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SEO in 2013, 2023, and 2033 - The More Things Change...

SEO in 2013, 2023, and 2033 - The More Things Change...

Slides from my talk at Friends of Search 2023 where I looked back at the past 10 years of search and SEO, and make some predictions about where the industry is heading in the next decade.

Barry Adams

March 23, 2023
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  1. SEO in 2013, 2023, and 2033:
    The more things change…
    Barry Adams
    March 2023

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  2. SEO in 2013
    • Post-Panda SEO;
    ➢ Thin & low quality content wasn’t rewarded
    ➢ ‘Great content’ started to make sense
    • Penguin in full swing;
    ➢ Targeting link schemes & unnatural links
    ➢ Penalises keyword stuffing & over-optimisation
    • Hummingbird update confirmed in Sept 2013;
    ➢ Full query text considered for rankings
    ➢ From ‘keywords’ to ‘topics’
    • Knowledge Graph in its infancy;
    ➢ Early stages with limited SERP impact

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  3. SEO in 2013
    • Post-Panda SEO;
    ➢ Thin & low quality content wasn’t rewarded
    ➢ ‘Great content’ started to make sense
    • Penguin in full swing;
    ➢ Targeting link schemes & unnatural links
    ➢ Penalises keyword stuffing & over-optimisation
    • Hummingbird update confirmed in Sept 2013;
    ➢ Full query text considered for rankings
    ➢ From ‘keywords’ to ‘topics’
    • Knowledge Graph in its infancy;
    ➢ Early stages with limited SERP impact
    Business as usual
    (more or less)

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  4. 2015:
    RankBrain

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  5. RankBrain
    • Enables relevant SERPs for unfamiliar queries
    • First time Google uses Machine Learning in search;
    ➢ Reluctantly
    • It opened the door for what came in 2018…

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  6. Amit Singhal

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  7. John Giannandrea
    Amit Singhal

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  8. 2018:
    The first ‘core algorithm update’?

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  9. 2018–now: The era of ‘Core Algorithm Updates’
    • Machine Learning is increasingly driving SERP rankings;
    ➢ Less reliance on manually crafted ranking factors
    ➢ BERT & MUM are ML systems working on SERPs
    • Every core update is an improved ML model;
    ➢ Constant training on feedback provided by human quality raters
    • ML can do what manual ranking algorithms can’t;
    ➢ Deal with the insane chaos that is the World Wide Web

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  10. But what about?
    ✓ Mobile-first Indexing
    ✓ HTTPS
    ✓ Core Web Vitals

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  11. But what about?
    ✓ Mobile-first Indexing
    ✓ HTTPS
    ✓ Core Web Vitals
    Social Engineering Updates
    Intended to change WWW behaviours
    Mostly irrelevant to the bigger picture

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  12. Google 2013-2023: Three Key Trends
    1. Machine Learning & AI;
    ➢ Moving away from manual factors

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  13. Ads
    Local pack
    People also ask
    Organic results
    Related searches
    Knowledge graph
    Related entities

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  14. SERP Features

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  15. Google 2013-2023: Three Key Trends
    1. Machine Learning & AI;
    ➢ Moving away from manual factors
    2. SERP Features;
    ➢ Increased diversity in ranking types

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  16. SERP Features & Knowledge Graph

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  17. Knowledge Graph
    Arnold
    Schwarzenegger
    Bodybuilding
    Terminator films
    Governor of
    California
    Maria Shriver
    Ronnie
    Coleman

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  18. Knowledge Graph

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  19. Knowledge Graph
    • Topical Authority
    • Authorship
    • E-E-A-T
    Expressions of the
    Knowledge Graph

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  20. Knowledge Graph
    • Underpins most Google SERP features
    • Enables Google to understand entities & relationships
    • Empowered by Structured Data
    • Critical aspect of Google search quality

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  21. Google 2013-2023: Three Key Trends
    1. Machine Learning & AI;
    ➢ Moving away from manual factors
    2. SERP Features;
    ➢ Increased diversity in ranking types
    3. Knowledge Graph;
    ➢ Not keywords, but entities & relationships

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  22. Generative AI

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  23. ChatGPT / Bard = LLM
    • Large Language Models
    • Basically predictive text on steroids

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  24. LLM’s key problem

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  25. LLM’s key problem
    Industrial Grade
    Bullshit Generators

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  26. The solution..?

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  27. The solution

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  28. Knowledge Graph
    The solution

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  29. Search in 2033..?
    1. Machine Learning & AI;
    ➢ Black box systems
    2. SERP Features;
    ➢ Powered by AI and KG
    3. Knowledge Graph;
    ➢ Entities & relationships, accuracy

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  30. Insane* Predictions
    • Conversational search;
    ➢ Not queries, but conversations
    • Predictive search;
    ➢ Your device will give you the answer before you ask
    • Headless websites;
    ➢ No front-end, just data for search engines
    *Probably, maybe

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  31. Thank You
    [email protected]
    @badams
    /in/barryadams/

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