SEO never sleeps! In such a dynamic and constantly changing industry, staying on top of the latest SEO trends shaping the landscape is crucial. As we make our way further into 2024, I want to acknowledge some of the most significant trends we’re seeing in the SEO industry this year and how you can take advantage of them to dominate SERP. Here are my top 9 SEO trends for 2024.
9. Better Search Results
For Google, providing the right answer to the right question at the right time means understanding the why behind a user’s search, not just the what. It’s pretty clear the search giant intends to maintain search intent as a crucial part of the search experience since it leads to better search results for visitors.
Effects of SERP Improvements
As Google further incorporates search intent into its algorithms, the expectation is that users will enjoy a more streamlined and efficient search experience. Search users should have an easier time finding exactly what they’re looking for. Ultimately, the continued emphasis on intent matching means digital marketers will have to adapt their SEO strategies to better match behavior, not just language. Creators will need to tailor their content to address the specific needs of a searcher in order to have the best chance of capturing that traffic.
How To Take Advantage
With intent being such a cornerstone of Google’s future vision for search, take advantage of this SEO trend by incorporating it into your optimization efforts as soon as possible.
Optimizing for intent means less focus on specific keywords and more focus on the behavior behind them. This presents a hidden opportunity to get away from those competitive keywords that everyone is targeting, and instead move towards keywords that provide greater value from an intent and behavior standpoint, like long-tail keywords and question keywords.
SEOs will also need to take a closer look at their content and consider just how helpful it really is. In the past, well-written content with the right keywords may have been enough, but this focus on intent means that successful content needs to actually satisfy the reason why someone is performing a search in the first place — which means delivering the right kind of content at the right time.
Before you dive into the optimization process, make sure to check out our guide for everything you need to know about optimizing for search intent and learn more about how high-intent keywords can drive more customers to your website.
8. Fewer Crawls
Did you know Google processes an estimated 8.5 billion searches every day? Even if each search uses just a tiny bit of energy, the total still adds up.
But it’s not just user searches that eat up resources. Crawls have recently come into the crosshairs as Google seeks to “maximize the reuse of finite resources across” its operations and platforms.
Crawling and indexing are a crucial part of organic search, so what do fewer crawls mean for SEO?
Google Trying To Go Green?
Google’s climate goal of operating entirely on carbon-free energy by 2030 will inevitably mean changes to the platform. In a recent episode of Search Off The Record Podcast, Google’s Gary Illyes identified crawls as “low-hanging fruits” when it comes to optimizing for platform sustainability.
The implication is clear: SEOs and webmasters can expect a reduction in the total number of crawls performed by Googlebot in the future.
But not all crawls are the same. Some crawls are performed with the intention of finding new content (discovery crawls) while others seek to refresh and update old content (refresh crawls). During his recent podcast appearance, Illyes specifically mentioned refresh crawls as a target for reduction.
For Google, cutting down on refresh crawls simply makes sense from an efficiency standpoint. Not every page needs to be crawled on a regular schedule because some pages are rarely ever updated with new content.
How To Make the Most of Fewer Crawls
It seems like what Google is trying to do is to get better at deciding which pages actually need recrawling and which ones don’t. Google hasn’t 100% confirmed it will be cutting down on refresh crawls, but it certainly looks like things are headed in that direction.
So how will fewer crawls affect SEO?
Fewer refresh crawls means it’ll take longer for Google to notice updates to your pages. One thing marketers, webmasters, and SEOs can do to reduce the impact of this change is to minimize their reliance on recrawls for SEO purposes. Obviously, some pages will need to be regularly updated with new content and reoptimized to stay competitive. But, in general, you should be doing your best to ensure that your pages are properly optimized from the get-go so that you won’t have to rely on refresh recrawls as much.
Aside from that, take advantage of Google Search Console’s (GSC) URL Inspection Tool to put in a formal recrawl request and speed the process up. Additionally, try to make the most of internal linking and keep your sitemap up to date so that Googlebot has an easier time navigating your site and crawling your pages.
7. More SERP Features
SERP features will continue to be an important piece of the SEO puzzle in 2024. These extra elements add a lot of additional functionality to the SERP and provide you with opportunities to increase site visibility. Google has continued to add new SERP features over time and we expect more to come in the future.
Effect of Extra SERP Features
The result of extra SERP features is that the click-through rate (CTR) of organic results will drop as featured elements eat up more and more clicks. For example, one study found that when featured snippets are present in search results, the click-through rate of the top organic result falls below 20% — down from 26% when there’s no featured snippet. As Google adds more features to the SERP and search users get more comfortable using them, we can expect a greater distribution of clicks.
Try To Capture SERP Features
SERP features create extra opportunities for search visitors to find and access your website. There are many different SERP features and many different ways to capture them for yourself. Scoring a featured snippet, a spot in the People Also Ask section, or a position in the Videos feature is a great way to improve a page’s organic traffic without necessarily having to obtain one of those coveted top spots.
6. Continued Growth of Voice Search
While voice search is not experiencing the kind of explosive growth that some were predicting years ago, it’s undeniable that its share of the search market is on an upward trend. What’s more, voice search is expected to continue growing at a steady pace this year, capturing more and more of the search marketplace as voice search devices and features become more popular.
Data indicate people are becoming more and more comfortable using voice search to look for information, and even to shop. According to research by Voicebot, in 2021, 45 million US consumers said they’ve used voice to shop for a product at least once in the past — compared to just 20.5 million in 2018. One recent consumer survey found that the most common voice search queries are for weather conditions, local “near me” searches, driving assistance, definitions and fact checks, online products and services, and communicating with others.
Effect of More Voice Searches
As voice continues to gain a greater share of the search market, webmasters and marketers will need to develop winning voice search strategies that aren’t just good but are capable of scoring the top spot. That’s because voice search devices tend to only list the top one to three results. So if you’re targeting voice queries, reaching the top of the mountain is absolutely crucial.
More voice searches may also require an updated keyword strategy. While voice and text search are very similar, voice search tends to be more conversational in nature. This means that voice search SEO requires an emphasis on long-tail keywords and natural language queries. As voice search grows, we can reasonably expect keyword volumes to somewhat shift with more and more queries being performed in a natural and conversational manner.
Follow Our Voice Search Best Practices To Maximize “Audibility”
Optimizing for SEO means targeting certain sets of keywords through certain types of content. Knowing the differences between how to optimize for voice versus how to optimize for text is crucial to crafting SEO strategies for the voice search ecosystem. Check out our optimization guide for voice search to get an in-depth look at how voice search works and how you can get started optimizing for voice today.
5. Image SEO
With all of the talk around content automation and AI lately, it’s easy to overlook the progress that Google is making with Google Lens. Not exactly one of the latest trends in SEO, Google Lens has been around for a while. However, it’s picking up some serious steam following its addition to the Chrome browser last year. Lens is a visual search tool that compares the objects in a picture to other images and uses its understanding of these objects to identify similar results, find similar objects, search for products, translate text, identify landmarks and buildings, solve math problems, and much more.
Google has continued to improve Lens’ functionality and has even incorporated it into its image search and Chrome browser. The takeaway is that change is quickly coming to the way that search engines understand and perform image searches.
Effect of Image Search Updates
It’s tough to tell just how quickly Google Lens will take over image search or what kind of functionality we can expect from it in the future. But it seems that soon the actual contents of an image will become a central focus point of image search.
Maximize Image SEO With These Tips
Get ahead of the trend by making sure all of your images and visuals are high quality and clearly visible so Lens has an easier time identifying their contents. Just make sure not to go overboard and spike the load time of your pages with oversized images. You can use Google’s Core Web Vitals benchmarks to guide you as you optimize your images and their load times. Moreover, a solid image SEO strategy that includes optimized alt text, an optimized file name, and schema markup will make it easier for Google to understand what’s in your images, Lens or no Lens.
4. Product Page SEO
Next up on our SEO latest trends list is the recent overhaul to product review pages — and, by extension, product pages themselves. Google has recently rolled out numerous algorithm updates aimed at low-quality product reviews, with the latest coming in April of this year. The recent algorithm updates designed to target low-quality product review pages indicate that Google plans to keep on expanding and enhancing the search shopping experience well into 2024 and beyond.
Effects of Product & Review Updates
Google’s updates to review pages seek to reward or promote helpful, informative, and in-depth product reviews, while pushing boilerplate product pages down the rankings. Google prefers product reviews that authoritatively share “in-depth research.” Product pages or review pages thin on content are at risk of tumbling down the rankings and staying there until they are revamped with more content.
Make the Most of It
In addition to the review updates, we also have to consider what Google’s constant push towards informative long-form content means for product pages. The best way to help your product pages or product review pages climb up the rankings is by supporting them with in-depth content that goes above and beyond. Google shares more about these updates here.
3. Continous Scroll Impacts Clicks
In late 2022, Google implemented continuous scrolling on the desktop and mobile versions of its site. Now instead of seeing just the first page of results, visitors can keep scrolling down and view up to six pages’ worth of SERP results without a single click. If they want to see more, they can simply click on the “more search results” button to keep the list going. Continuous scrolling may seem like a rather insignificant UX improvement, but it could actually have a huge impact on SEO.
Possible Effects of Continous/Endless Scrolling
Click-through rates (CTR) are tied at the hip to SERP position and the higher the ranking, the better the page’s CTR. A recent analysis of search results by Backlinko found that the #1 SERP result was 10 times more likely to get a click-through than the #10 result. What’s more, only 0.63% of Google users clicked on a result from the second page — a statistic that’s especially daunting when compared to the 27.6% CTR that the first result in the SERP enjoyed.
However, it’s likely that the addition of continuous scrolling will shake up these click-through SEO trends. The first result is sure to hold on to the lion’s share of the clicks, with click-through rates diminishing further for each lower ranking. However, thanks to continuous scrolling, being on page two of search results may not be as bad of a thing as it once was. Don’t be surprised if any of your content ranking on those lower pages sees a slight yet sustained traffic boost.
How To Take Advantage
What does all this mean for your pages? Ultimately, it means that pages that would usually rank on the second page of SERPs will benefit from an endless scrolling environment. Keep making fantastic content optimized to look great in the SERP and that has the potential to reach the top spot. Make sure to optimize your page titles and descriptions and to use schema markup so your pages are as attractive and accessible as possible to both human searchers and search crawlers.
2. People-Centered Experience
In December of 2022, Google’s E-A-T guidelines received a touch-up. Now known as E-E-A-T, the updated guidelines place an added focus on experience. This change signals that Google wants to see more content created by people who have actual real-life experience in the field they are writing about.
This update comes on the heels of August’s Helpful Content update, which placed a clear focus on promoting people-first content and on punishing sites without it. The new Helpful Content update seeks to reward “content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience.” The system’s guidelines also indicate that sites containing “relatively high amounts of unhelpful content” are less likely to perform well in search. It’s clear that Google wants to promote a people-centered approach when it comes to content creation in 2024 and beyond — especially in the face of increased automation and AI.
Effect of People-Centered Updates
Google’s E-E-A-T update should mean a reduction in sites ranking for irrelevant keywords. Businesses and marketers trying to strategically gain traffic by targeting irrelevant keywords will have a harder time doing so in 2024. Google’s added focus on writer authority and experience targets both low-quality content and the incoming deluge of AI-written content, placing them at a disadvantage against the kind of helpful, informative, and authoritative content that Google usually likes to see. Whether generated by humans or by AI, the content that reaches the top will require a focus on genuinely helping human users.
How To Make the Most of It
Google’s people-centered updates emphasize the need to create content that appeals to your target audience and provides them with the kind of helpful information they’re looking for. Focus on creating content that satisfies user intent and meets the E-E-A-T criteria as closely as possible. Make sure to avoid targeting irrelevant keywords and to create content with a people-first, not a search-first, approach.
1. AI Everywhere
AI is here and there’s no denying it’s set to change the way that we approach not just SEO, but digital marketing in general. Google has long frowned upon auto-generated content, especially when used for spammy purposes or to manipulate search rankings. More recently, it’s amended its stance.
Google focuses on providing the best user experience possible for its users. In the past, AI-generated content was considered low-quality and provided little value, but things have changed. The latest versions of tools like ChatGPT are helping users generate some seriously impressive content. Google recently updated their Search Central guidelines in February of 2023 to clearly state that “not all use of automation, including AI generation, is spam.” Google softening its stance on AI leaves the door wide open for the use of AI in content creation, but to just what extent is anybody’s guess right now.
How AI May Impact Search Engines
We have yet to see exactly how Google will approach AI-generated content. However, the expectation is that for now, digital marketers will continue to integrate AI into the content writing process more and more. We can expect that, if left unchecked, the volume of AI-generated content on the web will increase substantially in the coming years.
This has led some to speculate that Google may eventually move to clamp down on AI-generated content if it becomes too spammy. But ultimately, what the AI landscape will look like in the coming years, and how Google will continue to manage it, is anybody’s guess at the moment.
How To Take Advantage of AI in SEO
At what point does AI-generated content cross the line into spam and manipulation territory? It’s impossible to say for sure right now, but Google’s Search Central guidelines make it clear Google expects the same quality of content from AI “writers” as it does from humans. Google stresses it still expects AI-generated content to adhere to the new E-E-A-T paradigm and to be helpful, reliable, and created with a people-first approach.
There are still plenty of ways you can take advantage of the AI SEO trend even without having AI write your content for you. For example, you can use AI to help produce writer’s briefs for your projects, create content outlines for your writers, and brainstorm content ideas, to name just a few applications.
No matter how you approach it, if you plan to get in on one of the biggest current trends in SEO by using AI in 2024, make sure you’re still producing the kind of high-quality content that Google likes to see, and keep an eye out for any relevant Google updates.
Get our tips for creating good content with ChatGPT here and download some ChatGPT writing prompts to get you started.
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What Will Future SEO Look Like?
Predicting the future is never easy — especially in the face of growing automation and artificial intelligence. But one thing is for sure: Change is quickly coming to the digital marketing landscape. Achieving consistent growth in uncertain times is tricky, but not impossible. Partnering with an SEO agency that’s committed to providing data-driven SEO solutions can help you stay on top of new trends in SEO and adjust your strategy accordingly. Book a free consultation with us today to see how we can support your goals.