SEO Trends: How to Future-Proof Your Organic Marketing
One thing is constant about SEO, it’s always evolving. Back in the early 2000s you could catapult your traffic by simply spamming the same keyword on each page. There were no PageRank or Panda updates to stop you.
Overtime, Google cracked down, and the last decade has seen an increasing emphasis on quality rather than mere quantity of content.
Ranking a website today requires a more tactical approach than ever before. A successful organic strategy needs to include optimizations that are wide-ranging, from on-page content to social media presence, all with the purpose of building your brand’s authority and reach.
Let’s walk through the top SEO trends of now, and why brands in every niche should take notice.
Why Do SEO Trends Matter?
SEO trends are important to follow for a number of reasons. They often provide a signal as to where the Google search algorithm is headed and what moves are getting rewarded.
Competitive analysis is a quick way to spot trends and patterns among your top competition. Using a traffic measurement tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush, you can see keyword movements and organic traffic fluctuations over the past month or quarter. This can help you determine whether adjustments are needed in your own site’s SEO strategy.
This is especially helpful when new competitor pages show up in search pages, bumping your rankings down. Once you realize what your competitors are doing to succeed, you can start implementing changes on your site.
Analyzing trends is also important for avoiding manual penalties from Google. Let’s say you’re in the healthcare niche, when all of the sudden your top competitors start citing every blog post with medically credentialed reviewers it’s an obvious sign that medical credentials are playing a role in rankings.
Or, if you had previously been taking part in dodgy or black hat link building practices but start noticing your competitors are building high-quality, natural links, it’s probably time to follow suit before a penalty ensues.
Penalties are listed in Google Search Console and they can make a website’s rankings suffer indefinitely until the violation is fixed. The most common violation is a manual penalty assessed to websites that build bad links.
Following SEO trends can keep your website in a positive standing while maintaining an ethical approach to organic search.
Improve User Experience
User experience (UX) has been a growing priority for the Google search algorithm. Having your website optimized for SEO means making it simple to use for all users across different device types.
Mobile usability is critical, forcing website owners to run page speed tests for mobile devices on a constant basis. The most important pages should be easy to reach from the website’s primary navigation area and it shouldn’t require more than 2-3 clicks to reach any page on the website.
Diagnosing rankings fluctuations is one of the greatest challenges of an SEO strategy. It can be pretty hard to tell whether a drop in rankings is due to a minor hiccup or is representative of a larger trend.
This is why its important to read about the latest Google updates and dissect information about what’s happening in your particular niche.
The Top SEO Trends to Watch Out For
When it comes to optimizing your website and remaining relevant today, here are the top SEO trends to follow.
E-E-A-T stands for experience, expertise, authority, and trust. It specifically refers to the depth of knowledge shown by a content creator or website owner within their industry, which translates well beyond the website itself. Google also factors in the person’s LinkedIn information, any press release mentions, podcast appearances, and collaborations with other industry leaders.
It’s hard to calculate boosts in EEAT, since it’s not a quantifiable metric. However, if your competitors are optimizing certain social profiles, adding in-depth about pages with team members and credentials listed, there’s a safe bet that you should be doing the same.
EEAT forces all brands to put their white hat on, since authority needs to be an authentic creation. EEAT can’t be manipulated through dodgy link building practices, it must be accrued using real credentials and a proven track record/following in your niche.
Reviews and ratings are another sign of good EEAT standing. Established websites have no shortage of positive reviews and evaluations from past customers, with five-star ratings across their review capture platforms like Google Business Profiles, Yelp, and Clutch.co.
By prioritizing factors like UX, trustworthiness, and increasing overall authority, websites are able to cultivate a safer online presence that benefits website visitors and increases conversions along the way.
SEO strategies have been relevant on a local level for many years, but local SEO has started adopting the UX elements of EEAT to favor brands that have a natural, tangible local presence.
Local SEO is still about gathering authentic reviews and five star ratings, but it’s also important to target and entice users who are searching within your geolocation.
Tools like BrightLocal provide a comprehensive local search grid feature that shows local businesses where users are physically located when they search, and this is becoming important for a reliable local ranking.
Local businesses need to get involved in their Chamber of Commerce, sponsor local events when able, and collaborate with other local businesses to bolster their online presence. All of these moves will boost EEAT and help websites maintain a high local ranking in maps and organically in SERPs.
In a mobile-first indexing world, mobile-first design considerations are at the forefront of web design and SEO needs. A mobile-first design strategy relies on the importance of user experience across mobile devices, centering on functionality, speed, and usability.
By implementing UX features like a hamburger menu for mobile, as well as Google fonts and optimized image files, website owners are able to experience lower bounce rates and higher conversion rates to improve their website experience.
Signup forms are another critical element of better UX. When users can quickly identify sign-up forms, usually when placed above the fold on a webpage, they are able to enter a brand’s sales funnel more quickly.
Page speed also affects bounce rate. If a site’s pages take several seconds to load, there’s a higher likelihood that visitors will bounce quickly. Bounce rate accounts for website visits where the user leaves within 30 seconds.
Image & Video Optimization
With the rise in popularity of multimedia content, there’s never been a more critical time to optimize your images and video files. Here are a few tips for excelling in the image and video optimization department.
Large file types can slow your website to a standstill. While PNGs are visually appealing and make a great option for logos and certain types of graphics, JPEGs or web page files are usually faster to load and can help you improve page speed timings overall.
File sizes in general can have a negative affect on user experience and SEO. By compressing images and video files, you can reduce file sizes more easily without giving up quality.
Image and video file names should include relevant keywords that are appropriate (not stuffed). These should summarize the content of the file being uploaded.
Captions and Transcripts
A nice way to add context to your images and videos is via captions or transcripts. These are simple ways to improve the accessibility of content and they can allow websites to utilize even more keywords.
Schema markup is additional code that can be added to a webpage to provide Google with more information about the on-page content. This is especially useful for providing additional info about images and videos. You can use schema to describe your images and videos with more specific keywords and context.
Hosting videos on your own website will help you improve page load times and add relevant keywords to the file name and URL.
AI & Machine Learning
The tandem of AI and machine learning technology are rapidly altering the landscape of SEO. From content optimizations to improved analytics, marketers can gather better insights and use them to make more effective decisions.
It’s never been an easier time to optimize content based on quantifiable data. Thanks to a plethora of AI writing tools that have reached mainstream success, content marketers are able to mass produce high-quality content across multiple channels. There are tools that can help with email writing, blog posts, and even ads writing—you have the AI write A/B copy for split testing.
Analytics is another critical area where AI can lead marketers to better decisions. Machine learning algorithms can access historical data for a variety of key metrics, including user behavior on-page, keyword usage, and funnel visualization. Predictive analytics is used to forecast pages that are going to drive traffic, by aggregating website analytics, social media, and search engine data. Data modeling can then rely on statistical models to identify patterns and trends. Predictive analytics can be used to boost ROI with less guesswork than traditional insights.
Another area of optimization is voice search. With the rise in mobile device usage, machine learning technology can be used to optimize content for natural languages and real conversations. The ability to optimize content for natural languages will make it rank faster in search engines.
Featured snippets are the first result seen in Google that lives above the normal organic results. Referred to as position zero, these items signify that the website has effectively answered the query better than all other sites.
In order to qualify for a featured snippet, websites have to focus on fully answering a query. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways but there isn’t one specific way to do it. If it is a list-type query you could craft a bulleted list, or if it is a specific long-tail keyword question you could create an FAQ section that answers it directly. Tables and graphs are another method of triggering featured snippets that can provide clear, concise answers.
Zero Click Searches
This happens when a SERP shows the answer to a user’s query at the top of a page but there is no click. The problem with these types of searches is they may reduce the amount of clicks to a webpage. This provides even more incentive for websites to optimize content for featured snippets so they can capture more traffic and overall visibility to your site.
Infinite Scroll on SERPs
Infinite scroll is one of Google’s latest features. It allows users to scroll down a page to view all results without needing to go to a different page. There’s no longer pagination.
This can make it difficult for some brands to be seen by users, especially if their pages aren’t well optimized and they are relegated to page 2 or page 3. Optimizing for infinite scroll means ensuring that a site is technically optimized as well as cultivating a strong presence.
The best way to safeguard against falling into obscurity is to focus on enhancing your pages with search features and optimizing content as best you can.
Natural Language Processing (NLP)
NLP helps search engines recognize the meaning of web content. It can be utilized to gather information from text-based website content and improve the relevancy of search results in the process.
In addition to its ability to analyze language, NLP can help mend errors in grammar and spelling which can help website owners improve the quality of their content.
Natural language processing will continue to impact SEO content moving forward, meaning that originally written content will be key to improving rankings.
Influencer and Affiliate Marketing
With the rise of platforms like TikTok and the continual popularity of Instagram, it’s never been more lucrative and important to gain influencer support for your product or brand.
Influencer marketing helps improve authority in a similar manner as link building, but it can be argued that influencer marketing has become an even more effective strategy in today’s world.
It works into the whole EEAT aspect we discussed earlier. When an authoritative figure pledges support, or simply gives attention to a brand, Google looks at this as a reason to promote the brand. This can lead to higher rankings due to an improved sense of trustworthiness.
Affiliate marketing can coincide with influencer marketing if the influencer is promoting a specific product and receiving commissions. But affiliate marketing is also an effective monetary source for brands who are promoting other types of products besides their own.
SEO can play a major role in affiliate marketing. When brands are able to rank for valuable affiliate terms, they can start collecting commissions on a steady basis, in some cases on autopilot.
If your website has the right authority and its pages are well-optimized for specific keywords, you can welcome an influx of affiliate commissions without needing to do much heavy lifting, other than small routine maintenance tasks.
Keyword and Topic Clustering
Keyword and topic clustering might be the most crucial trend to follow in the content realm. This is a way of organizing content into groups to help Google (and users) discover a brand’s overall authority and coverage of a particular topic.
With this method, brands create hub pages that serve as a central location for the primary target keyword. They then create supplemental pages that target subtopics of that hub page, connecting between the pages via internal linking.
Not only does this method help with ranking for more keywords, topic clustering also improves crawl rates and promotes better indexing in search engines.
Building out a knowledge base is a great way to cluster content. Here you can have your top level topic serve as a glossary term with a definition and examples, then you can link out to “additional resources” in the form of the subpages which are meant to provide further context about the term.
Let’s say you are selling auto parts. Your hub pages could cover items like “mufflers,” “tires,” etc., while your subpages would be content like “how to change a tire,” or “best mufflers for your Honda.”
The goal with topic clustering is to cover all areas of the topic to show Google that your website is the undisputed authority, so keyword research is paramount to success. Identifying hub page topics requires a combination of competitive research and search volume/CPC analysis.
Look for keywords that have a higher search volume as well as commercial value (CPC), then cross-reference with your competitors’ websites. If they are ranking for those keywords on their main pages, chances are these are terms to go after.
Through extensive keyword research and topic clustering, website owners are able to rank for a variety of keywords and watch their organic traffic multiply. With the added trustworthiness and authenticity benefit, your site will have a better chance of maintaining rankings through every Google update.
How to Stay on Top of SEO Trends
Staying on top of the latest trends is key for brands who are looking to capitalize with their SEO efforts. To do this, it’s important to stay connected to resources like Search Engine Roundtable as well as many SEO Facebook groups, and of course our Out of The Blue blog—where we will inform you of the latest organic search and digital marketing happenings.
If you have any questions or you would like to learn more about SEO services, contact the experienced team at Blue Laser Digital to start your journey towards better rankings.