The Evolution of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) In 2024

The Evolution of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) In 2024

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has long been a crucial component of digital marketing strategies for businesses across all industries. As search engines become more sophisticated, the methods and practices that marketers employ to attempt to achieve higher rankings in search results must adapt.

Google, as the dominant search engine globally, continually refines its algorithms to improve user experience, making it imperative for SEO professionals and marketing teams to stay abreast of these changes. In recent years, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and other technological advancements have significantly impacted the SEO landscape – something which is set to continue as Google and other search engines move forward with their plans to integrate AI into their search results.

This article explores these changes and their implications for SEO as we move forward in 2024.

The Role of AI in Modern SEO

Artificial intelligence is at the forefront of Google’s efforts to enhance search accuracy and relevance. One of the most notable AI-driven components is RankBrain, introduced in 2015. RankBrain is a machine learning algorithm that helps Google process and understand search queries, particularly those that are complex or ambiguous. It analyses patterns in user behaviour to deliver more relevant search results, making it essential for websites to focus on user intent rather than merely keyword optimisation.

1. BERT Algorithm

In 2019, Google introduced the Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) algorithm. BERT helps Google understand the context of words in search queries by considering the words before and after a given term. This deep learning technique allows Google to better interpret the nuances and intent behind a search, particularly for conversational and long-tail queries. For companies, this means creating content that is contextually rich and answers specific user questions comprehensively, rather than simply stuffing marketing pieces with keywords.

2. MUM (Multitask Unified Model)

In 2021, Google announced the Multitask Unified Model (MUM), an AI model designed to process and answer complex search queries. MUM is capable of understanding and generating language, and it can also interpret information across different formats, including text, images, and videos. This represents a significant shift towards a more holistic understanding of content, requiring online marketing strategies to incorporate a diverse array of media and ensure that content is accessible and relevant across various formats.

Core Web Vitals and Page Experience Update

In May 2021, Google rolled out the Page Experience update, which incorporates Core Web Vitals as ranking factors. Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics that assess a website’s user experience, focusing on loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability. These metrics are:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Measures loading performance. To provide a good user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
  • First Input Delay (FID): Measures interactivity. Pages should have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Measures visual stability. Pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.

The Page Experience update underscores Google’s commitment to rewarding websites that offer superior user experiences. For organisations, this necessitates a focus on technical aspects such as site speed, mobile-friendliness, and overall site usability.

With technology moving on swiftly, those with outdated websites using older codebases are likely to be impacted as search engines continue to focus on overall user experience.

Mobile-First Indexing

Mobile-first indexing means that Google and other search engines predominantly use the mobile version of a website for indexing and ranking. This shift, which began in earnest in 2018, reflects the growing trend of mobile internet usage. As of March 2021, mobile-first indexing applies to all websites. This change requires businesses to ensure that their mobile sites are as robust and comprehensive as their desktop counterparts (and indeed that they must have a mobile-friendly site!). Responsive design, fast loading times, and streamlined navigation are critical factors in a mobile-first SEO strategy.

The Rise of Voice Search

Voice search is becoming increasingly popular with the proliferation of smart speakers and virtual assistants like Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa. According to recent studies, a significant portion of searches are now conducted via voice, which has implications for SEO:

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP): Voice searches tend to be more conversational and question-based. Optimising for NLP involves understanding how people speak and structuring content to answer those questions directly and succinctly.
  • Featured Snippets: Voice search devices often read out featured snippets, making it crucial for companies to aim for these positions by providing clear, concise, and authoritative answers to common queries.
  • Local SEO: Many voice searches are location-specific, such as “near me” queries. Ensuring accurate and up-to-date local listings can help capture this traffic.

E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness

E-A-T is a framework that Google uses to evaluate the quality of content, particularly for pages related to health, finance, and other topics that can impact a person’s well-being (sometimes referred to as ‘your money, your life’). While not a direct ranking factor, E-A-T influences how Google’s algorithms assess the reliability and credibility of a website’s content overall. Digital marketing strategies should therefore focus on areas such as:

  • Author Credentials: Displaying the qualifications and expertise of content authors, particularly on subjects covering areas such as finance, health and well-being.
  • Citations and Sources: Provide reputable sources and references to back up claims and information.
  • Site Security: Ensuring the site uses HTTPS and follows best practices for data security and privacy – which is also necessary for most modern browsers.

User Experience and Engagement Metrics

User engagement metrics, such as dwell time, bounce rate, and click-through rate (CTR), are increasingly important signals to search engines. While these may not be direct ranking factors, they provide insights into how users interact with a website. High engagement typically indicates valuable content, which can indirectly boost rankings through improved user satisfaction.

Structured Data and Schema Markup

Structured data and schema markup help search engines understand the content on a page better and provide rich results in search engine result pages (SERPs). Through using structured data, websites can often enhance their listings with additional information like reviews, ratings, event details, and more. This not only improves visibility but also increases the likelihood of users clicking through to the site.

The Importance of High-Quality Content

Despite the technical advancements and algorithmic changes, the foundation of SEO remains high-quality content. Google’s algorithms are designed to reward content that is informative, well-researched, and valuable to users. Creating comprehensive, engaging, and original content that addresses user needs is paramount, and gone are the days when marketeers can ‘trick’ their way to the top!

  • Content Depth: Deep, insightful content tends to perform better than superficial articles. In-depth guides, detailed tutorials, and extensive resources are highly valued.
  • User Intent: Understanding and addressing user intent is crucial. Content should align with what users are searching for and provide solutions or answers effectively.
  • Regular Updates: Keeping content up-to-date ensures its relevance and accuracy, which can improve rankings and maintain user trust.

The Future of SEO

As AI and machine learning continue to evolve, the future of SEO will likely see even more personalised and intuitive search experiences. Key trends to watch include:

  • Hyper-Personalisation: AI will enable search engines to deliver highly personalised results based on individual user behaviour and preferences, without necessarily even visiting a website at all.
  • Visual and Video Search: The importance of visual content will grow, with advancements in image and video recognition technologies. SEO strategies will need to optimise for these formats.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR): As AR and VR technologies become more mainstream, they will offer new avenues for content creation and optimisation.
  • Ethical SEO Practices: With increasing scrutiny of data privacy and security, ethical SEO practices that prioritise user trust and transparency will be essential and search engines are likely to continue to take action against those trying to trick the system!


The state of SEO is one of constant evolution, driven by technological advancements and changes in user behaviour. Google’s integration of AI, the emphasis on user experience through updates like Core Web Vitals, and the shift to mobile-first indexing are just a few of the recent developments shaping the SEO landscape.

For companies, this means staying informed about these changes and adapting strategies accordingly is crucial. The core principles of high-quality content, technical optimisation, and user-centric practices remain steadfast in digital marketing strategies.

CJPI Insights
CJPI Insights
CJPI Insights Editor

This post has been published by the CJPI Insights Editorial Team, compiling the best insights and research from our experts.

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