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The State of SEO in 2024

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SEO is undergoing one of the most significant disruptions ever with the integration of generative AI in search. Maintaining market share, optimizing content, and boosting efficiency to drive faster execution of SEO efforts will be critical to remaining competitive in the 2024 landscape.

Access the latest data on SEO changes, enterprise trends, and more in our 2024 State of SEO Report, based on exclusive data from our annual SEO survey, to inform your strategy for the next 12 to 18 months.

Plus, explore exclusive insights on the state of SEO from today's leading SEO experts, including Aleyda Solís, Lidia Infante, and Kevin Indig.

State of SEO: What 2023 was like and predictions for 2024

In the hyper-competitive digital space, SEO remains one of the most effective ways to increase visibility among target audiences, organic website traffic, and overall business growth.

While the value of SEO remains constant, change is inherent to SEO. Weekly and monthly algorithm updates from Google can send marketers scrambling to protect rankingsRankings
Rankings in SEO refers to a website’s position in the search engine results page.
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or optimize content to align with new standards like E-E-A-T .

2023 was no exception.

The emergence of generative AI and Google’s initial experimentation with its Search Generative Experience (SGE) are the most significant disruptions to SEO since Google’s Penguin updates over a decade ago.

However, new challenges often provide opportunities for greater success. Search experts are finding new ways to create and optimize content, eliminate time-consuming manual efforts, improve collaboration, and more through AI.

On average, organic search produced nearly 40% of website traffic across six key industries in 2023. 93% of respondents reported SEO positively impacted website performance and marketing goals in 2023, according to our 2024 State of SEO Survey.

Organic search remains a top channel for business growth heading into the next 12 months. We surveyed over 400 digital marketing, SEO, and content marketingContent Marketing
Content marketing is a marketing discipline with the goal of increasing awareness and scope for products and brands in the desired target group with content published on the web and offline.
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experts to identify actionable insights and help inform your SEO strategy to maximize success in 2024.

Data & methodology

To ensure the accuracy of our data and takeaways, all SEO survey respondents serve a primary job function related to a website’s organic performance.

Respondents were sourced from B2B and B2C companies ranging in size from mid-market (1 to 999 employees) to enterprise (1,000+ employees). Our data represents the perspectives of various digital stakeholders across all role levels, including practitioners (think analysts, strategists, and specialists), managers, directors, and above.

A pie chart showing the demographic breakdown of survey respondent's role levels to Conductor's 2024 State of SEO Survey.

Throughout the report, we used the concept of SEO maturity to further segment the data. Below is a brief overview of the three levels respondents could choose from to determine their SEO maturity:

  • Low SEO Maturity: Organizations where SEO is not that important yet. There are currently minimal resources or investments in SEO.
  • Medium SEO Maturity: Organizations where SEO is moderately important with adequate SEO resources and investment.
  • High SEO Maturity: Organizations where SEO is a priority. SEO is a significant part of the processes for more than one team with strong investment.

Top takeaways

Here’s a brief overview of some of the most important takeaways from the report related to the current state of SEO, the role of AI within SEO, and SEO technology use.

On the current state of SEO:

  • 93% reported SEO positively impacted website performance and marketing goals in 2023.
  • Organizations at the lowest SEO maturity level are much more likely to report SEO as having no impact or a negative impact.
    • Why? On average, Organizations at the highest SEO maturity level:
      • Prioritized hiring highly skilled SEO talent
      • Are 8x more likely to use a fully integrated enterprise SEO platform
      • Report on twice as many SEO metrics compared to organizations with low SEO maturity
      • Dedicate around 30% more bandwidth to SEO efforts than those with medium or low maturity
  • Increasing brand awareness through SEO ranked as a top priority for all role levels in 2023.

On the role of AI in SEO:

  • 71% of respondents believe SGE will result in some type of disruption to their SEO strategies.
  • 83% of respondents believe AI as a whole will have a positive impact on SEO in 2024.

On SEO technology:

  • The majority of respondents use a fully integrated enterprise SEO platform to achieve success with their SEO efforts.

Download the complete State of SEO Report to dig deeper into the data and benefit from newly added insights and takeaways from today's top SEO leaders, including Aleyda Solís , Kevin Indig , Jamie Indigo , and more.

Top SEO priorities and challenges in 2023

As mentioned above, increasing brand awareness through SEO remained a top priority for all role levels in 2023.

Ranked lists of the top 3 SEO priorities in 2023 by role level for SEO practitioners, SEO managers, and SEO or marketing leaders.

Leaders and practitioners also focused on hiring the right SEO talent over the last 9-12 months, while managers put more emphasis on improving collaboration and efficiency to execute faster.

Leaders were the only group to rank adherence to new privacy regulations as a top priority for 2023, highlighting their concern over possible regulatory fines while practitioners and managers remain hyper-focused on efficiency and execution.

When it comes to the most significant challenges, respondents ranked adapting to AI advancements as the top challenge SEOs and digital marketers faced in 2023.

A ranked list showing the 3 most significant SEO challenges in 2023 overall according to Conductor's 2024 State of SEO Survey

AI advancements were introduced rapidly in 2023 across a variety of industries. For SEO, all eyes were on Google as it introduced a new way to search in 2023 with the trial rollout of its Search Generative Experience (SGE) powered by generative AI.

With SGE set to transform how users search and how brands appear on search engineSearch Engine
A search engine is a website through which users can search internet content.
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results pages (SERP), it’s no surprise that adapting to AI advancements ranked as the most significant SEO challenge overall.

The increasing presence of AI is accelerating a growing skepticism among users toward content that misses a human element. This has impacted search behavior, with users moving to platforms like Reddit or TikTok, looking for real, human connections and content that feels genuine.

The real challenge for brands isn't keeping pace with AI; it’s embracing the human elements that lead to genuine connections and earn trust.

The top SEO priorities and top challenges come together here. Prioritizing a human touch in your content will help you keep up with AI's advancements and increase brand awareness.

Lidia Infante, Head of International SEO, SurveyMonkey (opens in a new tab)

Download the complete report for access to more actionable insights like this from leading SEO experts.

The growing role of AI in SEO

AI is a primary focus within the report, given the industry-wide anticipated disruption once Google’s SGE launches globally. Despite the uncertainty, a majority of organizations at every SEO maturity level anticipate a positive impact of AI on SEO overall in 2024.

Line graphs showing the breakdown of the anticipated impact of AI on SEO in 2024 comparing organizations with low to high SEO maturity
  • Organizations with high SEO maturity had the highest response rate predicting a positive impact.
  • While those with low SEO maturity had the highest response rate predicting a negative impact.

Brands that believe AI overall will have a negative impact are missing the vast opportunity that exists within it. The positive things AI can do for teams from a productivity standpoint alone are well worth the hassle and will ultimately make SEO teams more efficient and cost-effective.

It’s good to see that most believe it will have a positive impact, but also not surprising that brands with low SEO maturity are more fearful of it.

Patrick Reinhart, VP, Services and Thought Leadership, Conductor

I do expect the impact of AI in SEO to be net positive.

It allows specialists and teams to automate many tasks while maintaining quality (*if done strategically with the relevant workflows and validations).

With the commoditization of content, it also makes us raise the bar in terms of how we target and produce our own content, to ensure it’s actually helpful, unique, and providing a human-first experience worthy of being highlighted.

Aleyda Solís, International SEO Consultant & Founder, Orainti (opens in a new tab)

Explore additional AI insights sourced from our exclusive State of SEO survey, including the anticipated disruption of Google’s SGE and top SEO priorities related to SGE, in the complete 2024 State of SEO Report.

SEO resourcing and processes

Organizations are prioritizing efforts to improve collaboration and efficiency related to SEO as we enter a new era of search. However, your SEO resourcing strategy greatly impacts the effectiveness of these efforts.

Bar graphs comparing in-house vs. outsourced SEO resourcing strategy approaches between organizations with low, medium, or high SEO maturity.
  • Organizations with low SEO maturity are most likely to implement a fully outsourced SEO strategy.
  • Organizations with medium to high SEO maturity are more likely to adopt a hybrid or fully in-house SEO resourcing strategy.

Implementing a hybrid or in-house strategy allows companies to play a more active role in developing and executing SEO strategies.

The more advanced a company’s SEO strategy and investments are, the more likely leadership will adopt a resourcing approach that provides the most autonomy to allow for more agile experimentation and scalability.

How to stay ahead in 2024

Organic search as we know it is changing with Google’s launch of SGE in 2024. Download the 2024 State of SEO Report to learn the latest SEO changes and trends you need to know to inform your annual SEO strategy, so you can stay one step ahead of competitors.

  • Plus, access exclusive insights in the downloadable report from today's leading SEO experts, including Aleyda Solís , Lidia Infante , and Jake Bohall , on what these stats mean and tangible steps you can take now to prepare accordingly.
Schedule a free Conductor demo to see what a fully integrated enterprise SEO platform could do for your strategy.
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