SEO is a funny thing. Some people love it. Others think it’s the bane of the entire internet. As for me, I simply accept the fact that it not only exists, but can literally make or break a business in the digital age.
Over the past few years, the amount of changes Google has made to their algorithm has been profound, and now that 2015 is here, I see these changes only increasing in frequency. But this evolution is good. Google wants to reward great content. They want to make searchers happy. And they certainly don’t want you (or me) using another search engine.
As I consider the future of SEO and how Google’s algorithm will evolve, I can unequivocally say I feel the day will come when search engines will be a better judge of content than humans themselves will be.
To some, such a statement may almost sound sacrilegious, but if we look at the past, analyze where we are today, and then look ahead to tomorrow—it’s pretty obvious where all of this is going.
This being said, I’d like to make a couple of predictions regarding the future of SEO—and what will and will not matter to Google in 2015 and beyond. I suspect you’ll both agree and disagree with much of the following, so feel free to wax poetic in the comments section at the end…
4 SEO Factors that will Become Less Important Over Time
- Page Rank/Domain Authority: More authoritative (PR) sites will not (automatically) dominate search engines in the future as they often do today. Why?
Just because a website has a high page rank doesn’t mean it should automatically be given more love by a search engine. Giving too much credit to high Page Ranking sites is the classic example of “The Rich Get Richer, the Poor Get Poorer.”
To make an analogy, if SEO was a team sport today, based on the existing algorithms, almost all the starters would be the team veterans. And the rookies, despite their (potentially) superior abilities, would play much less– simply because they’re rookies. This, as you might imagine, makes no sense in the sports world and it shouldn’t happen in the world of SEO either—but it does, a LOT.
- Site (Domain) Age: This goes hand-in-hand with Page Rank but it comes down to this: New and future websites should NOT be punished because they weren’t around during the golden age of SEO and search engines. This “first mover advantage” shouldn’t hold so much weight, but unfortunately, it does.
Take as an example my swimming pool company. Because we dominated search with our “They Ask, You Answer” content marketing philosophy starting in 2009, we now stand on top of the SEO mountain for our industry and it’s going to be very, very hard for anyone in the future to knock us off this mountain. That being said, if I were a new swimming pool company I would hate to be punished simply because my business didn’t exist during the early days of SEO.
Hopefully you see my point. This first mover advantage is flawed, as it punishes every new business going forward, and somehow, Google and the rest of the search engines are going to have to address this issue.
- Social Signals: Many SEO pundits think social will play a bigger and bigger role on search rankings going forward. I do not share this belief. Sure, it may happen for a time, but eventually it will be eliminated because social shares can be too easily manipulated to make a piece of content “appear” worthy of a higher ranking. Furthermore, platforms like Facebook and Twitter come and go, which makes building metrics around said platforms problematic. And finally, because Google and Facebook are becoming massive competitors, do you really think Google will want any part of their algorithm to be impacted by a competitor??
- Inbound Links (Backlinks): Although I think the number of Inbound Links/Backlinks a webpage has pointing to it will always be somewhat relevant to SEO, I foresee it becoming less and less of a factor. Why? For starters, it can be manipulated. Also, as stated above, inbound links favor older content, and as searchers seek out the “latest and greatest” info within any field, search engines will be forced to give less and less weight to inbound links in an effort to keep content as fresh and up to date as possible.
When all is said and done, Google and other search engines have one obsession:
They want to give you the most specific answer to your specific question/search query.
What will Matter Most for SEO Going Forward
Going forward, specificity of content will continue to become more and more important. Also, search engines will reward the “teacher”—in other words, not the piece of content that is looking to sound smart, but rather the piece of content that has the goal of communion with the reader/searcher. In a quick nutshell, I see the following SEO factors becoming VERY significant in the coming years:
- Time on Site: Time is man’s greatest resource. It’s also going to be one of Google’s greatest judges of the best content the web has to offer.
- Bounce Rate: If they quickly come and go, you’ve got a problem
- Freshness of Content: It better be up to date
- Meaty/thorough Content: Searchers don’t just want answers—they want GREAT answers
- Mobile: Your content better look great on every screen, no matter the size
- Transparency/Honesty: People don’t want to read biased content. They want honesty and transparency, and search engines will get better and better at giving it to them.
- Multimedia: Content that shows in multiple forms (like a blog post that includes text and video) will outperform content that uses just one means of communication.
So there you have it folks—Factors that will (and will not) play a major factor in SEO going forward. What do you agree or disagree with? What else would you add to these lists? Feel free to add your thoughts below…