Here’s What the Future Of SEO Looks Like for the Next 5 Years

SEO moves fast. 

Fail to keep on top of the latest Google updates and SEO news, and you’re at risk of falling off the face of the search results pages. 

And given that 53% of all website traffic comes from organic search (according to BrightEdge) that’s a losing strategy if your website’s success is key for your business. 

But how do you differentiate between a flash in the pan and a fundamental change to the way search works?

To help you out, here’s our pick of the SEO trends you need to be watching if you want to succeed with search over the next five years.

5 SEO Trends You Need To Be Watching

A lot is sure to change in SEO in the coming years. 

But there are five trends worth keeping an eye on above all the rest:

1. User Experience (UX)

User Experience (UX) is a catch-all term for the overall experience a visitor has while browsing your site or using your product.

It has a huge impact on how your brand is perceived and directly affects your site’s search performance. 

Deliver a poor UX and people aren’t likely to stick around on your site for long, sending a clear signal to Google that you aren’t serving searchers’ needs. 

The end result? You sink down the search results for your target keywords.  

For an example of how crucial UX is to your business’s success, look no further than Google’s homepage. 

Here’s what it looked like in 1998:

google in the 90s

And here’s Yahoo’s homepage from the same year:

yahoo in the 90s

Despite Yahoo predating Google by two years, Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s search engine provided users with a much more streamlined UX. 

And Google has only continued to make its product as easy to use as possible: 

google search

It’s no wonder which company went on to dominate online search. 

For an idea of what impact improving your UX could have, look no further than how much a website redesign improved Truffle POS’s SEO

Follow our tips on bringing your UX to the next level to help ensure you stay on top of this trend in years to come.  

 2. Link Building

Link building has been an incredibly important Google ranking factor since the early days of SEO, and it’s not set to go anywhere anytime soon. 

Relevant and authoritative backlinks are always going to be one of the surest signs of a site’s quality in Google’s eyes. And it will always prioritize the highest quality sites in its search results. 

What’s set to be a huge SEO trend over the next five years is how sophisticated Google is set to become at differentiating between natural, quality links that deserve to pass authority and those that don’t. 

A key factor going forward is going to be link relevance, which Google is becoming increasingly sophisticated at analyzing. 

In the coming years, a link from an authoritative site that operates in a completely different niche may not be worth nearly as much as it was in years gone by.

So it’s going to pay to build your link building strategy around acquiring relevant links rather than simply shooting for sites with the highest authority. 

A great way to earn highly relevant links is to create linkable assets that you can outreach to sites in your niche.

For example, Lawsuit Legal’s visual guide to government spending is a niche piece of content that’s likely to accumulate incredibly targeted backlinks: 

future of seo

Niche assets like this are set to become increasingly effective in the years to come. 

3. Create High-Quality Content

Alongside backlinks, content quality will always be a strong ranking factor. 

In the coming years, Google is set to become more and more refined about how it separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to the content on the web. 

It’s already on the way there with a few recent algorithm updates:

  • E-A-T – expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness – are the qualities Google needs to see in a piece of content to see it as being worthy of ranking on the first page of its search results. 
  • BERT is a natural language processing technique that helps Google infer the intent behind every search in the same way a human would. 

future of seo

After BERT, Google is much more sophisticated at picking up the context of a search.

You can’t directly optimize your content for either of these new ranking factors. 

But you can benefit from them by focussing on creating content of the highest possible quality. 

A clear content marketing trend to focus on is therefore creating engaging content. 

Not sure what that looks like in 2020? Follow growth marketer Nadya Khoja’s formula for creating engaging content to make sure every piece of content you create ticks all the boxes Google is looking for when it comes to quality. 

Another key content marketing trend to keep in mind is that 9 out of 10 companies who do original research find that it’s successful, according to Mantis Research.

Generating your own original data is a surefire way to create quality content that’s likely to succeed in search.

And you don’t have to have a research department at your disposal to produce your own original research. A well-thought-out survey on a topic that’s important to your target audience is easy to execute and can lead to some effective results, like this FreshBooks survey on what American small businesses are saying about the impact of COVID-19:

future of seo

Create a survey like this and then you can use the tools in our pick of the top content marketing tools to design and distribute it. 

4. Mobile SEO

Mobile SEO is one of today’s most overlooked search factors. 

That’s in spite of the fact that:

  • 52.2% of all website traffic worldwide comes from mobile phones. (Statista)
  • There are more searches on mobile than on desktop. (Think With Google)
  • On average, ranking in position #1 on mobile gets you 27.7% of the clicks, whereas ranking in position #1 on desktop gets you 19.3% of the clicks. (SEOClarity)

And mobile SEO is about to become even more important, with Google recently announcing a shift from mobile-first indexing to mobile-only indexing

Soon, the only version of your site in Google’s index is going to be the mobile version. 

So if you’ve been neglecting your mobile site, it’s well worth giving it some serious attention – and maybe even investing in a mobile CRM as we all begin to use mobile more.  

5. Structured Data

The most successful SEOs in the coming years are set to be the ones who leverage the power of structured data. 

Structured data allows you to “talk” directly to Google. It’s code that tells the search engines exactly what a page is about and signpost specific elements they can then use to display more comprehensive results.

future of seo

These recipes include structured data that Google is using to display their reviews, cooking times, and ingredients.

Including structured data across your site allows your content to appear as rich search results and within Google Knowledge Graphs.

This will not only help you take up more real estate in the results pages for your target key phrases, but also help make your results appear more eye-catching and therefore more likely to receive a click. 

Be sure to get well acquainted with structured data markup – all of which can be found on schema.org – to take advantage of this key SEO trend which is only set to become more important as Google’s search results become more sophisticated.

future of seo

Summary

Keep on top of these five key SEO trends and your site is sure to stay at the top of the Google results for the keywords you’re targeting for years to come. 

And to make sure you’re in the best possible place to take advantage of these trends going forward, be sure to follow our guide to the things to remove from your website for higher Google rankings today.

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