Search evolution: The state of SEO in 2024

Preparing for long-term SEO success requires proactive, data-driven, and user-centric approaches in 2024.
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2023 brought tectonic transformation to SEO. Emerging technologies and the adoption of generative AI upheaved the state of the SERPs, resulting in disruptive and unprecedented volatility. But one thing has held true even as the sands shift around us: SEO is alive and well as we drill into 2024.

The state of SEO in 2024 will bring on  a continuing landslide of coming changes. We anticipate the drifts of digital evolution to show us a relentless and fiercely competitive environment where maintaining visibility and boosting efficiency to drive faster execution of search optimization efforts (and impacts) is increasingly critical. Deeper AI integration into the search experience and continued emphasis on expert-created content will continue to erupt and gain momentum over the coming year. 

However, one bedrock principle remains unaltered: SEO will continue to be an important part of a healthy full-funnel marketing strategy as we navigate into 2024.

SEO in 2024: What SEO trends will have staying power?

While the future of SEO is always evolving, each change creates a layer, just like you’ll see in sedimentary stone. While the foundation stays the same, faults and intrusions can create a changing landscape in nature — just like we see online. Here are some SEO changes from 2023 that will create lasting impacts in 2024.

E-E-A-T remains at the epicenter of SEO

One acronym has served as the ground zero for the SERP seismic shakeup: E-E-A-T.

Google recently upgraded its basic E-A-T guidelines to the more advanced E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) guidelines. We’ve already seen that E-E-A-T will continue to be the line where SEO content strategy and SERP rankings meet as we move forward in the coming year. 

What does E-E-A-T look like in 2024? Consider the following:

  • Experience: While experience is closely tied to the other three elements of E-E-A-T, it emphasizes knowledge gained from real-world experience rather than through ingestion and synthesis of existing information. Consider this example: a skincare company wants an expert article on the benefits of their newest product. They could have a dermatologist or esthetician write the article based on their general knowledge of skin and the impact of certain ingredients. Or, they could invite a skin care professional who has actually recommended the product to their clients and consumers who have actually used the product to contribute to the article. The second approach is an example of prioritizing information informed by real-world experience
  • Expertise: Content can display expertise in many different ways. One of the most impactful is to meet searcher’s needs from an expert perspective. For example, an endocrinologist would have the expertise and insight to write an article about how hormones impact sleep for searchers seeking to conquer insomnia (and an endocrinologist who has actually worked with patients struggling with insomnia would have the experience in addition to the expertise).
  • Authoritativeness: SEO depends on site authority, and you can establish this necessary credibility through backlinks, social media mentions, and even metrics based on on-site user behavior. An authoritative website shows established trust and relevance in the eyes of both users and search engines with accurate and well-researched content, clear navigation, regular updates, and technical stability.
  • Trustworthiness: Technical SEO success can help establish trustworthiness in Google’s eyes, starting with quick load times, HTTPS security, and user-friendly URL structures. It might also come from external links pointing to other credible sources, stating a physical location, and having an accessible Terms and Conditions page.

Helpful Content Update is more than an aftershock in 2024

E-E-A-T might be at the epicenter of SEO, but Google’s Helpful Content Update in 2023 wasn’t just a tremor – it was an eruption, reshaping the SEO landscape with noticeable volatility. 

The chart shows SERP volatility after Google's HCU.
This image shows SERP volatility in September 2023 as Google’s latest Helpful Content Update was released.

In 2024, we’ll see the aftershocks continue in the SERPs, with Google and other search engines emphasizing content that’s not just well-written, but truly helpful, user-centric, and bursting with value. Google will continue to prioritize content that answers searcher’s queries directly and will continue to reward the most effective and user-friendly answers with position-zero placements and featured snippets.

Product reviews in SEO: Digging for trust and transparency

Product-focused websites have a hidden goldmine that will continue to create SEO value in 2024: product reviews. Google algorithms now dig deeper for reviews that gleam with honesty, detail, and user-centric value. Gone are the days of shallow, surface-level assessments or over-the-top influencer endorsements; what Google wants is content that strikes it rich in terms of trustworthiness and transparency.

Building a mountain of trustworthy reviews will be essential for e-commerce sites in 2024. Here are three ways you can leverage reviews for an SEO boost in the coming year:

  1. Mine the depths of authenticity: Let your customers speak for themselves about your products and services. Prioritize showing reviews on product pages and across website content.
  2. Uncover hidden layers of detail: Don’t just skim the surface – highlight reviews that drill down into the product’s functionalities, strengths, and weaknesses, leaving no crevice unexplored.
  3. Incorporate the user’s voice: User-generated content is the volcanic heat that keeps reviews dynamic. Encourage comments, questions, and comparisons on blog posts and through other channels (email, social media) to capture a rich tapestry of perspectives that can be leveraged into site content.

Tapping into product reviews for SEO 2024 isn’t about glittering facades; it’s about unearthing genuine value for users.

Riding the waves of the Search Generative Experience

The surge of AI is swelling, and SGE (search generative experience) is becoming an unstoppable force. These features are like tectonic plates, shifting the landscape of how users find information – and organic search optimization strategies need to adapt.

Here are some things to keep in mind when navigating the SEO shift toward SGE:

  • Speak in your customers’ language: SGE leverages AI to personalize search results based on individual user profiles. To ride this wave, optimize your content for specific user personas and the language they use to ensure clarity and relevance. Consider adapting your content for conversational queries, optimize for long-tail keywords, and ensure mobile-friendliness for conversational AI and voice assistants.
  • Click-through rate: Don’t be surprised if SGE leads to traffic drops. Recent research sheds light on how SGE impacts click-through rates for different content types, and it’s not always pretty. To prepare for the potential impact, analyze search impressions and clicks to tailor your content toward formats and features that resonate with SGE audiences.
  • AI as a guide: Embrace AI not as a competitor or a content copywriter, but as a guide. Consider using AI-powered SEO tools to understand user intent, and optimize headlines and meta descriptions for increased visibility. Humans should take the lead when it comes to strategy and brands should continue to create high-value content for humans — and not algorithms.

Charting rock-solid SEO strategy in 2024

By embracing the changing digital landscape, you can chart your course to organic search victory. Personalized search, visual search, and user experience are surfacing as even more significant SEO factors in the coming year. 

Here’s how you can look around the curve and start charting what’s next based on our 2024 SEO predictions.

Personalize search for individualized online experiences: 

  • Understand your audiences: Research and understand specific user profiles, tailoring content to their unique needs and preferences.
  • Diversify your keyword strategy: Include long-tail keywords and conversational queries that reflect personalized searches.
  • Embrace AI tools: Use semantic analysis and topic modeling to personalize content and optimize for individual intent.

Let visual searches help you scale the pixel peak:

  • Invest in high-quality creative assets: Prioritize professional images, engaging videos, and infographics to capture attention and improve engagement.
  • Optimize image meta descriptions and alt text: Use relevant keywords and concise descriptions to ensure your visuals get seen.
  • Embrace structured data markup: Implement schema markup to help search engines understand the context and content of your visual assets

Prepare for increasing UX emphasis:

  • Conduct user testing: Understand your audience’s pain points and preferences through A/B testing and user surveys.
  • Streamline navigation and layout: Prioritize user-friendly interfaces, intuitive design, and mobile responsiveness.
  • Improve site speed with technical optimizations: Invest in page speed optimization tools and techniques for lightning-fast loading times.

SEO isn’t stagnant. It’s always shifting and evolving, which means there are constant opportunities for actionable steps to improve SERP rankings and visibility. Keeping these considerations top of mind will help you improve search visibility and perceived relevance, increase organic site traffic, and deliver a high-quality website experience from the first pageview.

Ready for what’s next in SEO? We are.

Don’t become a fossil; know that leveraging long-term SEO success requires proactive, data-driven, and user-centric approaches. Tallwave is eager to implement future-forward SEO and digital marketing strategies that will keep you ready for what’s around the corner in 2024 and beyond.  Let’s talk.

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