The future of SEO, at least for the popular concept about search engine optimization, seems to be at a stake. All the major search engines including Google are now switching over to semantic search (LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing), and this can bring about a major paradigm shift. Already the Google Panda series has started bidding goodbye to black hat SEO practices like keyword stuffing and low quality, spun articles. The Google Panda Update 3.4 is yet another nail hammered to coffin of the old world SEO concepts. To prevent low quality articles ranking higher in SERP with unfair SEO tricks, Google wants you to focus on delivering valuable content for human readers instead of creating pages for search engine robots. Already the major search engines like Google are one step forward to learn reading web pages like human readers with the LSI, instead of looking for standalone keywords here and there. Is the semantic search beckoning to the end of SEO? A Biography of Stephen Hawking: The paralysed cosmologist Stephen Hawking Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life Story The myriad minded man who defeated Motor Nurone
The answer depends on your definition of search engine optimization. If your concept of SEO is tricking the search engines and manipulating their search algorithms to get good search result ranks, prepare for hard times. On the other hand, if you believe the web world is like an enormous library and search engine optimization is the accepted practice of helping the library staff cataloguing the books and delivering them properly, you have little fear in future. Like any living discipline, SEO changes. In future, SEO may not mean what it meant few years back, but surely there will be no death of it. Only, people need to change their concepts of techniques of SEO. Let us take a look at some future trends of SEO expected to roll down in the next few years.
Upcoming SEO trends in future won't focus much on keywords
Future SEO trends tend to decrease the importance of embedding search engine friendly phrases in your content. Few years back, having good search engine friendly keywords was one of the major aspects of search engine optimization. The future of SEO seems to do way with this practice. Google has already given up looking at the meta keywords to determine search results. If it actually learns to read web pages like a human reader as has been proposed for the series of Panda updates, keywords are bound to loose their importance. Earlier, the ability of search engines were limited only to the specific query. They have already learnt by now to relate many things including interpreting synonyms, and we can surely hope future algorithms will further empower them to equate more related queries.
Let us take an example to see what I mean. If you search for MLA, Google knows it can refer to an abbreviation of Member of Legislative Assembly from the world of politics, or Modern Language Association from the world of books. Do a Google search for MLA, and it will also show you MLA Style Sheets. See how Google is making the possible expansions of "MLA" in the snippets in the picture below:
In future, the algorithms of the search engines may be so advanced, that if you talk of "best silent comedy film actor", Google will show a page on Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton directly instead of showing results like "Top ten silent comedy actors". If that is going to happen in the future, SEO practices will definitely get rid off using particular keywords. In far off days, who knows, Google might read a joke and say, ha ha, nice joke!
The future of SEO may tweak the page titles
If the keywords lose their importance in the body of an article or web page, they will definitely lose the same in the title tags and headings as well. Already Google is smart enough to return relevant results for not so specific queries. If you search for the scientist who is suffering from motor neurone, Google knows you are talking about Stephen Hawking. But if you are writing a biography on Hawking, most SEO experts advise to focus on meaningful yet search engine friendly titles with good keywords like "biography of Stephen Hawking".
The importance of URL is going to decrease in future SEO trends
Suppose you are building a website on a famous scientist, Professor Maths! If you can get hold of a domain like www.professormaths.com, you are already one big step forward! However, the list of such keyword rich domains are exhaustible, and anyone who ever tried to register a domain knows how frustrating it is to see your coveted domain leisurely parked but not developed! Already I think most of the good domain names imaginable are either in use or parked; imagine the crisis five years later with the ever increasing web population!
If we believe Google and other search engines really want to promote quality content developers, they must do away with this feudalism. You were born before me, came to the web business when I was still in my school uniforms, and bought all the good domain names when I hardly knew anything beyond my syllabus. That does not guarantee that by now, I cannot be a better writer or cannot run a better website with higher content quality! If the search engines keep giving advantages to keyword rich domains, regardless of the content quality, expect the World War III to break out within five-six years. Good writers deprived of domain name advantages will surely support Germany's cause a hundred years back!
Update: My predictions came true pretty quickly. Google EMD (Exact Match Domains) update is now a reality.
So, what is the future of SEO in simple words?
To conclude, all these SEO predictions are my personal reflections on what the future of SEO might be in the next five-six years. We have to wait and watch if these predictions about future SEO trends actually come true!
Any living discipline keeps changing, and SEO is not an exception. Remember the what Heraclitus said some 2500 years back - ta panta rhei - everything flows? Our present concepts of SEO may not be same in the future, but SEO is expected to stay.
A Biography of Stephen Hawking: The paralysed cosmologistSuch titles are so far considered the best ones.
Stephen Hawking Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life StoryTheoretically, these titles belong to the old word SEO practices and should be called keyword stuffing by now. Some of these are still dominating the search results, only Google knows why!
The myriad minded man who defeated Motor NuroneSo far such titles were not advised from SEO perspectives, though they are good for the readers. If the future of SEO indicates lesser importance for keywords, naturally the future SEO trends will be to catch the reader's attention and thereby translating good SERP into good traffic. Who knows, in the future, SEO gurus will suggest bloggers to tweak their titles only for their readers, just like we have them in offline works!