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What Does SEO Have in Store for Us in 2019?

2017 and 2018 have seen a plethora of changes and upheavals in our profession as SEO experts. Content must be more and more detailed and relevant, site architecture must be as good as possible to answer the many questions that a user may have, and websites have to be technically flawless.

Google's algorithms are not the only things to undergo profound changes. The very core of Google's search activity is also evolving. Google is becoming an engine for answers and suggestions rather than just a search engine.

Every time Google moves its pawns, SEO professionals hold their breath and prepare to have to change their tactics.

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Is SEO Changing?

This question borders on stupidity - the very nature of our business is changing due to Google's constant and repeated updates. SEO is constantly changing and evolving in a very natural way. It is a living concept, which moves with the developments of the digital world.

To some extent, SEO has been vulgarized and simplified with the developing digital market. But SEO is not simple - it is complex and difficult. Many site owners are falling behind and making mistakes due to their inability to adapt and to take SEO seriously. Entire companies can close for the simple reason that no one can find them on the internet.

Is an SEO professional expensive? Imagine what it costs to be incompetent....

The question is very relevant, however, and very serious. Is our business changing? Google is radically changing: today, it is less of a search engine than a suggestion engine. Tomorrow, it will simply be a provider of answers. The evolution in this direction is already well underway with the development of voice search and Google Home. Our profession is indeed changing.

Is SEO in Danger?

I have read a number of articles about the death of SEO. Perhaps these authors are burying a fundamental concept in any business too quickly: being visible on the internet, being seen by users, being consulted...

So no, SEO is not in danger. Quite the contrary. In a digital world in which Google suggests and provides answers to questions (and therefore does not encourage searching and consulting several websites), being visible has become, more than ever, a priority for companies.

SEOs and those in a related profession have a bright future ahead of them, and will become more and more essential. These professions are becoming more complex and specialized. SEO must be part of a company's DNA today more than ever.

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The SEO of Tomorrow: Affordance

This is a question of anticipating, rather than reacting once the damage has already been caused to your business. Remember that it is always more difficult to run after SEO than to anticipate it as much as possible.

SEO, for me, is a complex machine composed of the following components, in no particular order:

  • Technology and performance

  • Content and SEO

  • Architecture and structure

  • Internal linking

  • Statistics and behaviour

I will now add "affordance" to this list. This concept is often not integrated enough into the realisation of a digital strategy.

Affordance is the ability of an object or concept to suggest its own use. It is a clever mix of design, ergonomics, cognition and psychology.

Let's take a concrete and simple example to understand the concept of affordance.

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Take this cup: from experience, you know it contain hot contents, and that prevents you from holding it fully in your hand, because you know you will almost certainly burn yourself. You naturally hold the cup with the handle to move it around. You do this without even thinking about it, without having learned it, or without having needed an explanation.

The object "ance" itself suggests its use, its applications, and its associations.

The concept of affordance is the same one. Widely used in video games, or software (for example, objects highlighted in the video game will indicate a possible interaction, or the cross at the top of a web window suggests closing the window if you click on it), this concept is still not used enough in web design and communication strategies.

As Google now provides answers without users even having to click on a website, the question "how to make a user visit my site?" will became even more relevant. You should start thinking now about how to find new ways to to get people to visit your website!

Tomorrow, Google will not only give the answers, but it will make sure users do not have to leave Google. It will allow us to consult the content of a site without going on it, to purchase without having to go through a website, etc.

Affordance will undoubtedly be a key element of this response. A site that has its own visitor navigation in a completely natural way, will be best placed to be visited over and over again.

Imagine a site that you browse as you would browse a book, or a game, without a tedious search or boring reading. In short, we will have to imagine sites offering experiences that Google will not be able to replace.

Search eXperience Optimization

SEO is acquiring a new element to meet these expectations and new challenges: SXO (Search eXperience Optimization). Far from erasing the teachings of SEO, it only underlines their importance, and adds an additional lever for all entrepreneurs concerned about their web strategy.

Affordance, cross-media, virtual reality, augmented reality, etc., will undoubtedly be at the heart of companies' thinking for 2019. These pieces together complete the immense and varied puzzle that is digital marketing.

SEO is not dead, on the contrary, it has just taken on a new dimension. It is even more strategic and more essential than ever.

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Published on Dec 21, 2018 by Philippe de Kepper