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7 SEO Predictions for 2024: The Year of A.I. SEO?

The new year is finally here. And for many SEO professionals, it probably couldn’t come soon enough. 2023 was a rough year for many marketers and site owners, as Google subjected them to a whirlwind of aggressive algorithm updates, the introduction of SGE, and more.

As we gear up for Q1 and change our title tags over to 2024 (just kidding), let’s ponder what the new year has in store for SEO professionals and the industry as a whole.

Here are my thoughts:

A.I. SEO will become its own specialization

Generative A.I. took center stage in 2023. OpenAI’s ChatGPT took the world by storm and prompted other companies, like Microsoft and Google, to try and keep up with products like Bing Chat, Google Bard, and SGE.

Once Google rolls SGE out to its entire user base, I believe the demand for A.I.-focused SEO efforts will rise dramatically. Anyone who didn’t sign up to try SGE in 2023 will see the A.I.-driven results for the first time and wonder how they can maintain their online presence with the altered SERPs.

SEOs and digital marketers will naturally try to meet this demand and establish themselves as the leaders in this soon-to-be niche discipline of SEO. A.I. SEO will become another area of expertise like international SEO, E.E.A.T. audits, and page speed optimization.

Google will continue rolling out aggressive updates

This may be the toughest one to hear, but I firmly believe Google is not done rolling out HCU and Core updates in bunches. Not by a long shot. I anticipate that we’ll see a few waves like the August through November 2023 period that featured multiple updates.

It’s clear that Google is aggressively trying to re-evaluate the web and adjust their SERPs accordingly. Whether those evaluations are right or fair is a discussion for another post. We’ve seen multiple reports from various SEO outlets that massive ranking fluctuations have occurred in practically every niche.

But whether it’s to combat A.I.-generated content or to prepare its index for mass rollout of SGE, Google will likely continue to try and fix and refine things. As site owners and marketers, we should be prepared for that.

E.E.A.T. will become more important than ever

I know this may seem like “drinking the Google kool-aid,” but I do think that E.E.A.T. will take an even more prominent role in SEO best practices, especially in YMYL niches.

It’s clear that the future of Google Search is SGE and A.I., whether we want it or not. As Google is using generative A.I. to produce these results and link to sources, it’s going to want to showcase the most trustworthy and authoritative sources it can.

So as HCU updates continue to come and SGE becomes more and more prominent, E.E.A.T. may become more crucial to maintain or grow their organic presence. And whether that’s B.S. and it all just boils down to links in the end; we’ll just have to wait and see.

Featured snippets will slowly start to be phased out

This may be on the bold side, but I think featured snippets’ days are numbered.

Featured snippets were Google’s quick Q&A-style results for users’ queries. A whole sub-discipline for content optimization sprouted up for ways to get your content into these spots, given their prime real estate.

However, once SGE rolls out for all Google users, what use will they have for featured snippets? Google’s A.I. results essentially do the same thing as featured snippets. What’s more, users can ask follow-up questions to their original query, creating a dialogue for deeper engagement.

Google isn’t afraid to shake things up with their SERPs, even with things that users have come to more-or-less expect. I believe featured snippets are right in that line of fire.

We’ll finally see the “hidden gems” part of the Helpful Content System

When the first Helpful Content Update rolled out, there was an explanation from Google that this ranking system was ultimately meant to help surface “hidden gems” in search results. These hidden gems included articles and content on less-authoritative sites that wouldn’t historically rank high (due to age, links, etc.) but are great fits for the user’s query.

We have yet to see the hidden gems aspect of the ranking system come to life. With more attention paid to HCU in 2024, I believe we’ll finally see this part of the algorithm across the web. Maybe this will be part of a solution to improve the overall quality of the SERPs? Hard to tell.

Long-form content will still rule

It’s an age-old debate in SEO and content marketing about word count and it’s effect on ranking. Despite numerous claims from Google that “you don’t need high word count to rank,” long-form content almost always outperforms short-form content. This is especially true for smaller to mid-sized sites that are trying to compete with large, well-established businesses.

I think this stays the same in 2024. As competition continues to grow, especially in SGE-driven SERPs, providing more content that adds thoroughness and authority to match user intent will be a necessity. Nike may be able to rank number one with a two-sentence page that answers “why do you need a running shoe.” Most sites aren’t so lucky.

Forum comments make a comeback in Online PR

Commenting on relevant Reddit and forum threads has long been an Online PR tactic. It’s not a form of link building (or at least it hasn’t been in a very long time) because those links don’t pass authority, but inserting your business into certain conversations made sense from a branding and reach standpoint.

That seems to be very true going into 2024. Google greatly values these conversations, and has rewarded sites like Reddit with massive ranking boosts. Moreover, Google has started to introduce SERP sections titled “Discussions and forums.”

So now, not only can you get in front of your potential audience who frequent Reddit, you can get in front of them in traditional Search too. Savvy SEO and PR professionals may find ample opportunities to get eyeballs on their brand or client if they’re looking in the right places.

Revisiting these predictions in late 2024

We have a long, but exciting, year ahead of us! I’ll revisit these ideas and predictions at the end of the year and see how I did. But I hope you enjoyed this list. If you have any SEO or digital marketing predictions of your own, drop me a line. I’d love to hear and discuss them more. Happy New Year!

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