You’d think that SEO writers are going the way of the dodo bird by the way some doom-predicting naysayers are talking about the future of the practice and the profession. If anything, 2023 proved to us that SEO writers are still — and will remain — essential.
That’s because, in many ways, 2024 is the year of the human. People still want to build relationships with other people. And that desire to create human connection — through storytelling that also fits into an overall SEO, content marketing, and digital marketing strategy — will drive what we see for SEO writing in the coming year.
Prediction #1: Thought leadership takes center stage
If you have a lot to say about your niche, you’re in luck! This is the year to start sharing your point of view.
SEO writing isn’t magic. You need to give people a reason to tune in. And in 2024, in a year where there are still so many unanswered questions about search, this is just the right time to begin building your personal brand through content. (Plus, uplifting and boosting your profile can help content cut through the noise and help boost the ever-important E-E-A-T criteria.)
Your personal treasure trove of unique insights can help you stand apart, build a broader online presence, and signal to search engines that your content is the material to prioritize. Even if you don’t think you’re a leader — at least not yet — with enough finessing (and time with us!), you’ll find and refine the talking points that make you and your product or service stand out.
Prediction #2: Niche expertise will be in high demand
SEO writing in 2024 still hinges on an abbreviation you’ve probably seen before: “E-E-A-T.” Short for “Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness,” this is the acronym Google uses to sum up how the algorithm determines which content to rank for a certain subject or search term. When these four factors are at their best, it says to search engines: “hey, this piece of content is the real deal.”
A combination of factors influences what makes something E-E-A-T worthy, including:
- Is the content written with firsthand experience or knowledge?
- Is the person writing the content, or the site publishing the content, knowledgeable in the field they’re writing about?
- Do others recognize the content as dependent and reliable? What about the website on which it’s being published?
- Do humans and crawlers alike believe your website is trustworthy?
The importance of E-E-A-T, which has been in use in some form for several years, became even clearer with the last two Helpful Content Updates from Google, released in September 2023 and November 2023. Broadly speaking, these updates led to ranking improvements for websites widely considered trustworthy in their niches. For example, content from reliable hospital networks saw improvements in health-related queries. This is good news for powerful, reliable businesses and publishers with strong reputations in their niche — especially those that continue to provide high-quality content.
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Nobody has a crystal ball to see precisely how the latest Google updates will affect search, although we can guarantee that change will come. What we do know — and what we’re told time and again by Google representatives — is that content quality will always matter. So if you’re planning with one eye on how search will change in the year ahead, now is the time to strengthen your site. Use this time to create a system for reviewing and updating content so every page published on your site is the best it can be.
Prediction #3: SEO writing will become inextricable from social media
Once upon a time, you could whip up a list of keywords from an SEO software provider and build a killer content calendar based solely on what people are searching for on Google (and the other search engines). The data, though, tells us that more people than ever are turning to social media as a search engine. This has been trending for quite some time, but the trend shows absolutely no signs of slowing down.
Let’s talk about three of these social media platforms and how they can affect your content:
Gen Z is turning to TikTok as a first step when conducting an online search. This isn’t new, but its importance in SEO is increasing: half of Gen Zers prefer to search TikTok instead of Google. That’s a treasure trove of topics you might not even touch if you’re only focused on search engines. Failing to recognize this means missed opportunities — and missed eyeballs.
As reviews and first-hand experience become more prevalent, Reddit is taking center stage. This forum is where people turn to get all sorts of advice, from restaurant recommendations to identifying weird plants to asking for advice.
Remember that “experience” E we talked about earlier? Well, Google took note. You may have even seen a box like the below when conducting a Google search. This only underscores the importance of social forums like Reddit in 2024 — both as a way to research content and to distribute it.
The video giant owned by Google has long been a traffic driver — it’s the second-largest search engine after Google. As YouTube searches continue to grow, you have two opportunities to capitalize on your content: incorporating video and prioritizing YouTube optimization. You get multiple birds with one stone here: a way to optimize your content for search on YouTube, a way for visual learners to absorb information, and repurposing written content as videos so you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
Prediction #4: We’ll see a demand for content with a human touch
Just over half of Americans, according to Pew Research Center, say they’re more concerned than excited about AI use in everyday life. Furthermore, the survey found the loss of a human element to be of serious concern among many folks. This will likely change over time, but today — or all of 2024, for that matter — is not that day.
We predict this will have a boomerang effect: People will want to know that the content they’re reading came from a living, breathing human. It doesn’t help that a lot of generative AI content follows a similar rhythm and readers can tell the difference. If a non-writer or a bad writer can’t flag those anomalies, your content contributes to the deluge of spammy articles that have made their way onto the web.
To be clear: generative AI is not a bad thing. It’s incredibly useful when used appropriately. But appropriately is the most important word. When generative AI is used to create unchecked content en masse, that’s when we have a problem — a problem that Google has already recognized and penalized.
2024 is the year of the human
Good writing is here to stay because humans like good writing. We connect with it, we grapple with it, and we find meaning in it. The best and most successful SEO writers will be those who bridge the gap between creating genuine human connections and understanding what’s necessary for best performance. It’s a tricky balance to strike, but when you land the sweet spot, you’re certain to start 2024 on the right foot.