What Will SEO Look Like in 2018? 1 Year Follow Up

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Published May 8, 2014 by Brad Knutson
What Will SEO Look Like in 5 Years? 1 Year Later Follow Up

5 Marketers Reflect On Their 5 Year Predictions 1 Year Later

One year ago today I asked the question “What Will SEO Look Like 5 Years From Now?” to a handful of industry experts. Each marketer comes from a slightly different background, and each of them had a unique answer. There were some common themes to the group’s predictions, which seemed to be where our industry was heading.

I noticed it had been a year since this was posted and thought it would be fun to do a follow up post one year later. A lot has changed in the “SEO” landscape in the last calendar year, and most will tell you it’s going to continue to change. I was curious what each marketer thought about their comments from a year ago, and asked them to take a look back and rate, revise, or reflect on their original statements.

Each author’s original comments will be followed by this years reflections and revisions to their predictions.

Amanda DiSilvestro

Amanda DiSilvestro, Higher Visibility

Original Comments from May 8, 2013

SEO in five years is going to be all about optimizing your Google+ and making connections through this platform. I think link building is always going to be important, but I see a shift happening as social becomes more important. Everyone is going to be utilizing authorship, and Google is going to put more emphasis on Google+ when it comes to their SERPs.

I also think mobile optimization is going to become more of a focus. I wrote an article once about whether or not ASO (App Store Optimization) is the new SEO (something first coined by Techcrunch). I think this is definitely something we’re going to move toward as mobile searches become more and more common. Businesses are going to create apps, and then those businesses are going to start trying to optimize for the app store search engine. Only time will tell!

1 Year Later Follow Up

I have to say that my opinion about Google+ and authorship becoming more important still makes sense to me; however after 1 year I haven’t seen quite as much talk about this topic as I would have expected. I still think that this is the way marketers are moving, but I suppose it might be going at a slower pace than I had anticipated. Still, I still expect things to move this direction one way or another.

I think I also nailed it when I said that link building is always going to be important, but we’re going to see a shift happen. Since this post was written, there has been a TON of talk about link building and how to correctly link build. For many, this means a little bit less in order to ensure quality. This wasn’t something I went into 1 year ago in my response, and it’s definitely a bigger change than I had anticipated.

As for mobile optimization, I’m sticking with my answer. Mobile usage is only increasing, and although we haven’t seen as big of a jump in the number of business apps as I might have thought, I still think they’re on the way.

About Amanda

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from algorithm updates. She writes for Higher Visibility, a nationally recognized SEO consulting firm that offers national and local SEO services to a wide range of companies across the country.

Dan Petrovic

Dan Petrovic, Dejan SEO

Original Comments from May 8, 2013

Within next five years Google will figure out what to do with Google+ signals including +1s, shares, comments and authorship. Google+ continues to be the central glue of all Google products and new uses are found. Facebook holds strong but new generations of non-specialist users are migrating to Google+. Early adopters are on Glass but majority of people find it too geeky. Google uses this as a learning exercise to improve mainstream products. More answers are being given straight away without the need to search deeper. This will render many online information businesses redundant. We’ve seen this happen with weather, translation and price comparison sites. SEO becomes a strategic, content driven service with technical background at its foundation.

1 Year Later Follow Up

Within next five years Google will figure out what to do with Google+ signals including +1s, shares, comments and authorship.

[0/5] In the last 12 months there has been absolutely no hint of this happening whatsoever. Four years to go until I’ve been proven wrong though. Don’t worry I’m keeping an eye on it.

Google+ continues to be the central glue of all Google products and new uses are found.

[5/5] Spot on. Google just released +Post Ads which reinforces the statement above.

Facebook holds strong but new generations of non-specialist users are migrating to Google+.

[2/5] The effect hasn’t been as strong as I’d anticipated. Kids are joining other social networks instead of Facebook, but not Google+.

Early adopters are on Glass but majority of people find it too geeky. Google uses this as a learning exercise to improve mainstream products.

[5/5] Nothing to add really, except that the price doesn’t help either now that it’s possible to buy it.

More answers are being given straight away without the need to search deeper. This will render many online information businesses redundant. We’ve seen this happen with weather, translation and price comparison sites.

[4/5] I expected more aggressive leaps in this direction, but still on track. Rand Fishkin recently complained about Google scraping Moz and providing result at the top of SERPs. See Slide 17.

SEO becomes a strategic, content driven service with technical background at its foundation.

[2/5] Highschool sex scenario. Everybody’s talking about it, nobody’s doing it. Well, we’re trying. It’s not easy.

About Dan

Dan Petrovic is a search engine specialist from Brisbane, Australia and a director of Dejan SEO. Circle and +Dejan SEO on Google+ to connect and engage.

Jeremy Rivera

Jeremy Rivera, Raven Tools

Original Comments from May 8, 2013

Marketers will need to continue to adapt the old school web experience to new devices. The introduction of Google Glass is just the first addition of new mobile devices that will add a new layer to the digital experience. With that experience comes the challenge and opportunity of optimization.

This comes from a recent experience I had with Ingress, Google’s Android game that overlays the world with “portals” to be captured in an epic game of capture the flag. With Glass instead of graphics on a phone, players will be able to “see” those digital portals and interact with them in real time, in the real world. As the market responds to Glass with other wearable tech, optimizing sites to attract visitors from search will require an even higher degree of skill to ensure accessibility for devices that seem like a nerd’s plaything today – but will likely become ubiquitous.

On the other hand, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The written word, when wielded by a talented writer, will still be able to affect you the same way it does now. There will always be a need for quality, relevant and timely content.

1 Year Later Follow Up

Given how technology has progressed, I think I was too optimistic about new devices being a big part of marketing in just five years. While mobile continues to grow, and doesn’t look like it’s going to stop it hasn’t really been replacing desktop searches just adding on top of them. I think anyone who doesn’t make their site responsive will lose that increased market share but I don’t think we will need to worry about optimizing for Google watches, or wearable tech.

A Much More Difficult Job

If anything has been demonstrated by Google in the past year is that they are willing to kick online marketers in the teeth again (Not Provided), and again (Panda), and again (Penguin). In five years, it would not be pessimistic at all to report that executing on SEO will be even more difficult than it is currently. This will also be true as more companies finally wake up to the digital world around them and allocate more budget to reach the growing audience on the medium.

About Jeremy

Jeremy Rivera is working his SEO skills at 2 The Top Design and helping Beam Us Up grow it’s audience. Circle him on and Twitter for SEO, GIFs and shenanigans.

Josh Becerra

Josh Becerra, Monkey Island Inc.

Original Comments from May 8, 2013

Over the next five years we will see search engines’ algorithms more systematically and efficiently identifying and downgrading sites. Think “Panda” and “Penguin” on steroids!

Keywords and landing pages will become part of a broader algorithm focused on “experiential value”. Search engines will move from only surfacing the best result to surfacing “the best result with the best experience”. I see this playing out in a few ways:

– Rewarding sites that perform well in a multi-device landscape
– Leveraging a more robust system of reviews
– Developing the ability to measure true consumer sentiment across multiple channels

Sites that have a never-ending supply of fresh and original content will be rewarded like never before. The rise of the content creator and niche aggregator will trump the magic of black-hat SEO wonks. We’ve already seen how content marketing impacts search – be prepared for the rate of change in this direction to increase dramatically in the next 5 years.

The brands and businesses that will “seize the SEO day” 5 years from today will focus on creating great online experiences.

– Experiences that provide users the opportunity to engage on their terms – by reading, watching and/or listening.
– Experiences that provide users the opportunity to participate and contribute via authentic social connections
– Experiences that are seamless in a multi-device world.

1 Year Later Follow Up

A year ago I wrote about how search engines would continue to invest in “Developing the ability to measure true consumer sentiment across multiple channels”. After further reflection I think that “intent” is a better word than “sentiment”. Companies that create excellent and engaging content that matches the intent of the user will be greatly rewarded. But, the content is the key. For example, if at first there is a seemingly good match and ranking – but user after user bounces back to initial search results – then rankings will be negatively impacted. So creating content in all formats (written, images & graphics, video) that matches the online customer journey and provides real value to the end user every step of the way will be the key driver to SEO well into the future.

About Josh

Is a Co-founder of Monkey Island Inc, a company that provides SEO and Search Marketing Solutions to Agencies, Design Firms and Freelancers that do not have these capabilities internally.

Pratik Dholakiya

Pratik Dholakiya, E2M Solutions

Original Comments from May 8, 2013

To be honest, I don’t think SEO would be called SEO after 5 years or in the coming years. Things are changing and the definition of SEO is changing too. According to Neil Patel, Content Marketing is the New SEO. You can read it here why he thinks so.

I recently came across an article on ReadWrite.com entitled “10 Technology Skills That Will No Longer Help You Get A Job” and the job of “SEO Specialist” was one of them. Hence, overall we can consider that SEO would get replaced by some other name in the next 5 years and there would be no such thing as “ranking for the target terms, links, etc”, instead people will start talking about “revenue, business, leads, traffic, and so on”. This is what I believe considering the way demand is moving.

However, taking into account that the SEO would be there, I predict following changes that would be likely to happen.

  1. Anchor texts: – Anchor texts would be replaced by Co-Citations/Co-Occurrence. Google is willing to make the search spam free and they are already headed into the same direction. Their consideration is to show the SERPs naturally instead of manipulative results that are achieved through building links on the desired terms. For example, until October/November, 2012 I used to notice all the service providers’ web pages on the first page of Google USA for the term “iPhone App Development”, but when I see it now, there’s only 1 result that is a service provider’s website, other 9 results are of different sources. See the screenshot below:Google SERPs Service Provider
  2. Relevancy will be the key player: – I’ll take the example from the above screenshot only and you’ll get better idea about what I’m willing to explain.Go and open the website Fueled.com. They are a web and mobile app design & development company and they only focus on it. Meaning, they’re relevant to the search term “iPhone App Development” at which they are primarily focused and the user is looking for this type of website/service providers only.This was just an example of explaining how the relevancy is being counted by Google and are showing up the results accordingly.
  3. Irrelevant links (low quality guest blog links, to be specific) will die:- After the penguin was launched, majority of SEOs moved towards building links through guest blogging and stopped paying attention towards the relevancy/quality of the sites/contents they’re using. All they go after is total number of links to be built through guest blogging and nothing else. Matt Cutts explained through a Google Webmaster Help video that they appreciate the high quality and valuable guest blogs but they might take actions on guest blogs having low quality/spun content, irrelevant placement and aggressive approach.

These are the three primary areas where I foresee the big changes that can happen as time pass by. As I said above, things are moving towards quality (high quality) instead of quantity and aggressive approach with the only aim to manipulate the search results and acquire the top position in the SEPRs. We can also expect some of the other things going away in the upcoming years, but time will say everything. We just need to focus on more towards making the users happy instead of search engines.

1 Year Later Follow Up

After a year later I’m still with all of the predictions I made. Anchor text is dying slowly which I have experienced in some of recent projects. Google would just ignore some of the best links out there if you’ve focused on the anchors even after publishing high quality content.

My words would still be the same for point #2 & #3 above. In many of the niches I have been working on lately, majority of the first page holder sites have got shift in the rankings and out of first 10 results in Google, you will see 5-7 results in form of posts, guides, research data, tools etc. So Google is after relevancy & user oriented content and they can penalize a website even for a single irrelevant link.

I’ll rate 5/5 for the point #3 above. When Google penalized MyBlogGuest & PostJoint, many blog owners received a manual penalty and that resulted into overall downfall for the sites that relied heavily on these two platforms.

About Pratik

Pratik Dholakiya is the Co-Founder & VP of Marketing of a full service digital marketing agency, E2M & a creative design firm, OnlyDesign.

I agree with pretty much everything said. It’s nearly impossible to predict where our industry is headed (I would wager that even Google doesn’t fully know where they will take us), but it’s fun nonetheless to make some predictions and see how they pan out.

What do you think of the original predictions today? What would you add? Do you disagree with any of the author’s comments? Let us know in the comments below!

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Founder at Inbounderish
Brad Knutson is a Web Developer in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. He has experience working with WordPress and Drupal, and also has an interest in SEO and Inbound Marketing.

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4 thoughts on “What Will SEO Look Like in 2018? 1 Year Follow Up

  1. Jay Patel

    It seems that many people were wrong about Google+. Most of them (us) through that Google will significantly integrate Google+ data, authorship and other information to separate spammer from the genuine people. There is definitely a shift towards it but it is not as significant as we’d like it to be.

  2. ISHIR

    I do agree with all the different points mentioned above. Moreover, most of the people relying totally on Guest Posts in last year are now struggling with the Google manual penalty. Although some of them got recovered but the main question is, how many of them are still doing this??

    Although Google itself says that you can continue with Guest posting for the sake of exposure and branding. Lets see what’s next from Google’s side??


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