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SEO Trends in 2024: Survive Google SGE, HCU, and Personalized Ranking

SEO Trends in 2024

The world of search engine optimization (SEO) is dynamic and fast-paced. Google keeps updating its algorithms and you should keep up with it to make sure your website is not falling behind. So, it’s essential to learn about the major SEO trends in 2024 and adapt your SEO strategies for another year of online success for your business.

One of the hottest topics nowadays is artificial intelligence and it is changing the SEO landscape as well. So, it’s no surprise that most of the trends revolve around machine learning (ML) and AI for SEO.

In this article, we’ll explore some of these major trends and discuss how to stay ahead of them to make your site stand out in the months to come.

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Major SEO Trends in 2024 to Look Out for

Google and other search engines are constantly making new changes to their algorithms and features that affect SEO. Although there are things that almost never change (read What Never Changes in Google SEO), it doesn’t mean that your website can stay ahead of the competition and maintain a good ranking without adapting to new algorithm updates.

Particularly, in 2023 we’ve seen an evolution in different aspects of SEO due to AI tools and ML. Google itself has adopted some new AI-powered features, such as the ‘Helpful Content Update’ (HCU), personalized ranking, and ‘Search Generative Experience’ (SGE), which haven’t been welcomed by many website owners because they’re affecting SEO.

So, let’s take a look at these new features that are causing a lot of trouble for websites to retain organic traffic views, especially niche businesses. Google has just started them and 2024 SEO will be heavily influenced by them.

What’s SGE and How It’s Affecting SEO?

On May 10th, 2023, Google introduced a new AI tool that responds to users’ inquiries with AI-generated content. This was first only available in the US, Japan, and India, then it spread to some other countries as well. For now, it only works for the English language.

However, you and I both know that it is going to cover all countries and most languages very soon. But how does it work? Is it a good thing? What does it mean for your website?

As you can see in the picture below, the AI-generated response is right at the top, before even the search results start.

What’s more, as you can see in the part indicated with a green arrow, the users can carry on with some ready-made follow-up questions, or ask one themselves, without needing to start the search over. Pretty convenient for the users, isn’t it?

AI Generated Search Results in Google

So, in many cases, the user doesn’t have any reason to scroll down to the websites in the results list (the red arrow) that tried hard to create useful and SEO-friendly content, nor to visit the top three websites related to the matter in question (the blue circle).

What has made it even worse for website owners is that, if the user searches for a product, the AI goes on and suggests the best products that match the user’s description and sends them off to online shops to purchase. This means websites, especially niche businesses, are losing some leads.

To sum up, SGE can be convenient and useful for users but it is not helping the websites (well, except for those big online shops).

But Should We Panic?

No. Don’t go and make drastic changes to your SEO strategies or give up on continuous optimization and update of your website. Because no one knows how exactly Google SGE is going to affect SEO.

I’m not going to sugarcoat anything here, but we certainly know the following facts that make us hopeful.

First, Nothing Can Replace Human Created Content

As human beings, we like to get advice and information from other humans with the same experience, not AI. And, Google knows this. So, they do their best not to lose their users to other search engines.

Imagine you are searching about what kind of wig feels more comfortable on your head. For sure, you want to get some advice from people who have actually experienced it, not some AI who doesn’t have the experience of having a head, let alone wigs!

Eventually, people will have to ignore the Google generative AI result in many cases and scroll down to find some content they can trust better. Or they would simply turn SGE off.

Another point is that AI needs human content to operate. AI-generated content is just a copy of the already existing content. Now, if search engines make websites that produce genuine and firsthand content go out of business, how AI is going to continue without an up-to-date database?

So, all you need to do is continue making valuable in-depth content that meets Google EEAT guidelines and other SEO criteria (scroll down to learn more about the importance of content and this guideline).

Second, Websites Will Not Pay for Google Ads Anymore and Google Doesn’t Want to Lose Revenue

You have noticed the ads and sponsored websites at the top of the Google search results page. Do you think site owners will continue to pay for Google ads if their website is going to be pushed down to be placed after the generative AI section?

Google is making a lot of money by ads and they don’t want to lose it. So, they will have to come up with a new design where the AI section is not at the center of attention. For example, it may go on the right-side margin.

Third, SGE Can Help Local SEO If You Have Reliable Content and a Good GMB Profile for Your Business

Although generative AI links users to large e-commerce stores, it helps users who are searching for products/services in a specific area to find what they want more easily.

For example, in the picture below, the SGE is helping the user to compare the prices and menus of two restaurants and see the reviews of other customers.

As a result, you can get more leads with the help of Google SGE, but

  • Your site has to include reliable content.
  • Your Google My Business or GMB profile must be well-optimized.
  • You should ask your customers for reviews.
  • You should be active in social media, such as YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn, etc. because SGE tries to get first-hand information from the content of such media. If you link the accounts to your website and market its content there or talk about your products/services to get your customers’ reviews, your leads will increase.

So, you must make Google recognize your brand as trustworthy. This is an important part of SEO trends in 2024 and we will discuss it a bit more in a few sections below.

Google SGE Results

To conclude, Google Search Generative Experience has only started and we should wait to see how it will really pan out. Google is emphasizing that the purpose of SGE is to help users find better content, reviews, and related results more quickly.

However, we know that it has been causing a fall in websites’ organic traffic and leads, which is a growing concern for site owners and definitely something to look out for in the SEO trends in 2024.

To end the discussion of SGE on a more positive note, as it’s already helping to connect users with local businesses, in the future it might turn out to play a significant role in improving the quality of the leads the websites get.

What’s the Deal with Google Helpful Content Update HCU?

September 2023, Google Helpful content hit website views and most niche website owners were not amused!

Many lost more than half of their usual traffic, which means their profit went down as well. But let’s see what’s HCU’s purpose.

HCU is trying to help users find more useful content that is valuable and original. Now, websites like Reddit or Quora where any random person or AI account can post content, are ranking high on Google search results pages. While websites that have produced SEO-friendly and informative content have been pushed down and lost their traffic.

In addition, Google is asking users if the search results are helpful or not. You can see the poll in the picture below that sometimes shows up at the bottom of the page or under snippets. This seems to be another factor in ranking content on the page results.

Google Feedback

So, the intentions of Google Helpful Content System are good, but the results haven’t been what they promised, which is reliable content.

From Google’s perspective, the content on Quora is first-hand, but the problem is that most of them are AI-generated or posted by people who don’t have any expertise and experience in that specific subject. How Google can verify that these people are providing genuine and useful information?

No one knows exactly. But there are some methods to show your content is original and you are an actual expert to make Google rank you high again.

How to Win Google’s HCU Trust

  • Create original and useful content (text, images, and videos) based on your own experience, knowledge, and skills. Google is trying to get rid of those websites that are not about any specific topic or expertise. These sites are basically a collection of blog articles on different subjects to attract traffic and earn money through ads.
  • Most bloggers have started to use AI-generated content. Although Google is going easier on AI content now, it’s still emphasizing on E.E.A.T guideline (more than ever), which stands for experience, expertise, authority, and trust. So, don’t cut corners when it comes to producing content. Make sure your content follows the guidelines to gain Google’s trust.
  • Ensure your business has an optimized GMB profile.
  • Include your real phone number, address, biography, email address, case studies, and links to the real and active social media accounts on your website. This helps Google to recognize you as an actual person with a certain expertise.
  • Increase your online presence with the help of social media, publish posts related to your core expertise, elicit customer’s opinions, interact with your leads, and promote your products/services/website content. Google is now showing social media content (personal comments and insights) in search results and/or using it to rate your authority on the topic.
  • Go through your website content, especially the old one. Optimize and update it. And, get rid of the content that your viewers didn’t like or wasn’t useful.

So, spend time and energy to create optimized content. It may take a while, but eventually, your content is bound to be ranked high.

Google Personalized Ranking and Follow Button

A recent update that is going to influence SEO trends in 2024 has just rolled out. Google is trying to help users have a more personalized search experience by providing

  • Follow Button: When you are searching about a specific topic, you may see a blue ‘Follow’ button which allows you to subscribe to that topic. If you follow, Google will automatically send you updates and notifications about the topic.
  • Personalized Ranking: This is a more controversial update for site owners. The idea is that when a user visits a certain website often over a long period of time, Google will remember that and when the user is searching for related topics, the website they’ve visited frequently will rank higher than others. In this way, for each person, the search results ranking will be different and according to their history.

Again, it all comes down to valuable content. Useful content with a great UI/UX design would mean that viewers visit your website more often and spend more time on it. So, your site will continue to show up in their search results as one of their favorites.

Conclusion: Staying Ahead of the SEO Trends in 2024 in a Nutshell

As we have seen, Google and other big search engines, like Yahoo, are leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to help their users find what they’re looking for more easily and quickly.

However, on this journey, niche websites are being hurt and they have to come up with new strategies to stay on top of the SEO trends in 2024 to get back the traffic they’ve lost.

Although we still don’t know how exactly Google SGE, HCU, personalized ranking, and other AI-related updates are affecting websites in the long run, Google has made it clear that the following points matter more than ever.

Essential Tips to Survive Google’s New Search Algorithm Updates

  • Valuable content is key. It means the content is first-hand, in-depth, written by an expert or a person who has experience, and new original content with a unique creative angle.
  • Websites must build a good domain authority by focusing on core expertise and limiting their topics.
  • A well-optimized GMB is necessary for your brand to be seen. Also, writing content on GMB through posts can prove significantly helpful in generating leads.
  • Provide genuine information about yourself, your business (products and services), your customers’ reviews, and case-study reports on the site.
  • A more authentic online presence determines your brand recognition by Google and therefore how your site is ranked. Do it by linking your site to active social media accounts.
  • Use AI to improve your SEO strategies and techniques but don’t rely too much on it. Imagine that in a couple of years when most of the content will be AI-generated (copy of a copy of a copy), human content is going to be rare and priceless. (Read Review of Benefits and Drawbacks of AI for SEO to learn more.)

So, try your best to be recognized as a reliable and real source in your field of expertise to gain Google’s trust.

And, if you need more professional SEO services, we are here for you. Call (971) 248-0953 for a free consultation.

SEO Trends in 2024: Survive Google SGE, HCU, and Personalized Ranking was last modified: December 3rd, 2023 by Nasib
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