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How can we prepare for what SEO might look like in the future?

How can we prepare for what SEO might look like in the future?

Today’s Style an SEO question comes from Renee in Morganville, who asks:

“What is the future of SEO in 5 years? I am struggling to hire a partner who is thinking about the future of SEO, not just the current current SEO deliverables. What should I address and how to them to determine that they want to be a strong SEO partner? ”

Renee, that’s a good question. You want to hire a partner who not only thinks about SEO as it looks now, but is also prepared for what is to come.

As long as there are search engines, there will be SEO. But as we have already seen over the years, it is a practice that is constantly evolving.


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We have come a long way from optimizing meta keyword tags and taking that approach to optimizing one keyword for a page. Today it is more about understanding the seeker.

This trend will continue as search engines try to serve users better by anticipating the intent behind their searches, but I think there are some other important areas we will see become even more important over the next five years.

Here are a few.

1. Answering questions

Bill Slawski wrote an in-depth article on a patent granted to Google in May 2021, centered on natural language processing (NLP) tasks.

Google has used machine learning, including the Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) language model. These types of language models are designed to better understand words within sentences.


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BERT and this newly granted patent continue Google’s quest to implement machine learning and provide relevant answers to applicants’ questions.

Here is an excerpt from the patent filed in Slawski’s article, BERT Question-Answering at Google:

The knowledge retriever can be fine-tuned using open domain questions and answering (“open-QA”) tasks, where the language model must try to predict answers to a set of direct questions (e.g., what is the capital of California?).

During this fine-tuning phase, the knowledge retriever uses its learned relevance rankings to retrieve useful documents for the language model to answer each question. ”

With mobile devices and voice search, we have trained ourselves to turn to search engines for quick answers. This makes questions much more important to answer.

From an SEO perspective, this means that now (and in the years to come) we must go beyond identifying a list of keyword phrases to also focus on the questions our target customers are asking.

Then we need to develop and optimize content that responds directly to each one.

2. Locally driven results

We can also expect that local SEO will continue to be critical in the coming years.

Just last week I was looking for a local photographer and searching [photographers near me]. I reviewed the list of photographers appearing in Google Maps, read their reviews, and then chose one to contact.


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One of the first questions the photographer asked me during my session was, “How did you find me?”

Customers rely heavily on map results to find local services and products, and I do not see that changing any time soon.

This means that in addition to organic SEO, we also need to spend more time and resources on our local presence, provided we want to attract customers nearby.

Get the final guide to local SEO to learn more.

3. Stronger seeker intent

Identifying the intent of the searcher is one of those Marketing 101 concepts, but one that is often ignored in our SEO work.


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We can not just focus on search volume when choosing the keywords to target – we must also understand the intent associated with those words and phrases. Next, we need to make sure that the pages we develop and optimize address that intent.

This goes back to the previous point about answering questions. The future of SEO is about finding out who our searchers are, what they want to know, and how we can deliver value through our optimized content.

To get a better idea of ​​focusing on the searcher’s intent in SEO, download and read How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: The Ultimate Guide.


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This chapter explains in particular how to apply the applicant’s intent to keyword research.

SEO is by no means static. The best way to prepare for what SEO will look like in the future is to read industry news and be aware of the changes that search engines are making.

Also, make sure that your partner is connected and knowledgeable here.

More resources:


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Editor’s Note: Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO consulting column written by some of the industry’s best SEO experts, which has been hand-picked by the Search Engine Journal. Do you have a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You may see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!

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