New year, new rankings
As the new year rolls around, businesses everywhere are planning how to make 2024 their best year yet.
For many, improving their online presence and visibility will feature highly on their to-do list. Whether you run an eCommerce store or a local service business, the more eyes on your website, the better! More website visitors means increased brand awareness and more opportunities to win sales or enquiries.
SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the process of optimising your website to improve its visibility in SERPS (search engine results pages) when users search for keywords or phrases relevant to your business. SEO is a complex and multi-faceted process. It’s not something you can just do once either; SEO requires ongoing monitoring and updating. The way search engines like Google rank websites is constantly changing and evolving in line with industry trends and technological advancements. SEO has evolved over the last year, and businesses need to adapt their SEO strategy as they move into 2024 if they want to maintain or improve their position in search results.
Luckily, here at Create8, we’ve got our finger on the pulse when it comes to SEO. We’ve put our heads together and compiled a list of the five most important 2024 SEO trends. We’ll share our top tips for ranking higher on Google during the year ahead and preparing for 2024 SEO. And if you need help putting any of the points in this article into practice? Just get in touch – our SEO team are here to help.
What are the anticipated SEO trends for 2024?
In 2024, artificial intelligence and machine learning are set to become even more heavily integrated into SEO processes. AI is helping search engines become smarter and more capable and efficient than ever at understanding user intent and identifying relevant, high-quality content. This means businesses that want to rank highly must invest heavily in high-quality content creation and ensure they have a content strategy in place to keep climbing up the SERPs in 2024. Many of the top SEO trends for 2024 revolve around publishing highly relevant, valuable, and authoritative content. Let’s learn more about these trends and how businesses can implement them in their SEO strategies.
A zero-click search is where a user performs a search on a search engine and then leaves the results page without clicking on any of the links. According to SEM Rush, 57% of mobile and roughly one-quarter of desktop searches are zero-click searches, and this number appears to be on the rise.
There are many different reasons why people may bounce off the SERPs without clicking, but the scenario that we’re interested in is the one where they find the information they require within Google’s enhanced SERP features and so do not need to click.
Google offers a variety of enhanced features that sometimes appear within its SERPS, including featured snippets, knowledge panels, and local business information.
If your business or information from your website appears within these enhanced features, it may not result in direct clicks or conversions, but it enhances your business’s visibility, builds brand awareness, and helps to position your business as knowledgeable, credible, and trustworthy. This puts your business in a better position to win clicks in future searches.
So, how do you get your website to appear in these enhanced SERP features?
Local businesses may benefit from zero-click searches by creating a Business Profile on Google. This allows your basic business information to show up in relevant local searches. When your listing appears in the SERPs, users can view information like the age of your business, its star rating, location, opening times, and telephone number without having to click. This could lead to telephone enquiries or in-store visits.
Appearing in Google’s featured snippets or knowledge panel is not as straightforward. To start, you can perform keyword research to discover search queries relevant to your business that display featured snippets. Then, you’ll need to create content surrounding these search queries and optimise it. You should also implement structured data like schema markup to improve your chances of appearing in Google’s enhanced SERP features like the knowledge panel or rich snippets.
Many high-ranking websites have reached the top spot by achieving topical authority within their niche or industry. What does this mean? It basically means they have become a go-to source for information within their industry or niche by consistently providing users with useful, high-quality content.
Google demonstrates how important topical authority is in its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. This set of guidelines is used by Google’s team of Quality Raters, people employed to score websites on their quality and ability to meet the needs of the user’s query. An important area that Quality Raters assess is a website’s E-E-A-T. This stands for Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
Although the Quality Rater’s assessment of your website’s E-E-A-T does not directly impact how it ranks in Google’s search results, its concept is very important to SEO in 2024 and beyond.
Let’s look at some ways websites can score highly in E-E-A-T.
- Publish high-quality content that is original, helpful to users, and written by someone with a wealth of first-hand experience.
- Include author bios to establish transparency.
- Cite and link to relevant, trusted sources.
- Leverage user-generated content as trust signals.
- Monitor and respond to negative reviews.
- Earn authoritative backlinks.
E-E-A-T should be at the foundation of your SEO strategy for 2024. All four of these qualities – experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trust are essential to creating the credible, high-quality user experience that Google values. Building your website and creating content with these attributes in mind will help you rank higher in 2024.
Unsurprisingly, technical SEO will remain critical for high rankings on Google in 2024. Not only does technical SEO make it easier for search engines like Google to crawl and index your website, but many elements of technical SEO also improve user experience and drive conversions. Technical SEO involves various activities, including submitting your sitemap to Google, structuring your website, and fixing broken links.
Entering 2024, some of the most important aspects of technical SEO for the year ahead will be:
- Security – Google favours secure websites and will even warn users about insecure ones.
- Load speed – According to Pingdom, the average bounce rate for pages loading within 2 seconds is 9%, but this skyrockets to 38% for pages that take 5 seconds to load!
- Mobile responsiveness – With mobile browsing surpassing desktop some time ago, websites must adapt to different screen sizes and devices to provide a seamless user experience. Websites that are responsive rank higher than those that are not.
- Structured data markup – By utilising structured data, you provide Google with key information about your page content, helping Google understand and index it more effectively.
- User experience and accessibility – Ensuring your website is intuitive to navigate and compliant with all website accessibility standards will help it perform better and win more brownie points with Google.
Let’s find out what steps you can take to ensure you’ve covered all five of these important technical SEO elements for 2024.
- Security – Implement SSL to establish a secure connection. Ensure your site uses HTTPS to protect the integrity and confidentiality of data between your website and the user.
- Load speed – Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to check how your web pages perform and what steps you can take to speed them up.
- Mobile responsiveness – Ensure your website has a responsive design that looks good and functions well on all devices. Regularly test your website on various devices and browsers to ensure compatibility.
- Structured data markup – Use schema markup to provide Google with specific information about your page content for more effective crawling and enhance its visibility in advanced SERP features like rich snippets and the knowledge panel.
- User experience and accessibility – Focus on creating an engaging and intuitive user experience and ensure your website complies with WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) to make it accessible to a wider audience.
Refreshing existing content
The volume of content being published each day on the internet is increasing. In a time when the shelf-life of online content is becoming shorter and shorter, it’s important not to hit publish and then rest on your laurels. If you fail to revisit and refresh your content, it will soon become outdated and irrelevant and lose its SEO value.
Just some of the reasons that content becomes outdated include:
- Outdated facts and figures.
- Evolving online trends.
- Shift in audience demographics.
- Changes in SEO best practices.
Regularly updating and refreshing your content extends its lifespan, increases its ROI, and helps maintain its SEO impact.
Incorporate the following three steps into your content marketing strategy to prevent your website’s content from stagnating and losing its SEO value.
- Conduct content audits – During these audits, evaluate which content is performing well and which isn’t. Once you’ve identified outdated content, you can assess what to do with it next.
- Update and repurpose content – Old content can be repurposed into a new format or refreshed with up-to-date facts or information.
- Reassess keywords – The most effective keywords to target may have changed since the content was first written, so always perform new keyword research and optimise your refreshed content for search accordingly.
Understanding search intent
A user’s search intent is the goal or purpose behind the search query they type into Google. Search intent is usually divided into four categories: informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial investigation.
Examples of search queries within each category could include the following:
- Informational – ‘what causes dry hair’
- Navigational – ‘Superdrug’
- Transactional – ‘buy Dove hair conditioner’
- Commercial investigation – ‘best hair conditioner for dry hair’
By integrating AI and machine learning into its algorithm, Google is becoming more adept than ever at understanding user intent and delivering users highly relevant search results. It’s important that businesses also have a good grasp of what user intent is and how to align their content with it to influence their rankings positively. Once you understand what users are looking for when they come across your website, you can work on creating content that is relevant and valuable to your audience. The more relevant and valuable your content is, the more Google will reward you with higher rankings.
To discover what the search intent behind specific keywords is, you should analyse the SERPs. When you input a search term into Google, the results displayed on the first page provide a good explanation of what Google understands the search intent behind the query to be. For example, type a keyword into Google and then jot down which category each search result on page one falls into – is it informational, transactional, commercial, or navigational? Once you’ve determined the intent, you can develop a strategy for creating content around the keyword that satisfies this user intent to help your website rank higher.
It is also worth bearing in mind that SEMrush’s State of Search 2023 report found that Google has shifted the balance within its SERPs towards more transactional and commercial queries and away from purely informational results. This could be a trend to keep an eye on throughout 2024.
How will AI and machine learning impact SEO strategies in 2024?
AI has been the talking point of 2023, not just within the digital marketing and SEO sector but within almost every industry. There’s no denying that it’s transforming both how Google ranks websites and how SEO is carried out. In 2024, we expect AI to continue enhancing Google’s ability to analyse web content more effectively and efficiently to provide more relevant and personalised SERPs.
There is also an increasing number of AI-driven SEO tools in 2024, reshaping the landscape for digital marketers. These tools help to analyse large amounts of data quickly and provide opportunities for streamlining, optimising, and automating SEO processes. Adapting SEO to AI changes could help businesses stay ahead of trends and provide users with more personalised experiences in 2024.
Key trends in AI in SEO in 2024:
- Enhanced content analysis – AI will play a crucial role in helping Google and other search engines to understand and categorise web content better, leading to more accurate and user-focused SERPs.
- AI-driven optimisation – AI-powered tools will enable digital marketers to fine-tune their strategies, targeting keywords and content more efficiently.
- Predictive analytics – AI will allow marketers to predict trends and user behaviour, enabling them to strategise accordingly.
- Automation of routine tasks – AI may begin to automate many routine SEO tasks, like keyword research and technical audits, allowing marketers to focus on strategy and creativity.
- Personalised user experiences – With AI’s ability to analyse user data, websites can provide more personalised content and user experiences, potentially improving engagement and conversion rates.
Partner with Create8 to prepare your SEO strategy for 2024
Are you ready to make 2024 your business’s most successful year to date?
At Create8, we’re here to help you navigate the complex world of SEO, one keyword at a time. With SEO constantly evolving, understanding and prioritising the right strategies is key to breaking through Google’s algorithm and driving more relevant traffic to your website.
Our team of experienced SEO specialists helps clients across various sectors create and execute effective SEO strategies, helping them meet their business objectives and providing SEO training for 2024.
To discuss your requirements and discover how Create8 can help your business rank higher on Google in 2024, contact us today for a free consultation with our experts.