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2024 Search Predictions: How SEO and Digital Marketing Will Change This Year

2024 Search Predictions: How SEO and Digital Marketing Will Change This Year

For SEOs, digital marketing teams, and brands looking to scale online revenue, every change to the Search landscape has a corresponding dollar value. That value—positive or negative—and its size typically depend on whether anyone saw it coming. 

In this industry, professionals are always asking themselves one question: What’s coming next?

Ultimately, it’s a question that only Google can answer. But based on the flurry of updates released in 2023, previous statements about the direction of Search, and a few other choice factors, some clear inferences can be drawn going into 2024. 

Here are five predictions for how Search will change in 2024, and how its evolution will impact SEO and the rest of the digital marketing profession. 

The Web Will Become More Private This Year

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Google has been outspoken about deprecating third-party cookies for quite some time, and Chrome is years behind other browsers such as Safari and Firefox in making this move. 

Tech giants like Google are coming to understand that their business models depend on gaining (and keeping) users’ trust. 

From accidental data breaches to publicized ethical lapses, concerns over AI proliferation, and other issues, the public has no shortage of reasons to be skeptical when it comes to setting up a new social media account or even allowing Google to use a precise location when searching “pizza near me.”

By deprecating third-party cookies and instead offering advertisers APIs from the Privacy Sandbox, Google hopes to both publicly demonstrate its commitment to user privacy and appease regulators, particularly in Europe. 

But advertisers are paying the price. Without third-party cookies providing the accurate, granular data that empowers digital marketers to target campaigns precisely, businesses could see ROAS decline as CPC rises. 

Third-party cookie support was deprecated for 1% of Chrome users in January, and will be completely removed by the latter half of 2024. To avoid or minimize the impacts, advertisers should proactively pursue the collection and storage of first-party and zero-party data. 

Businesses should also explore Google’s Privacy Sandbox APIs  to identify solutions that could be a good fit. 

AI Will Help Some, But Lead Others Astray

In what’s sure to be another busy year for the evolution of Search marketing, Google has already released a core update targeting spammy, low-quality content.

There’s more of this worst-of-web content out there than ever, thanks in large part to the misuse of generative AI. 

To be clear: When used properly, AI offers many advantages for digital marketers and SEOs. From keyword research to audience insights, brainstorming topics for content creation, and other tasks, AI can be a powerful asset. 

AI can even be used to outline or partially create written content. Google doesn’t view AI-created content any differently because it was created by AI. As long as it’s the high-quality, relevant, and helpful content Google describes in its guidelines, it can be expected to rank well—regardless of how it was created. 

But too many see AI as a shortcut. AI is not a replacement for expert content writers. 

Unfortunately, more than a few site owners are using AI to generate hasty, surface-level blog posts or product descriptions and publishing them without editing for accuracy or identifying opportunities to add value to the content. 

That’s the key: value. Google uses a variety of methods to judge each page and determine whether it’s truly valuable to users, then rank it accordingly. Whether it was carelessly thrown together by a human or generated by AI, if a piece of content doesn’t deliver genuine value in an authoritative, trustworthy, helpful manner, it’s a waste of effort either way.

Google can’t stop this low-quality content from being produced, but it can take steps to prevent these value-deficient pages from cluttering up SERPS. The March 2024 core update was Google’s first such move of the year, and it certainly won’t be the last. 

Expect New AI Legislation in 2024

The abuse of AI is no secret, and while the manipulation of search rankings is certainly at issue for Google and the businesses investing in efforts to capture top organic SERP positions, it’s fairly low on the list of potential consequences. 

It’s a general election year in the US, and government officials are concerned that AI could help bad actors interfere in the democratic process. 

In addition, as the incumbent administration looks to cement a strong position in accordance with public skepticism on AI before voters go to the polls, the government could very well impose new restrictions in 2024.

Across the Atlantic, the European Parliament is working on its AI Act, which would lay down a legal framework for the development, marketing, and use of AI. 

Governments aren’t the only ones acting on concerns over AI. About a quarter of the top 100 websites have chosen to block GPTBot to prevent OpenAI from scraping their data in order to train its AI models—a practice OpenAI used for years despite plagiarism issues, alleged copyright infringement, and more than a few lawsuits. 

It’s still unclear what fruit any of these issues may bear. But by using AI appropriately for SEO—automating or streamlining certain processes while ensuring all public-facing content is at least edited by a human before publication and indexing—organizations can enjoy this technology’s practical benefits while remaining risk-averse.

A Better Search Experience Means SEO Will Become More Challenging

Search is the cornerstone of Google’s business model, and to maintain its dominance, Google places a premium on user experience. The search engine’s goal is to give users what they’re looking for with minimal input required. 

Increasingly, especially with this year’s release of Circle to Search and the new AI-powered multisearch, Google wants to help users explore the web, too. 

Speaking about the Gemini model that launched in Q4 2023, Google CEO Sundar Pichai described that exploration as a “fundamental value proposition of search.” 

SEOs look back fondly on the days of those 10 blue links. Today’s search landscape is far more dynamic and presents new challenges, including vastly more crowded SERP real estate and zero-click searches. 

But if Google’s efforts to optimize and personalize the search experience result in continued user growth, everyone wins. There’s an incredible opportunity to be had for organizations willing to invest and navigate the rapidly evolving world of Search. 

Which leads to the final prediction for SEO in 2024. 

More People Will Search Than Ever Before

Even at a conservative estimate of 10%, there’s a huge number of people using Search for the first time each day. 

In 2023, Google saw 5.9 million searches per minute, and nearly half of those had local intent. 

For global enterprises and local startups alike, there’s simply no marketing channel that screams opportunity like SEM. And strategically crafted SEO campaigns executed by experts are the most powerful way for businesses to achieve the ROI they need to scale.

SEO in 2024 might seem like an impossible mountain to climb, and plenty of organizations will be deterred. But there’s no more profitable way to grow than by embracing the challenge, investing, and enjoying the view from the top.

To gain more insights, connect with VELOX Media: Website | LinkedIn | Instagram | Facebook 

Published by: Holy Minoza

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