9 SEO Pros about the Future of the Industry: Reinventing SEO Should Be On Everyone’s Agenda

Written by
Chantal Smink
May 31, 2024
8 min read

The only constant in SEO is change itself. We’re now witnessing quite a few industry shifts, ranging from helpful content and EEAT prioritization to integrating AI-powered experiences into search. I touched base on these topics during my interviews with the latest BrightonSEO conference speakers and visitors, including:

We discussed what makes content truly valuable, whether investing in quality content is wise with AI Overviews (formerly known as SGE) threatening to steal your traffic, whether you should put your best knowledge and expertise behind a paywall, how to build EEAT effectively, and so much more. Keep reading to discover experts’ insightful responses for reinventing our approach to SEO.

Helpful content: does offering genuine value pay off?

Many BrightonSEO speakers, including Gerko, Carmen, and Anna, emphasized the growing importance of creating content that genuinely helps and engages users. This is a much better strategy than merely targeting keywords.

Gerko Boerema
Head of SEO at NeoSEM
The days of creating content solely to rank are over and businesses need to focus on providing value to their users. This often requires a shift in mindset for companies. Some struggle with the adjustment because they were used to the “easy” SEO of the past.

Mathias agrees:

Mathias Noyez
SEO Consultant & Co-founder at Depends
Value is a big word here, you need to deliver value.

Just like Gerko, Jacco believes the SEO of the past is over. He stresses the importance of finding your unique voice:

Jacco Hermus
Senior SEO Specialist at Springbok Agency
The old way of doing SEO is not working anymore, we have to find a way to be unique in the SERP and unique compared to the competition.

Here’s a loaded question. Given the threat of AI Overviews and predictions of up to 50% less traffic, can we really justify investing in valuable content? I’ve been discussing options with other SEOs in my personal circle. One of them is to put the best content behind a paywall, which is what Marie Haynes does, for example. I asked Mathias his perspective on this and whether he thinks it’s feasible. Here’s what he said:

Mathias Noyez
SEO Consultant & Co-founder at Depends
Insights, knowledge, expertise. People digging into research from the past and making connections. That’s something I would pay for.

But this leads us to another question. If your best content is behind a paywall, don’t you lose out on EEAT signals? Mathias responded by highlighting the importance of reputation and connections:

Mathias Noyez
SEO Consultant & Co-founder at Depends
It’s about reputation, science, connections, and the actual content of what you’re saying. And with all this AI content, Google will have to determine in some way who is the more trusted source.

Looks like we both agree that Google still poses a significant challenge here.

EEAT extends far beyond your website

Carmen and I discussed EEAT extensively. We agreed that SEO specialists spend too much time looking for ways to provide EEAT and trust signals directly from their website. But I mentioned in my presentation at last year’s BrightonSEO that simply publishing an author bio or crafting an author page does not make the author an EEAT by a long shot. Carmen suggests:

Carmen Dominguez
Head of Organic at Hallam
I believe that using your EEAT as a framework for your organic strategy is the way to go. This will make you successful in all the different channels. In fact, if you break down EEAT you’ll see that you actually need to target different channels. To be trustable, you need to be in social media, newspapers, publications, etc. Your authors need to be real people talking about real stuff. This is about having a real reputation online and this goes way beyond the website.

Stevy Liakopoulou also believes that building a social media presence is essential for organic promotion:

Stevy Liakopoulou
SEO Expert at Search Magic
You should be the ambassador of your brand. You should have someone from your team active on social media and actually start promoting the brand. This creates trust because it comes from people.

You must reuse your content strategically across all organic channels, venturing beyond SEO and into organic strategies.

Video interview with Carmen on YouTube:

Organic strategies: pivotal role of branded traffic 

Lucia stresses the contribution of SEO, the value it brings, and how implementing organic strategies is so much more rewarding than simply running paid campaigns:

Lucia Dello
Founder & Director at Dello Insights
It’s all about proving the values. Companies’ budgets are tight and they want to make sure that the money they’re investing is being rewarded. In the paid world, if you measure a campaign, you can actually say what you’re doing. In the SEO world, you’ve got a real challenge. But doing SEO is going to bring in so much more reward. It’s bringing more sales when you understand it. Don’t put all your money in paid campaigns. The paid campaigns should come on top of SEO rather than instead of it.

One highly underutilized strategy is focusing your promotional efforts beyond the website. This leads to increased branded traffic to it. This is why Carmen reports on both branded and non-branded traffic. 

In her session, Carmen showed us an experiment where they used PR, TV, and social media to strengthen their client’s brand awareness. Interestingly enough, the performance of non-branded keywords also showed a significant increase. Months after the campaign ended, people continued to click more on the client’s website through non-branded search results. 

Isn’t that what we all want? When people use non-branded search terms on Google and click on your results more often, doesn’t this send a positive (NavBoost?) signal to Google? There is no definite answer, but I’m convinced that it indicates to Google that your site matters for those non-branded search terms.

Video & SEO: no excuses to not produce videos

While we have seen ‘regular’ YouTube videos ranking well over the years, Short Videos now appear on Google’s “page 1” more often. ‘Shorts’ are short, vertical videos that appear on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. I’ve seen them appear for ecommerce terms like ‘blush’, ‘mascara’ and ‘jeans’’, but also on B2B search terms like ‘hr software’. In fact, that’s why I wanted to speak with Stevy Liakopoulou about ecommerce video strategies. I was most curious about how she dealt with internal concerns and how she made the ROI of videos transparent.

Here’s what Stevy suggests in case your employees don’t want to be on camera:

Stevy Liakopoulou
SEO Expert at Search Magic
If your employees are not willing to show up on camera, you have to think about other types of videos. Maybe you can create one only showing their hands. You have to be creative. Don’t think in terms of obstacles but think about what you can do. There are multiple ways to be creative.

And therein lies the question of expenses, since creating high-quality original videos can cost a fortune. Anna Moragli offers one possible solution:

Anna Moragli
Founder at Search Magic
You have to find a smart way of repurposing your content.

It is also possible to publish your video on virtually every platform out there:

Stevy Liakopoulou
SEO Expert at Search Magic
You can create one short-form video and publish it to Instagram, YouTube Shorts, TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn, or your website. There is no excuse, you create one video and you can optimize for everything.

To create high-impact ecommerce videos with measurable ROI, Stevy suggests combining several products and creating a “Shop the Look” kind of video. You can then measure the products’ sales (demonstrated in the video) to calculate the ROI.

Many believe that creating quality videos requires expensive cameras and studio rentals. Stevy refutes this:

Stevy Liakopoulou
SEO Expert at Search Magic
We live in an era where we have all the technological means by our side. For example, you can create a really good video just by using a really good smartphone and some lighting. You don’t need to hire a whole studio to produce that video. So no excuses.

Video interview with Stevy on YouTube:

Google’s GenAI Search: driving us crazy with uncertainty

The interviewees had varying opinions on the impact of AI Overviews (formerly referred to as SGE) on search results. 

Jacco believes that these AI snippets will never completely replace traditional results but will instead serve as an additional layer for certain queries. He predicts that Google will need to make adjustments to AI Overviews due to issues with low-quality or unreliable responses. 

Natalia is taking a cautious approach with her clients regarding AI Overviews, especially since it hasn’t rolled out in Europe yet. On May 14th, at Google I/O 2024, AI Overviews were announced to go live in the US with more countries coming soon. She anticipates that Google will need to rethink certain aspects of this feature.

SE Ranking, however, stands as one of the pioneers of AI Overviews research. They have kept a watchful eye on AI snippets since they started appearing in search. SE Ranking has already incorporated AI Overviews tracking in their tool while continuing to make enhancements to this feature. Bogdan Babyak, the SE Ranking’s CMO, shares how their tool has adapted to the emergence of SGE:

Bogdan Babyak
CMO at SE Ranking
We have already rolled out a beta version of AI Overviews tracking, which allows users to capture the presence of the AI-generated answers in the SERP, engage with it, and see how it changes over time. In the current beta version, the tool provides a snapshot of the AI Overview, allowing users to analyze its content, appearance, and any interactive elements.

Here are some more of his findings based on his company’s user feedback about AI overviews:

Bogdan Babyak
CMO at SE Ranking
We heard from customers that they saw the direct correlation. When an AI Overview appears in the SERP, the traffic drops on their website. But right now we see that Google is taking a step back. They are not providing AI-generated answers in that many SERPs as they used to at first.

The future of SEO: Do not put your eggs in one basket

AI-enhanced search, Helpful Content, EEAT; there are so many aspects of SEO to consider. SEO has never been as dynamic as it is now, and for many parties, it brings a lot of uncertainty. If you follow the messages on X and monitor visibility fluctuations in various specialized tools, you can see that many sites have lost a lot (sometimes even all) of their search visibility on Google. This demonstrates that, as a business, depending solely on Google is a no-go. 

Mathias suggests:

Mathias Noyez
SEO Consultant & Co-founder at Depends
The control you have over Google Discover or Google Search is pretty small. If Google decides that tomorrow they are going to do things differently and only prioritize websites that we have a partnership with, you’ll plummet. That’s not something you want to experience.

The approach Stevy and Carmen take towards SEO, organic strategies, and content creation illustrates their broad perspective. They don’t just recommend creating content for your website, but for your brand and customers. This is how you spread content intelligently across various organic channels, including your website.

A smart strategy would be to invest in multiple organic channels. Videos, helpful content, EEAT, and SEO all go hand in hand and can no longer reliably exist without one another. The future of SEO is the integration of all available marketing channels. This suggests that your objective should be to broaden your scope beyond rankings and organic traffic. The necessary investments are too high for these metrics alone. 

Also, it’s not just about investments. If you start building an online reputation, making connections with other authorities, and creating helpful content (whether in the form of videos or not), you’ll benefit beyond just SEO. Successful adaptation may not entail altering your approach. Instead, it may require a shift in your mindset.

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