An Art, No Longer a Science: The Most Important Trends in SEO Right Now

by Simon Stuchlik
Gone are the days when being a search engine optimization expert meant taking deep dives into your website’s code. Some of the most important trends in SEO right now emphasize the importance of relevant content over technical know-how.That and other insights were the results of a recent survey, in which marketing experts detailed where we stand in terms of search engine optimization and where the field is heading in the near future.

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A few takeaways:

1) Keep the “Geddons” in the Past

We all remember (more or less fondly) the panic ensuing among marketers earlier this year, when Google’s “Mobilegeddon” threatened to severely punish websites that weren’t optimized for mobile devices in its search results. If you’re familiar with SEO, you know the procedure by now: Google announces an algorithm update, marketers frantically update their websites to ensure they comply with the new regulations, and everyone regroups a while after the update to see what impact it actually made.

However, that procedure will significantly change in the near future, and the survey’s SEO experts pinpointed why: machine learning. Google’s algorithms will begin to dynamically update themselves, continuously seeking out its own loopholes and adjusting to ensure the most relevant search results float to the top. The algorithms will continue to become more sophisticated, but without the regular announcements by search engines like Google that send marketers into a frenzy.

The takeaway: In the age of dynamic algorithm updates and machine learning, SEO will continue to move away from a formulaic “science” exercise into more of an art form in which quality, relevant content on a well-designed, fast-loading website wins the rankings battle. It’s the natural continuation of Google’s intent to eliminate websites that are specifically designed or written to rank highly from its search results, an effort that started all the way back with the first Panda update in 2011.

2) Social Media Integration Is Rapidly Advancing

Another trend we’ll see more of in the future is a tighter integration between search engines and social media networks. We saw an example of this earlier this year, when Google began integrating Twitter content into its search results.But integration doesn’t stop there. Several experts also mentioned the ever-growing importance of online reviews and review sites for improved Google rankings. No matter how successful your organic SEO efforts are, most audience members will continue to find your business by searching for your exact name. Well-established profiles full of positive reviews like Yelp, Better Business Bureau, and Facebook will pop up early in Google searches, thus becoming increasingly important for your digital strategy. And we haven’t even mentioned reviews on Google Places itself, which have been shown to result in higher click through rates, given the information included is up-to-date and reflects well on your business.

As a result of this rapidly advancing social media integration, writing SEO-optimized content for your profiles is more crucial now than ever before. Search engine optimization is no longer relevant only to your website, it applies to your entire digital footprint.

3) Interactions Improve Rankings

Of course, your website will still be a centerpiece. And as several experts noted in the survey, engagement rates (such as click-throughs, shares or any other type of non-bounce) are continuing to rise in importance right along quality content and SEO-optimized social media.As anyone familiar with SEO knows, search engines like Google don’t just determine content to be relevant based on the absence of negative, “black hat” factors. Instead, they look for interaction rates, such as social shares, click-through rates from the page in question and “non-bounce” rates (meaning the reader visited at least one page after viewing the initial page found via search). The search engine then includes this information in determining its results, ranking pages with high interaction rates above others.

And ultimately, it comes down to…

It’s important for anyone involved in SEO to never forget that ultimately, the main goal of search engines is to show their users the most relevant content possible, based on their queries. If the above trends can be summarized in a single sentence, it’s this: To be ranked highly, your website and its pages should, above all, provide helpful, relevant solutions to your audience. If you can achieve that goal, you’ll be set for future trends in SEO.

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