What Will SEO Look Like in 5 Years?

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Published May 8, 2013 by Brad Knutson
What Will SEO Look Like In 5 Years?

SEO in 5 Years? 5 Experts Weigh In

I recently polled a handful of industry experts to find out what they thought SEO would look like in 5 years. What factors will be the most important? What current tactics will be a thing of the past? I asked each contributor to write a short paragraph or two (because let’s face it, we all know that full-length books could be written on this subject) on their thoughts on the subject.

I received some very interesting and thought-provoking answers. Here they are (in alphabetical order)!

Amanda DiSilvestro

Amanda DiSilvestro, Higher Visibility

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!

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

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.

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

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.

About Jeremy

Jeremy Rivera is the Product Marketing Manager for Raven Tools in Nashville. Circle and +Raven Tools for Gifs, SEO and marketing.

Josh Becerra

Josh Becerra, Monkey Island Inc.

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.

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

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.

About Pratik

Pratik Dholakiya is Director of SEO & VP of Marketing at E2M Solutions, Ahmedabad, India based SEO Agency helping their clients with content marketing and advanced link building services. He’s a regular contributing author at Search Engine Journal and also writes at E2M Solutions blog. You can contact him on twitter @DholakiyaPratik or by email

I tend to agree with all the authors that were polled. It seems as the three reoccurring themes are Google+, Mobile, and Quality Content. I echo the sentiments of all 5 experts above.

What do you think SEO will look like in 5 years? Do you have a differing opinion? Want to expand on a thought talked about above? Leave a comment below, or reach out to the authors via social media!

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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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9 thoughts on “What Will SEO Look Like in 5 Years?

  1. Mike

    My predictions;

    1: AI routines will become an increasingly big part of the algorithm, allowing Google to understand not just keywords and co-citations as they do today – but the deeper meaning and intent behind the content.

    2: G+ and authorship will of become a major ranking factor – before being killed off by a subsequent anti-trust lawsuit when it is ruled that requiring participation in Google’s own social network in order to perform in search is an abuse of a monopoly. Subsequent concerns over the privacy implications of author-rank finally kill the idea dead.

    3: Continued accusations of monopoly abuse will lead to Google being split as a company, with the Adwords business being divorced from the company that runs Organic. Other advertisement networks begin to appear alongside Google search results. Google’s organic monitization methods switches from a PPC system to a PPI system, leading in a need to encourage pageviews. In natural search, this leads to a much greater prominence of services that encourage users to remain in Google’s ecology, such as Graph search.

    4: Blackhat will still be alive and well. Deal with it.

  2. Jerod Morris

    Thanks for putting this together Brad. I agree with the general impressions of the five experts. It’s clear that Google+ is going to be important for authors looking to establish online authority. Likewise, the “long-term strategy” of consistently producing great content will simply become THE strategy (short-term, mid-term, long-term) because it is the only one proven to be successful over time and no matter what changes Google makes.

  3. Heather

    Agreed. Good post. We were just having a similar discussion in the office today on where the industry is headed. It’s important to consider these things now so you can plan you business model and strategies for clients around them now.
    Not sure about Google+ though. It feels like only those in the industry use it. And really if it is to have lasting impact, it needs to catch on with the public as well. Like Glass, G+ is seen as too dorky…

  4. Chetan Ravindranath Morajkar


    Very informative blog, fantastic discussion for me. Because am too SEO.


  5. Spook SEO

    Hi Brad!

    Excellent discussion you got here! 5 years from now, I believe that internet marketers will still need to continue to adapt the old school web experience to new devices. I also think mobile optimization is going to become more of a focus.

  6. Manas

    Brad, the influence of links always be first priority of ranking but secondly social work like smo is impact too for better engagement and brand presence .

  7. ishrar

    SEO technique have been changed but importance of SEO are remain same, since it is like a pillars of roof that support website to stand on top position of search engine.I want to say thanks all member of this article that share their valuable response.


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