This past year, the industry underwent a series of transformative changes, presenting both potential challenges and promising opportunities for SEO professionals.
Find out the key disruptors that are reshaping the SEO landscape, from increased competition to generative AI and AI software.
We gathered data from 3,890 SEO professionals of various backgrounds to uncover the latest trends and developments within the industry.
Download the report for valuable SEO insights to help you adapt, thrive, and stay ahead of the competition this upcoming year.
3 Key Disruptors To The SEO Industry
Between rapidly developing technology and competition, there were three main factors that shook up the SEO industry this year:
- E-E-A-T and content production challenges: Content strategy is what the majority of SEO pros reported that they struggle most with and are focused most on this year. Google also updated its quality rater guidelines recently, adding experience to expertise, authority, and trust to make E-E-A-T.
- Difficulty proving and tracking SEO value: Many SEO professionals stated that they have trouble getting budget approvals and listed client relationship issues as a top challenge. This could indicate a struggle in communicating the importance and impact of their work in the face of an increasingly competitive landscape.
- Generative AI and AI software: Although generative AI can help enhance content production efficiency, crafting distinctive and competitive content is becoming increasingly complicated. However, many SEO pros feel positive about its potential for their workflows and business outcomes.
SEO Career Insights & Experience
- Competition for talent is the number one thing SEO pros expect to make the biggest shift within the industry.
- The five-year milestone is a critical career mark in SEO, with 49.8% of managers and 56% of directors or higher boasting 5 to 10 years of experience.
- Around 27.5% of managers possess two to four years of experience, indicating a potential demand for SEO skill sets. Conversely, a significant number of SEO professionals with less than five years of experience actively seek new opportunities, contributing to high competition for entry-level positions.
- 77.9% of respondents who classified themselves as freelancers have fewer than five years of experience, and 69.2% of freelancers are looking for positions within companies, generally preferring SEO agencies over in-house positions.
Tracking Success & Securing SEO Budgets
- SEO professionals seem to be moving away from raw traffic as a metric of success, focusing instead on:
- Click-through rate – 9.2%.
- Branded vs. non-branded traffic – 8.3%.
- Keyword rankings – 7.3%.
- The most common SEO budget range is $1,000-$5,000 USD, with 28.6% of responses.
- 48.9% of respondents expect budget increases.
- 42.2% expect no change in budget this year.
- Respondents ranked their top three barriers to success in the past 12 months as:
- Budget cuts and acquiring approval – 12.2%.
- Competition in SERPs – 11.1%.
- Client relationship issues – 10.8%.
- There appears to be some difficulty with SEO professionals being able to communicate the value of their work to stakeholders.
- Many respondents expect budget increases this year (48.9%), which could also indicate confidence that they have overcome these issues or that the industry is stabilizing.
The Future Of AI Technology In SEO
- The majority of respondents (72.4%) feel positively about AI’s potential impact, with 68% expressing interest in investing in AI-powered software or services this year – particularly those with larger teams.
- SEO professionals named these top priorities for implementing automated solutions:
- Making the most of generative AI – 13.3%.
- Content generation – 11.1%.
- Content audits – 10.7%.
The recent evolutions within the digital landscape present a range of challenging disruptions and exciting opportunities for SEOs – and in this report, we examine them both.
As SEO professionals reevaluate their tracking methods, in light of technological advancements and increased competition in SERPs, the challenge now becomes how to better quantify the value of SEO and how to communicate that value to stakeholders.
Want to access the first-party data and actionable insights you need to unleash the full potential of your SEO strategy?
Download the report and learn how to tackle your biggest challenges, embrace the latest technologies, and thrive in this dynamic industry.
Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal
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