In today’s fast-paced digital world, every business craves that coveted top spot in Google’s search results. Every business owner knows the importance of being able to adapt as conditions change at break-neck speed all around us. As an award-winning SEO company that has helped thousands of business owners over the years, some trends are just destined to be the next big curveball sent our way. Businesses that can adapt to these changes, leveraging tools like ChatGPT and others yet to emerge, will be the ones to thrive in the competitive landscape of 2024 and beyond.
Here are some SEO trends we see as game changers in the new year, and for businesses willing to pivot, these things will be what sets them apart.
So, let’s get to it.
You may have guessed that AI would make a huge dent in the realm of well… the internet. And it’s not going away anytime soon. AI, including tools like ChatGPT, is a huge time saver for any business owner. There doesn’t seem to be any revenge on the robots on the horizon, so if you haven’t, it may be time to start using it.
Drilling down to using AI for SEO specifically is a complicated dance. On one side, it can help business owners do things like simplify and systematize workflows, craft compelling headlines, do quick descriptions, and even optimize web content. On the other hand, there needs to be a strategy for how a business uses AI simply because it’s made content easier to produce.
This means that the internet has the potential to (and already is) get flooded with content, and it’s all starting to sound suspiciously the same.
One of the biggest principles in SEO is to look at things from Google’s perspective (lens if you will). Google is algorithm-based, and so is AI. They essentially speak the same language. And they understand that language if they “hear” it somewhere else. This means that Google is very good at detecting duplicate content, and plagiarism. So, to make Google happy and send your business to the top of the search results it needs to know that your site is worth visiting and that it’s unique and valuable. That’s not going to be possible if you are just regurgitating ChatGPT prompts and it ends up sounding like everyone else that’s “writing” about the topic.
From the SEO side of things, AI is valuable…to a point. At that point, it can be harming your rankings. There’s no reason to be afraid of AI, but use it with caution. Have a content strategy that AI helps you produce but then put your heart into what you put out into the world. Which brings us to our next big trend for 2024.
It used to be that a good SEO strategy was to have a page for every keyword you wanted to rank for, multiple if possible. What that led to was multiple pages of content sometimes in the form of blogs, just thrown together and published. As long as it has the keywords in it, it did’t matter what the blog said.
Up until now, you may have gotten away with that strategy because you had built a little site equity and Google was giving you the benefit of the doubt.
What we are seeing now, and strongly anticipated in 2024 is keyword cannibalization. What that means is that if you have two sub-par pieces of content that are competing with each other for the keyword ranking Google won’t rank either.
This can be discouraging because site traffic can start dying down and if you’ve relied on organic traffic from things like articles or blogs on your site, business can start a decline as well.
If this resonates with your current scenario, now is the time to get out ahead of the avalanche of crummy content.
How? Simply by improving the quality and length of the content Google finds on your site. Going back to the AI component, Google knows when there is a human touch to the content. It likes to see that the content on your site is thoughtful, well-written, and informative. Even if you’ve used AI to get the ideas flowing, be sure there is a human on your team that is editing the content and adding the finishing touches.
If you find that keyword cannibalization is happening to you, make it your New Year’s resolution to stop it. Simply decide which article to keep, and improve it by adding not just words, but well-written words that make the reader want to keep reading. It needs to be relevant to your site, helpful to your readers, and contain a few choice keywords (more on that next).
The length of each piece of content is important because in 2023, and on into 2024 we are seeing Google giving longer content priority in rankings. Where 400 or 500-word count used to be a good foundation for written content, now the average of well-performing content is around 1700 words. A huge uptick from the previous standard, and another way to stand apart from any competitors in your space.
It just drives home the clarity of the trend that Google knows what it’s looking for and what it wants to rank. AI will flood content so Google will have to get better at deciphering what’s good and what’s not and the good is always going to float to the top.
Keywords remain an essential component of SEO, yet their application has significantly transformed. Gone are the days when websites could indiscriminately stuff their content with keywords to boost rankings. The contemporary approach is much more nuanced, emphasizing the importance of concentrating on just one or two key phrases per page. This focused strategy enables search engines like Google to more accurately identify and understand the target keywords of an article, thereby enhancing its likelihood of achieving a higher ranking in search results. Such a refined use of keywords reflects the evolving landscape of SEO, where quality and relevance take precedence over quantity.
Something that is really at the crux of utilizing fewer keywords per page, is the strategic use of LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) or related keywords. This means that if you write an article about Superman, for instance, you may include related concepts such as Clark Kent, Lois Lane, or the Daily Planet.
Why this is important is that you may be using similar keywords to describe the product or service you sell, but your potential customers may be using slightly different language. Either way, the point of SEO is for your business to be found. LSI is what supports that process.
So, someone who is searching for “Daily Planet” ends up reading your epic article on Superman, and buying a comic book from your website because you included related keywords in your article.
There are tools that analyze LSI that can help with this, and this is one of those areas that AI really excels because it can help not only brainstorm but also analyze LSI for the important keywords on your site.
Again, this trend highlights the importance of quality over quantity for both content and web pages.
As of October 2023, new stats were released that revealed that approximately 58% of people used voice search to find local businesses. This means that as a business owner, it is of paramount importance to make sure that your website is one of the three top results for a searched question.
Of course, SEO plays a huge role in this. To be one of those top search results, we first have to think about a few common sense things that dictate the way we use voice search.
First, we ask the internet questions when we voice search. Questions such as “Hey Siri, can my dog eat corn?”. When we get the results for that question, we are simply looking for a yes or no answer. We are also probably aware of who that answer is coming from because we want to know the answer we are getting is accurate. If the information is “according to” The American Kennel Club and they tell me that my dog can eat corn in moderation as a treat, I am going to believe that answer without researching more.
So the first lesson we learn is that we want the information on our websites as business owners to be accurate and reliable. We also want to be viewed as an authority in our space, or at least have some of that conveyed through the article if we are optimizing it for voice search.
If Mary’s cat farm is telling me that my dog can have corn… I may be looking for more validation. If I am going to believe that source, I also need to know that Mary knows more than just about cats, and Google will pick up on that if she is a trusted authority it will send her to the top of the results to back up some of the other sites that are given as an answer source.
The second lesson we learned from this example is that the information on our sites should also directly answer the question that people are prompting through voice search. Writing in a form that answers questions in “What is, Why is, How is, etc.”
However, if we are using voice search as a prompt for a more in-depth question, we are likely going to be doing more leg work to read reviews, look at specific sites, and read more about the company.
This might be for searches such as “What is the best medspa near me?”. The same principle applies here, SEO of course plays a huge role in being one of those top searches, but beyond that the consumer is likely reading reviews and those reviews will also feature keywords that were used in the search.
The end result of this type of search will depend on the overall impression the potential customer gathers about your business, not only the ranking in the search results. It’s a perfect way to combine the above trends together and make your business stand out with quality content, well-chosen keywords, and answers to the questions people will most likely be asking when they search for your business. This will also be perfect for making sure your service is found if it’s local.
A good thing to keep in mind is your audience and how they are using voice search to find your business. Often, when an exchange of money is involved it changes the intensity of the searcher to find exactly what they want instead of taking the first answer Google gives them.
A lot of businesses prioritize social media marketing only to be disappointed with the results. As with most social media, trends come and go and some platforms work better for different types of businesses than for others.
It hammers in the point of knowing your audience. Who are you trying to reach and what are they buying from you?
Social media, especially platforms like TikTok and Instagram are perfect for visual businesses with visual results. It’s the reason those platforms work so well for products. It’s a place to showcase the product with built-in social proof. That social proof can come in the form of the person displaying the product, or followers and comments. It’s an active ecosystem and it works well for businesses with tangible results.
With SEO there is a small correlation between a business with a strong social presence and the traffic that their website may get. That is simply because those businesses or influencers are more frequently shared, and linked back to. Those backlinks can strengthen an SEO strategy and help the site stay relevant and reputable.
However, if your business is a service-based business, your results may vary. Simply because what you are selling is less visible and is probably more location-dependent. For example, if you are a plumber, your services aren’t super pretty to showcase, and you probably won’t draw a strong social media following. Even if you do, and you have 20,000 followers it is not likely to equal clients because how many of them are local AND on Instagram when they have a plumbing emergency?
This is where SEO really comes into play. Ranking at the top when your customer has a pipe burst and they search “Best plumber near me” is a smoking hot lead ready to spend money on your services.
So, use social media if that aligns with your audience and your business. Get creative if you want! But beware of relying on it for any kind of relevance when it comes to SEO and your business’s direct marketing ROI.
SEO sends you qualified leads when they are ready to buy because someone with the intent to buy searches for a service. Someone scrolling social media has less of an inclination to buy and probably isn’t seeing your posts at the exact minute they need your service like they are with SEO.
In this article, we’ve talked about trends, and just like clothes that go out of style, some things need to be thrown out of your SEO plan. This of course includes things that are outdated but also things that have proven time and time again to not flatter any business. Some things we’ve already mentioned, but they are so important to avoid they are worth repeating.
1. Beware of Get-Rich-Quick Schemes: Nothing screams run like a promise of a million dollars or rock-hard abs, in a weekend. That’s the same with SEO or anything you promise your clients. Make sure that you are showing your value and that you are willing to put in the time and effort to create a solid foundation for your business and the results you get from your customers.
2. Avoid Short, Low-Value Content: Small, brief articles often lack value and can be a waste of resources on a website. Business owners who lack time for blogging may resort to writing short snippets that don’t provide substantial information, ultimately wasting time and effort. It’s better to invest in quality content, even if it means hiring someone for the job.
3. Be Cautious with Link Building Tactics: Link building has been a core element of Google’s algorithm, but its current importance is still being determined. Recent comments from Google suggest that link building is not a top three ranking factor anymore. Therefore, it’s advised to be careful with link-building strategies and avoid quick gains like linking thousands of pieces of AI-generated content directly back to your website, as this could negatively impact your site and send a very clear message to Google that you are buying rank, not building it. Red flag!
As we step boldly into the uncharted territories of 2024, it’s clear that the digital frontier is not for the faint of heart. Just like the daring pioneers of the Wild West, businesses today need more than just a map and a compass to navigate the intricate world of SEO. The internet’s ever-changing landscape demands vigilance, adaptability, and a keen eye for emerging trends. That’s where our expertise comes into play, offering you the guiding star you need to lead the way.
In this article, we’ve given you a glimpse of the future, highlighting SEO trends that are set to revolutionize the way we think about a business being found. From the smart use of AI-generated content to the importance of long-form, quality content, and the emerging role of voice search optimization, we’ve covered it all. It’s not just about keeping up; it’s about staying several steps ahead.
But hey, we get it. This might sound like a daunting task, especially when you’re already juggling a million other things to keep your business afloat. That’s why we’re here to throw you a lifeline. Think of us as your SEO sheriffs in this Wild West of digital marketing. We’re offering a free SEO analysis, no strings attached, to help you figure out where you stand and what moves to make next.