Believe it or not, 2023 is almost over! And it has been another big year in the world of SEO, from huge leaps forward in artificial intelligence, to major changes to long-used analytics platforms.
Now is a good time to start looking ahead to the new year - what trends will shape SEO as we head into 2024? In this article we’re going to take a quick look at four of the big trends that are set to influence ecommerce SEO strategy.
#1 - Generative AI will become a normal feature in SERPs
Generative AI made a big impact towards the end of 2022 with the release of software like ChatGPT. That impact continued into 2023 as OpenAI released GPT-4, as well as other players like Microsoft developing their Bing AI. This brought about a lot of discussion about the development of AI and how it might be applied to a number of different industries, including SEO.
Throughout the summer of 2023, we started to see search engines like Google start to dip their toes into incorporating generative AI into search. They’ve even cited generative AI as being one of their biggest moments in the development of search.
So with that said, all signs are pointing to generative AI being the newest feature to make its way to SERPs in 2024. That might be new features appearing in SERPs such as AI powered snippets, or an interactive search element to help refine results. Either way, it’s a trend that’s sure to be one to watch in the new year.
#2 - Generative AI will continue to influence our approach to content
Not only have we started to see the influence of generative AI on search, but on content. Content is one of the most important aspects of SEO - you could have a speedy site that’s technically well optimized, but without great content it won’t matter. Generative AI has raised questions and discussion around how it can be used to generate content for web pages.
In the last 12 months, we’ve seen developments that seem to indicate search engines are also thinking about the impact of generative AI on content. Google for example announced that they were adding Experience to their E-A-T guidelines, and of course an AI won’t be able to fulfill that.
In 2024, ecommerce merchants will find new and innovative ways to use generative AI as part of their content creation process. That may be the result of developers creating new tools that draw on generative AI to help with content such as writing product descriptions, or fine tuning blog strategies.
#3 - Human-led content will become a focus due to E-E-A-T
While we’re going to see new tools and ways of using generative AI, we’re also going to see a much bigger focus on human-led content. Users and customers are becoming more aware of the influence of generative AI, and this is reflected in how Google and other search engines have approached content guidelines. We mentioned in our previous point that Google added Experience to their E-A-T principles. These are developed to help search raters determine the quality a piece of content has to users, standing for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. Now that experience has been added, it adds a new dimension.
What this will mean is that while merchants and content creators find ways to use generative AI, they’ll also need to ensure that content is still human-led. In other words, they don’t rely on AI to fully create their content. They’ll need to demonstrate that experience in their content if they want to see success with search.
#4 - True impact of GA4 will become apparent in SEO strategy
It was on the cards for a while, but in summer 2023 Google officially retired Universal Analytics and brought in GA4. This was what Google called the “next generation” of search analytics, bringing in a wide range of new features with a keen focus on events based on first and zero party data. This new platform collects a lot more granular data than its predecessor, and especially gives ecommerce merchants more tools to fine tune their strategy.
Universal Analytics was retired in July 2023, and access to UA data will cease in July 2024. That means GA4 will have been in full use for about 6 months so we’ll start to see the real impact of its new tools and data processing as we head into the new year. And by the middle of the year, UA will be fully a thing of the past. That impact will be reflected in SEO strategy, how merchants approach events and data tracking, and how they use GA4’s cross-platform tools.
Knowing what trends are guiding SEO is the first step in getting ahead on your new year strategy. By leveraging AI in a smart way and making full use of the tools Google gives you, your store will be climbing search rankings in no time. Will these trends hold up as the year progresses? Only time will tell!