1- SERPs will continue to become more and more personalized, lowering the value of rank tracking – There will still be value to understanding what ranks if a new user is using a new machine, but it will have less and less correlation with how many clicks you get, as user intent, geo location, current trends and more will increase in weight.
2- User satisfaction signaling will continue to advance – Right now I feel that CTR, bounce, time on site, etc are used as primitive proxies. But I see this trend continuing as google acquires more and more data and is better able to process it into meaningful signals it can incorporate into its algorithm.
3- Google will continue it’s war on SEOs, making most SEO efforts ineffective if not intentionally counter productive – This will open new opportunities to those who are intelligent enough to think with high levels of abstraction, but will decimate the thousands of ‘SEOs’ that provide services to most smaller businesses.
4- Hiring an ‘seo’ will continue to make less and less sense – In the place of SEOs who will get crushed we will see more and more the rise of digital marketing professionals who have a holistic understanding of ‘web presence effectiveness’, those who understand CRO, technical SEO, reputation management, how servers/DNS works, email marketing, user funnels, etc.
5- SEO will be less and less a game apart from creating a digital based business and will be more and more similar to say – Business Development and Product Management. For too long SEO has been a way for ineffective businesses to stay afloat using algorithm hacks. As the market becomes more efficient (for everyone) and transparent (for Google), the best will conquer and consolidate while the rest will wither.
6- Google will continue to try to move away from their original PR system which continues to dominate – As we have seen with GMB, Google is seeking to ‘understand’ the web more and we will see these elements weighed more with general SERPs. Maybe incorporating more author ‘trust’ (something we know they tried with Google +), and other non-link based methods of inferring authority. I wouldn’t be surprised if Google would start to show the school in the richer ZIP code before the one in the poorer one, or other such methods of classification that are currently used by humans to prioritize listing. Basically, if an insurance company is inferring something from a data point, it makes sense google might want to also experiment with it.
7- Continuing on with #6, I think user activity in real world situations will have more bearing on Google search – So if a restaurant has 30 people inside it at dinner and another 10, google might infer that the restaurant with 30 people inside it will be more relevant to people searching in that area. This can have far reaching implications, especially when combined with prediction #1 and 2.