As the technology behind search engines develops and becomes more advanced, so to do the tactics used by search engine optimisation (SEO) practitioners. Older tactics like keyword optimisation and link-building are not yet totally obsolete, but emerging technologies like machine learning and voice search are beginning to change the entire landscape of how effective SEO is performed.

More and more SEO is becoming a complicated digital science rather than a simple marketing strategy. As the technology becomes more complex so do the data points which can vary drastically between different queries.

In the future, SEO practitioners will need to rely on the following 2 tactics in order to do their jobs effectively.

Competitive research

The goal of search engines like Google is to make their product more and more human in the way it interprets and serves results to search queries. This means that SEO practitioners need to make sure the content they develop is more tailored towards being sincerely good rather than something designed for search engine indexing.

With machine learning technologies like Google’s RankBrain becoming more intelligent in how it evaluates the best search results, it can be hard for SEO practitioners to predict what optimisation strategies will actually work. With RankBrain now creating different quality measures for different queries, practitioners are forced to emulate RankBrain’s evaluation so that they can target the same things with their own sites.

For example, if RankBran determines that the most clicked on result for a search term has few words but a greater deal of pictures and video content, it will begin to take multimedia content as a major ranking signal for those keywords. This means that a practitioner looking to compete would need to evaluate their top competitor’s web presence and copy it as much as possible.

Data visualisation

As search technology becomes more advanced, the analytical metrics by which SEO efforts are measured will also become more complex. This amount of raw data can be overwhelming and SEO practitioners will need to visualise the data in order to present it to their clients.

However, visualising this data is not just a useful tool for disseminating information to non-experts, it’s also a way for SEO practitioners to analyse trends in the results of certain search queries. For example, a practitioner could represent the search engine results page (SERP) for a certain query and note the hills and valleys therein, helping them to look into important changes in the rankings.

Deep competitive analysis and the visualisation of important data are likely going to be the two major paths that SEO practitioners follow in the near future.