First things first: What does “future-proof SEO” actually mean? Isn’t SEO always about permanently pushing your own page up in the organic search results? Sure, that is and will remain the goal in the future.

The way, how However, getting to these top rankings is constantly changing. Again and again, Google tightened the rules of the game, after all, only really relevant results should be displayed. So how can you optimize your website so that you won’t break a sweat with future algorithm updates?

Very simple: always orientate yourself always

in what the searchers (and the Google algorithm) want to see – and will want to see! You will find out what that means in detail below.

Part 1: What users like to see

You have to earn a place at the top of the search results. This is only possible with content that exactly meets the search intention. If you want to keep up with the times, you should therefore pay attention to the following points.

Unique content

Vague half-truths or even blatant copy-pasting: An average Google search often turns out that many results are very similar. If your content fell into this category so far, you should make sure that it changes as soon as possible.

What you need is absolutely unique content. Anyone can copy it. Finding your own spins and doing in-depth research takes a little longer. Do what nobody else is doing and create content that actually stands out from the crowd. For example like this:

  • Set up theories and substantiate your assumptions with trustworthy (!) Sources.
  • Check out studies citing other sites on the subject. Who commissioned it? Could they be questioned or more recent studies found?
  • What is behind the myths and rumors about topic XY?
  • Illuminate a topic from different perspectives. Writing “objectively” is of course not possible, after all, every text written by people brings a certain degree of subjectivity with it. You shouldn’t just write what fits your agenda, however. Stay honest and reflective.
  • Present the results of your own studies or surveys. If you have your own data, there is almost nothing more valuable in terms of expert status and linkability. Sometimes a single, nicely prepared and actively advertised evaluation is sufficient and the link building is done once.

Incidentally, this is anything but excessive caution – the BERT update is already in the starting blocks and is set to be the biggest update in five years. Google emphasizes thoughthat it shouldn’t be about optimizing ‘for BERT’. At the same time, however, the core update will do it yet more important to produce content for real people and the search intention to hit the point exactly

Multimedia design

Bring your content into the best possible form: a unique one. So try to create as many media formats yourself as possible, because this is the only way you can bring your personal touch. Yes, stock photos are easy to come by, but their recognition value is zero.

Here is a small selection of formats where a little DIY work is absolutely worthwhile:

  • photos
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Widgets
  • Interactive elements
  • Podcasts (see Google Podcasts!)

Mobile search and voice search

To say that Google mobile search is on the rise would be an understatement. In fact, Google has long since ceased to focus on the performance of your desktop website, but on the mobile version.

Unless you have already done so, you should definitely …

  • … optimize loading times (even without AMP): According to one Google study (2016) 53 percent of the page visits are canceled if the page takes longer than three seconds to load.
  • … optimize the content layout for mobile viewing
  • … Produce snackable content

Not to be forgotten is the voice search. The voice-controlled search makes a significant contribution to the barrier-free Internet and has only really picked up speed with the advent of Alexa and Co.

Why is all of this so important from an SEO perspective? Well, voice search requires a rethink when it comes to keyword optimization. Because who speaks individual keywords into the cell phone? Probably very few, and therefore you should increasingly incorporate question keywords in the course of voice search optimization. (Extra tip: Why even the sentence order of a search query can be decisive, this explains Article about query syntax.)

But don’t forget that voice searches are only just emerging, especially in German-speaking countries. Your focus should currently continue to be on classic search engine optimization. In very simplified terms, that means: content, architecture, links and UX.

Online authority

It’s actually logical, but many don’t want to admit it until the rankings tell a different story: Just because your brand is well known offline doesn’t mean that this reputation is automatically carried over to the online world. Sorry, it’s a fact. Therefore you should …

  • … focus on building or building really good backlinks Linkable assets to create, which are of course linked. They consolidate your expert status (see below).
  • … pay attention to customer feedback! Keep an eye on what is being said about your brand on forums, social media, question-and-answer sites, etc. If there’s bad publicity going on here, you should definitely do something about it.

Google summarizes the above points in the Quality Rater Guidelines under the acronym EAT (Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness). Medical websites in particular need a lot of EAT if they want to keep their visibility in search results.

So much for everything that users expect from a website and what you can do to outperform the competition on this level. However, that was only half the work, because after all, you first have to convince the Google algorithm of your website.

Part 2: What the Google Algorithm Likes to See

Expertise, authority, trustworthiness: there is no getting around these three criteria when it comes to Google. The contributions have to be trustworthy, come from an expert source and have a certain degree of authority – not the easiest task. What to do?

A good EAT score

What criteria does Google actually use to decide whether a piece of content is “trustworthy” and of high quality? Good question, one might think – or delve a little more into the subject. Google itself refers to the Search Quality Rater Guidelines and delivers on the webmaster’s blog again and again News about this core update.

So: refresh your EAT knowledge regularly. In a nutshell, it depends on …

  • … signals of trust: a photo of the author and an information box showing who is writing are required.
  • … Reviews of all kinds: review platforms such as Google My Business or Trustpilot and authentic customer voices on Tripadvisor etc. – what you need are credible (!) Positive reviews.

Faking reviews or cannibalizing them for pure self-interest is, by the way, wasted time. Google is also taking a closer look at reviews, as Moz recently demonstrated.

Some exciting data from a study on EAT by Path Interactive:

  • 51 percent of the websites that lost visibility were also affected by the Fred update.
  • By using author descriptions for articles, the chance of being among the winners is 16 percent higher.
  • When a website clearly shows awards and certifications, the chance of being among the winners of EAT-related updates is 850 percent higher.

Of course, there is more to the EAT score than “just” many good ratings. We all know what’s coming: backlinks!

A well-maintained backlink profile

External references to your website continue to play a central role if you want to achieve good rankings over the long term. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, because ultimately, Google can use the backlinks to evaluate most precisely how trustworthy a page is. Lots of high-quality links to your website translates into: There is useful, trustworthy, extremely relevant content here.

Don’t just focus on getting links from pages in your niche. Mentions of influential parties that might not fit your industry at first glance can also be worth their weight in gold. Keyword: tangential content.

One last tip on guest articles, no matter where you publish them: Make sure you do it under your own name and with an author’s box, ideally including a photo. Generic information like “guest post” does not convey expert status. And finally you want to establish that – trustworthiness sends greetings.

Presence on Wikipedia

Does that mean you need your own Wikipedia page, no ifs or buts? No. The fact is, however, that Google works a lot with Wikipedia data – and in this context the Wikipedia presence should definitely become relevant sooner or later.

In practice this means: See if your top competition has Wikipedia links. If so, that’s an indication that such a wiki page is even more important in your niche.

Side note: According to Path Interactive, having your own Wikipedia page increases your chance of being one of the winners by 21 percent.

Focus on user intent

It cannot be stressed enough how it is important to meet the search intention. This does not only apply in the sense of “delivering the right content”. It is just as important to convey it in the right form.

What is the best and fastest way to help users? You should definitely ask yourself this question before planning your content.

Therefore, be sure to take a look at the top 10 search results for your keyword: Which media types and content formats rank in the SERPs? This is a very good indication of what means you should use to push your content forward.

Orient yourself to long tail keywords, more precisely to specific questions. Even a first Google search provides clues: Take a look at what can be found under “Users also ask”. With the search term “seo” this would be, for example, “What is SEO marketing”, “What do you do with SEO” etc. Your content must therefore briefly address the basics, for example as a definition or as an FAQ section.

Insider tip: If you click on a result and then the back button, Google will show further suggestions below the result. These are likely based on what other users searched after they were dissatisfied with this result.

Impeccable technical SEO

Last but definitely not least, the technical substructure must of course be right. Make sure you take care of …

  • structured data – identical on desktop and mobile
  • perfectly optimized snippets
  • a clean page structure
  • Security – HTTPS is (obviously) mandatory!
  • Redirects where they are needed
  • Dissolution of forwarding chains
  • Constant tracking and an analysis of the page performance – this is the only way to know what is working and where to optimize.

Search engine optimization will not be child’s play in the future either. On the contrary: If you want to do SEO with foresight, you have to know today what can happen tomorrow. EAT, the increasing personalization of Google search, really unique content, possibly also voice search: All of this and more have a decisive effect on how well a website can rank. In this sense, good luck with future-oriented search engine optimization!