SEO: As technology improves and consumer behavior changes, so do search engine algorithms. Google is constantly fine-tuning its search algorithm to give users more accurate results. This means that websites will need to adjust their SEO strategy in order to maintain search engine visibility. Here are five ways that SEO is changing in 2024 and what you can do to keep up.
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1. Google Launches the AI-Powered Search Generative Experience
One of the biggest changes to the search engine landscape in 2024 is an increased focus on artificial intelligence. In mid-2023, Google launched a trial of its Search Generative Experience. This update uses generative AI technology to answer search queries directly, compiling information from around the internet. While this update is currently in the early access stage, Google expects to roll SGE out to the general public sometime in 2024.
Google isn’t the only company prioritizing AI search features. Microsoft is likewise implementing AI technology in its Bing search tools. Many consumers are also turning to ChatGPT for quick answers to their questions. This means that websites will need to keep AI technology in mind when creating content.
One of the best ways to optimize your content for AI tools is to focus on question keywords. Providing clear, concise answers to the questions searchers are asking could get your site featured in Google’s SGE snippets.
2. E-E-A-T Is More Important Than Ever
Over the past few years, SEO’s focus has expanded from just keywords and backlinks to a broader content strategy. At the end of 2022, Google adjusted its algorithm to prioritize content that demonstrates authority on the topic at hand. It considers four core tenets of authority when ranking content: experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, or E-E-A-T.
To succeed with the E-E-A-T framework, you’ll need a robust content strategy that prioritizes the user experience. Readers want content that is informative, answering their questions directly and concisely. Ideally, your content should be written by someone who has firsthand experience with your chosen topic. You’ll also need to demonstrate your topical knowledge using detailed research and statistics.
It takes time and expertise to create content that ranks according to the E-E-A-T principle. You may find it most efficient and cost-effective to engage an online growth agency to develop this more sophisticated, authoritative content.
3. Video Optimization Becomes Essential
Video content has exploded in popularity over the past few years as the quality of smartphone cameras has improved. YouTube remains the top platform for long-form content, while TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook all offer short-form video features. A 2023 Lemonlight survey found that 89% of marketers are planning to use video content in their work in 2024. In order for this video content to make an impact, it needs to be optimized for search.
Many Google searches now include a YouTube video component. YouTube also has its own algorithm for promoting videos. When conducting keyword research, look at data for both Google and YouTube. Use your target keywords in your video’s title, description, hashtags, and even in the video itself to increase visibility.
If you’re planning on embedding your videos on your website, make sure they load quickly. Google penalizes websites with long load times. Putting each video on its own page also makes it easier for Google to index.
4. Google Improves Spam Detection Features
Google isn’t just implementing AI in its customer-facing tools — it’s also using it behind the scenes to improve its algorithm. Google has had spam detection features as part of its algorithm since 2018. However, it is now integrating AI technology into its spam detection features to improve the quality of search results.
These spam detection capabilities can identify low-quality websites that contain keyword stuffing and unnatural link-building schemes. These sites are often created in an attempt to game Google’s algorithm without offering any substance. Google is also exploring ways to identify low-quality AI-generated content.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t use AI tools to create your content. However, it does mean that your content should be edited for quality. You’ll also need to make sure that you use keywords naturally in your content and that your links are high-quality.
5. Zero-Click Searches Increase
A trend that every SEO professional will have to watch out for is the increase of zero-click searches. A zero-click search happens when a user queries a search engine but does not click on any of the results. This happens because they get their results directly from the information displayed on the search engine results page.
Zero-click searches are increasing in frequency due to new snippet features on Google’s SERP. For example, searching for a television show might bring up a list of the cast members and where to watch the show. A search for a local business might elicit a Google Maps listing with an address, hours, contact information, and photos. With so much information directly on the SERP, there’s no need for users to click into the results.
To optimize your content for zero-click searches, create content with snippets in mind. Keep your content clear and concise, so it can be broken down into small, bite-sized sections. Including an FAQ section or even a helpful infographic can also help you get featured for your target topics.
Adaptability is key when developing your SEO strategy for 2024. With technology evolving so quickly, it’s difficult to predict exactly how search engines will change and grow. When in doubt, focus on developing high-quality content that resonates with readers — an approach that will never lose its value.