As we prepare to move into a new year, it’s important to take stock of the trends shaping future SEO activity. With the rise of AI, it’s becoming even more crucial for search engines to understand user intent, prioritize user experience, and gauge trust and credibility. This means you may need to tweak your current SEO tactics. Here are some SEO trends to look out for in the next year and beyond.
2024 SEO Trends
1. Google Search Generative Experience (SGE)
SGE refers to Google’s AI-powered search engine. It provides AI-generated results to many search queries, which will appear at the top of the search engine results page. As people get used to this, it may change the way they interact with the search engine. It will also affect the way that sites optimize to generate more traffic. In general, it will transform Google into more of a conversational assistant, understanding and responding to inquiries in a more human-like way. Overall, it signifies a shift toward a more interactive and user-centered search experience where the algorithm takes more of the user’s intent into consideration.
2. Zero-click searches
More searchers where a user doesn’t click on any of the displayed results are becoming more common. According to a SEMrush study, 57% of mobile and almost a quarter of desktop searches leave the SERP without clicking on any of the organic or paid results. Sometimes that’s because Google provided the necessary information already, such as the local map pack for local business searches. It’s likely that Google will continue to accommodate these searches in the form of knowledge panels, local packs, and direct conversion tools to quickly satisfy user intent. To maximize your efforts around this trend, try adjusting your strategy to focus on securing featured snippets for queries that won’t result in a click.
3. Answer Engine Optimization (AEO)
AEO is a response to the need for adapting a content strategy in response to AI and chatbots and the way they are reshaping search results. As people get more accustomed to instant information from AI tools, they seek more immediate answers that don’t require further research. AEO refers to the process of optimizing content for so-called answer engines. These are generally AI-powered technologies that synthesize data to answer conversational queries for users. Legal marketers should focus on developing an AEO strategy alongside their traditional SEO efforts. This strategy will involve creating concise and clear content that will be better absorbed by machine learning algorithms. One tactic that you can employ is to create a Q & A style format in much of your content. For example, include an FAQ section in each of your articles. This provides an easy way for AI tools to find simple information in response to a search query. The more readily available this information is, the more likely it is to be included in an AEO search result.
4. Increased focus on topical authority
Since you’re a legal marketer, you already know how important it is to be viewed as a credible resource of expertise. However, this is becoming more critical across all search results, not just for law firms. Often referred to as topical authority, establishing this credibility involves becoming a go-to source for information in a particular niche, ensuring that all of your content covers the subject matter comprehensively. Search engines will increasingly prioritize content that clearly demonstrates authority, so a strategic and intentional approach is necessary. If you aren’t already doing so, you’ll need to develop comprehensive, expert, and high-quality content around the topics that your firm specializes in. You should also focus on building a deep catalog of content on related topics and subtopics.
5. SEO for video
Video has presented a major opportunity for digital marketers for the past few years, and that won’t be slowing down any time soon. People are consuming video content like they never have before, and search engines have taken notice. The prevalence of video content has increased exponentially in search engine results, which means a video strategy is important for keeping up with today’s SEO trends. Before recording videos though, take the time to develop a solid video SEO strategy. As more and more marketers create videos, the competition for attention will increase. That means you need to take extra steps to ensure that your videos answer real questions with information that viewers value, and keep them coming back. You can use YouTube’s keyword research tools to find and implement relevant keywords in video titles, descriptions, and tags to increase your discoverability.
6. Changing search engine rank factors
Though no one knows the specific algorithms that search engines use, we do know that they prioritize trustworthy and expert content that provides answers to user’s questions. As other factors change though, it can be difficult to know what to focus on. We suggest sticking to the core principles that are unlikely to change – the user experience. The best way to do this is to consistently publish content that demonstrates deep knowledge and expertise in your sector. At the same time, seek to improve your overall website user experience by optimizing the Core Web Vitals, which are the metrics that Google considers essential in a webpage’s overall user experience. If you’re not sure which vitals need to be improved, or how to do so, it’s worth a conversation with an SEO expert who can audit your site and make specific recommendations for improvement.
7. Updating existing content
Content is king, and that means you’re not the only one trying to publish more of it. Increasing competition and content velocity will require marketers to update their content more frequently and make more effort to present more relevant material. In short, what is considered valuable or relevant is likely to change at a faster pace than in past years. Savvy digital marketers will develop a proactive, ongoing process for reviewing, updating, and optimizing the content they currently have published. One of the best ways to do this is to set up a tool like SEMrush’s position tracking, where you can monitor your rankings for important keywords and set alerts for changes in your position. When you notice certain things start to slip in rank, you can make a concerted effort to refresh the content.
8. Evolving user intent
In general, there is a shift toward users having more of a commercial or transactional intent when searching. As this continues, search engines are likely to start diverting attention away from purely informational content. This was also evidenced by a decline in keyword groups associated with navigational or informational intent. Consider adapting your content strategy to meet the changing needs, including understanding if there are new ways that common target keywords are being used in your industry. You’ll also want to optimize for transactional queries, such as making pricing information and contact forms more easily available. Make sure to monitor performance over time and see how new keyword activity is impacting your traffic and the conversions that you care about.
Related: SEO Basic in an Hour
SEO remains a critical component of digital marketing, and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. Instead, some of the tactics that are most effective will change, and it’s important to keep up with these changes and remain flexible. Above all, make sure to monitor your web performance carefully so that you can see trend lines and address small issues before they become problems. You’ll also be able to see positive traction and capitalize on it with a greater knowledge of keywords, rankings, and searches within your niche. If you’re feeling a little unsure about moving your SEO tactics into the future, try our free SEO audit. You’ll get an SEO analysis report that details on-site issues and opportunities for optimization so that your site does a better job of getting discovered and generating traffic. And, be on the