique content types to pull words and pictures from websites and slapping it directly on the SERP.
Why is that a challenge for SEO marketers? No clicks to websites. Well, technically just less clicks to websites. We have seen this first hand with many of our local clients getting more visibility, but less engagement on the search results page.
For example, local searches like “Thai Food Portland” used to display links to offer the user the option to visit the website of the recommended businesses pretty easily. What does the experience look like now? The website links are buried underneath the local listing. I don’t know about you, but I would be more interested in comparing the restaurant reviews and photos directly from this view than to scavenge for their individual website URLs individually. Arguably, great for users in some cases and definitely bad for SEO marketers in all cases.
This goes way beyond local.
Google is slamming every industry with on-SERP results. From travel to entertainment, they are taking over pretty much everything.
So what are websites doing differently with SEO today than in years past?
Branding Comes First
Want to improve your chances of ranking well in the SERP for your target keywords? Become a brand. More specifically, become a brand that people talk about. Brand mentions across the web, even without backlinks, help robust search engines like Google better understand a site’s relevance and credibility. Better branding typically means better SEO. The rich get richer in this case.
The Money is on the Long Tail
If creating a household name brand is out the cards for you (as it is for most of us), consider making your site content “hyper-niche”. For example, if a user searches for “types of red overalls” a website that only discusses overalls with a blog post on different types red overalls may actually have a chance at outranking a name brand site in the SERPs.
Understand and Adapt to the SERPs
The SERPs are going to continue to change, that’s a fact. The sooner you understand how the SERPs are changing for you and your industry, the better chance you’ll have at adapting ahead of the competition. More video content showing up for your keywords? Create video content for your keywords. Are featured snippets getting in the way? You might need some structured data on your site. (you get the idea).
Interested in learning more about on-SERP SEO?
I saw Rand Fishkin, Moz Founder, speak at a conference last year and he talked all about on-SERP SEO. I couldn’t find the specific video from the conference I went to, but I did find another video of him speaking on the topic here. I highly recommend checking it out!