General SEO

How Search Engine Optimisation Will Change in the Next 3 Years

by Tom Buckland Updated On May 16, 2019

SEO has changed drastically.

However far back you look, things have changed.

In 2001 it was easy.

In 2009 it was super-easy.

In 2012 it changed a lot.

In 2018 it’s still changing.

Nowadays search engines are more like filtering programmes. They don’t start by searching, they start by filtering the cr*p out of results.

Engines primary job is to provide reliable, relevant results to users based on their initial search query. This is pretty clear, but how they do this not so easy.

We know things have changed in the past.

In this post I’m going to share my opinions on what I think is going to happen in the future, what I think will change in the next 3 years.

How SEO Will Change in the Next 3 Years

These are my predictions onto where Google is going. A lot of business people I chill with ask me a similar question that essentially boils down to: How are you so comfortable relying on Google for traffic (both personal projects and clients). AKA What they are really saying is “Aren’t you scared that when Google changes the algo again you will lose everything?” – The honest answer is 100% not.

The reason??

Because Google is done “changing things”

They aren’t finished of course, there is still alot of spam in the SERPs. But things like Panda, Penguins and even Hummingbird to a certain extent were built into the algorithm in real time. This means that although what Google SAY and what they DO are 2 completely different things, this essentially means it is very very difficult to do 100% black hat SEO spam anymore.

Grey hat SEO still works insanely well and that of course is there next goal, but that is alot more difficult to “ban” and penalise because the people doing this are usually just trying to look white hat. Things like PBNs are incredibly difficult if not actually impossible when implemented correctly. There are people with 8,000+ sites and Google has no idea about any of them because they simply do not have the resources to manually target people, especially when there are no footprints.

Do I think they will get to a place where they can target these people?


Will it be soon?



Because Google is a company! There goal is not to try to stop people making money. There goal is to provide the most relevant search results to an individuals query. Is part of that to get rid of people manipulating the system? Of course, but what happens if the people manipulating are the best search results? Then what?????

Mindfck Meme

Anyway, I’m getting a little off topic, but it will come back around.

When you talk about where Google is going and why I’m 100% not worried about any updates in the next 3 years is the following – Google is building towards valuing more and more of the organic search results (how they rank websites) on direct user experience. This means how many people come from a third party source (social, links, organic rankings etc) and what they do on the site. If they bounce straight back to the search results then Google knows that this result didn’t solve the query for that individual person. If 95% of people do this, you better believe that Google isn’t going to show that site to people again.

Same with time on site and other user experience metrics. We can get as technical as you like but it boils back down to: “Was this result relevant?” – If the user experience metrics say “Yeah, this site is great for this particular keyword” – Then guess what? You gonna rank! If it’s a NO, then guess what? You ain’t!

How We Plan Ahead

This is how we plan ahead, it’s actually pretty simple.

1.) Build your funnels/conversions/content for users initially – This is at the end of the day what will make your business/website the most money. People (not Google) are still the ones who hand over the money to pay for your products or services. Build all your UX and funnels based on converting these prospects into customers. If you do this in a good way it will have a knock on effect to rankings later down the line anyway…. Everyone is a winner!

2.) Generate initial traffic and test conversions – Pay for some traffic or if you are already getting some organic traffic then test whether this actually makes you some topline revenue. If it does then great move onto the next step, if it doesn’t then go back and re-analyse UX.

3.) On-page – Tweak don’t re-write – Something that people struggle with is getting a mix of UX/readability of an article and on-page optimisation for their target keywords. This is utterly ridiculous to me. If you can’t naturally integrate your keywords into the content, why in the hell are you trying to rank for something so unrelated? So silly because the targets won’t convert to MONEY anyway.

4.) Links – The big one. I like this discussion and have written about it in depth in our process page but the short version is ask yourself the following question before building a link – Does this have the potential to generate traffic and relevant users? If the answer is YES then go for it. If no then probably leave it.

My Personal Big Thought On Where Google Is Going

This is where I see Google going:

They will start to base the quality of links on how much traffic the link generates (this encompasses all previous metrics when you think about it anyway.) If you think about how much authority a site has, usually measured by traffic. If you think about how relevant (irrelevant external links wouldn’t get any traffic) so that problem becomes solved.

Next the people “traffic” that comes through from those links – How long did they stay on the site – AKA USER EXPERIENCE. If you think about this again (system 2 thinking.) They click through, spend ages on the site – This is a “completion” or a trust signal to Google.

Finally Google looks at your on-page and ranks you based on that.

So instead of looking at on-page FIRST, it is actually looked at LAST!

That’s my opinion and thoughts anyway. Hit me up on Twitter on what you personally think




About Tom

Hi, I'm Tom, Founder & Director of HQ SEO. I live and breathe SEO. I hope you enjoy my findings. Interested in SEO?
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