SEO isn't what it used to be.
As the tech world progresses through the extraordinary successes Web 2.0 brought to Internet users in the past decade or so, all eyes are on what's next. For most, the only certainty is that the next iteration of web technologies will be disruptive.
While only a few people are currently talking about the way Web 3.0 will finally look when it forms, the foundations for future disruption are already in place. Artificial intelligence, voice search, video and image proliferation, and hyperlocal results all promise to challenge longstanding assumptions about how people interact with the Internet.
As a business that relies on the Internet for digital marketing, you will have to update your content strategies to reflect this new reality as quickly as possible. Look into any of the following technologies and the most likely ways they will affect the SEO element of your vertical marketing strategy.
AI, Machine Learning, and Semantic Search
One of the most promising developments to occur in the world of search is artificial intelligence and its sister technology, machine learning. Both of these technologies are already highly disruptive and will continue to offer increasingly powerful challenges to the status quo.
In many ways, the most disruptive element of these technologies is their capacity for personalization. In the near future, everyone's internet will be uniquely and personally their own – much in the same way your Facebook news feed algorithm learns what you interact with the most and reinforces those preferences.
Even now, machine learning promises to make the SEO-related updates search engine giants like Google frequently implement obsolete. An algorithmic, personal approach to search that uses machine learning to give people what they truly want in the fastest manner possible will have a powerful effect on traditional keyword-based SEO strategies.
Having a top ranking for a broad but highly competitive search term will not matter as much as it has until now. There will be far less people searching for, "Boots" than there are searching for long-tail variants like "Used Ariat tombstone cowboy boots in black, size nine-and-a-half".
At the same time, search engines will have greater capability for understanding the semantics of these requests. The personalized ad targeting engines of yesteryear would show other cowboy boot brands to the user described above – but modern AI targeting software might have more success making a connection to equestrian gear, leather goods, or Stetson hats instead.
Importantly, most of these advances will take place within the search engine framework itself. SERP features are growing in importance and will become increasingly complex as time goes on, so make sure you are optimized to offer the rich, structured data snippets SERPs use.
Prepare for Voice Search
Voice technology is convincing more and more people that typing is going the way of the writing-desk. With mobile technology growing to dominate the search landscape, increasing numbers of Web users are adopting voice-centric practices that eschew the traditional touchpad keyboards that have been the standard human-computer interface since the 1970s.
The popularity of voice search should become as no surprise – science fiction predicted that machines and human beings would talk to another since its earliest days. The fact of the matter is that it's much easier to simply tell a computer what you want than to type in an exact phrase – especially on a mobile device that demands both visual and tactile attention.
Voice search will encourage people to be more specific than ever when it comes to finding what they're looking for online. Making your web content speak to these people means using a more conversational tone and focusing on natural-sounding long-tail keywords. Ultimately, people are going to be looking for niche content that speaks directly to their needs, and your web content will have to address that.
What is Hyperlocality?
Hyperlocal search results are a step further than merely local ones. While local search results may list all of the bank branches and ATMs in a particular city, a hyperlocal search result will tell you which one is closest to you right now.
This is already commonplace with ATMs, restaurants, and most service industries but it will soon make its way throughout every other commercial sector, including retail. Someone looking for a specific brand of HDMI cable for their television wants to know the closest store that has it in stock right now, and the combination of technologies listed above will make that possible.
Your web content will have to speak to as many of these niche demands as possible. Investing in your digital marketing strategy now will generate SEO payoff for the foreseeable future by leveraging these disruptive technologies to their maximum potential.