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The Future SEO: Boardroom edition

3 Mins read

30-second summary:

  • SEO’s dynamic nature and Google’s mysterious algorithm specifics keep the industry on its toes
  • Is it possible to spot the inefficiencies of SEO in its infancy and foresee trends?
  • With over 20 years of leadership roles, SEO pioneer Kris Jones taps into his experience to help SEOs derive more strategic value.

Pretty much anytime we speak about something’s future, we’re doing something called extrapolating. By definition, figuring involves extending existing data or trends to assume the same procedure will continue in the future. It’s a form of the scientific method that we probably use every day in our own lives, quite reasonably, too: the summers will be hot, the downtown traffic will be bad at 9 AM, and the sun will rise tomorrow morning.

But how can we look into the future of something as complex and ever-changing as SEO? As with all cases of hindsight, we are clear on how SEO began and how it has transformed over time.

We see the inefficiencies of SEO in its infancy and how advancing search engines have altered the playing field. The catch is this: how can we surmise about the future of SEO without having access to all the mysterious algorithm specifics that Google itself holds?

The answer is simple: we have to extrapolate. I’ve seen SEO from the boardroom perspective for more than 20 years. I’ve seen the old days of keyword stuffing to the semi-modernization of the late 2000s to the absolute beast that Google has become now, in the 2020s. Given that, where do I think SEO is going in the not-too-distant future? Here are some thoughts on that.

User intent will remain crucial.

One aspect of SEO that is essential right now and will become more vital as time goes on is user intent in search queries. It’s an old-fashioned view to think that Google still cares much about exact-match keywords. Maybe 15 to 20 years ago, getting keywords precisely right in your content was a huge deal. Google matched queries to corresponding word strings in range and then served the best of that content to a user.

Today, trying to optimize for exact-match keywords is a futile effort, as Google now understands the intent behind every query, and it’s only going to get better at it as time goes by.

If you recall Google’s BERT update from late 2019, you’ll remember that this was the change that allowed Google to comprehend the context of each search query or the meaning behind the words themselves. And the latest Multitask Unified Model (MUM) update adds further depth and dimensions to understanding search intent.

No longer does Google look only at the words “family attractions.” It knows that that query references children’s activities, fun activities, and generally lighthearted and innocent events.

And all of that came from two words. How did Google do it? Its consistent algorithm updates have allowed it to think like a human. All of this is to say that user intent has to be part of your keyword and content strategy in the future when you’re doing SEO.

Produce more evergreen content

Sometimes, I have heard people mention that devising an effective content marketing strategy has been difficult over the years. As soon as a topic’s period of relevance is over, that content will never rank again. Use your data to analyze content performance and strike the right balance between content and formats. 

If you don’t know any more about this subject, you might be tempted to believe that. Maybe, at one time, you got a content piece entitled “Top Furniture Brands of 2019” to rank for the featured snippet. That makes sense. The post was probably a long listicle that described the best brands and linked out to the manufacturers’ websites or retail stores that carried those brands.

But maybe, as spring of 2019 transitioned into fall and winter, that post fell way down the rankings and now can’t be found anywhere anymore. The reason is apparent: you haven’t made the content evergreen. The best furniture brands of 2019 may not be the best brands of 2020 or 2021, or 2022. So, what do you do? You put the work in to make the blog post evergreen by updating it. Go through and change out the best brands, change the content, change the post’s title, and then republish the post.

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About author
Tristan McCue is a 26-year-old junior programmer who enjoys reading, binge-watching boxed sets, and appearing in the background on TV. He is smart and friendly, but can also be very evil and a bit lazy.He is an Australian Christian. He has a post-graduate degree in computing.
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