Had you fallen into a comma in 2005 and woken up today in 2018 you would probably be amazed at the advancements we’ve made in SEO in such a short time. While many of Google’s changes to the algorithm have caused businesses headaches and drops in revenue at first, all these changes have actually improved the long term quality of Google’s service.

The key thing for businesses is to move from a reactive stance on SEO to a proactive one and anticipate the changes of the search giant so your company continues to rake in the benefits even with new improvements.

By most of us have probably heard about the growing part that mobile and voice will play in the coming years, but what about the overarching advancements and improvements beyond that? Read on to learn the 5 big picture advancements we foresee in the near future, and the strategies you should begin to implement now to win big later.

Invest in UX and driving engagement

As Google becomes smarter and smarter the ways in which it ranks what a high quality site is will change. Since the beginning, keywords have been a key tactic to tell Google who to bring to your content, but a success metric that we have seen become more in important in recent years and we suspect will continue to become even more importat is the level of engagement you receive from site visitors.

By investing in the design of your site and making sure that your visitors spend more time on your content you will be sending signals to Google that visitors are finding your content valuable.

As the amount of content online continues to increase and more and more pages are competing for the same keywords, how happy and engaged your readers are with your content will become a big factor in how you rank.

Another big factor that fits under this category is how readable your content is. Google is focusing less on broad keyword phrases and focusing more on longtail conversational phrases.

This means that we need to start investing more effort in creating online content that reads like we would speak. That content should also be written in a way that makes it easy to read on mobile devices as that becomes the standard.

Google will attempt to keep more visitors on their site

Over the last 4 years we have seen Google begin to answer it’s searchers questions on their platform instead of funneling them to websites which contain the information.

In their eyes this is a great way to stay in control and make sure that their users are having a good experience. This also increases the amount of time that they have to introduce ads to the reader and in turn increases their chances of converting a reader into a click and earning revenue.

As Google’s SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) become dominated by text ads, image ads, and knowledge graph features like answer boxes, PPC will become a much more important factor for many businesses.

This does not mean that you can simply pay your way to more visitors and not need to focus on the user experience. In fact we can expect that PPC will begin incorporating SEO in deciding what ads to display.

In other words it won’t be a matter of who bids the highest for a search term, but who bids the most and has the highest user satisfaction that gets placed at the top of SERP. This is set to impact the ecommerce market very heavily especially those businesses that have long relied on PPC alone.

Indexing of social media sites and apps

Google plus was the company’s attempt to keep social media users under their control, but since the platform failed to reach broad market use Google will invest more resources into perfecting social media indexing.

As we have discussed previously a mobile first Google is well underway, and a majority of time spent using mobile devices occurs within social media apps. Simply put very few people open up a Chrome app and instead head directly for the intended destination skipping over Google entirely.

However, statistics show that people actually dislike downloading new apps. This creates a great opportunity for Google to become the go to app if they can display an app’s content within the SERP. This will require perfecting indexing of social media sites and other apps but if Google is to maintain its foothold as the top dog, this will certainly be something they need to implement.

As a business you can benefit from this by starting to crate information and keyword rich social media posts that could potentially become the equivalent of blog posts when Google truly masters social media indexing.

RankBrain improves personalization of results

We’ve all heard the quote “the riches are in the niches” and nowhere will that be more true than the Google of the future.

By providing more personalized SERP results Google ensures that they are giving users the best possible answer for their specific situation. Over the next few years you can expect that Google’s AI – RankBrain, will enable the search engine to provide users with ultra specific results.

This means that by investing time and resources into understanding your target audience even better than before and creating ultra niche specific content around their needs your business stands to benefit from this new predominantly AI powered Google.

SEO and Public Relations become more entwined

Gone are the days of buying links and posting your URL on forums. Good SEO has always been about building relationships and contacts with other content creators and creating value that others may want to share and link back to.

As Google gets smarter it will once and for all kill any attempt by SEOs to benefit from buying links and other “black hat” techniques into climbing the SERP. Real relationships with other content creators will be more important than ever.

Instead of looking for short term ways to game the system now is a great time to invest resources and time into building relationships with industry influencers and editors of large publications. These relationships can ensure that you continue to get backlinks from relevant sources.