Three 2024 Search Trends to Act On
Over the last 30 years, consumers have adopted search as a way of living. Search engines are at the core of Americans’ daily lives—it’s where people find the best schools; decide what’s for dinner; research medical symptoms (perhaps too much); and see what’s happening in their communities. From research and reviews to products and services, consumers turn to search for information and solutions. And as marketers, we can provide the answers.
But in 2023, it became abundantly clear that a brave new world of search is upon us. Gone are the days of small algorithm tweaks to keep up with—in 2024, we’ll see a significant shift in search trends. Here’s where we think the search world is headed.
Three Search Trends and Our 2024 Predictions
1. Search, Meet AI
While search engines have been powered by AI for years, increased adoption of LLMs (large language models) is encroaching upon “traditional” search territory—and Google Bard, ChatGPT, and now Grok are all vying for a piece of the user search pie. Today, only 14% of Americans have used ChatGPT, but The Economist predicts that Generative AI will go fully mainstream in 2024. And as users continue to adopt LLMs, they may skip search engines all together. Why click through a bunch of links when you can just get a quick, thorough, and conversational answer from a sophisticated chatbot?
For this reason, Google entered the Generative AI race quickly, implementing Search Generative Experience, answering users’ questions at the top of the search results with natural language. Marketers wondered—will this reduce clicks to webpages?
Imagine this future… with Generative AI built into every device—your phone, your watch, your car, your Alexa… any and every search you need to make can be done conversationally. No more clicking through links. No more opening 50 tabs for product research. Get one answer from one source of “truth.”
Our 2024 prediction: The lines between search and LLMs will fully blur.
2. Voice Search Continues
Voice search has been quietly growing for years. According to eMarketer, 43% of the US population used voice assistants in 2023, and it’s estimated that over 50% of all online searches will be voice-based by 2024.
Why the sudden growth? Generative AI will supercharge voice search in 2024, making it more relevant for users’ hourly searches (see Prediction #1).
The real implication of this growth is that users’ expectations for voice search will continue to rise. As we get accustomed to quick, easy answers at the sound of our voice, we’ll see searches for medical symptoms, doctors, and health information get ported to a voice world. This goes far beyond Alexa skills like we’ve seen in the past. It means that search marketing needs to be entirely rethought for voice and conversation.
Our 2024 Prediction: Voice search will keep sneaking up on us—and those who optimize for it will not only win business but medical authority.
3. Social is the new search
In 2023, we heard it everywhere: TikTok is the new Amazon. YouTube is the new Google. Consumers, especially the younger generations, are using social channels instead of search engines – from TikTok to YouTube to Instagram.
This trend isn’t new. Even in 2022, 75% of adult Internet users used social media for brand research. And GWI’s 2023 social media report noted that 16- to 34-year-olds are more likely to visit social channels than search engines when looking for brand info.
In 2024, this trend will go fully mainstream—with Gen Z’s behavior seeping into older adults as well. Want to see what’s on the menu at the restaurant down the street? Instagram it. Need to learn more about your medical condition? YouTube it. Want to buy the newest viral water bottle? TikTok it.
So, instead of creating content for the daily newsfeed, what if healthcare marketers spent far more time and effort considering what video and visual content users need when searching for key health questions?
Our 2024 Prediction: The newsfeed is dead. Long live social search.
Turning predictions into action: What’s a marketer to do?
For marketers, what does all this change mean? Is SEO dead? What about SEM? Should you shift dollars from Meta to TikTok? Here are a few practical tips to propel you into 2024.
- LLMs: Your new target audience.
AI is great for data mining. And content creation. But in 2024, you need to both leverage it for marketing and market to it.
- Today: Use AI for content and keyword ideation. Generative AI is a powerful starting place for search strategy. Both ChatGPT and Google Bard are solid assistants for keyword list generation, topic assessment, and optimization ideas. Better yet, combine Generative AI and SEMRush to thoroughly understand how keywords may play into your broader content strategy.
- Tomorrow: Market to bots AND humans. What happens when all marketers are vying for the attention of generative AI to get their businesses represented in an LLM’s response? This is SEO of the future… instead of hoping your page shows up at the top of search results, you’ll be creating content explicitly for LLMs. Start working toward this world by shifting your efforts from SEO’s keyword-based strategy to instead creating highly authoritative, conversational, and useful content optimized toward the top topics that drive your business.
Voice Search: The new SEO
Stop thinking about voice search as Alexa integrations. Instead, consider voice as part of your daily search strategy.
- Today: Optimize for location-based searching. Localized search is becoming more common as voice search continues to rise. Think of queries like “restaurants nearby” or “walk in clinics near me.” Review your Google My Business or physical location information for accuracy. Ensure all contact information is complete, up to date, and separated for specific services.
- Tomorrow: Optimize for natural, conversational language. While keywords are an important search practice, developing content that is easy to read, conversational, and reflects how people speak is key, especially with voice search. When researching keywords, consider long-tailed keyword phrases that mimic more natural conversations.
Stop vying for newsfeed attention and leverage social for search
- Today: Optimize content for search AND social channels. Content no longer exists in one format or on one channel. It’s a living, breathing, chameleon. When creating content, consider all channels, including search and social, and optimize for all. How might a YouTube video or TikTok post show up in search results? Think about your thumbnail, title, and description in that way.
- Tomorrow: Prioritize video as always-on content. YouTube has been the second-largest search engine in the world for years, and now TikTok is taking its place, while Meta vies for search attention. Instead of creating video for tentpole moments alone, how can video creation be a daily practice to build a bank of searchable content?
Want to nerd out about search trends—or better optimize your business for 2024? Drop us a line at email@example.com.