Web designers and marketers at every level are constantly trying to decipher large pieces of (often contradictory) data to figure out what the future of search engine optimization holds. They pore over Google’s press releases, study algorithm updates, and take deep dives into their web analytics to see if they can determine what the next big shift will look like.
What we’ve noticed recently, however, is that a lot of them are missing the point. When it comes to SEO and search visibility, the future is now. There are profound changes taking place, but most in our industry are too focused on small pieces of the puzzle to see the big picture. They are studying micro-trends while the ground moves beneath their feet.
When you stop obsessing about Penguins and Pandas, you begin to see that bigger concepts are transforming SEO from the bottom up. And, as per usual, there are going to be a lot of companies that are caught by surprise or swept away when the dust settles.
Are you ready for the near future of search engine optimization? Could you cope in an environment where traditional keywords and links don’t mean what they used to? To get to the answer, let’s look at seven trends that are likely to become a bigger part of daily reality for marketers in the coming months…
#1 Google’s Software is Becoming Self-Aware
Don’t get too worried – we aren’t suggesting Google’s supercomputers are going to wage a war with humanity, or eject you into deep space. However, marketers should be aware that artificial intelligence is guiding searches in new and innovative ways.
This is occurring both because the technology has arrived, and because the traditional foundation of search visibility through keywords and links is too easy to manipulate. And so, the engineers at Google are using some of the world’s most advanced computing power to evaluate search queries on a one-by-one basis.
Although it’s difficult to say much about the way Google’s artificial intelligence platform works from the outside looking in, the system seems to work in what is essentially a four-part process:
- First, a search query is presented by a user
- Then, Google’s AI tries to determine what the search really means (that is, what information the user actually wants)
- From there, search results are delivered in order of relevance and authority, with recency factored in as well
- And finally, Google’s AI watches the user interaction to determine whether the results delivered were appropriate or not
Two details of this process are critically important and deserve extra attention. The first is that Google’s computers look for search meaning through context, and may disregard keyword and link matches. The second is that the behavior that results from a given search could affect future searches, especially for other users with similar locations, demographics, or histories.
All of this is in stark contrast to the way Google and the other search engines used to work. Over time, however, it should deliver better, more relevant results with less reliance on traditional indicators of topic, quality, or context. In other words, it will learn from people instead of crawling through tags and meta descriptions as time marches on.