Are you leveraging SEO to grow your online business?
Yes, Google's algorithm updates can be unpredictable, but optimizing your content pages to appeal to search users is still the most reliable path to driving traffic and sales.
In 2024 and beyond, prepare to navigate SEO challenges like dealing with the influx of AI content, E.E.A.T, voice searches, and so on. Preparing for the future is the best step towards maintaining or even improving your website's organic visibility -- since 93% of online experiences start with a search engine.
In this article, we'll navigate through the State of SEO in 2024, equipping you with the insights and strategies needed to dominate search engine results pages (SERPs).
Imagine SEO as a living, breathing organism -- it adapts to its environment. In 2024, it's no different. Here are the key trends that will have a huge impact on SEO in the new year:
Did you know that voice searches account for 50% of all online searches? Search users are now speaking to their mobile devices more than ever.
In 2024 and beyond, voice searches via mobile will become more prevalent. With the proliferation of voice-activated devices, optimizing for voice search is paramount.
According to Siteefy, 51% of the U.S. online population (18+ years) use their Smartphone as a voice-assisted personal assistant.
Here’s a practical use case example: Suppose you run a local bakery. Someone nearby asks their voice assistant, "Find the best bakery near me." Do you think your website will appear in the search results?
If your website isn't optimized for local SEO and voice search, you're missing out on potential customers.
The best way to optimize for voice searches is to focus on long-tail keywords that are location-based.
Because most people who use voice searches are looking for a local business nearby. Almost 6 in 10 adults in the U.S. say they have used voice search to find a local business.
Additionally, create content that answers common voice search queries, and optimize your website for mobile, ensuring fast loading times.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be the SEO assistant of the future. AI is not science fiction; it's shaping the SEO landscape. Search engines are integrating Generative AI into their algorithm to better understand user intent and deliver more accurate results.
Think of AI as your personal assistant. It learns your preferences, making suggestions tailored to your needs.
Similarly, search engines use AI to customize search results based on a user's search history and behavior. Rather than frown at ChatGPT and other AI tools, it’s best to leverage them for various automation tasks, such as Content optimization, Keyword research, and creating interactive elements (such as tables, charts, graphs, calculators, and free tools) for your website to retain visitors.
AI tools can save time and improve user experience. However, you need to be involved -- personalize your prompts and use storytelling to create content that resonates with your audience.
In 2024, website health will matter more than ever.
Google is all about user experience. Core Web Vitals assess factors like page speed, interactivity, and content stability.
If you optimize your website to load insanely fast, with no layout shifts, users will love it, and Google’s algorithm will consider ranking your pages higher. Keep in mind that Google follows users. So every user behavior is a signal to Google about your website.
A slow, cluttered website, on the other hand, drives users away. And consequently, Google will take notice and push your rankings to Page 24 (*literally).
While Core Web Vitals require a ton of work, you can start today by investing in fast and reliable web hosting, optimizing images, and minimizing code bloat. Regularly check your website's core web vitals to ensure it's all “Green”, otherwise, you have some work to do.
Becoming a go-to expert in your niche is an all-important ranking factor in 2023. This trend is expected to continue in the coming years.
See your website as a library, and your niche as a section of that library. In 2024, Google will look for authoritative, in-depth content on specific topics -- all tied together like so:
If you're in the fitness industry, for example, being the go-to resource for "High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)" can establish your topical authority.
You create a ton of content all addressing a question related to HIIT. As a result, you establish authority and credibility. Users trust your expertise, and Google ranks you higher.
Zero-click searches happen when a user gets all the information they need from Google's featured snippet, without clicking on any search results.
As a practical example, when a search user asks Google, "What does French omelette mean?," and sees a featured snippet with the answer, they can get the information without clicking a link or visiting an external website.
To win featured snippets and get your pages pushed to ‘Position Zero,’ here’s exactly how to optimize your content for featured snippets:
In about 300 characters or 40 - 50 words, which is the optimal length of a featured snippet paragraph, according to Moz, clearly answer the question or address the focus topic.
In the digital realm of 2024, content marketing and SEO are not just two separate strategies; they're dynamic partners that can elevate your website's rankings and visibility.
Here's how you can harness this synergy effectively:
Content marketing starts with understanding your audience. Identify keywords that align with your target audience's search intent. Create content that addresses the search intent behind the keywords. You could use Google Keyword Planner or Semrush to find on-demand keywords in your niche.
If you’re a fitness coach, and you teach people how to become a fitness coach through your online courses, for example, you can find long-tail variations of your main keyword (i.e., fitness coach). Here’s an example from Semrush:
Through search engine optimization, you optimize each article you write with a target keyword. With this approach, your articles will not only resonate with your audience but also rank well in the organic search result pages.
Content quality isn’t what you think it is. It’s not a 4,000-word article. The quality of a piece of content is measured by how much it achieves its goals.
So if your goal of publishing an article on “How to get your first 100 customers online,” for example” actually helps your audience get their first hundred customers, then your content is great. It’s that simple!
In the age of content saturation, it's not enough to just create content; it must be exceptional.
Content marketing is all about crafting engaging, informative, and valuable content.
When you provide high-quality content, your audience stays engaged. SEO complements this effort by ensuring your content is structured correctly, easy to navigate, and optimized for search engine bots.
Here’s why it’s getting tougher to rank higher on Google:
Thousands of websites are targeting the same keywords as you. Now you need to multiply your efforts to win the ranking game. You need to build backlinks!
Quality backlinks from authoritative websites remain a vital factor in SEO. Content marketing is the avenue to earn these inbound links. When you create compelling content that others find valuable, they are more likely to link back to your website.
Then you optimize these links with the right anchor texts and placements, making your website even more credible in the eyes of Google and other search engines.
Content marketing is about understanding your audience's needs and preferences, which directly enhances user experience. User-friendly websites that provide valuable information are appreciated by both users and search engines.
These user signals such as visitor’s behavior, engagement with the content, design of the website and content format have become a major search ranking factor, according to a study by Orbit Media.
Through SEO, you take care of on-page optimization to ensure a smooth user experience, from mobile-friendliness to fast load times.
Content marketing allows you to gather insights about what resonates with your audience. Leverage data analytics to understand which types of content perform best. SEO complements this by providing insights into keyword performance and ranking.
You could also conduct a site audit to determine your SEO score. By combining these insights, you can make data-driven decisions to refine your content strategy.
In essence, the partnership between content marketing and SEO is all about creating valuable content that resonates with your audience, and ensuring it's optimized to rank well in search results.
This human-centered approach, coupled with technical SEO expertise, is the recipe for organic visibility and high search engine rankings in 2024.
The role of Technical SEO in 2024 is pivotal, as it lays the foundation for a website's overall performance and user experience. Technical SEO encompasses various aspects, including site speed, schema markup, security, and more. Here's why it matters and how to excel in it:
i) Site Speed: In an era of instant gratification, fast-loading websites are a must. Users expect pages to load swiftly (in under 3 seconds), and Google rewards speed with higher rankings.
About 45.4% of site visitors are less likely to make a purchase when page load time is slow.
Pro Tip: Optimize images, leverage browser caching, and invest in quality web hosting.
Etsy, an e-commerce giant, improved site speed by 40% and increased page views by 10%.
ii) Schema Markup: This structured data provides search engines with context about your content. Implement schema markup to enhance rich snippets in search results, leading to higher click-through rates.
iii) Security: User trust and data protection are paramount. HTTPS is now a ranking factor, and secure websites drive user confidence.
Think of backlinks as the recommendations you receive from trusted friends. In 2024, it's not about how many friends you have, but how influential they are.
Quality over quantity!
Let's look at an example: If Forbes, a respected website, links to your content page, it's like the CEO of a Fortune 500 company recommending your startup.
Google sees that as a significant endorsement. Link building remains a powerhouse in SEO, even in 2024.
This table shows the four effective strategies for getting inbound links, the ease of implementation, and a quick tip to help you land the best links:
Create a personalized outreach message, focusing on mutual benefits for both parties.
A classic link-building approach that works great. You write valuable content for other websites in your niche, and in return, they link back to your website. It's like a friendly exchange. The more quality guest posts you publish, the more backlinks you earn.
HARO connects reporters with experts. When you respond to relevant queries in your field or niche, you can get featured in articles with a backlink to your website. It's an effective way to earn authority links. Snappa.com got a trusted link from Inc. through a reporter who uses HARO to find credible sources.
This is like finding lost treasure. You identify and reclaim broken or unlinked mentions of your brand around the web (i.e., on websites). You can use a social listening or brand mention tool to find out exactly which websites have mentioned your brand name without linking to your page. As an example, here’s a mention of Backlinko (hint*), without a link:
When you find these mentions, you simply send an email to the author or editor, kindly requesting for a link back to your web page. It's low-hanging fruit for both beginners and established website owners, as you're essentially claiming what's already yours.
Reach out to websites in your niche and ask for backlinks. It's about building relationships. While effective, it can be time-consuming. However, beginners and established site owners can benefit from it.
Note: In 2024, Google will continue to value quality backlinks from trusted websites as a key ranking factor.
The strategies above align with the state of SEO today and even in the future, where authority, trust, and relevance matter more than ever. For beginners, starting with email outreach and link reclamation is manageable.
Established owners can leverage the power of guest posting and HARO to boost their authority and visibility. Link building remains essential, regardless of the evolving SEO landscape.
Measuring SEO success through analytics and data-driven decisions is the engine that propels SEO into 2024 and beyond. In this data-centric era, understanding how your efforts translate into tangible results is paramount. Here's why it's crucial:
i) Data-Backed Insights: Analytics reveal the performance of your SEO campaigns. You can see which strategies drive traffic, conversions, and revenue, and which ones need adjustment.
ii) Constant Adaptation: In modern SEO, relying on instinct or guesswork is no longer feasible. Data empowers you to adapt to algorithm changes and shifting user behaviors swiftly. When you notice that a specific piece of content has a high bounce rate. Data reveals a problem. You delve deeper and find that the content isn't mobile-friendly.
Once you optimize it for mobile, you reduce the bounce rate and improve rankings significantly.
Google algorithm updates are no longer strange occurrences. Google always informs the SEO community before releasing an update. Preparing for an update is crucial if you want to retain or improve your rankings. Google continually refines its algorithms to enhance search results, making it essential to stay ahead of these changes to avoid penalties or ranking drops.
Algorithm updates can cause a big shift. This can affect your website's visibility. So, staying prepared helps maintain your hard-earned rankings. Google prioritizes user experience. Adapting to updates ensures your website remains user-friendly, avoiding potential penalties.
The best way to prepare is to stay informed about industry news, closely monitor your website's performance, and promptly address any issues. Regularly review Google's official guidelines and ensure your content and SEO practices align with best practices.
Additionally, diversify your traffic sources, so you're less reliant on Google alone. By being proactive and adaptable, you can navigate algorithm updates and maintain your online presence in 2024.
In 2024, SEO isn’t going to be business as usual.
Be ready to adapt, learn, and evolve, much like a seasoned explorer would. SEO is a dynamic landscape, and with the right map and compass (knowledge and tools), you're set to conquer it. Keep creating helpful and easy-to-read articles, and ensure a seamless user experience on your website.
While you’re at it, embrace the trends above -- as they will most likely have an impact on organic visibility in 2024.