Every couple of months or even weeks, there’s a new blog post anticipating the end of SEO, and time after time SEO keeps prevailing.
Instead of wasting our time, claiming SEO is on its final days (it’s not); let’s analyze three trends that possibly, in the long run, could actually end SEO, and how marketers can prepare themselves.
1. New era for advertisement
In order to provide a greater experience for its users, Google continuously keeps innovating on ad formats.
Savvy marketers know that better ads mean there’s less traffic captured by organic listings. Here are some examples and scenarios of PPC ads providing better UX than organic results:
Finding service providers in select cities:
Local SEOs, beware! Google rolled out new home service ads to select markets. Now it’s becoming easier to find numerous contractors and service providers near you.
The bad news is that it won’t matter if you spent lots of money optimizing your site with incredible local SEO, you still won’t be able to compete with these convenient ads (not to mention Google’s endorsement).
Google has recently launched new high-value verticals that are definitely providing relevant information, right in your SERPs. Of course, this will come at the expense of your organic clicks.
In my opinion, I think Google will continue to expand these rich interfaces to other areas of business such as legal aid, real estate and mortgages, and credit cards.
Google flights have become a monster development for the company, making it earn almost double the travel-related profits as its main competitor, Expedia. But of course, such a compelling interface is bound to suck up a big amount of organic clicks from your site.
Possibly one of the coolest and most ambitious interfaces ever offered by Google – It completely erases the need to download an app. You can go directly and play them. It’s astonishing.
Searching for products
This is one of the most dangerous Google ad products for SEOs. Interfaces like Product Listing Ads (PLAs), for instance, provide a simple yet useful way of product discovery.
The simplicity makes this creation very easy to upgrade because Google won’t have to build a solution for each vertical or query.
In the future, it’s not hard to imagine that every product query will simply offer a big list of product cards, bypassing SEO efforts entirely.
Buying directly on Google
With the development of PLAs, Google has all the technology available to crossing over and start offering direct checkouts through its platform. It’s hard to overestimate the implications a shift as big as this one could have on the SEO industry.
To make things worse, Google has plenty of reasons to keep developing these new trends:
They attract more clicks, meaning more compelling the ads generate more clicks and more revenue for Google.
They keep ad blockers away because they provide a better user experience than many organic results.
A better UX: Finding a Plomer or a real estate agent will be far easier with these new platforms than going through countless organic results.
What can SEOs do about it?
Always be aware of new developments to make sure you're using the right tech for your company.
Stop competing on SERPs overtook with intelligent ads.
Set your website’s experience apart from what Google is providing. The best way to get higher conversion rates is always tying your marketing efforts to satisfying your customers.
The best-case scenario is that ad blocking keeps its rise, forcing these high-maintenance ads to remain in the down low.
2. New ways to search online
Imagine the world where people no longer search online by typing something in Google. The truth is these alternative platforms already exist or are in early-development phases. In this scenario, SEOs will have to find a way to work with new these interfaces:
How would SEOs rank a search query for something that is incredibly personalized?
Specific search engines
Besides Google, there are plenty of search engines that actually provide a better UX regarding a specific type of queries. Some examples are Wikipedia (for informational purposes), Yelp (for local business reviews), and Amazon (for purchasing purposes).
People could start shifting away to a site who offers a more personalized search experience and provide tailor-made results.
Google Now is an effective way of getting information quicker, even before you type a query! It’s called pre-search, and its improvement could be very devastating for verticals like:
- Flights We know you like to fly home for the holidays, so instead or looking for “flights to Toronto”, we’ll search for the best flight deals in December.
- Entertainment We know you like the theater, so instead of looking for “tickets for Broadway musicals”, we’ll predict you’d like to catch a Hamilton show before you ever type it in a query.
- Food You’re walking near a restaurant we predict you’ll like, at it happens to be lunch time. We’ll send you a notification about it.
- Products We know you adore Nike shoes. We’ll show you the latest Nike deals near you even before you need to look for them.
What can SEOs do about it?
Understand where your audience is looking for information. It’s your job to always be in the loop about your target customers, so you'll optimize for whatever platform they're on.
Simplify. The simpler your site is to manage, the easier it will be to adapt to future changes in the market.
Stop competing on SERPs overtook by high-paying interfaces.
The best-case scenario for your company is that these new platforms will end up consuming just a very small chunk of the total searches.
While they might continue to grow bigger each day, covering more personal and informational queries, the experience is still very limited.
Transactional queries, for example, remain on traditional search engines because the experience might not be so enjoyable… Nobody likes to ask a chatbot about the new Nike shoes!
3. Google 2.0
This scenario comes with a great deal of imagination, but it might as well become a reality someday. Imagine Google actually gets so good at examining and understanding websites that business owners won’t need to worry about SEO.
We are talking about making a great UX indistinguishable from good SEO. Just think of the implications that might have.
What can SEOs do about it?
Widen your skill set. Ensure you’re offering valuable content to your customers. Give them a nice and easy overall experience.
The best-case scenario is that Google will always want to have SEOs around in order to keep understanding the internet.
Despite all current threats, I don’t think SEO will disappear anytime soon. I also believe all the best-case scenarios are actually the most likely scenarios.
That being said, it’s important to always be in the loop for future trends that could threaten the SEO discipline, mainly because that is what motivates evolution in our industry.