During the Google Search Central SEO hangout recorded on July 2, a question was submitted which simply asks: “What’s your vision for the future of SEO?”
This put Mueller on the spot as he admits he doesn’t have that perfect elevator speech on the future of SEO.
He addresses a common concern shared by those within the SEO industry, which is that machine learning will get so advanced Google will understand websites without any additional optimization.
If Google’s machine learning algorithms could understand everything about websites on their own, there would be no need for SEO.
Mueller doesn’t see the future of search headed in that direction, however. Here’s his full response.
Google’s John Mueller On The Future Of SEO
When asked for his vision of the future of SEO, Mueller responds:
“I don’t know. Good question. I don’t have that five minute answer on the future of SEO. I think one of the things that people always worry about is everything around machine learning and that Google’s algorithms will get so far as to automatically understand every website and SEO will be obsolete, nobody will need to do that. I don’t think that will happen.”
He goes on to make a comparison to the web design industry, noting how today’s CMS’s haven’t made website development obsolete despite how advanced they are.
As CMS’s get more advanced, the web design industry adapts and evolves and looks for new problems to tackle.
“… with all of these new technologies you’ll have new tools and new ways of looking at your website, and making it maybe easier for you to create really good content, to create clear structures for your website.
Similar to how things have evolved the last 10-20 years as well where in the beginning you would write your own PHP code and craft your own HTML and it was a lot of work and over time all of these CMS’s evolved where essentially anyone can go off and create a website without having to really understand any of these HTML and kind of like server side basics.”
Why make this comparison?
Mueller sees SEO headed in the same direction. He suggests some of the things we do manually, like writing H1 and H2 tags, may eventually be handled by the website’s CMS.
The future of SEO that Mueller describes sounds like it will largely be automated by different tools.
He gives an example of uploading a webpage’s main content and having the CMS automatically optimize the heading tags.
“And I think that evolution will continue and there will be more and more tools available and you’ll be able to do more and more things in a way that kind of works fairly well for search engines and it’s not that the SEO work will go away but rather it will evolve.
So maybe instead of like hand tweaking H2 tags and H1 tags you’ll delegate that to a CMS that makes sure that the most important content is already included as a heading on the page.”
Marketers think Google will make SEO obsolete through advances in machine learning.
Mueller seems to suggest CMS’s will eventually optimize more things for search engines on their own.
So where does that leave SEOs? Time will tell what the role of an SEO will look like in the future. Mueller doesn’t see the profession going anywhere any time soon.
Hear Mueller’s full response in the video below:
Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt has an uncanny ability to make the most complex subject matter easy to understand. When he’s not ferociously following and covering the search industry, he’s busy writing SEO-friendly copy that converts.