Search engine optimization is one of the fields that is always evolving which is why you need to make sure you’re constantly looking for ways to improve your skills. We will never know if today’s best marketers did use a crystal ball to see into Google and what is the future of search engine optimization. Let’s go back to the SEO future. Here are 18 SEO experts sharing predictions they made that came true.
Jeremiah Smith, SimpleTiger
I’ve consulted our B2B SaaS SEO clients on conversions and user experience being an important aspect of SEO for a long time before they actually worked their way into Google’s algorithm and AI ranking metrics. So when it came time for these metrics to actually impact rankings many of our long-term clients who heeded our advice on improving user experience saw continual growth in the rankings regardless of what they did at the time. Since then we’ve seen the growth of B2B SaaS companies investing in SEO with us and seeing the fruit of increased rankings along with improved conversions simultaneously. I know over time Google will want to look further “down the funnel” as much as possible to determine the final, end-value of the experiences they create for users. Amazon has certainly done this with e-commerce so Google will follow with everything else they can.
Sam Wright, Blink SEO
I’d say the rise of digital PR. Back when I first discovered the industry in 2007, most link acquisition was not that sophisticated. Link swaps, posting the same articles across multiple sites, blog, forum, and social network comments – all these were pretty standard methods, and low-quality ones too. Given that I came from a background in copywriting and journalism it seemed pretty clear that Google would move to cut down on this. From a user’s point of view, the impact was quite severe, particularly as low-quality sites and blog networks became more visible. I remember pitching combined link building and digital PR campaigns to traditional PR agencies around this time. The reception wasn’t great – most couldn’t see the value. I’m by no means saying I was the first to come up with this idea, but it’s great to see how the industry has embraced it in recent years. There’s so much opportunity for creativity and brand building, and it’s much more satisfying to deliver campaigns using this method.
Jason Schulz, Maid2Match
It has been an inevitable trend but for the last several years I have consistently spoken about ‘expecting fewer clicks’. The two largest factors driving this trend are Google continuing to add more SERP features and the aggressive expansion of Google Ads. Over the last several years Google search has added featured snippets, instant answers, people also ask, and knowledge boxes. These all reduce the click-through rate on organic search results. The aggressive nature of Google Ads is itself largely driven by the need to satisfy their shareholders. Unlike some people in the industry, I do believe Google cares about delivering quality answers for searchers. But I think wherever they can Google will increase CTR for their advertisers. So what should SEO’s do? We don’t target “at risk” terms that a searcher is unlikely to need to click for more details. In other words, avoid terms that have “easy” answers. The long-term solution is to ensure you are building a brand. Being a destination where people come to allows you to skip some people going to Google first.
Zach Doty, Antioch Digital
The use of machine learning in SEO, specifically, Google using machine learning in its ranking algorithms is an interesting prediction that’s come to pass. Outside of SEO, many have been watching for more applications of Google’s DeepMind acquisition. It looks like we’re seeing more practical (to SEO) applications of machine learning and AI across Google’s core business. Over the past few years, we’ve been seeing more algorithm update announcements that contain verbiage such as, “If your site has been impacted, there’s nothing to fix.” For tenured (and perhaps untenured) SEO strategists, this can be discomforting to read. If we look deeper, this runs counter to Google’s older history of algorithm updates. In the past, and occasionally in the present, specific updates are released to address specific problems. The new posture tells us that no guidance to fix likely means they don’t know or can’t clearly articulate what’s changed (read: machine learning) We should continue to expect to see more of this in the future: even small optimizations for Google Search could mean substantial gains to their engagement and profitability at ~3.5 billion searches daily. This also means that SEOs have no room to hide weak spots in their practice. This reinforces the fact that the best-performing brands in SEO will do all things well, not just technical or content.
Justin Herring, YEAH! Local
Prediction: Citations or business listings were going to become non-essential for ranking in Local SEO. For years SEO’s had been saying you need to get 100’s of citations plus industry specific ones. I had been seeing with our clients they did not need any of the directory listings besides Google, Facebook, Bing, Apple, and Yelp. I wrote an article on this topic and got a lot of pushback but ultimately now in 2021 you really don’t need business listings for Local SEO rankings. Now they won’t hurt anything but I wouldn’t spend my time getting any. We also stated the NAP does not need to be exactly the same. Google is smart enough to understand if an address says “St.” or “Street” but a lot of companies were pushing that these needed to be corrected. We now spend our time and budget on high authority backlinks (DA 40+) which do work for local SEO rankings.
Chris Castillo, Propel Digital Media Solutions
Website performance! I predicted that user experience and website performance would become more important than ever about 2 years ago. It’s one of the reasons our web design and development processes were being completely designed around performance, even back then. Now with Core Web Vitals being incorporated into Google’s ranking algorithm, it’s safe to say that this was one prediction we got right.
Brett Downes, Haro Helpers
The link disavow tool is practically useless apart from obvious in your face spam, negative SEO, or an actual manual penalty from Google. I predicted that genuine SEO’s would stay away from the disavow file, as it mainly only snitches on your own site. Google ignores rather than penalizes spam, but if you go to the cop station and admit a crime, then they HAVE to arrest you. However, if you keep schtum and carry on as per usual, the spam is just ignored, and the ones which aren’t clocked will benefit your website (slightly)! HARO and other whitehat links are the best way to build legitimate, long-lasting, and quality links. But previous indiscretions won’t come back to bite you in the bum!
Nestor Vazquez, SEO MEXICO
Let´s talk about the controversy surrounding the AMP Project. It promises fast page speeds and additional visibility on Google result pages but demands submission to a stripped-down form of HTML. Essentially, putting your website on a diet to make it more attractive to users. While there are glowing case studies, for many, the implementation was disappointing and the results confusing. AMP, formerly known as Accelerated Mobile Pages, are lightweight pages designed to give mobile users a lightning-fast, more engaging experience. AMP originated as a Google project to speed up mobile search results on the Android platform. The benefits of AMP are clear: faster web visits, easier and quicker access for new users who may not be familiar with your site’s navigation, less strain on device resources (especially important when you’re dealing with limited battery life), and improved visibility but let´s be clear if you have been in a news project, AMP was bad, you can not earn as much money as possible. So it was obvious AMP will take less importance anytime.
Mohammad Usman Pervaiz, YODO
Posts single design will play a vital role in coming years. People are getting sharp and Affiliate Marketers are consistently improving their post designs to implement reviews, comparison, and much more. Not only OFF PAGE SEO is important but ONPage SEO will play a vital role in coming years as interactive and intuitive designs will attract customers. While focusing on Backlinks, a good SEO will always focus on Posts Designs which can include infographics, illustrations, reviews, tables and videos.
Aaron Giaco, Brisket
Aaron Giaco, who is the founder of Brisket.co noted in 2020 that marketing professionals need to be flexible on all fronts. He notes that, “Due to the pandemic and local business closure, SEOs will begin to see a huge demand in localized SEO as businesses continue to move online”.
Mitch Cornell, The Webmason
Writing for user intent will be key to driving web traffic and will result in more meaningful traffic.
Jordan Choo, Kogneta
Years and years ago, even prior to starting my own agency, I knew that automation was going to be huge when it came to being able to move the needle SEO. Because of that a lot of the work I did and continue to do so now revolves around it. Initially, it was learning how to program and automate basics CSV manipulation to nowadays it’s leveraging machine learning libraries and APIs that allow us to gain deeper insights into clients and competitors. To all of the readers, SEO truly is one of the industries that is constantly changing and evolving which is why you need to make sure you’re constantly learning and sharpening your skillset.
Michael Heckert, RYSE SEO
At RYSE SEO we are always trying to stay ahead of the curve when thinking about how Google may tweak their algorithm or change the way content or performance ranks. In the past months, we have been really trying to get our UI/UX fully optimized and performing at its best. As you may have noticed, Google recently took into account page speed as a ranking factor exactly as we figured due to the huge focus on convenience worldwide. Speed up your site, remove unused elements & climb the rankings faster than ever.
Carlos Obregon, Bloom Digital Marketing
Back in the day, around 2007-2008 Page Rank was a metric that was thrown around in SEO forums right, left, and center. You could easily find the Page Rank for any webpage by using the Google toolbar on your favorite browser. It was used kind of as a grading system. Initially, it was updated somewhat frequently by Google and that provided you with feedback on your SEO work. But it could also be misused, people could test the limits of black hat SEO by keeping an eye on the Page Rank, you could do all sorts of naughty SEO tactics and if the rank went up, well you knew that you were on to something even with the risk of being penalized by Google. I remember thinking to myself that this metric was going to be nuked by Google and so it happened. Google caught on and they reduced the frequency of updates to the Page Rank number. The last official public PageRank update was in December 2013. In October 2014, Google’s John Mueller confirmed that Google Toolbar PageRank was officially dead.
Amanda Thomas, Konstruct Digital
My prediction that came true: the decline in value of links from sponsored content. Over the years, Google has been emphatic about trying to de-value strategies that attempt to “game the system”. They want the best content to win, and a key part of how they assess the link component in determining the “best content” is an editorial choice. I’ve suspected for years that websites that take a fee for posting links (whether it’s a guest post or otherwise) have diminished value. Taking a fee = editorial choice is likely not involved. With the introduction in 2019 of the rel=“sponsored” link attribute and the updates to Google’s guidelines including more direct language about paid links and editorial choice, it’s become clear that this is a focus area for Google. Long story short: there are no shortcuts to sustainable SEO. Focus on the best experience and content for the end-user.
James Lee, Monetized Future
An SEO prediction I made that finally came true was Google would build a property to try and infiltrate the affiliate space. Well, that prediction finally came true last month. First, Google rolled out its “Product Reviews Update” designed to demote obvious review sites with low-quality content from ranking on page one. Next, they created the Google Shopping “Best Things for Everything” page to promote items from Google Shopping to the top of page one for certain queries. “Best Things” is in its infancy, but I fully expect Big G to refine it and make it more of a roadblock for affiliate marketers trying to get their product roundups/reviews to the top of the SERPs. Let’s face it, Google tolerates niche affiliate sites, but it has never really been a fan of them. Especially the ones that have thin content and low review standards (or no standards at all). Moving forward I predict that Google is going to take an even harsher stance against these types of low-quality review sites, and future core updates will focus on demoting them further.
Jason Morris, Profit Engine
The (not so) Death of Guest Posting – Every year it seems this link building tactic is declared dead and buried. Matt Cutts when working at google famously said “Stick A Fork In It, Guest Blogging Is Done”, that was back in 2014. Has this prediction come true? Well, from our real-world experience no. Poorly written, unoptimized guest posts on spammy sites? Yes, that’s definitely done. but we are not talking about that. If it’s done right Guest post outreach is a powerful technique. If you focus on targeting sites relevant to your niche/business with engaging content ideas you will gain highly relevant links. It sounds easy but it isn’t, there is a lot of work that goes in to a great guest post outreach campaign but it is worth the effort. Over the last few years, we have maintained our view that this is a great way to accrue natural links and we have helped clients increase rankings using this tactic alone. Is Guest Posting dead? No, just do it properly!
Swadhin Agrawal, DigitalGYD
Back in 2019, I made a presumption based on Google’s focus with their algorithmic updates that moving forward, Google will consider user experience or page experience as a very important criteria. And, here we see Google come up with core web vitals that focuses on making the page experience for users better than they really are. With 93% of the online experiences beginning with a search engine, it makes total sense for Google to make this change. I suggest every website owner should try and achieve a decent score, not only for ranking boost but also to provide a better user experience to readers. You can start by diving into Google search console and clicking on the core web vitals tab on the left. This should give you a starting point on how your site fares and what pages you need to improve. Here is a resource to help you understand core web vitals easily. Author: Shaurya Jain is the founder of Attention Always Blog. The blog is the home to exclusive marketing guides and How tos.