SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a relatively young field. It keeps evolving and changing.
Sometimes, the change is triggered by a new search engine algorithm, such as the Core Web Vitals. Sometimes, an industry-wide shift is triggered by a new tech or advancement in the field of SEO.
That’s why following SEO predictions is quite important — because following predictions and trends allows you to understand the direction of the industry and prepare in advance.
In a recent episode of the Search Off the Record podcast, Google’s very own Search Relations team — Gary Illyes, Martin Splitt, and John Mueller — got together and made seven predictions about the future of SEO.
Here they are:
The discussion on HTML still being important for SEOs in the future started with John Mueller doubting the importance of learning the HTML language.
John’s reasoning was that as content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress become more accessible and feature-rich, it eliminates the need for learning HTML.
“I mean, it’s like if you just have a rich editor and you just type things in, and then you format your text properly, and you add some links. What do you need to do with HTML?” said John Mueller.
However, Gary Illyes disagreed. According to Gary, SEO is more than just writing content, and understanding HTML helps with some of the other important elements of SEO.
“But SEO is also about link tags and meta tags and title elements and all those weird things in the head section of the HTML that you can put there.
So you kind of want to know about them to control how your snippets look like or how your titles show up in search results and the rel canonical tag to control what will be or what should be the canonical version of a URL. You kind of want to know that.”
Prediction: In the end, they all agreed that HTML would continue to be important, and SEOs should learn the language to handle some of the technical elements of SEO.
Martin Splitt does not think there will be new meta tags in the future.
“I hope that we are not introducing more meta tags. And usually, when you see internal threads about, like, this search team wants to introduce a new meta tag. Then usually both John and I jump on that thread, and we are pushing back quite aggressively because there’s very rarely a good reason to introduce a new meta tag.”
Prediction: Every base seems to have been covered, and Google is unlikely to introduce new meta tags in the near future.
Google has become a lot smarter over the years. According to Martin Splitt, Google is almost at a point where it can understand what’s going on a page.
“I’m pretty sure we can understand: Oh, this is a product, and the product’s name is this, and the product’s price is that, and this is a product image.
But it is kind of nice to have this explicit machine-readable information where you can say, ‘Oh, so they specifically want us to think of it as a product.’”
“It’s basically a glorified meta tag.”
Prediction: Structured data helps Google understand what a web page is truly about. While it is super helpful, it can become useless in the future.
The answer to this one was rather straightforward.
“Fortunately, URLs cannot go away — at least not in the foreseeable future,” said John Mueller.
“[It is] because the URLs are the standard way to communicate addresses on the Internet. And without that, the Internet is just not the Internet.
The same way domain names cannot go away because of how the Internet is built or IP addresses cannot go away because of how the Internet is built. The same way URLs cannot go away.”
Prediction: URLs are extremely important and are unlikely to be replaced by any other format.
“The future that never will be,” said Martin Splitt regarding voice search. He further added:
“I remember a bunch of years ago. People were like, ‘Oh, we’ll stop using keyboards and just do voice.’ And I think that has been a recurring theme from the 90s.
But I think in the future, it won’t change and will naturally or magically become the number one thing that we need to worry about, simply because it changes the input modality, and it changes probably how queries are phrased, but it doesn’t change the fundamental use of natural language to retrieve information from the Internet.
So I think you don’t have to worry too much about it, to be honest, but that’s maybe just me.”
Prediction: Voice Search isn’t expected to take over the current search model.
The question was: will machine-generated content be enough in the future, or will human content creators still be needed?
Gary Illyes chimed in:
“We can see the pros and cons of machine-generated content, and we are quite strict about what we allow in our index. But on the flip side, you can also see very good and smart machine-generated — I don’t know if smart is a good word, but very intelligent machine-generated content.”
The debate (and the prediction) boiled down to how good machine-generated is and can be in the future. At the moment, however, it’s not good enough for Google.
“Right now, our stance on machine-generated content is that if it’s without human supervision, then we don’t want it in search. If someone reviews it before putting it up for the public, then it’s fine.”
Because it’s such a vast and important topic, Gary Illyes mentioned that it’d be a good idea to discuss this in more depth in a future episode.
“I think that could be a topic on its own for a future podcast episode.”
Prediction: Machine-generated content isn’t where it needs to be and is unlikely to replace human-created content anytime soon.
So what do you make of these SEO predictions by Google’s own Search Relations team?
Do you agree with all these predictions? Or do you disagree with something?
Do let us know in the comment section below.