Bleak future: Minority Report
In 2020, a little more than 10 years from now, SEO will still exist. As long as people will search something there will be professionals who make search more effective and things more findable. Of course the SEO industry will evolve. It will change significantly more than once. How?
Can we predict the more distant future of SEO beyond guessing the trends of this or next year?
We can try to predict the future. Futurism as in futurology (not the historic arts movement) is a wide spread, indispensable albeit often erring discipline.
Big corporations employ their own futurists who predict future demand before it appears not a year prior to its emergence but years in advance. Government agencies and the military do that as well to be prepared and once a menace appears already have the fitting strategy.
In SEO we much too often only react to what big Google dictates us. In 10 years from now the Googlezon dystopia might be reality but as well Google might not exist anymore or become marginal so it makes no sense to guess future Google SEO techniques.
This task is of course too huge to fit in a short blog post.
I’m not a proponent of the belief in linear progress which reads something like this: Everything will become higher, faster, better. Things will change, some will be better, others will deteriorate again others will emerge which we can’t imagine now at all.
For this posting to make sense I want to focus on three things in it:
Changed demographics: Access for everybody, globally
When 10 years ago, in 1999 I bought my first laptop as a student, the cheapest model by then had cost 5 times as much as the cheapest laptop nowadays costs. This is just a simplified comparison, I didn’t even take the inflation into account. I’ve been using computers on campus before that. We don’t need another 10 years for computers to be affordable for everybody even in the so called third world. I’m not talking OLPC aka 100$ laptop.
A new breed of network computers is already available. By now you don’t need much more than a browser for a computer to have all the necessary tools to work with a computer. Web apps and browser add ons already cover every professional need out there.
Long story short: In 2020 you’ll have billions of people from India, China, Arab countries and even Africa on the Web. African countries will leapfrog the Web infrastructure anyways and jump into the mobile Web most probably.
So SEO will address a much more global audience than now. Now the US is still somewhat the center of the Web. Nations like China might even set up their own Web infrastructure to reduce the influence of the USA and Europe.
Do you have your Chinese website set up already?
Pervasive technology: No computer or mobile needed anymore to be online
Also talking about the Web and mobile phones doesn’t make sense when preparing for the future. both technologies will merge soon and other technologies wil jon in the fun. Soon every technical and non-technical advice will be connected n some way.
You’ll search your pants and the computer will tell you where they’re at. If you don’t look out it tells your wife that you left them in the wrong flat last night. So there also will be a backlash, people will want information technology free zones like we today seek parks where there is no traffic.
Like I wrote in my search traffic becomes real traffic post, search on the Web will cease to be a virtual thing. The pants example might sound ridiculous and it might as well not materialize but you certainly will point your mobile phone at a motive and it will tell you what it is, where it is and what other people said about it etc.
The technology to tag places is already there but in 10 years it will most probably become a daily habit. Nowadays everybody checks shopping comparison engines for online shops. Soon everybody will do that for real life shops, restaurants etc. too.
So SEO will be about optimization for real life physical searchers. The virtual and physical worlds will merge.
Availability of means of production: Printed at home instead of Made in China
In the demographics section above I mentioned already that everybody will be able to afford computers, mobiles or other means of accessing the Web. So not only the 10 year old kids from Ghana will be able to outrank you.
With the introduction of affordable personal 3d printers (now still at almost 15.000$) for everybody a short while from now people will produce their own stuff. They will download 3d models online ad then print most products. No more Made in China then.
So soon enough people will search for printable items or CAD models to print out. I guess that 3d printers of the next generations will search such models automatically, you’ll just tell them like in Star Trek print you a chess board or toaster and they search by themselves and print it.
Prepare for 3d SEO.
These 3 scenarios are of course only possible. They might never occur or arrive much later, in other form. nonetheless you should consider preparing for them. Scientists already do.