Top SEO Trends to Watch for in 2024

2023 was a wild ride for much of the SEO community – with Search Engine Land calling it one of the biggest years of change in search history. Now that the calendars have officially rolled over, it’s time to take a look at the top SEO trends to watch for in 2024:

Search engines evolving into generative engines

Google’s search generative experience, or SGE, survived 2023 and it’s only a matter of time before it rolls out to all users. Once SGE is live to all users, Google will almost certainly continue to prioritize generative AI results over traditional search. As the world’s largest search engine leans into serving generated content others are likely to follow suit too. Search engines will continue to exist and be used well into the future. But I don’t think that precludes search engines from evolving in generative engines which looks imminent. Major search engines like Google and Bing being will likely rebrand themselves as generative engines before 2024 concludes barring legislative action. And even if AI becomes regulated it’s unlikely to stop this evolution. In the short term we’re likely to see these rebranding efforts done more for investors than users unfortunately.

Regardless of the legal and economic landscape, SEOs will need to transition to generative engine optimization (GEO) as this evolution progresses. It won’t happen overnight, but over the next year we’re likely to see SEO transform significantly.

SEOs and other digital marketers leveraging AI tools

2023 might be aptly referred to as the year of generative AI, but I think it 2024 will be the year of using generative AI. Virtually anyone not living under a rock is aware of AI and its influence on their daily lift. The societal and economic importance, as well as morale and ethical concerns are discussed in the media and around watercoolers daily. And some sources report as many as 73% of marketers in the US in 2023 claimed to be using artificial intelligence tools. By the end of 2024 I suspect this percentage will increase to the high 80s or even into the 90s.

Leveraging generative AI tools to perform daily tasks will become a necessary part of almost all digital marketers lives in 2024. For SEOs to remain competitive, they will need to learn to use tools like ChatGPT. How tools chatbots, image generators and other AI tools will be used is still a work in progress. It is clear however that being seen using AI will be a huge priority for marketers.

Another rise in search spam

Some Google search results pages (SERPs) in 2023 started resembling a long-forgotten past for some seasoned SEOs. After years of successfully penalizing spammy websites and cleaning up their search results – Google appears to be slipping. Google seemed to be losing the battle against SEO spam as 2023 came to an end. This trend in SEO spam is likely to get worse before it gets better, as generative AI tools become more widely available and adopted in 2024. I believe technology companies are entering the early phases of an AI arms race with users. Content generated by bad actors and content moderation technology will likely face off in a big way this year.

SEOs should brace for less traffic and data

SGE going mainstream will likely reduce the amount of organic search traffic going to many websites – particularly those that rank well organically. The SEO community as a whole should be preparing their clients for less traffic. I don’t believe some prominent SEO thought leaders when they claim SGE is likely to cause a 50% reduction in organic traffic for most sites. But I do believe in preparing for the worst. And the worst-case scenario for SEOs in 2024 appears bleak at best – so I recommend bracing your clients and employers now. Equally important is preparing for a world with less data. Generative AI experiences will be difficult to obtain data from. So, in addition to less traffic SEOs should prepare for less data on performance in general. Which brings me to my next trend to watch out for.

Viewing search visibility metrics more literally

In a zero click world, visibility might be all we have to optimize against as SEOs. Most SEO visibility metrics are tied to estimated click through rates (CTRs) and the share of traffic gained based on rankings right now though. Moz for example defines their search visibility score as the “percentage of clicks we estimate you received based on your organic rankings positions, across all of the keywords you’re tracking…” When SGE goes live we’re likely to see the definition of metrics like this change to accommodate an environment where clicks are less prevalent and likely.

Interest in blocking content from generative AI

Sometimes SEO is just as much about blocking the wrong things from showing up in search as it is about increasing visibility. In my experience this is particularly true for large, established companies that have numerous pieces of dated content floating through cyberspace on undermaintained websites.

With the rise of generative AI, preventing the wrong content from appearing online will be even more important and challenging. Editing or removing information from generative AI experiences isn’t simple like it is with web pages and search results. So, in many cases we could see organizations opting to block considerable portions of their online content to generative AI crawlers for that reason alone. News publishers, bloggers and other content creators are also unlikely to embrace gen AI crawlers with open arms as the NYT suit against OpenAI and Microsoft has proven.

I’ve published a dozen stories on Medium since early September 2023, mostly reposts of Nuaveu blogs. In late October I republished How to Block AI from Scraping Your Content and since then it has driven over 85% of my total reads. While the sample size is small, I think the data is indicative of something important. Blocking AI bots is a hot topic for many people. And I can see the interest in blocking content from generative AI exploding in the next few months.


In the end only time will tell what’s in store for SEO in 2024. Maybe SEO will evolve into generative engine optimization (GEO) or answer engine optimization (AEO). Or maybe they will just become a part of what many of us already do like – like voice search. Either way, best of luck with your optimization efforts in 2024!

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