The future of SEO is hidden in plain sight. Digital agencies, like ours, that lead the way, improve SEO processes & deliver meaningful client outcomes are the ones worth partnering with. All the rest will be left in the dust.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) (check out EngineRoom's SEO services) has earned a notorious reputation for constant algorithm updates, shifting goalposts, and a general, ever-present uncertainty around what kind of return it can deliver.
So it may seem contradictory to write a post on the future of SEO in the face of such uncertainty and an ever-moving landscape.
But here’s the thing…
Search engines exist to serve one goal: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible.
That’s been Google’s goal for over 25 years.
All its algorithm updates and changes over the years have taken place to help it deliver this goal better.
Where most digital agencies and SEO service providers go wrong is relying on legacy cookie-cutter processes, trying to “game the system” or developing “weird tricks” for getting to position one overnight.
In my work as a senior SEO consultant and adviser to multiple 7 and 8-figure agencies, I’ve seen how many SEO services are delivered behind the scenes. My specialty has been in future-proofing SEO results so that (as an industry) we deliver greater value and returns to clients and searchers alike.
At EngineRoom, I lead the content division so we deliver quality, helpful content each and every time, even in an era ruled by AI-generated content.
This article shares the secret sauce to how our efforts compound year on year and our clients see remarkable exponential growth like this…
Here are my insights on the future of SEO, the strategies that will actually move the needle, and how to make sure you come out on top even in the face of future algorithm updates.
Uncommon Opinion: What SEO is really about hasn’t changed in over 25 years
If you’ve got some skin in the SEO game, you’re probably already familiar with the idea that SEO comes down to keywords, content, links, and technical performance.
What most SEO guides typically don’t cover (but really should) is the impact of user experience, user signals, and user interactions on rankings.
Notice a bit of a pattern there?
It’s no coincidence. People are at the heart of everything Google does, so a people-focused SEO strategy is sure to win now and in the future.
Google’s latest antitrust legal battles have resulted in documents about how search works being released publicly. In these documents, it’s made abundantly clear that how users interact with search results influences rankings.
People, not algorithms, is what SEO is really about and it really pays to remember that.
Pandas & penguins — To understand future SEO opportunities, we must look to the past
SEO has a rather shady past. There was a “Wild West” era where spammers ran amok ruining search experiences the world over. SEO practices shared by some bad actors of the time still linger today and, unfortunately, form a staple part of many SEO agency processes.
Given Google’s biggest priority is to improve search, it needed to do something to stay ahead of the spammers. Hence its algorithm updates.
In so doing, it has secured itself as the market-leading search engine, to the point we have turned its brand name into a verb!
When was the last time you Yahoo’d something? What about when you last asked Jeeves?
Google avoided the fate of such search engines by prioritising users and actively fighting against web spam or people who try to manipulate its search results.
As a business owner, understanding this history can help you do your due diligence on SEO service providers.
As an agency or SEO service provider, this history is crucial to remember, and here’s why.
- It’s most likely that your team members were not working in SEO back in 2011 when algorithm updates first made an appearance.
- They may know that Google released updates like Panda and Penguin (and many others since) but not necessarily what they targeted.
- With the AI era booming, you may be tempted to repeat mistakes of the past or your team may unknowingly move in such a direction.
For instance, low-quality content has been on Google’s radar for well over 10 years with the early iterations of the Panda update:
Fast-forward to 2022 and Google implemented the first iteration of its “Helpful Content Update” with the same goal in mind.
Sure, over the last decade, changes have taken place around what quality content looks like — especially since AI came onto the scene. But it’s common sense that if “content farming” was outlawed by Google in 2011, it will continue to be outlawed in the future.
What’s surprising is just how many agencies still rely on this tactic for their clients!
All because they haven’t learned from past algorithm updates. For the industry experts and SEO agencies who actively raise the bar on quality, like our team at EngineRoom, the latest updates simply boost performance and we welcome the benefits our clients enjoy as a result.
Actionable tips to future-proof your SEO strategy
So by now, it should be fairly clear that the future of SEO has got less to do with algorithms and everything to do with people. With that in mind, here are our top tips for future-proofing your SEO strategy.
- Start by building a credible brand
Credibility is a challenging thing to earn online. However, there are many things you can do to improve it.
The classifiers Google looks for include a tangible demonstration of experience, expertise, authority and trustworthiness (EEAT).
- Write content that gives people what they want
It’s easy to fall into the trap of putting words on a page to meet an arbitrary word count set by some SEO tool or another. Creating content for content’s sake is a waste of time and budget.
Instead, focus on establishing a clear brand voice and delivering value with every page you publish. Make an effort to differentiate yourself from AI-generated content.
And most importantly, give people the answers or solutions they’re looking for.
- Establish partnerships with others who can benefit from your expertise
Many link-building tactics are outdated and only serve to manipulate Google’s rankings. However, if you establish partnerships with reporters, journalists, and writers who share opinions or do data studies in your industry, you can earn legitimate links that also expose your brand to new audiences.
For example, as part of our Digital PR service, we connected with the editors at Mamamia and opened up the opportunity for one of our clients in the drug rehab space to share insights and advice on heroin addiction in Australia.
- Improve the user experience of your website
If it’s been a little while since your website was built, it may be time for a refresh. Starting with SEO will help shape the direction of the site and give it the best chance it has for future-proofed success with search engines.
However, user experience is a huge part of that success. There’s nothing worse than a searcher clicking on your website but then immediately hitting the “back” arrow and clicking on a competitor instead.
Investing in good website design keeps visitors engaged and increases your conversions; there’s no doubt about it.
Don’t go chasing algorithms: The future of SEO is hidden in plain sight
The future of SEO really is hidden in plain sight. Sure algorithm updates will keep happening, but their role is to adapt search results to better meet the needs of searchers.
The more you meet searcher’s needs and prioritise people as part of your strategy, the better off you’ll be in the long run.
If you’d like to partner with an agency that has your long-term success in mind and also helps you track your return on every marketing dollar you spend, book a call with one of our Senior Digital Advisors today!