Five important SEO changes you need to know in 2024

Since its earliest days, SEO has always been evolving. But in recent months we’ve seen bigger, more fundamental changes happening more often.

If you want your content to continue ranking on Google, it is important to understand what these changes are, and why Google is making them. 

A Statista survey of more than 3,500 SEO professionals revealed the three biggest emerging SEO factors for search rankings across the world are:

  • Machine learning/AI: 11.3%
  • Core Web Vitals (user experience, page load speed etc): 10.8%
  • E-E-A-T and trusted sources: 10.2%

These changes are inspired by Google’s continued quest to deliver search results that best answer our queries, and provide valuable information from reliable sources. They’re also motivated by the emergence of AI like ChatGPT, and Google’s need to remain competitive. 

As always with SEO, understanding what Google’s intentions are, and making sure you give Google what it is looking for is your best chance of ranking highly.

And that’s what this report is about. It complements everything we teach you in Easy SEO by highlighting the newest changes, and giving you tips on how you can make the most of them. 

This year’s highlights are:

  1. Google Search Generative Experience (SGE)
  2. Zero click searches
  3. Topical authority
  4. Video SEO
  5. Evergreen content

Before we explore each of these in turn, let’s quickly remind ourselves again of Google’s key motivation: YOU! Google wants to ensure we all find what we are looking for, as quickly and easily as possible. So, to make Google happy, all you need to do is give people a good experience… and practice good SEO. 

So let’s look at some of the new developments in SEO, and areas to focus on in 2024. 

1) Google Search Generative Experience (SGE)

In May 2023, Google announced a change they were making to search results with the new Search Generative Experience (SGE).

SGE uses AI to display key information when it serves you search results for your queries. For example, here’s what you see if you search for Cate Blanchett: 

The aim of this is to make it even easier for searchers to find the information they may be looking for by concisely providing it right at the top of search results – with links if they want to learn more. 

Think of Google in this respect as a helpful assistant, gathering what it thinks might be most useful for you from across the web, and presenting it at the top of your search results. 

What can you do?

It’s still early days for SGE and it’s not rolled out across the board yet, so there’s not much advice about how you can optimise your content for it – not even the experts know what will happen!

But looking at how it is working, it can help to create content that directly and comprehensively answers common questions people might have about what you do. For example, you could create a facts or statistics page, or FAQs. 

Here are some more tips based on what kind of content Google seems to be choosing for SGE:

  • Expert opinion: Sharing your expert analysis or opinion on a topic.
  • Lists: Organising information into sections, lists, and bullets.
  • Niche topic authority: Establishing yourself as an expert in your niche. 
  • New information: Create your own unique content that doesn’t appear elsewhere. 

While there’s no foolproof way to getting your content (and link) into an SGE, making sure you have information that is easy for Google to find and display will help. As will your Domain Authority, as a higher Domain Authority increases trust. 

You can learn more about Domain Authority and get tips on increasing yours here. And if you want to read more about SGE, we recommend this article

2) Zero click searches

As we covered in our list of statistics for 2024, almost 26% of all searches on Google result in no clicks. And factors like SGE (above) are contributing to a rise in this number. 

There are many reasons why this is the case. For example, searchers may get all the information they need from what is displayed in search results. If they need simple facts, Google’s SGEs, featured snippets or knowledge panels may provide this for them without needing to click on a web page. Here’s an example of a Google snippet:

They could also have been Googling the opening times or location of a local business. Or they were searching for a quick conversion, perhaps for currencies or cooking measurements. Like this: 

What can you do?

To minimise the impact of zero-click searches, you can adjust your strategy to focus on securing featured snippets for those queries. To do this, consider what kind of long tail questions someone might ask, like:

  • Where can I find…
  • How much does it cost to…
  • What’s the best way to…
  • When should I…

FAQs, bullet points, tables and short paragraphs are great ways to present this information – both for the visitors to your page and (importantly) to search engines looking for this information.  

While it still may not get you clicks, it WILL get you seen by searchers, and help your brand recognition. And as a result, people may be more likely to click on your site in future searches, or even visit your site directly for answers to queries. 

3) Topical authority

Increasingly, Google is looking for evidence content is created by someone it can trust, who has expertise on a particular topic. This is known as having ‘topical authority’. This means your website or web page is a go-to source for information on your niche.

How can Google tell if this is the case? It uses all the SEO clues we know work:

  • High quality backlinks to your page shows Google people whose opinion matters recommend it
  • Long-form content with related keywords lets Google know your page is comprehensive and useful
  • Links to authority sources tells Google your content is well researched and more likely to be accurate and valuable 
  • High quality content created (or contributed) by established experts in their field
  • Topic clusters indicate you are a knowledgeable expert on your subject

Google specifically defines authority by measuring a combination of experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness – also known as E-E-A-T.

So what can you do?

It is important that you demonstrate you are an expert in your area through good SEO practice. Here are some recommendations:

  • Build your backlinks from relevant, high quality websites
  • Create a comprehensive, high-quality pillar page
  • Build a topic cluster around your pillar page
  • Use internal links between content to help Google crawl your site
  • Build your profile as an expert outside your website 
  • Ask known experts for comments to add to your content
  • Back up claims and facts with well-sourced statistics
  • Use social media to help people find and share your content 

It also helps, as previously mentioned, to build your Domain Authority through good SEO practice. 

4) Video SEO

Video remains an incredibly popular form of content – and a great opportunity for SEO if you can get it to rank on Google and/or YouTube.

There are plenty of great reasons why you should go to the effort and expense of creating video. Research shows that 51% of people are more likely to share a video than any other type of content. And 89% say watching a video has convinced them to buy a product or service.

Videos also help you in search: 26% of search results have a video thumbnail, and pages with videos also have a 41% higher click through rate.

So what can you do?

Factor video into your overall SEO strategy. Think about the people you want to reach, and what they may be searching for (and why). Then research the best keywords to aim for, and start planning your video content around these. 

This will ensure you create genuinely valuable videos that are more likely to help your marketing and sales, and get found and clicked on in search. 

Here are some more tips to make your videos as powerful as possible:

  • Design eye-catching thumbnails for your videos to increase clicks
  • Include transcripts to make your videos accessible 
  • Add checkpoints for separate ideas to increase user experience (UX)

Remember too, to add metadata and descriptions with your target keywords to help search engines understand your video content, and rank it higher.

5) Evergreen content

Every week, millions more pages are uploaded to the internet, making competition for search tougher and tougher. And not only does it make it harder for your newer content to rank, but it also impacts your older content that is already ranking. 

Just remember this: as soon as you publish a piece of content, it is ageing. Newer research is published. Numbers are updated. Better sources emerge. User intent, and therefore keywords, change. And over time, your article that was perfectly written to get to the top of Google gradually starts sliding down. This is what is referred to as ‘content decay’. 

If you want to maintain your rankings in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) you need to be regularly refreshing and updating your content to let Google know it is current and relevant, and ensure it continues to maintain its quality. 

What can you do? 

We cover this at length in our article about content decay and recommend you read it for a full run down. But for a quick recap, here are five ways you can keep your content evergreen:

  1. Refresh and update your web pages and blogs
  2. Add related keywords and answer more questions to boost your SEO
  3. Build more authority links, internal links and backlinks
  4. Compare your content to higher ranking pages and edit accordingly
  5. Check your keywords and change if necessary

You don’t need to keep every piece of content continually refreshed. Instead focus on the content that is already ranking, and that you want to maintain (or increase) your position for.