The Future of SEO – from Keyword to Context

It is obvious that the future of SEO is closely connected to the approach and query process of search engines. Google wants to deliver the best result and this means high quality websites. To achieve this, as much information as possible is taken into account. This means that the explicit search query is only one part of the information utilized. Besides that, also implicit information like localization, time or personal search history is considered. Implicit context data is not part of the search query typed into Google, but help to better understand the user’s situation, context and need.

Implicit Context Information

The following example illustrates the huge difference this approach will have for future queries: If you search for the best breakfast place in Zurich you have to actually type in “best place for breakfast in Zurich”. If you imagine standing in front of your hotel with your smartphone, the query will shorten to “restaurant”.  All the rest is done by the search engine: your position and the time influences the search result which will deliver the closest breakfast place.

In the future the biggest part of the result will be based on implicit information. The difficult part will be to decide which queries can be improved by implicit data. A query such as “Linux Ubuntu” is most likely not a candidate.

This development is accompanied by a lot of improvements:

  • Less work for the user as there is no need to thoroughly formulate or restrict the query
  • The delivered result will be customized and offer more value to the user
  • The interaction will overcome its input-output-character and come much closer to a real dialog. At some point even the query for “restaurant” won’t be necessary anymore, we just say “I’m hungry”. Which brings us to an intuitive and direct human computer interaction and a big step closer to natural language understanding (NLU).

Implicit Queries

SEO Impacts

There will be big changes for the SEO process in the future: the ranking of a website will not be related to a keyword. The focus on keywords will not matter anymore.

In the future a website’s ranking will be related to context specific profiles. For every landing page you will need to define a persona based on user profiles, target group and context information. You will have to ask how and if context will relate with your business model.

The focus in SEO will shift from keyword to context and with that also to the user and the individual needs. With this focus on the user you could say the concept of user-centered design has also reached SEO.