Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving the content and performance of your website to help it rank higher in organic (unpaid) search results. By matching your content and other key elements to Google’s algorithm, you can help make your site appear higher in Google search results, bringing in more traffic.
As a concept, SEO has been around since 1997, before Google even existed. In those early days, search engines worked more as straightforward directories for web content. Twenty-six years later, SEO is incredibly complex. Search engines use ever-changing algorithms that crawl through content to determine a site’s ranking based on its relevance, currency, site performance and other factors.
2023 was a challenging year for SEO and 2024 looks to continue this trend, with the demise of cookies being put on hold until June of this year, and the helpful content update continuing to evolve as Google looks to improve the value of search and the overall user experience.
What are the challenges faced in SEO in 2024?
1. AI-driven search.
AI is everywhere right now – and SEO is no exception. Google’s latest search update includes new AI-driven search tools that allow users to search images directly from their mobiles and to search an image and text at the same time.
Make sure you’re ahead of the curve by using quality images and relevant alt text on your site and following image search best practices around indexing and display.
2. Algorithm updates.
Google has continually tested and tweaked its search algorithm, but the last couple of years have seen a significant change – the Helpful Content update. This new search strategy focuses on useful, relevant content written by and for humans, moving away from a keyword-centric approach.
This doesn’t mean you should dump your current SEO strategy entirely; rather, make sure you include relevant, high-quality content on your website and social media that your audience will find interesting.
3. Zero-click search.
If a browser searches ‘What is the capital of Australia’, Google will automatically display key information at the top of the search ranking, with no need to click through. This is called a zero-click search and it can make it more difficult for brands to get click-throughs from some search terms.
Some keywords will generate a click-through, while others will likely end in a zero-click. Optimising for a zero-click world means picking the keywords that fit your strategy. If your main goal is to increase traffic, focus on keywords that will encourage clicks. If you’re more concerned about brand awareness, zero-click terms could be effective.
4. Mobile-first optimisation.
A significant 63% of web traffic now comes from mobile phones. That’s no doubt the reason for Google’s mobile-first indexing, which prioritises the mobile version of a site in its ranking. What does this mean? Instead of looking at the desktop version when analysing content and site performance, Google looks at your mobile version first.
Mobile optimisation should be a crucial part of your strategy, not just for SEO, but because most of your customers will come through this channel.
Responsive design is the easiest way to optimise your site (and the one recommended by Google). With this approach, your site automatically adapts to different devices and models of mobile phone, ensuring it works well for every customer. It also lets you use the same URL for your desktop and mobile sites, simplifying a search.
Stay on top of the SEO game in 2024.
While Google’s Helpful Content updates, mobile optimisation, zero-click and AI are making waves in SEO, the basic approach hasn’t changed. Make your site run smoothly, use keywords in page titles and write informative, relevant content as often as you can.
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