Search engine optimization (SEO) can be challenging, especially for newcomers. That’s why so many website content management systems like WordPress have stepped in to offer what amounts to “automated” SEO, which allows even novice users to optimize their sites for search engines—at least, to some degree.
There are tons of plugins and tools for amateur web builders to use, which I consider to be “built-in” options, but there are some current limitations that prevent these products from being truly all-in-one SEO solutions.
That being said, I think we’re due for a major shakeup in the world of built-in SEO, and I want to share some of my predictions for the future.
How Built-in SEO Usually Works
Individual apps and tools vary, but most built-in SEO solutions automatically help you build websites in a way that’s seen and favored by search engines. For example, they’ll keep the code neat and tidy, with no pages hidden from search bots, and in a responsive design so it’s mobile-friendly (just to name a few perks).
They’ll also make it easier for you to change your page titles and meta descriptions, and may even highlight recommended changes to your body copy to ensure you’re optimizing for keywords the right way.
Why aren’t built-in solutions the total package? What’s stopping us from using these built-in apps for every SEO campaign?
- Customizability. First, most built-in tools and apps are also out-of-the-box solutions. They don’t offer much customizability to cater to businesses or organizations with different goals, or from different industries.
- Reliable content analysis. Some of the content analysis tools offered by these solutions are handy, such as ones that evaluate how frequently you use keywords throughout your text or ones that identify grammatical errors, but content quality analysis is still a speculative and subjective area. Most tools will fail to catch easy improvements, and suggest “improving” sections that are fine on their own.
- Research and direction. Most plugins also rely on the fact that you’ve already done your research and established a reasonable strategy; they can’t help you from a broad strategic perspective.
- Analysis and guidance. Most built-in tools lack any sort of follow-up; they don’t help you evaluate your performance or instruct you how to get better results over time. This is especially challenging because these tools also don’t “know” what your goals actually are.
Predictions for the Future
Here’s how I think built-in tools will evolve in the near future—probably within the next few years:
- Integrated research methods. For starters, we’ll see better integrations for research and strategy. Standalone services and products like Moz’s Keyword Explorer might make an appearance, or tools might start developing their own suggestions for strategic direction. This could be based on a user questionnaire, guiding users to help them figure out their own goals, then making recommendations based on those goals.
- Real-time analysis of content quality. The content quality analysis has to start getting better. In the near future, we’ll probably start to see built-in tools that mimic the same style of content quality analysis that Google itself uses (even though we’re functionally blind to those mechanics). More advanced semantic analysis, and subjective appeal are just the beginning here, but it’s going to take a lot of work from advanced programmers.
- Comparison to other sites. Most built-in plugins focus exclusively on your own site, but SEO is a competitive field. I imagine we’ll start seeing more competitive analysis platforms and functions emerging—think in terms of what SEMRush currently offers as a standalone service, but reduced into a bite-sized, built-in package.
- Search engine results previews. Built-in services will help you develop your website so it can be seen and displayed properly in Google—but how do you know it will display properly? Tools of the near future will give you more insight by previewing how your pages will look in search results under various conditions.
- Real-time position reporting. Your current solution might be able to give you a “thumbs-up” if your page is correctly optimized, but it probably can’t tell you where it ranks, right now, versus just a few weeks ago. Real-time position reporting will likely be a new feature in the next generation of built-in solutions.
- Step-by-step fundamentals training. No matter how advanced built-in tools become, user input and knowledge is still going to be important. That’s why the next generation of tools will likely offer built-in, step-by-step fundamentals training to help bring amateurs up to speed on how SEO works and exactly what’s possible with the strategy.
- Intelligent recommendations. Finally, advancements in AI will allow built-in tools to make more intelligent recommendations for how to move forward with a strategy. Rather than suggesting the inclusion of more keywords on a page or a different meta description, they might suggest novel competitive opportunities, or recommend pursuing local optimization (if it fits the user’s needs).
Even though there are some major hurdles for built-in SEO to overcome, it has come a long way since its early beginnings, and it remains one of the best categories of online marketing tools available. If you’re considering getting started in SEO, it’s not worth waiting for these developments to occur—instead, work with what we have now.
Entry into the field will likely get easier, even a few years from now, but as a strategy capable of exponential growth, the sooner you get involved, the better.
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