The Future of SEO: 2024 SEO Trends & Beyond

As our series on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes to an end, it’s important to look ahead. While SEO is constantly evolving and changing, here are the latest predictions on what might be on the horizon for SEO in 2024 and beyond.

1. Increased Emphasis on Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In our previous blog on how AI and SEO interact, we mentioned that AI is not going to take over SEO. However, AI’s influence on future SEO trends is undeniable. With predictive analysis getting further developed as a feature, AI can identify emerging trends and topics before they become mainstream. This would allow businesses to use AI not only for keyword research but also for content recommendations and generation, as AI gets trained to better identify the user intent behind each search. AI’s growing capabilities and accuracy would help businesses stay ahead of the popularity curve, producing unique content that can become relevant in the near future.

2. Changes in Search Result Layout

Expanding on the topic of AI, the use of AI-powered chatbots for search will likely continue to grow. With an increased use of software such as ChatGPT and Bing’s Copilot to perform searches, Google is continuously optimizing a chatbot of their own—Search Generative Experience (SGE). SGE lets users ask direct questions and displays results in a different format compared to the classic list we are accustomed to seeing on search engine results pages (SERPs). SGE presents results in complete sentences and provides users with examples, getting rid of the need to click through multiple links with information. 

This trend is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, brands who aren’t able to rank highly in SERPs now get a chance to have their content displayed on SGE; on the other hand, there’s an assumption that SGE will reduce organic traffic for many short-tailed keywords because users will be able to get a complete AI-generated answer as their search result. As Google rolls out SGE updates in the future, some businesses might consider adjusting their SEO strategies to account for AI chatbots.

3. The Reign of Zero-Click Searches and Featured Snippets

With SGE chatbot’s potential to disrupt the current list format of search results and Google continuously favoring quick how-to lists and direct, short answers to the users’ questions, businesses should start optimizing their content for featured snippets. Known as zero-click searches, this type of content appears in featured placements or “People Also Ask” section of SERPs, allowing users to find the information they were looking for without clicking on any external links. As harmful as they are to website traffic, featured snippets aren’t going anywhere, and we predict they will only keep getting expanded. For that reason, brands should aim to secure visibility in these prime search positions and provide concise, valuable information that satisfies user queries upfront.

4. Continuous Prioritizing of Search Intent Clusters

Over the last few years, SEO has been centering the individual search intent. With long-tailed keywords getting more traffic than short-tailed keywords, Google has been prioritizing search intent clusters—groups of related queries that indicate specific user intents or needs. Search results will continue getting hyper-personalized for consumers’ behaviors, preferences, and context. Moving forward, SEO strategies should hone in on thoroughly understanding each brand’s target audience and create highly tailored content and user experiences.

5. Augmented Reality (AR) and Visual Search Optimization

With AR technology on the rise, it’s only a matter of time before SEO practices will need to pivot and adapt. We expect that businesses will have to enhance their online presence by optimizing images and other visual content for search engines. Because Google crawlers notoriously need help understanding the content of each webpage, businesses will need to provide explicit clues about the meaning of their pages, the process known as implementing structured data markup. This step will become essential in providing context for AR experiences. Additionally, as Google has been optimizing its search results for voice assistants, the same approach may extend to visual queries, requiring SEO practitioners to consider factors such as image recognition and object detection.

If you’re wondering whether SEO is still relevant in 2024, rest assured that it is and will continue to stay so while adapting to shifting consumer needs. For businesses aiming to maintain online visibility and engagement, it’s vital to stay in tune with the changes in user behavior, especially when it comes to their target audience. By anticipating and promptly adapting to emerging trends and innovations, businesses can position themselves for success in 2024 and beyond. To further stand out amid the competitive digital marketing landscape, contact 5 Horizons to discuss how we can help bring your SEO strategy to a new level of excellence. You can also read the blogs in our Demystifying SEO series to better understand and learn the ins and outs of SEO.