There was once a rural town with farmers, a few families, and large swaths of land in between properties. There weren’t many laws in the town, since most citizens kept to themselves and didn’t bother one another except when they needed to ask a favor every now and then. Everyone was fairly happy in the town, except there wasn’t much to do.
One day, a businessman came in and decided to build a factory. He hired many people from the town, as well as out of town, to come work in the factory. Soon, houses were built to accommodate all the new people. The new citizens decided that the town was fairly boring, and that it needed some more fun things to enjoy. They built a mall, new grocery shops, and new businesses. The new families flourished, and even more people moved in. Eventually, the town became a city, and that city became a hub.
Suddenly, a particular group of people weren’t happy with another because they lived close by and played their music very loud at night. A new law was created that stated music playing past ten p.m. had to be kept to a reasonable volume. More laws like this were established as more people came to the town, and there were always more travelers, commerce, and entertainment. A few grumpy farmers, who had lived in the town since the beginning, disliked the new city and longed for the solitude and quiet of the past. Other than that, life was good in the city.
Similar to this mythical town, search engine optimization has become more rule-based, rigid, and complicated as the years have gone by. This is primarily due to the abuses of SEO practices (black hat tactics), the drastic increase in web traffic, and the sophistication of the SEO industry. In other words, the more the online industry and search engine optimization companies have expanded, the more algorithms and rules Google creates. Although this is cumbersome for SEO experts who have to keep up with the latest algorithms, the rewards are high - there’s less black hat SEO tactics, and more legitimate ways for quality sites to be optimized. Life in SEOville can be annoying with all of these rules, but most of the citizens are happy with a more productive search engine experience.
Given the current trajectory, we can only expect SEO rules and algorithms to become more extensive in the upcoming years. Here’s some of the predictions that experts in the field have made for the future of SEO.
1. Google AdWords are changing.
Advertisers won’t be able to de-select close variants as an option in their AdWords campaigns anymore. This implies that users will be able to search with close keyword matches in AdWords, misspellings, and more. While it will allow users to likely find what they are looking for faster-it will annoy advertisers who enjoy having full control over their campaigns. This will primarily affect keyword choices and audience targeting options.
2. Mobile devices will alter the user interfaces of search engine result pages even further.
As mobile devices become more popular, user interfaces will have to change the way that they look and function. An example of this is Google’s removal of author photos and Google+ view counts from search results, which makes the mobile user experience more palatable. Apps will also become indexed and as a result, app SEO will become more popular.
3. Vertical Search usage will continue to rise in popularity.
Vertical search options are the opposite of the linear options in Google search results. Vertical search options make search engine results more specific to a certain segment of line content. In other words, search results will become narrower and more tailored towards a user’s needs. Vertical searches are being used more often because of the increase in web addresses and the increased use of mobile technology.
4. There will be more signals to determine ranking.
Google will instill more algorithms and rules to determine ranking. According to SEO expert Eric Enge, it will become more difficult for people in the SEO field to understand the complexity of these new algorithms and or signals, or how the signals interact with one another. There will also be more algorithmic actions against Negative SEO, or black hat tactics, making it harder for schemers to get away with these types of unethical methods in the future.
5. Voice search will become more popular, and SEO will have to adjust accordingly.
Voice search is when someone asks their question into a phone, as opposed to typing their question into a search engine. This type of technology has become more popular as mobile devices have progressed. In fact, 55 percent of teenagers use voice search, and 40 percent of adults use voice search. Voice search will make short-tail keywords less relevant, because speaking into the phone allows for a more natural way of posing queries, which favors long-tail keywords and full phrases. Updates like Hummingbird, which analyze search results by semantic text, will become more important as technologies like voice search continue to develop.
As the city of SEOville’s online trade, commerce, and traffic expands, the rules and regulations of this Internet city will also increase. Though these rules will be more difficult to navigate and follow throughout 2015 and beyond, the changes will create a more structured and equitable way for SEO experts to optimize sites.