Mastering the art of SEO has never been easy, and it seems as if each day brings a new obstacle that marketers must overcome in order to stay competitive. These days, there are a number of factors that could change SEO as we know it. In order to remain visible to potential customers, it’s important that you learn about and plan for these SEO threats:


Thus far, brands have managed to compete with pay-per-click ads that appear further up on the page than organic results. Marketers are used to seeing these ads displayed as links accompanied by a short text box that encourages users to click through to the website. But, that may be changing. Brands will have to learn how to compete with different, more persuasive ads that show up in search results and threaten the success of organic results. For example, maids, plumbers, electricians and handymen can now advertise in select markets using Google’s new home services ad. These individuals fill out a basic form with their information, which Google organizes into a profile, and then bid on ads as you would with a regular PPC campaign. But unlike traditional PPC ads, ads for these handymen will show up as “Google guaranteed” and “pre-screened by Google,” thus making them more attractive to users.

That’s not the only type of ad that could threaten organic SEO. Product listing ads, or PLAs, will also give brands that rely on organic traffic a hard time. How does it work? Let’s say you’re in the market for a new coffee maker, so you go to Google to do a little research and see which one you should buy. Not too long ago, you would type in “coffee maker” and then scroll through the results to look at different brands and retailers. But today, the first thing you see when you search for “coffee maker” is product listings for different types of coffee makers sold at various retailers. Each listing has a small image of the product, the price, the name of the retailer, and some even tell you how many stars other customers have rated the product. With all of this information located right at the top of the page, there’s no reason for users to continue to scroll down to find what they’re looking for.

New ad formats aren’t the only way customers will get information. The Google knowledge graph, which appears as a box on the side of search results, aims to provide users with a snapshot of basic information related to their search. For example, if you search for “Barack Obama,” you won’t have to look through search results or click on any links to find out who he is, what he’s known for, and even the names of his children and wife—all of this information is within the knowledge graph. However, Google is only displaying knowledge graphs for certain categories of keywords at the moment, including famous people, events, and works of art. If Google decides to expand these categories further, this could affect your SEO strategy.

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