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Google’s Veterans Discuss How SEO Will Be Like in the Future

5 min read
Google’s Veterans Discuss Future of SEO

In the latest episode of the ‘’Search off the Record’ Podcast series, Google’s Search Relation Veterans: John Mueller, Gary Illyes, and Martin Splitt got together to discuss a few key elements of SEO, and how each is expected to play a role in shaping up the future of SEO. Several elements, including HTML, JavaScript, URLs and then some more, were discussed at length by the trio who, drawing from their experiences and trends and changes they have all seen the last couple of years contemplated how each of these elements will impact the future of search in the coming years. While you can catch the entire 45+ minute episode here, however if you are in a hurry and would like to take a quick scan, here are some important highlights from the episode.

HTML will still be relevant

Mueller contemplated if HTML will still be relevant in the future given the fact (or calculated guess) that Content Management Systems are getting more and more skilled at handling more technical elements of a website, adding “Well, I mean it’s like if you just have a a rich editor and you just type things in and then you format your text properly and you add some links. What do you need to do with HTML?”

To which Gary responded and acknowledged that there is way more to SEO than just writing content and important elements SEO still require some technical knowledge of HTML.

“But SEO is also about link tags and meta tags and title elements and all those weird things in the head section of the HTML that you can put there. So you kind of want to know about them to control how your snippets look like or how your titles show up in search results and the rel canonical tag to control what will be the– or what should be the canonical version of a URL. You kind of want to know that.”

JavaScript to become all the more important

Muller believes that JavaScript may have bigger and more important role to play in how using Apps and SEO will coincide and how App developers and their subsequent brands want their apps to show up on the search results rather than JavaScript just sticking to conventional websites.

“I think the user is kind of expecting to be able to use any app that they have in any platform, any device that they use. And it feels like that kind of work is going to continue as well. And probably, that means things like understanding JavaScript will become more and more important for SEOs as well… But it probably also means that a lot of these apps suddenly have to think about SEO in general. Like what do they actually want to have findable on the web, because in the past, they were just apps.” said Muller.

URLs definitely aren’t going anywhere

However strange, there was a thought whether URLs will give way to IP address or entities, which was soon put down by Gary who added, “Fortunately, URLs cannot go away… At least not in the foreseeable future, because the URLs they are the standard way to communicate addresses on the Internet. And without that the Internet is just not the Internet. The same way domain names cannot go away because of how the Internet is built or IP addresses cannot go away because of how the Internet is built. The same way URLs cannot go away.”

More Meta Tags? Maybe not for now

Martin was quick to dismiss the idea shared by Mueller whereby there might be a possibility of more Meta Tags to be introduced in SEO in future.  Martin further added that it doesn’t seem like a very good idea, stating “I hope that we are not introducing more Meta Tags. And usually, when you see internal threads about, like, this search team wants to introduce a new Meta tag. Then usually both John and I jump on that thread and we are pushing back quite aggressively because there’s very rarely a good reason to introduce a new Meta Tag.”

Structured Data may soon become irrelevant for now it is important

Google needs Structured Data to understand what all is on a page but will there be a time when it is no longer needed? It was discussed how Google is almost at the cusp of not needing it anymore but as of now it is very much relevant, helpful and recommended.

“I’m pretty sure we can understand: Oh, this is a product, and the product’s name is this and the product’s price is that and this is a product image. But it is kind of nice to have this explicit machine-readable information where you can say: “Oh, so they specifically want us to think of it as a product.” It’s basically a glorified meta tag…” said Martin.

Will AI-generated Content find favour with Google? That depends…

If the content is generated by machine but reviewed by humans before putting it up online then sure, Google will rank it as per its merit, like it has been doing so till now. However, Google doesn’t want anything to do with content that is generated by machine and without any human interference. Mueller discussed if SEOs in future will still need writers if text-generating algorithms evolve to a point whereby content is so intelligently written that one can’t tell apart machine-generated content from the one written by humans. To which Gary said:

“I think that could be a topic on its own for a future podcast episode because we can see the pros and the cons of machine-generated content, and we are quite strict about what we allow in our index. But on the flip side, you can also see very good and smart machine-generated—I don’t know if smart is a good word, but very intelligent machine-generated content… Right now, our stance on machine-generated content is that if it’s without human supervision, then we don’t want it in search. If someone reviews it before putting it up for the public then it’s fine.”

Voice Search may just have to wait

Martin straightaway discarded the idea that Voice Search is the next big thing, stating:

“Oh God, the future that never will be. I think no, because if we learn anything—I remember a bunch of years ago, people were like: Oh, we’ll stop using keyboards and just do voice. And I think that has been a recurring theme from the 90s. But I think in the future, it won’t change and will naturally or magically become the number one thing that we need to worry about, simply because it changes the input modality, and it changes probably how queries are phrased, but it doesn’t change the fundamental use of natural language to retrieve information from the Internet. So I think you don’t have to worry too much about it, to be honest, but that’s maybe just me.”

Source: Search Engine Journal