Nowadays, everyone in the freelance industry is saying things like,
- “SEO is no longer useful”
- ” SEO is dead “
- ”Everyone uses TikTok, not Google,” or
- “AI will take away all our clicks,” and “It’s hard to show the value of SEO without cookies.”
These rumors make it seem like having a job in SEO is scary. Rising costs and the job market getting slower can be worrisome.
There are changes in how SEO professionals do their work and prove their value, but it’s better than some people on social media make it sound.
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What’s on the Horizon: Potential Changes That Could Affect SEO Jobs
There are some key changes that will impact the role of an SEO pro.
Artificial Intelligence and Large Language Models (LLMs)
AI has been a prominent topic for the past year, but what fundamental changes might it bring to the daily tasks of an SEO professional?
Generative AI in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
While some industries worry about AI replacing human jobs, we face the unique challenge that our entire field could be disrupted. If search engines start replacing traditional third-party content with AI-generated material, do we SEO experts become obsolete?
AI Expects More with Less
Numerous companies seek to cut costs by implementing AI to replace various functions and tasks. SEO has always been inclined to automate processes when feasible, but it still necessitates the expertise of SEO professionals to design and oversee automation.
As AI technology becomes increasingly accessible, could individuals outside the SEO field utilize it to replicate the knowledge of SEO professionals?
Other Search Platforms
Google-Owned Search Platforms May Not Retain Their Popularity Indefinitely.
Searchers Increasingly Conscious of The Impact Of Using The Bigger Search Platforms
This is an aspect that may need more attention. It’s becoming evident that the younger generation, Gen Z, is increasingly aware of their choices and actions’ social and environmental consequences.
This heightened awareness could soon influence their selection of search engines. For instance, the environmental footprint generated by operating the vast servers required to run significant search engines like Google or Bing is far from negligible.
As a result, this generation may opt for more environmentally conscious search engines like Ecosia to mitigate the environmental impact.
Furthermore, an increasing number of individuals are gaining a better understanding of how their online activities are tracked, leading them t seek more anonymity when conducting online searches.
Audience Preferring Alternative Platforms for Search
A noteworthy trend this year has been TikTok users choosing to search for information, products, and recommendations directly on the platform rather than resorting to traditional search engines.
Consequently, clicks once attributed to organic search are now categorized as social media visits.
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Proving the Value of SEO
In an environment where budgets, consolidation, and automation are gaining prominence, it’s imperative to demonstrate the value of an SEO professional’s skill set.
The landscape is shifting, with fewer search users categorized as organic traffic due to their search behaviour on alternative platforms. Additionally, evolving attribution models in tools like Google Analytics 4 attribute conversions to different channels.
Google Analytics 4 and Attribution Changes
Google Analytics 4’s “data-driven attribution model” might seem like it doesn’t give organic search much credit in the customer journey.
For instance, a GA4 report said that 21% of the conversion value came from organic search, while 79% came from paid search. However, the journey involved 20 visits from organic search and just one visit from paid search.
These changes are happening because more visit data is disappearing. Many countries now require permission to use tracking cookies, making it harder to prove the effectiveness of SEO.
8 Ways to Future-Proof Your SEO Career
The following eight tips aim to reduce the career risks that many people are worried about.
1. Explain the Need for SEO Skills Clearly
Many SEO professionals are concerned because things in the industry are changing rapidly. The use of AI in search results has become more prominent, meaning there is less space on search result pages for organic listings. Search engines are becoming more like walled gardens.
However, these changes mean more skilled SEO professionals than ever. As long as organic search listings exist, there will be competition to appear in those spots. The importance of having a robust SEO strategy remains.
Even with fewer clicks from organic search results, brands will still want to be featured in AI-generated responses. They will still want to claim any remaining organic space. It’s up to SEO professionals to make this happen.
Talk to your organization about these changes and emphasize the continued importance of SEO, especially with the rise of generative AI in search results.
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2. Show Where Generative AI Won’t Take Over
It’s also important to highlight areas where generative AI will have a small presence in search results. Take a close look at your industry to find these areas.
For example, in situations with high risks or where there isn’t enough data, generative AI might not be as effective. These situations can still provide opportunities for organic search.
Discuss these possibilities with essential stakeholders to emphasize the importance of ongoing SEO strategies.
3. Embrace AI and Master Prompt Creation
Instead of fearing AI, welcome it as a valuable tool. Dedicate time to practice and improve your prompt creation skills.
Become comfortable with the idea of AI as part of your role. While there are concerns about AI taking over jobs, using it as an SEO professional can showcase how it enhances efficiency. This, in turn, allows you to focus on the aspects of your work that AI can’t replicate.
4. Showcase Where AI Falls Short
While AI is a valuable tool in SEO, there will always be tasks that it can’t fully replace. SEO involves many complex elements.
A skilled SEO professional must simultaneously create a strategy considering the website’s intricacies, industry, and competition. They allocate budgets and resources strategically to ensure the right actions are taken at the right time.
They also collaborate with stakeholders for approval and work with developers to find mutually beneficial solutions. While AI can assist with parts of these tasks, it’s unlikely to match an SEO pro’s expertise and problem-solving capabilities.
5. Diversify Your Search Engine Knowledge
It’s common for SEO professionals to concentrate their efforts on major search engines in their region. While these platforms share some ranking principles, they are different.
Consider broadening your experience by exploring specialized search engines like Ecosia and DuckDuckGo. Experiment with these platforms to understand what strategies work best.
Become acquainted with the unique features of their SERPs and any variations from the well-known search engines in your industry.
Monitor how your target audience responds to concerns like data privacy and environmental impact. This diversification will make you a more versatile SEO expert.
6. Expand Your Skills to Diverse Search Platforms
In addition to traditional search engines, consider mastering optimization for other platforms with search features, such as social media and industry review websites.
For instance, SEO expertise gives you an edge in understanding how Facebook’s algorithm evaluates content. It can also position you for success in optimizing Amazon’s product listings.
Enhance your hands-on experience with various search functionalities. If your industry depends on visibility on platforms like TripAdvisor, explore opportunities within your current position or personal projects to gain expertise in ranking with diverse platform algorithms.
7. Expand Your Influence Outside of Marketing
Explore chances to apply your SEO skills to other areas of your company.
For instance, your knowledge of search engines can make you a valuable consultant for the team working on enhancing your website’s internal search feature.
You possess a level of code understanding that many non-developers need to improve. Your ability to balance user needs with search engine requirements makes you a practical advocate for suggesting website improvements.
Begin looking for ways to extend your influence throughout the organization.
8. Broaden Your Measurement of Success Beyond Traffic Stats
SEO professionals often concentrate on metrics that might not truly reflect the value of our work. Traditional metrics such as impressions and sessions, which we generally consider necessary, might lose significance.
As search engines increasingly provide direct answers in the SERPs or more users turn to platforms like TikTok for discovery, our primary metrics might show less than year-over-year growth.
It’s time to explore other metrics as indicators of our success. For instance, with the rise of generative AI reducing click-throughs to our websites, we could start monitoring brand mentions in the SERPs instead.
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The search industry will undergo significant changes in the coming years, much like it has over the past decade. As SEO professionals, we must be prepared to embrace new technologies and platforms. This evolving landscape allows us to showcase our skills in novel and exciting ways.