Emerging technologies in SEO and their uses [2024 ranked]

As the way user search evolves, so does the technology that keeps search engines capable of delivering them the best results.

Anyone who can backdate their knowledge of the internet to the early noughties, for example, will have a deep memory of how different search engines like Google look, not to mention how different the experience of browsing on them feels.

And you don’t really have to go as far back as that to be honest, with search engines making huge strides with how they process, index, and rank the thousands of websites that pile onto the internet each day hoping to win traffic.

But why do search engines continue to update their interfaces and the algorithms they use to define what listings users should see? To help make the internet a much better experience for the user, of course, it’s bread and butter.

So, without further ado, here are our top emerging SEO technologies that are helping search engines do this.

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#1 – GPT-3: For AI-generated text

Now, this tool crowns the list as it’s currently everywhere. Whether you work in marketing or not, you’ll likely have some experience with GPT (Generative Pre-training Transformer) tools.

What is GPT-3? More commonly referred to as ChatGPT, it’s essentially a language model developed by OpenAI, an AI research lab. At its core, GPT-3 is designed to use banks of data to assist users in producing fast, AI-generated content. And what’s extra great about it for content marketers is that it’s free to use.

First rolled out in 2020, GPT-3 has been fed 45 TB of text data (the equivalent of a cool 90 million novels) – the largest of its kind at launch – to help it to understand human semantics. By being trained on such a large body of words and analysing their meaning, it’s able to mimic and generate language independently.

SEO and content use cases:

#2 – GPT-4: For more advanced, multimodal AI content

A relatively swift and updated version of its predecessor, GPT-4 innovated on a whole other level. This model has been available since March 2023, but at a cost (at the time of writing, a subscription to this upgraded SEO tool will set you back £16 a month – worth it, depending on how you plan to use it).

Whereas GPT-3 is of unimodal design, meaning it can only handle text inputs, GPT-4’s machine learning system is smarter. In OpenAI’s own words:

‘GPT-4 is a large multimodal model (accepting image and text inputs, emitting text outputs) that, while less capable than humans in many real-world scenarios, exhibits human-level performance on various professional and academic benchmarks. For example, it passes a simulated bar exam with a score around the top 10% of test takers; in contrast, GPT-3.5’s score was around the bottom 10%.’

So, not only is it faster and 10x more accurate, its advanced functionality allows you to get much more creative in the prompts you give it, meaning more ambitious results.

SEO and content use cases:

  • Technical writing like songwriting, screenwriting, and essay writing
  • Tone of voice analysis and creation
  • Web design analysis
  • Image interpretation
  • Anomaly detection
  • Competitor and trend analysis
  • More advanced coding

If you’re only using AI to support with more basic prompts, the free application – ChatGPT 3.5, which uses the GPT-3 model – will likely cover your needs.

Important note: As GPT models are pre-trained on datasets, the data they use is restricted and not yet aligned with real time. When using either model, bear in mind that independent research should also be factored in – both to fact and sense-check the AI-generated response.

#3 – Google Search Generative Experience (SGE)

Google’s Search Generative Experience is the search engine’s AI-powered update. It offers users a far more interactive experience than traditional search, making Google more of a conversational assistant that’s intuitive to the users’ preferences.

Still in its experimental phase, Google reported to Search Engine Land that SGE’s initial roll out has been exclusive to a ‘small subset of the US’, but with plans for wider release following testing.

Why this item is not further up the list is that it’s currently a bit in limbo, having its experimental phase be quietly extended beyond its late 2023 deadline.

However, what it tells us about Google’s plans to integrate automation further into its interface gives us some insight into how we, as SEOs, should be preparing for the road ahead.

  • More YMYL content warnings and transparency required for sensitive topics, e.g. financial and medical industries
  • Increased emphasis on the style of delivery – for example, users opting for search results as speech rather than text
  • Heightened rankings for multimedia content, such as those that integrate both text and video, video and imagery, audio and text, etc, depending on the user intent

#4 – Zero-click searches: For the most efficient results

Zero-click searches are nothing new – however, in recent years, they have been on the rise.

Why is this? Well, as most search engines’ chief aim is to be as useful and serviceable to its users as possible, delivering answers to them in as few clicks as possible could, technically, be seen as a sign that it’s doing just that. This, of course, puts zero-click search as the most efficient search.

Think about the rise of zero-click SERP features over the years…

These are all designed to give users the answers they’re after right there as listings on the SERP, without them necessarily having to continue on to the related webpage should they not wish to.

SEO and content use cases:

As above, with search engine interfaces and algorithms looking to further evolve with the teased introduction of things like Google’s SGE, SEOs should definitely consider optimising for zero-click searches. How?

  • Ensure metadata (like page titles, meta descriptions, etc) are clear and engaging to win clicks
  • Prioritise FAQ-type (not exclusively, but as part of a wider SEO strategy) to ensure you content remains user-focused and helpful
  • Google takes a great deal of trust signals from E-E-A-T – make sure you’re packing your site with heaps of unique insights into how your brand delivers on this to get rewarded in the SERP
  • Answer long-tail search queries concisely to better optimise for PAA

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