2024 SEO Predictions
Search Generative Experience (SGE)
I believe SGE will be a central topic in 2024, building on the momentum it has gained over the last six months. And while it is so high in the expected changes of search, I do believe the end product is being slightly over-hyped. A recent Google podcast suggests that search engine modifications are continually refined based on how users interact with the features.
A notable change I’ve observed is the diversification of the icons beneath the search bar, which seem to vary based on search intent. These alterations, moving beyond the standard buttons of:
hint at a more tailored search experience. For brands, especially those focused on navigational search, it’s crucial to monitor these changes, as they might reveal more detailed information about their online presence.
I’ve included two examples below of how different these buttons can now be for two searches on a somewhat similar subject:
Content Content Content
Content has always ‘been king’ as it is termed in the industry, and this trend continues to hold true. Despite Google’s aims to devalue link importance (though research-based evidence still shows otherwise) and some technical aspects like talking down the importance of Core Web Vitals, they still continue to uptalk content as the cornerstone of their strategy.
The ‘helpful content’ update from 2022, in my opinion, will see further refinement in 2024, as once again Google adapts to the changes in the web and changes in user preference. The SEO community is striving to better understand what truly constitutes ‘helpful content’ as defined in Google’s guidelines and how that applies in a saturated, increasingly AI-influenced landscape.
Expansion of Search Features
Following on from the first point, Google is consistently adding new search features, including the recent discussion forum and profile page markup. With SGE, I foresee a growing significance in various types of schemas for categorising information. For instance, looking at the screenshot above, indicating someone’s age in structured data could be key for Google to recognise this information accurately. I also expect more enhancements in search features or modifications to the existing ones, such as their changes with FAQ and HowTo schema, if schema types start to get abused.
First-person experience’s increased diversity
Google’s inclusion of the experience element in its E-E-A-T algorithm back in 2022 is something becoming more prevalent on the web. It underscores the value of firsthand user experiences, and brands continue to invest in customer reviews and review platforms. But these are just the starting point. Expanding to detailed case studies, narrative testimonials, and detailed usage videos will become increasingly important. Any methods that a brand can use to show positive experiences will become the norm for many products and services.
Goodbye ‘content writer’, hello ‘prompt engineer’
Of course, we couldn’t speak on web trends without mentioning AI. AI’s evolving role in SEO is something I’ve been closely observing, especially with advancements in technologies like OpenAI and Bard. Google have provided guidance on 2023 in the use of AI in content.
If you’re looking to provide a summary of various information sources on one site that is related to your brand, for example, you want to talk about a local area where you sell houses, then you need to research the web to see nearby cities and distances rather than go out onto the street yourself and measure the distances yourself. Uniqueness in the content comes from how this applies to your houses and where the house is situated within the local area. But ultimately there is a proportion of the content which is taken from existing sources.
The trend therefore is shifting towards ‘prompt engineering’ rather than traditional content writing. In my experience, while AI sometimes produces less engaging, more robotic content. The skill in AI lies in customising AI-generated content with unique and relevant prompts. This approach requires a blend of AI efficiency and human creativity, ensuring the content is not only unique but also current, brand relevant, and professionally proofread.
As a marketer, I believe adapting to these trends is vital for effective SEO strategies and maintaining a strong online presence in 2024.