Key trends, developments, and insights from the State of SEO 2024 report
In the dynamic world of digital marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) remains a cornerstone for businesses striving to enhance their online visibility and drive organic traffic.
As we approach the coming year, staying ahead of the curve and adapting to the evolving SEO landscape is imperative.
Search Engine Journal recently published the State of SEO 2024 report. Here are a few key trends, developments, and insights from that report that can help SEOs and online businesses looking to expand their organic visibility.
3 key factors that are shaking up SEO in 2023
In the past year, the SEO industry experienced a whirlwind of changes reshaping how professionals approach their strategies. The report identifies three critical disruptors that have left an indelible mark on the SEO landscape:
1. The growing role of E-E-A-T
SEO professionals are navigating the intricacies of Google’s algorithm updates, particularly the emphasis on expertise, authority, trust, and user experience (E-E-A-T). The struggle to align content with these evolving guidelines is a common challenge.
In response, many are dedicating their efforts to crafting content that meets search engine criteria and delivers value to users.
In particular, establishing expertise and authority has been a big challenge for most content marketers and SEOs. Especially in competitive niches, you cannot just regurgitate and rehash information; you have to bring something new — with firsthand experience — to make a difference.
2. Challenges in proving SEO value
Communicating the impact of SEO efforts to stakeholders remains an uphill battle for many professionals. Obtaining budget approvals and maintaining client relationships emerged as top challenges, indicating a need for better alignment between SEO outcomes and business objectives.
This challenge is especially pronounced in the face of heightened competition within the industry.
3. Generative AI and crafting distinctive content
The rise of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) brings both opportunities and complexities to content production. While AI-powered tools can enhance efficiency, creating unique and compelling content has become more intricate.
Despite this, many SEO professionals view AI as a boon for workflow optimization and business outcomes.
Insights into SEO careers and experience
Drawing from the perspectives of 3,890 SEO professionals, the report offers intriguing insights into career progression within the field of SEO:
1. Talent competition
The industry’s shifting landscape is expected to have the most profound impact on the competition for talent. As the SEO field evolves, attracting and retaining skilled professionals will be crucial for sustained success.
The takeaway? Hold on to great talent.
2. Career milestones
The five-year mark is a pivotal point in an SEO professional’s career. With almost 50% of managers and over 56% of directors possessing 5 to 10 years of experience, this milestone signifies a transition to more strategic roles.
3. Demand for SEO skill sets
Managers with two to four years of experience constitute around 27.5% of the workforce, highlighting a potential demand for intermediate-level skills.
Conversely, professionals with less than five years of experience actively seek new opportunities, contributing to a competitive environment for entry-level positions.
4. Freelancers’ preferences
Freelancers, constituting a significant portion of the SEO workforce, show a preference for positions within SEO agencies as opposed to in-house roles.
This preference may stem from the dynamic and diverse projects agencies offer.
It is also not uncommon for SEOs to join agencies so they can learn everything fast, as agencies provide a very dynamic and fast-learning environment.
Redefining SEO success metrics and budget allocation
As the SEO landscape evolves, so do the metrics that define success and the allocation of budgets.
The report underscores the industry’s shifting focus:
1. Metrics of success
While raw traffic was once the primary metric for success, SEO professionals are now turning their attention to click-through rates (9.2%), branded vs. non-branded traffic (8.3%), and keyword rankings (7.3%).
These metrics provide a more comprehensive view of user engagement and the impact of SEO efforts.
2. Budget allocations
Most SEO professionals fall within the $1,000-$5,000 budget range. Nearly 49% of respondents expect budget increases, signaling growing confidence in the value of SEO activities.
3. Barriers to SEO success
Budget constraints (12.2%), competition in Search Engine Results Pages (11.1%), and client relationship issues (10.8%) are cited as the top barriers to success.
Effective communication of SEO value to stakeholders remains a challenge, though the anticipation of budget increases indicates progress in this area.
Embracing the Promise of AI in SEO
The report sheds light on SEO professionals’ perspectives on AI technology and its potential impact:
1. Positive outlook on AI
A remarkable 72.4% of respondents expressed optimism about AI’s influence on SEO. This sentiment reflects the growing recognition of AI’s role in enhancing efficiency and providing data-driven insights.
2. Priorities in AI implementation
Embracing automation, SEO professionals are particularly interested in leveraging generative AI for content production (13.3%), content generation (11.1%), and conducting content audits (10.7%).
These priorities align with the industry’s quest for streamlined processes and improved outcomes.
In conclusion, the SEO landscape is continuously evolving, driven by disruptive factors and innovative technologies. The insights from the State of SEO report illuminate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
As SEO professionals and online businesses gear up for the coming year, adapting to E-E-A-T guidelines, demonstrating SEO value, and harnessing the power of AI will be pivotal in achieving success in an ever-changing digital landscape.
We recommend you pay special attention to two areas: Generative AI and the role of E-E-A-T, as we believe these two will have the most significant impact in 2024.