Web development is in the middle of a transformational period. Customers are finally beginning to perform the majority of their online browsing on mobile devices and are quickly shifting from traditional written searches to voice searches.
This article will help executives and project managers in the web development industry prepare for upcoming changes in web development and SEO over the next several years.
AI is no longer a science fiction trope. The revolutionary technology is finally beginning to come into its own. It is impacting the quality of care that medical patients receive, transforming data analysis and business analytics, and making futuristic technologies like self-driving cars a reality.
In addition, AI is also transforming the internet search and web development industry. Google, along with other search engines, is using AI to improve the quality of their search results.
The company launched its AI initiative in 2015 with RankBrain. Google uses a combination of traditional machine learning and deep neural networks to create an AI search bot that can learn from past search results and click-through rates to improve its capabilities.
Marketers and web developers that rely on SEO to drive traffic to their website will need to turn their attention from keyword-heavy websites to producing high-quality, long-form content that provides useful information and resonates with readers. This will only become more important as Google’s AI makes keywords less important over the next several years, opening the door for the rest of the search engines to follow.
Another major trend impacting the entire web development industry is Google’s new focus on producing featured snippets in their search results. In the past, Google simply took a search term and returned the top 10 website results on the first search result page.
Today, Google often takes key bits of information, or snippets, from the most popular websites and includes this information in the search results above the most popular websites. This means that customers do not have to click links to gather basic information.
While this change has been very useful for customers, it has reduced internet traffic for websites since customers no longer need to load a webpage to get that basic data.
Businesses can improve their chances of landing a spot as a featured snippet by producing high-quality content that is clearly organized. However, there is little that companies can do to replace those click-throughs so overall website traffic will likely continue to fall.
Over the past decade, customers have started using mobile devices to access the internet at increasingly high levels–with research finding that an estimated 58% of website visits are completed on a mobile device today.
In addition, a total of 56% of search engine queries are completed on a smartphone.
In addition, Google now penalizes companies that include email-list popups on their homepage, an annoying feature that customers have long complained about.
Businesses should pay special attention to their mobile layout and should consider using progressive web apps (PWAs) to automatically optimize their mobile sites for Google.
Voice Search Results
Since the release of Siri in 2011, mobile search has become more and more important. Today, that voice recognition market is worth an incredible $600 million. Experts also predict that more than 50% of all searches will be performed by voice by 2020.
Businesses can optimize their websites for voice search and prepare for this new reality by changing the way they look at keywords. Traditionally, customers who search Google using their keyboard will create stilted, computer-like phrases as their search terms.
However, customers who use voice search tend to speak in the type of regular, everyday language that they use to communicate with friends. Companies can improve their voice search results by transitioning to more casual keywords and speech on their websites.
Data privacy continues to be one of the most important priorities for businesses of all sizes and in all industries. Research has found that cybersecurity is the number one “external concern” for American CEOs.
Its importance will only increase over the next several years as recent cybersecurity trends continue to develop. The number of these data breaches is increasing every year and the cost to global businesses will only increase as well. In fact, the total cost of cyberattacks is expected to exceed $6 trillion by 2021.
Internal investments in cybersecurity have risen by 141% from 2010 to 2018 and this trend will likely accelerate over the next decade. This is a major reason why global investments in information security are expected to top $124 billion in 2019.
The rise of 5G wireless networks and the associated internet of things will also increase the risk of cybersecurity attacks because of the massive number of devices expected to come online over the next decade.
In the future, technical experts may look at 2020 as a banner year. Google’s use of featured snippets and PWAs are already changing change the format and style of websites. On the other hand, mobile traffic and voice search results are finally overtaking their predecessors as the two main ways that people access information.
Cutting-edge AI is also being used to improve the quality of search results, produce faster results, and better connect customers with the services they need. Finally, data privacy will continue to be one of the most important concerns for business leaders and web development managers alike.