It’s a new year, which means it’s time to take a fresh look at your approach to SEO.
That includes paying attention to all of the essentials, like keyword density and URL structure. However, it also means being proactive in preparing your site for upcoming changes and industry trends that will impact your organic search traffic.
A major theme in 2024 when it comes to search is “Algorithm Optimization” – preparing your site and brand to perform well not just on any one search engine, but across the algorithms that drive multiple search engines, social networks, devices with voice search, and more.
As our team of SEO experts look ahead at 2024, here are the six SEO trends we think will have the most impact on organic traffic for your business:
- AI and Machine Learning on SERPs
- No-Click Searches Answer Questions
- Increased Focus on Expertise
- Social Networks Are Alternative Search Engines
- Re-Optimizing Existing Content
- Ethics & Sustainability Matter More Than Ever
SEO Trend #1 – AI and Machine Learning on SERPs
The biggest news in SEO today might be Google’s new AI-enhanced search, which they’re calling “Search Generative Experience” – or “SGE” for short.
In 2023, many consumers experienced generative AI in the form of OpenAI’s ChatGPT – which takes a conversational approach to interacting and answering questions. Google’s SGE is not a chat bot, but it does mark a shift to more interactive and conversational search results.
SGE will present an AI-generated result at the very top of the search engine results page (SERP) that attempts to summarize the best answer to a search by excerpting information from one or more sources. The result will include relevant links to its sources just below the summary – and you want to be included in those links when the search is relevant to your business.
Google’s methodology for delivering these results is still emerging. However, so far it values similar elements as the featured snippets, including well-organized blocks of text and bulleted lists.
What does this mean for you and your site?
First, every page of your site should have valuable, succinct information related to your main keyphrases. This is similar to how a well-optimized page uses its keywords in the header and opening paragraph. Now, you’ll also want to define or explain that term, as well as other main terms that you want to rank for.
Second, you need to be mindful of how this information will be served to consumers, who may get answers directly from SERPs. Which brings us right to our second trend!
SEO Trend #2 – No-Click Searches Answer Questions
This trend goes hand-in-hand with the trend of AI-driven search results, but there are many other factors driving it.
As more businesses pivot to making question-answering pages like “How to” and “What Is” their top results, consumers are growing accustomed to asking questions in their searches. That means that even alternative browsers tend to prioritize results that include “How To” and “What Is.”
We’ve already seen the rise in the power of answering questions when it comes to SEO. Google features related “People Also Ask” questions on many SERPs. This trend will only be amplified with the oncoming AI-driven search results like Google SGE and Microsoft’s Bing Chatbot, plus generative AI tools like ChatGPT.
However, answering questions isn’t limited to text search. As more consumers use voice search for their needs, almost every query is phrased as a question! Phrases like “Hey Siri” and “Hey Google” aren’t just for tech-nerds anymore – voice search is here to stay!
Plus, images and video content in search results is another way people are getting answers directly from SERPs.
That has lead to a rise to what are being called “no-click” searches. That encompasses any search a consumer makes that ends in the search results – without every clicking through to a site.
How do you drive traffic, create leads, and convert sales in a no-click world?
As search delivers more snippets, excerpts, and answers, you have to embed your branding in your explanations and make sure URLs and Page titles are obvious, well-branded, and invite clicks. Now, your answer itself has to be a good advertisement – but also a subtly-positioned one, or search engines will pass over it just like they pass over keyword-stuffed pages!
Also, rich content helps! Consumers increasingly want rich media in their search results. Image Search and Video Search have gone from being added-value search tools to essential services. Standard SEO practices mean we’re accustomed to pairing our content with relevant, well-described images. But, what about video? If video results will be given preferential placement in search, you need to be ready to fight for those placements.
Finally, no-click searches are great opportunities to rank for long-tail keywords. People might start with a general search like “trends in INDUSTRY X for 2024,” but voice search means that they’ll quickly zero in on the information they care about, like “trends in INDUSTRY X to improve RESULT Y” or “INDUSTRY X products to help with NEED Z.”
Anticipating these long-tail questions and embedding answers into your content means you will dominate the answers game compared to your competitors.
SEO Trend #3 – Increased Focus on Expertise
The impact of AI on the SEO landscape isn’t limited to AI-driven search. AI-generated content on the web will also have a massive impact on SEO. One expert predicted that more than 90% of web content will be AI-generated by the end of 2025.
As a result, SEO experts are predicting an increased focus on expertise and first-hand experience to drive search results – partly to combat the influx of AI-generated content.
Remember, in 2023 Google added an extra “E” to EAT – Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T). Well, now it’s time for that extra E to do some heavy lifting!
Not only will Google use measures of Expertise to help narrow down AI-generated results, but search consumers will be looking for trust signals to confirm the expertise of their sources.
You can send signals that confirm expertise on your own site – which is what Google will be looking for! You should be giving unique answers based on your own distinct qualifications, not just echoing an AI-generated phrase that’s available to everyone. Bake the first-hand experience of your company and your employees into the content of your site.
You need to be ready to communicate expertise and trust signals beyond your own site. Which brings us to our next trend…
SEO Trend #4 – Social Networks Are Alternative Search Engines
2024 is the year that we all need to start thinking about SEO as reaching beyond the confines of traditional search engines.
Any platform or network where an audience can search publicly-posted content is a search platform. Many consumers now turn to YouTube, Reddit, TikTok, and bespoke forums when they are seeking answers. They want to hear authentic answers from customers or to see products and services used under realistic circumstances.
This trend means you need to start thinking about a world where SEO means more than optimizing the pages of your own website. The social sharing of your pages and repurposing of content now plays a bigger role in SEO than ever before. Are you optimizing your social post copy, hashtags, file names, transcripts, and even on-screen copy for searchability? If not, it’s time to start.
Not only will social sharing and social content calendars be key, but you may need to rethink some of the KPIs that indicate SEO success. Social Search could lead to a decline in your organic traffic for some bread-and-butter terms and questions.
How will you capture those queries on social networks – and, how will you measure your success? Well, the next trend might have something to say about that…
SEO Trend #5 – Re-Optimizing Existing Content
This might seem too obvious to be a trend. We should always keep the SEO on our existing content up-to-date, right?
The reason we’ve identified this as a trend is because revisiting your existing content has never mattered more than it does in 2024 thanks to the trends we’ve already discussed.
As consumers look for more and more-specific answers, your mastery of long-tail keywords is more important than ever. We’ve seen tremendous success in trending low- or zero-volume keywords in deep niches to capture high-intent searches.
That means you have to stay on your A-Game when it comes to refreshing old content, optimizing keyword density, maintaining canonical URLs, removing duplicate content or inaccurate results, and other critical SEO maintenance. Keeping your site healthy, updated, and relevant is going to yield even more results than ever before.
Leveraging existing content never goes out of style! And, keeping your site well-maintained has some benefits when it comes to our final trend…
SEO Trend #6 – Ethics & Sustainability Matter More Than Ever
Ethical business practices have always mattered, but they might start mattering more when it comes to your SEO performance in 2024 and beyond.
First, it’s important to play by the SEO rules. Google created rules to penalize so-called ”black hat” SEO practices over a decade ago, and they’re still in effect. Don’t turn to over-stuffing, misuse of metadata, spammy links, or other frowned-upon practices to try to boost your page rank. It could harm you more than it helps.
This trend goes beyond the tactics you use in your SEO. Audiences are looking to sustainability practices as a major trust signal before making a purchase. That’s true even for B2B transactions, when purchasers might have specific environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) guidelines or goals when it comes to procurement.
Your sustainability efforts could be a signal of your expertise, a “tie-breaker” between you or another brand, or even a requirement to participate in RFQ processes.
Is your business’s sustainability story visible across of the trends we’ve discussed so far in this post? Is it in your featured snippets? Will it be a part of the results in a no-click search? Is the story echoed on social media?
While algorithms evolve, so does the way we do business and the corporate responsibility to plan for long term sustainability. SEO responsibly, focus on trust and expertise, and start thinking about sustainable marketing if you haven’t already.
Are You Ready for 2024 SEO Trends?
SEO is a powerful tool to drive organic search traffic, but in 2024 the story of SEO is about more than just one channel. As Search Engine Optimization becomes Algorithm Optimization, the tactics you use will be the foundation of how your brand is positioned across the entire online ecosystem.
Is your business ready for algorithm optimization and these major SEO trends? Percepture is here to help. Percepture is a digital marketing and PR agency with an “all experts” team. Some of us have been working on search engine placement since the 90s – back when Yahoo was an index and Google was an upstart! We’re obsessed with SEO – and on keeping an eye on upcoming SEO trends.
Contact us to discuss your SEO strategy for 2024 and beyond.